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Thread: TPG: Week 32- Calvin Camp

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    If he's not strong, and can only regenerate a la Wolvie, then I think that's another strike against your format. I think you should do something to emphasize a broken bone or something when he lands on the van. I'm thinking a closeup/inset of his ankle breaking or something. Something that's going to matter and show he's not overly strong.
    Not a bad idea, showing something to indicate him taking damage from the drop. Or just changing his grand entrance to something else, if jumping off the building seems too much. Minor stuff really. I don't know what it has to do with the format. Either could be shown regardless of whether I'm doing 1/3 pages, or full pages.

    I also don't believe he should be able to catch a fist and stop it--not from someone who's obviously stronger than he is. That's like Spider-Man catching and stopping a punch from the Hulk. Without some kinda amped up power source, it's just not going to happen. Now, that's not to say that he couldn't do a martial arts technique, using the thug's momentum against him, but that's not what you did here.
    I can see where that could give the wrong impression, but I think you're blowing it just a little out of proportion. The thug isn't the Hulk. It'd be more like Daredevil stopping a punch from Batman -two relatively normal humans, both tougher than average, one maybe a little stronger than the other, but one a little faster.

    Part of the reason for doing this was to play with the typical superhero expectation that the good guy is going to wipe up the floor with the average street thug, and turn it around. But I'm starting to think the superhero expectation (particularly the expectation of tremendous strength) is more powerful than I realized. Any sign of something other than inferiority and weakness, and suddenly he's stronger than the Hulk? I wasn't quite prepared to counter that strong an expectation, but I suppose I can work with it.

    The next thing has to concern Time and the second thug. With larger panels, they're going to seem to take up more time. Smaller, closer panels will seem to take up less time. I know how it's reading in your head, but that's not how it's coming out on the page. This, again, is another strike against your format.
    This goes against Every. Single. Thing. I have ever read about comic pacing. Everything else I've ever read claims that fewer, larger panels will speed things up and provide a faster pace, and that more, smaller panels will slow the pace down. Even you have said as much on Bolts & Nuts.

    And I honestly don't know what the big problem is with the second thug. He's only standing by for four panels. At the fight pace, as presented, that's about four seconds of inaction on the part of Thug 2. On a web update basis, it's only one single update where the reader might be wondering what the heck Thug 2 is doing while his buddy is getting beat on. Before that, SD has not yet shown himself to be a serious threat. After that, Thug 2 has the situation completely under control. The reader might wonder, during that one update, what Thug 2 is doing. But by the next update they'll realize, "Oh, he was getting a gun." So I really don't get the problem.

    Then, you also have to think about your format yet again. You have a nine-panel grid to contend with. That's a week's worth of "punishment" (which, by the way, is also going to seem to take the same pace as before the second thug comes in: a LONG TIME). Do you really want to subject the readers of your webcomic to that? A week of doing nothing but watching the hero get the snot beat out of him? Me either.
    All right, I'm willing to grant you that three updates of Thug 1 mopping up the street with SD may be going overboard. But it needs to be at least two updates, because it has to be worse than what SD did to the Thug. Otherwise it loses all meaning.

    And again with the second thug... and I still don't get it. Other than the periods where Thug 1 still had the upper hand, he was off camera for a single update. What the heck is wrong with giving the guy a few seconds, in the middle of a fight, to go "Oh, crap," and scramble for his gun? I refuse to believe that's too long. Maybe I should show that moment "on screen"? Or will you just claim that's slowing down the fight some more?

    I also don't see what this has to do with the format. It wasn't the format that decided it wanted nine panels of beat-down. It was me. If it was a bad idea, I'll take the blame. I'm not going to pawn it off on, "The format made me do it."

    As an experiment in cutting down your panel descriptions, this is a success. With the new information about this script that you've given, this is the only success of it.
    Then it's a complete failure. This wasn't an experiment in cutting down my panel descriptions. This was a confirmation that I don't need long descriptions when I'm not world-building. I knew that when we were arguing about the descriptions on the last script. And I can almost guarantee you'll be back to beating me up over long descriptions and "useless" information the next time I'm up, because it's back to a setting that requires world-building. Streamlining my descriptions was really the least of what I was trying to do, because it was certain to work.

    And I don't know how you figure my additional information makes it more of a failure. It's the same failure it was the first time you read it. At most, you now know more about why it's a failure.

    But I don't think it was a failure, really. I think I presented a more intriguing character in a shorter time (tell me you didn't find this guy more interesting that Talia, even though you've seen her twice now). I think I wrote my best dialogue to date (you never once said the dialogue was turning the story into my last name). I think I did the best job of pacing I've done to date (even if it wasn't a perfect job). I think this succeeded (as in, showed improvement over my previous work) on a lot of levels.

    There are some issues with the format, which I suspected before your confirmation (I also think you're blaming the format for things it has little effect on, but that really doesn't change anything). You've pointed out a problem with SD seeming stronger than he should, which seems to be your only reason for claiming the fight is forced - thankfully, because that won't be hard to fix. And there are some minor issues with pacing, which should be quite easy to fix too.

    As a first run, I'm pleased. There are no problems here that break the story - I can fix everything that needs fixing and stay on course. And pointing out where the story is jumping the rails is what I figure an editor is for. So it's all good from where I sit.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 07:04 AM.



  2. Dungbeetle Guest

    What accent does this character have? Because if he's speaking old english with an english accent then "hand" and "demand" don't rhyme, because "demand" sounds more like "demarnd" to us. But let me guess, he's just some fruity boho American who likes to talk like that, right?

    I liked this. I see what's going on with the format too, although I don't think you should shy away from splitting a single row up into fewer, smaller panels if it calls for it. I know this is just the way comics are going, but I really don't dig the 1 page at a time online thing. It feels like a copout and you have to follow something so long to get a whole story. Hell, I rarely issue single issue comics unless I can read a whole arc in one go, but at least with a 22 pager you've got a cliffhanger. If you're putting this out a week at a time, readers like myself are either going to wait until one whole story is finished to read any of it, or lose interest from the get go.



  3. StevenForbes Guest

    Pacing, time, panel size: True, fewer panels have the effect of speeding up time, and more panels have the effect of slowing it down. This is a generality. Generally, it's true.

    However, here's what you're not understanding: that's a static, complete page versus a cut up and spread over time page. When you're dealing with the web and the update schedule, the reader starts to take into consideration the time between each update. This isn't a conscious thing. What you intend to do on the web doesn't come out to be the same thing in your head, nor in your completed, printed page. It probably won't even feel the same when you get together an archive.

    At two to three panels per update, for a single actual comic page, your updates are going to seem stilted in their storytelling. It will be more obvious that it's an ongoing story, but unless there's some sort of payoff/impetus to go forward from day to day for the reader, they may not stick around.

    It's going to read slowly, simply because of the update schedule. It read slowly for me as I went through each row, and I had the entire script to see where it was going. Picture a reader getting it piecemeal.

    Time is the only thing you have absolute control over, but you also have to use it to your advantage. Even though you're doing a comic, you HAVE to play to your medium. This is going to seem to take longer than you think it will. And that's what I meant by showing smaller, close together panels. This would be a single update, and would be happening in the reader's "now" of the story. See what I'm saying now? My fault for not explaining it better.

    During the fight, while you may THINK it goes fast before the second thug pulls his gun, it will actually be a month in real time. From the time the one thug pushes the girl to the other thug to the time the second thug pulls the gun will be five weeks. From push to gun, five weeks, and not counting the gun, we have four weeks of Brute Boy getting his butt kicked. Think about that, and tell me again how fast that is going to play in a reader's mind.

    When I'm talking about the format, I'm generally talking about the staccato two-panels-per-update you go on for what would be nine weeks. For over two months, you go on with just two panels, and it's not until the tenth week that we get treated to three panels. That's P4, by the way. So, for all intents and purposes, your format is two panels per update, until you break out with the three panels a few times.

    When I say strikes against your format, I'm talking about having to add panels or do something to focus on an aspect in order to give it its proper due. This breaks up your given format.

    Strength: My example was an extreme case, but it turns out to be the same thing: you describe SD as a thin fop, and the thug to be big and brutish. I'm not seeing Batman and Daredevil, I'm seeing Captain America and The Thing: one may be a capable fighter, but will not be able to stop a blow from someone who's obviously much stronger than him with his bare hands.

    The problem comes from your presentation. You present him as pretty damned strong (going from building to building, jumping down on the car anf flipping, catching a fist) until he gets his ass whipped. Present him differently, and you won't have to overcome the "superheroes are super-strong" predisposition most of us have.

    Dialogue: there isn't a hell of a lot of it here, so you didn't have much time to go into last-name mode. And remember, I didn't have much of a problem with Talia's lines, just the asshole wizard. I'm not seeing dialogue as being too much of a problem for you. Few writers who have submitted have real problems with dialogue, and most of us (including me) can use a polish.

    (And for the record, I don't find either character interesting. I don't know enough about them yet, and you've yet to present any characterization that would make either of them interesting to me.)



  4. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Dungbeetle View Post
    What accent does this character have? Because if he's speaking old english with an english accent then "hand" and "demand" don't rhyme, because "demand" sounds more like "demarnd" to us. But let me guess, he's just some fruity boho American who likes to talk like that, right?
    I guess he's "just some fruity boho American who likes to talk like that".

    I wasn't going for old english. I wasn't going for UK english. I was just going for poetic - rhythm and rhyme. And I'm not going to try and fake it well enough to make the rhymes work in an accent I don't really know.

    I liked this. I see what's going on with the format too, although I don't think you should shy away from splitting a single row up into fewer, smaller panels if it calls for it. I know this is just the way comics are going, but I really don't dig the 1 page at a time online thing. It feels like a copout and you have to follow something so long to get a whole story. Hell, I rarely issue single issue comics unless I can read a whole arc in one go, but at least with a 22 pager you've got a cliffhanger. If you're putting this out a week at a time, readers like myself are either going to wait until one whole story is finished to read any of it, or lose interest from the get go.
    I'm with you on the update thing. The webcomics I follow vary from updating weekly to several times a week, to whenever they get around to it. I seldom visit any of them more than once a month, just so it's worth visiting.

    But... the conventional wisdom from people who have had success (however relative) with webcomics, is that the more often you update, the better off you are. So I figured that if I break the page into thirds, I can have three updates where I'd only have one if I went with a full page each time. Now whether having those 1/3 pages showing up Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (for instance) is really more productive than having a full page show up on Friday, I don't really know. Especially since it would also be a limited series - the story would update for awhile and then finish, then I'd go onward with something else (something else likely completely unrelated).

    As far as adding more panels per row. That most are two is just the way it worked out on this pass, not something I'm trying to maintain. I don't have a problem with adding panels.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Monday, August 31, 2009 at 07:56 PM.



  5. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Pacing, time, panel size: True, fewer panels have the effect of speeding up time, and more panels have the effect of slowing it down. This is a generality. Generally, it's true.

    However, here's what you're not understanding: that's a static, complete page versus a cut up and spread over time page. When you're dealing with the web and the update schedule, the reader starts to take into consideration the time between each update. This isn't a conscious thing. What you intend to do on the web doesn't come out to be the same thing in your head, nor in your completed, printed page. It probably won't even feel the same when you get together an archive.

    At two to three panels per update, for a single actual comic page, your updates are going to seem stilted in their storytelling. It will be more obvious that it's an ongoing story, but unless there's some sort of payoff/impetus to go forward from day to day for the reader, they may not stick around.
    Okay. I understand what you're saying here, but the stilted, broken-up storytelling is going to be present in any serialized webcomic, isn't it? The pacing is always going to be slowed over that of having a complete comic in hand. The only way to avoid it is to dump the whole story on the site at once and let people read all the way through it from the get-go (which I guess is always an option too).

    Now I will grant you that by breaking the page up I may be increasing the "stuttering" effect of the pacing. But I'm actually not increasing the wait time. Whether I dump a full page on Friday, or I dump 1/3 page each on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday... it's still only a week for that page of story. That was the whole point of the experiment, to get more individual updates out of the same chunk of story, not to slow down the overall presentation and make the story run longer.

    If I have a (full) page with 6 panels, it's still 6 panels in a week. I can't see how it matters if there's 2 on Monday or 3 on Tuesday. You're still getting the same amount of story in the same amount of time. You're just getting it in smaller, quicker bites. I could speed up the presentation of the story in any number of ways (including adding more panels per update) but that only speeds up the time-table for the presentation of the story, not the story itself. At least as far as I can see.

    And, while I can see that it's a consideration, you're also blowing the update problem completely out of proportion in your examples.
    During the fight, while you may THINK it goes fast before the second thug pulls his gun, it will actually be a month in real time. From the time the one thug pushes the girl to the other thug to the time the second thug pulls the gun will be five weeks. From push to gun, five weeks, and not counting the gun, we have four weeks of Brute Boy getting his butt kicked. Think about that, and tell me again how fast that is going to play in a reader's mind.
    The only way it would be a month in real time before the second thug pulls his gun, is if I only update once a month. Because there's really only a single update where it would make any sense for the second thug to be stepping in when he isn't.

    To try and make the point you want to make, you're starting your example in a place that just doesn't make any sense. When Thug 1 pushes the girl off on Thug 2, Thug 2 is, at that moment, given the implicit assignment of, "Deal with the girl while I handle this clown" (though I suppose I could even add dialogue to make that more concrete). Why would you wonder what he's doing at that point, when he's been all but told outright to watch the girl? Even at the next update, SD getting mouthy is no reason for him to step in. That's not showing SD to be a real threat.

    The first sign SD is anything but a pushover with delusions of granduer (messed up presentation of his strength aside, because that's a seperate issue that will be dealt with) is when he blocks the thug's punch and leans in for a veiled threat. At that moment, I'll allow that someone could reasonably begin to wonder if Thug 2 should be thinking about stepping in to help. Before that point, I don't believe any reasonable person would feel Thug 2 has been out of play for an excessive amount of time (I mean, you're really wondering why Thug 2 isn't stepping in while Thug 1 is knocking SD on his ass? Because that's what you're claiming.) Until that point he has no reason to do anything but keep track of the girl, because Thug 1 has the situation with SD under control. But after that point, what he's doing could reasonably become a concern.

    So let's start at that point, and let's say that happened on a Monday. With no update on Tuesday, you'll be (hopefully) anticipating a fight on the next update. On Wednesday, you see SD beating the first thug like a toy drum and start wondering what the hell the second thug is doing. You've got another day with no update to wonder what will happen. Then on Friday, you find out the second thug had a gun and it's now at SD's head. The entire thing, from SD taking the upper hand, to Thug 2 taking back control of the situation, plays out, start to finish, in one week

    Even if you start where you wanted to, it's still not a month. The only way to make it drag out as long as you're claiming is to start at an illogical place where Thug 1 has the situation completely under control, and update with only one row a week. And even doing that, there is simply no way to come up with "Brute Boy" getting his butt kicked for four weeks, because his entire butt-kicking takes place in a single update.

    When I'm talking about the format, I'm generally talking about the staccato two-panels-per-update you go on for what would be nine weeks. For over two months, you go on with just two panels, and it's not until the tenth week that we get treated to three panels. That's P4, by the way. So, for all intents and purposes, your format is two panels per update, until you break out with the three panels a few times.

    When I say strikes against your format, I'm talking about having to add panels or do something to focus on an aspect in order to give it its proper due. This breaks up your given format.
    So, essentially, what you're saying is that, if I go with this format (or something like it), I should be treating each row as it's own stand-alone page - with an appropriate (hopefully compelling) "page turn" to get the reader back for the next update? Because that, at least, makes sense (even if your example and time-table doesnt).

    Strength: My example was an extreme case, but it turns out to be the same thing: you describe SD as a thin fop, and the thug to be big and brutish. I'm not seeing Batman and Daredevil, I'm seeing Captain America and The Thing: one may be a capable fighter, but will not be able to stop a blow from someone who's obviously much stronger than him with his bare hands.

    The problem comes from your presentation. You present him as pretty damned strong (going from building to building, jumping down on the car anf flipping, catching a fist) until he gets his ass whipped. Present him differently, and you won't have to overcome the "superheroes are super-strong" predisposition most of us have.
    I understand where you're coming from here. I wasn't expecting SD to seem that strong, but I can get how he does. I figure if I modify his grand entrance, and change the bit where he catches the thug's hand, then I should be okay there. Shouldn't be too hard. I'm just hoping his agility doesn't translate as strength - because the hopping from roof to roof and flipping is pretty much all agility.

    Dialogue: there isn't a hell of a lot of it here, so you didn't have much time to go into last-name mode. And remember, I didn't have much of a problem with Talia's lines, just the asshole wizard. I'm not seeing dialogue as being too much of a problem for you. Few writers who have submitted have real problems with dialogue, and most of us (including me) can use a polish.
    You underestimate me, Steven. I've proved I can go into last-name mode with as little as two words.

    And I recall you having rather a lot of problem with Talia's lines in that first script. Definitely more than you had (or at least more than you mentioned) with SD's - and SD's lines were kind of going out on a limb, I thought. I haven't done a word count or anything, but I also had the feeling of a lot more dialogue in this script than in my others - I could be mistaken though, maybe I just put more effort into the dialogue there was.

    (And for the record, I don't find either character interesting. I don't know enough about them yet, and you've yet to present any characterization that would make either of them interesting to me.)
    Ah, well. I had hoped I presented SD as a character that would make people wonder, but I can live with the disappointment (and work on it) if I didn't. And I'm still not sure if it's possible (at least for me) to present a truly compelling character in only 5 or 6 pages, as I have a very hard time thinking of anything that short as more than a quick lead-in or intro. Maybe if I'd used more panels.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Monday, August 31, 2009 at 08:05 PM.



  6. StevenForbes Guest

    You're right. My timeline's off. I'm thinking weeks, not days.

    Even going with days, it's still a little over a "week" from shove to gun pull. If you updated MWF, you're not getting to the gun pull until that second week. You still have to deal with the reader's time sense within your format/medium.

    And yes, I think it would be better if you treated each "row" as a standalone page. It would make easier reading, and would work for you when it was assembled for print.

    As for the strength, you have to be decently strong in order to flip from building to building--especially if they're not close together. Agility will not get you to the next rooftop from a front flip. Strength will.



  7. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    You're right. My timeline's off. I'm thinking weeks, not days.

    Even going with days, it's still a little over a "week" from shove to gun pull. If you updated MWF, you're not getting to the gun pull until that second week. You still have to deal with the reader's time sense within your format/medium.
    I still don't understand why the shove matters. That part of your argument (which the whole argument seems to hinge on) makes no sense to me.

    The second thug already has a job to do between the shove and when SD does something that makes him seem like a real threat. His job is to keep track of the girl, so I don't understand your expectation that he should be doing anything else during that time. I could show what the second thug is doing during that time, but it would just slow the story down without showing anything interesting or important.

    There's no reason for the second thug to be involved in the fight sooner, and anything else that could be done to avoid the second thug being off panel just slows the scene down (even if I were to go to a full page format, it's still adding panels, slowing things down). And I don't think it's important enough to slow things down for.

    Now if your only point is that, if everything from the shove to the gun pull was all on a single page, it would make it read faster... well, yeah. So would putting the whole comic up at once, but that doesn't automatically make it the right choice. Even with a full page format, things get broken into seperate pages. There's always going to be time-lag with a serialized webcomic, it's a necessary compromise of the medium.

    And yes, I think it would be better if you treated each "row" as a standalone page. It would make easier reading, and would work for you when it was assembled for print.
    I agree that's a good idea. I was actually trying to keep that somewhat in mind already, but I'm certainly willing to work some more at it.

    As for the strength, you have to be decently strong in order to flip from building to building--especially if they're not close together. Agility will not get you to the next rooftop from a front flip. Strength will.
    It's true that a gymnast needs to be decently strong, but that doesn't necessarily translate to the same kind of brute strength as a big street-fighter, much less to superstrength.

    And, for the sake of accuracy, I also didn't show him "flip from building to building". I showed him flip off the roof of a van. And intended him to have followed the girl along a block of buildings (I envision his roof-top travels being done in a sort of over-the-top parkour/free-running style, though I didn't take the time to show it because I wanted to get into the actual story quickly). I never intended to have him leaping entire multi-lane streets - he's not capable of that. But even jumping an alley, dropping to a lower story building, or climbing to a higher one... who is going to have a better chance of doing it, and doing it quickly? An agile wirey monkey of a guy, or a big muscle-bound gorilla? My money is on the monkey. But my bet for the winner would probably change when it comes to a fist fight, unless the monkey has shown something to tell me that he's a skilled martial artist.

    Or to pull a couple of superhero examples... who is going to be better at flipping from building to building (or even somersaulting off a van), Batman or the Thing? Now, who would you rather get punched by? Just because someone is more agile than someone else (and strong enough to do their thing), doesn't mean they're stronger, or tougher, or likely to be taken seriously as a threat by the bigger guy.

    I realize (and have acknowledged) that I need to dial back on SD's show of toughness and brute strength, but I just don't buy the idea that SD has to be hobbling around with a cane or something to be dismissed as a non-threat by the big tough street thug. If the super-strong superhero expectation is that powerful, then I'll need to stop worrying about how I'm portraying SD's strength in this scene and work on finding some way of establishing that this isn't a typical superhero universe and any expectations the reader is bringing over from other comics are probably going to be wrong.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Tuesday, September 01, 2009 at 05:12 PM.



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