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Thread: TPG: Week 40- John Lees

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    Wow, this is going to be interesting. Steven seems to have loved this script. I had a… different reaction.

    You should probably listen to the experienced editor over me. He’d know better whether something like this is marketable. And other people seemed to like it, so there’s that too. But I didn’t like this at all.

    I’m not really that huge a fan of gratuitous gore, but, even with a mild bias against it… the best part of this entire script was the first two pages. Those didn't exactly astound me either, but everything after them (with a couple of very limited exceptions) was mediocre to terrible.

    Pacing-wise, you set up the expectation of a slaughter, then slammed the brakes on with four pages of mostly boring crap. I was with you for the first two pages, even though it wasn’t really my thing. But you started losing me fast after that, and it just kept getting worse by the page.

    Your page turns didn’t amount to much. You jumped all over the place with your locations and there seemed to be precious little point to be made for all the effort you were going through. There were a couple of amusing moments, but they were overshadowed by the annoying moments. And your main character (and narrator) is completely unlikable, outside of one single moment in the entire script.

    Perhaps the biggest shame is that I can actually see some potential behind what you did, but it wasn’t realized. This could have been funny, and even touching in places, if you’d handled it differently. But it wasn’t funny. It wasn’t touching. It was mostly juvenile, boring and (occasionally) annoying. Sorry, John, but that’s just my (subjective as hell) take on it.

    That said, I’ll try and set my personal dislike of the story aside and make my specific comments a little more objective.
    ____

    SERGEANT: HE WAS WANTED FOR RAPE. WE FOUND HIM IN HIS APARTMENT, BUCK NAKED, SITTING IN A POOL OF HIS OWN BLOOD, BALLS TUCKED IN HIS MOUTH LIKE A… GERBIL FROM HELL. HE SAID HE WANTED TO SHOW US HIS DON CORLEONE IMPRESSION.
    I think you should split this dialogue into two balloons. Or push the last sentence down to the next panel.

    Panel 5. A different angle here, this time we’re at an upward angle, looking from behind the sergeant’s shoulder as he kneels there, looking up at the carnage before him. The officer has bent forward off the panel to throw up. In front of them, we see the trail of dead bodies leads to the entrance of the strip club. The club is called HOT TITTIES, as eloquently declared by a pink neon sign.
    It’s not that I really want to see someone throw up… but, with everything else you’re showing here, why bother hiding a little vomit? Just seems odd to me.

    Panel 6. A tighter focus on the shattered window the severed head just flew out from. The voice of Artie Schlebb, unseen here, comes from inside the building. (I think this page would have been better ended last panel. You could re-establish the location and start looking up next page, with an approximation of this panel. This last panel lessens the impact you have on the page. It’s also quite possible to keep this caption. I’d put it on the bottom right of the panel.)

    CAP: THIS ISN’T ME. I’M NOT A KILLER.

    ARTIE (O.P.): THAT ALL YOU GOT!? COME ON!
    I’d leave this panel right where it is. I think it makes for a better page turn than the panel before, if only because it offers something more than an establishing shot and a guy barfing.

    If you do move the panel, I'd be inclined to say at least keep the caption here, as it’s the first hint at a story, rather than just a splatter-fest - except that then you loose the suggestion that the "me" being talked about is the guy inside the strip club, making it seem like "me" is one of the cops. Best to just not move the panel, IMO.

    And on the off-panel balloon… I’d probably specify that the tail should be disappearing into the window, to make it clear where the speaker is, rather than just doing the typical tail-less balloon.

    PAGE THREE (4 panels)

    Panel 1. A change of scene now. We’re indoors, in a police interrogation room, but the solid black background in this panel gives nothing away. Our focus is on Artie Schlebb. He looks different here. For one thing, he’s fully clothed, dressed in a drab brown suit. Rather than a shaved head, he is sporting a mess of curly hair. And he has a mouthful of shiny white teeth. Here we have a mid-shot of him, as he seems to be looking directly out of the page, talking to us.
    What is the purpose of the solid black background? I could see no detail in the background, a solid color like the blank wall of the interrogation room, but why black? This creates a disconnect from the next panel, and I don’t understand why you’re doing it.

    If you’re doing it (along with the use of balloon dialogue and saving the “earlier” caption for next panel) to try and play with the idea that Artie is saying the same thing now, to the reader, that he said to the cops earlier… I doubt it’s going to work. It’s just going to come off as weird that Artie is talking to the reader in a balloon in one panel and a caption in the next (because there’s no one else visible in the panel, the reader has no chance to realize he’s talking to someone he’s with – they’ll probably figure it out, but by then you’ve already thrown them off their stride). Just stick to the captions for now. If he starts interacting with people who are visible in the panel, and not the reader, bring out the balloons then.

    Panel 2. A shot from Artie’s POV, looking up at two burly police detectives. They look astounded and bemused by what they’ve just heard.
    What’s the background now? Are we still floating in space, or is the artist supposed to now add the detail necessary to establish that this taking place in an interrogation room? If so, shouldn’t you tell them that at some point in this sequence?

    CAP: EARLIER. (IS THIS STILL ARTIE, OR IS IT AN OMNISCIENT NARRATOR. YOUR LETTERER IS GOING TO NEED TO KNOW.)

    CAP: THIS IS WHAT THE COPS LOOKED LIKE WHEN I TOLD THEM THAT. (THIS TAKES ME OUT OF THE STORY, BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHERE THIS DIALOGUE SHOULD BE PLACED. IS HE TALKING TO THE READER? IS HE TALKING TO SOMEONE ELSE? IF HE’S TALKING TO THE READER, YOU SHOULD START IT UP ON P1, NOT P3. THIS SETS UP THE READER EXPECTATION SOONER.)
    It was started up on Page 1 (and continued on page 2). He was apparently talking to the reader then, and he’s likely talking to the reader now. If he was talking to the cops in real-time, it would be a balloon, not a caption. What’s screwing it up is the “earlier” bit.

    Change the dialogue to something like, “This is what the cops looked like earlier, when I told them that,” and it should work fine.

    And do not,.. please do not… ever combine a character voice-over narration and an omniscient narration going on at the same time. Bad idea. Just say no to giving your reader a headache.

    Panel 3. An over the shoulder shot from behind the two detectives, looking down at Artie. Their heads are thrown back in laughter, while Artie looks downwards, ashamed and embarrassed. Rather than being contained in speech bubbles, the laughter seems to fill the panel. (Nice touch here, letting the artist know that the laughter is basically going to fill the background. It also precludes any real dialogue from needing to be said in here, and brings the reader back, instead of the barrier you’re putting up with the captions.)
    Question for Steven… how does having a panel with all the dialogue in captions bring the reader back from this theoretical barrier, which is being put up by the captions?

    I do like the laughter as a SFX, though. It’d be even nicer if it was identified as such at the dialogue, not just in the description.

    I also think you should have turned the page on this panel, moving the following panel to the next page. It’s still not a great page turn, but better than a shot of Artie brushing his teeth. Of course that won’t leave much on this page, but that’s the least of your problems.

    Panel 4. Another change of scene. Here we see Artie in a bathroom, wearing pyjamas, looking at himself in the mirror as he brushes his teeth.

    CAP: EVEN EARLIER.

    CAP: MY NAME IS ARTIE SCHLEBB, AND THIS IS MY LIFE.
    You’re screwing up your captions again. This is going to read very awkwardly. Figure out a way to combine the narration, so it’s Artie telling us this story out of sequence, rather an omniscient narrator breaking up Artie’s story and portioning it out to us out of sequence. I won’t bother mentioning it again, but you need to fix it throughout.

    PAGE FOUR (5 panels)

    Panel 1. A long shot in profile of Artie in the kitchen/living room expanse that makes up most of his apartment. Now, this might be a tricky angle to pull off, so if its too awkward feel free to make it a tighter focus on just the kitchen. But I had the idea of encompassing the whole living area of the apartment, with the drab sofa of the living room in the foreground, and Artie hunched forward over his tiny kitchen table – still in his pyjamas, eating cereal – in the background. I think having such a wide focus on this empty, joyless space, with Artie kind of stranded in the middle, could be a nice way of emphasizing his isolation without having him just say “Oh I’m so lonely!” It’s early morning here, so we could have a little daylight shining through the kitchen window, but not too much – we want the place to look dull and depressing. (Okay. I REALLY like this panel description. I want two people to tell me why. Calvin & Adam. You’re up.)
    I like it for two reasons.

    One… because it gives a good explanation, not just of what he wants in the panel, but of the feel he’s looking for by setting up the panel the way he did. That does the artist as much good as pages of detail about what it should look like.

    And two… because I like what he’s doing with the feel he’s going for. It’s the first really effective piece of storytelling in the script, to me. And the first panel to actually catch my interest and say, “There’s a story here”. (unfortunately it took four pages to find one, and it was pretty much the last)

    Panel 2. An exterior establishing shot, still morning. We see a door, with an unspectacular gold-tinted plaque next to it reading “SMILE-A-WHILE DENTAL CLINIC”. (Is he in the shot, going in? Is anyone going in? What’s the building look like? Is it a busy metro street? Is it a view from a parking lot? A little more meat on this piece, please.)
    You have a multi-level problem here. If you’re zoomed out far enough to have an actual establishing shot of the clinic, you won’t be able to read the plaque. And trying to do a close-up shot of a door and a plaque (that you can read) is no establishing shot. Neither one works, so you have two choices – Do a single establishing shot with a larger sign (that can be read at a distance), or do two panels (one with a shot of the clinic, and the other with close-up shot of the door and plaque.)

    Panel 3. We’re indoors now, in a waiting room. The central focus of the panel is a desk, behind which sits an ancient woman, snarling out of the page at the reader. (Brian Augositino. You’re up. What’s wrong with this panel description?)
    Since Brian already weighed in, I’m going to say... nothing that hasn’t been wrong with almost every other panel in the script. There’s been one panel since we left the first page that wasn’t thin on description.

    And while I respect James’ eagle-eye, I don’t think the mistake of not identifying the woman in the panel is a big deal, since the first line following the description (the caption) says, “This is Gladys,” and there’s no one else in the panel to be labeled as Gladys, or to attribute the balloon dialogue to. It’s a flaw, but a minor one.

    A bigger problem, I think, than anything in this one panel, is that we’re being bounced around two completely different locations and four different spaces in the span of five panels on a single page. I think I’m getting dizzy. I’d like to see an establishing shot of Artie’s home, (skip the bathroom scene unless you want to drag it out) then the living room scene, the establishing shot of the clinic, (skip Gladys) and finish up in the exam room. My brain could probably handle that.

    PAGE FIVE (6 panels)

    Panel 1. Medium shot of the seated Artie taking the excavator out of Rita’s hand, looking up at her admiringly.

    ARTIE: WHY THANK YOU, RITA. AND MAY I SAY, YOU ARE LOOKING LOVELY THIS MORNING.

    RITA: OH, DR. SCHLEBB, YOU’RE SUCH A CHARMER!

    Panel 2. An over-the-shoulder shot from behind Rita, looking down at Artie as he suavely grins up at her.

    ARTIE: DO YOU THINK I COULD CHARM YOU INTO DINNER TONIGHT?

    RITA: IT’S A DATE!

    Panel 3. It’s night-time now, and we’re in a classy restaurant. Artie and Rita sit at either side of a candlelit table for two, looking longingly into each other’s eyes. Each has a glass of red wine in their hand.

    CAP: LATER.

    RITA: DR. SCHLEBB, WHAT COULD A SMART, WITTY, FASCINATING MAN LIKE YOU POSSIBLY WANT WITH A GIRL LIKE ME?

    ARTIE: WELL, RITA, FOR A START YOU COULD SIT ON MY FACE. (ROFL!!! THIS, FOLKS, IS COMEDY GOLD!)
    Tastes differ, I guess. I thought that was ham-fisted, juvenile crap that was literally painful to read. There is some mildly amusing stuff in this script, but that wasn’t it.

    Panel 6. Another scene change, and now we’re in Rita’s apartment, where Artie is ****ing Rita. He has her propped up against a wall, pumping away at her while her arms and legs wrap around him. Both are naked, but Rita’s modesty is protected by a full-on view of Artie’s hairy back and fat, saggy arse.
    Gore porn, real porn, what’s the difference? This isn’t any worse than anything else I’ve seen in this. Only three different locations for this page, too. That’s almost a relief.

    Oh… and that’s a moving panel.

    PAGE SIX (6 panels)

    Panel 1. An extreme close-up of Artie’s face, deep in a state of orgasmic ecstasy. (Is this in the same room as before? And who thinks the previous panel should stay, because of this panel here?)

    RITA (O.P.): DR. SCHLEBB? (IF THIS IS STILL AT HER PLACE, THEN THIS WORKS. IF NOT, I SUGGEST DOING THIS AS A CAPTION, WITH QUOTATION MARKS. IT LETS THE READER KNOW SOMEONE’S TALKING, ACTING AS A VOICE-OVER. IT KEEPS THEM WITH THE CURRENT STATE OF AFFAIRS.)
    You can’t do Rita’s line in a caption, because you’ve set up the expectation that the captions are in Artie’s voice. Mess with that and you confuse the reader. The off-panel balloon may not be ideal, but it’s the best option you’ve got without a major restructuring.

    Panel 4. A medium shot of Artie with his hand on Mr. Feinberg’s shoulder, smiling nervously at him. Looking back at him, Mr. Feinberg responds with a wide, glassy-eyed grin. (Hm. Not the biggest fan. Definitely not a moving panel, but I’m not a fan of two people having to face each other, giving different, meaningful looks to one another. It can be difficult to pull off because of body language.)
    It can be difficult to pull off, but not because it has any resemblance to a moving panel or anything to do with body language (the only body language called for is Artie’s hand on the guy’s shoulder, the rest is facial expressions).

    It’s just a less than ideal choice for a shot. You’re forcing a flat side view with the characters facing 90 degrees away from the reader, which isn’t ideal for showing emotions and facial expressions. It’ll probably work (a nervous smile and a grin aren’t terribly subtle) but it’s not ideal. Two panels would work better – you could show Artie’s nervous smile and the hand on the shoulder in one, then cut to a close-up of Feinberg’s glassy-eyed grin in the other.

    Panel 5. Extreme close-up of the inside of Mr. Feinberg’s mouth, as the excavator starts digging into the remains of a lower-mouth molar. The teeth make up the foreground of the panel, and beyond that we should get the sense of plummeting into a black hole, with a distant pair of shrivelled tonsils at its bottom.
    First Steven and now you… what is it with extreme close-ups of someone’s mouth? Weird f***ers, the both of you. :confused:


    ___

    Well, it’s over. I hope I wasn’t too nasty and judgmental, and that there’s something useful that can be taken from my comments.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 02:39 AM.



  2. JohnLees Guest

    Thanks for taking the time to provide detailed feedback, Calvin. And don't worry, I didn't find it nasty or judgemental. In fact, I was jokingly saying to Jamie Fairlie a couple of days back that I should steel myself for a bad review whatever happens, because even on the off-chance of Steve liking it, Calvin was sure to tear it to shreds due to his views always being diametrically opposed to Steve's! So I guess you could say I was already ready for it!

    I appreciate that you didn't like it, and why you didn't like it. Because to be honest, I was AIMING for juvenile here. I wanted something anarchic, stupid and unashamedly lightweight (after all, I end the issue with NEXT: AN ANGRY WOMAN RIPS A MAN'S **** OFF!), so I knew right from the off I was writing something that would likely be off-putting to a lot of people. I'm frankly surprised you're the only person who didn't like it.

    Between you and Steve - and some of the feedback from others - it seems the major problem of the script is the narration. Should I redraft this, I'll definitely need to look at ways of framing the voiceover, better ways of utilising it. I definitely see how the omniscient outside author saying "EARLIER" could get mixed up with a character narration, and things get even more confusing later when I introduce another type of caption in the form of a voice in a different character's head. Maybe Steve's advice of speciifc coloring instructions could help remedy any confusion. But otherwise more radical restructuring might be needed.

    In terms of that opening panel on page 3, however, the intention with the neutral background was to create a sense of ambiguity. With the first panel of the page, we as the readers think he is talking directly to us. In the second panel, however, we get the reveal that this is the story he tried to tell the police. Like a mini-punchline, which might work better visually than it does on the page.

    I think I have to defend my switching of locations, though. I've tried to do my homework, and study what's gone wrong with a lot of the previous Proving Grounds submissions. And a recurring weakness, something which Steve repeatedly associates with "boring", are scripts that are static. Those crucial opening pages lingering on a single scene in a single location for far too long. The whirlwind tour across multiple locations may be disorientating, but I want it to be a bit of an assault on the senses.

    The argument that pages 3-6 are boring holds more water. This was something else I discussed with Jamie, the perils of what I myself called "calculated boredom". Namely, would the action of the first 2 pages provide enough excitement to tide over a reader through 4 pages of deliberately-induced boredom to depict an incredibly boring life, before the action kicked back in on page 7? It was definitely a tricky balancing act, and my failure to grab you shows it wasn't an entirely successful one. But I'm still generally happy with how the intro to Artie's life pans out.

    I think the main recurring problem though, Calvin, is that you see a different story here than I was intending. You say that buried underneath all the gore and juvenile humor, there is a potential for some emotion and characterisation. While I kinda looked at it as "once I get the emotion and characterisation out of the way, I think there's some gore and juvenile humor in here to have fun with!"

    Thanks again for the feedback, Calvin.



  3. JohnLees Guest

    Oh, and I missed it because it was tucked away on the last page - thanks for your comments too, DrGerb!



  4. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnLees View Post
    Thanks for taking the time to provide detailed feedback, Calvin. And don't worry, I didn't find it nasty or judgemental.
    You’re welcome. And thank you for taking it as well as I hoped. I thought about choking down my feelings about it and just sticking to technical comments, but I figured you could probably handle me not liking it.

    And it's perfectly cool that you were aiming for something that isn’t my thing. There are, after all, lots of things I’m not into that other people are. Even in my own household, a well-executed fart joke can set my wife off, laughing till she can't breathe, while I'll just roll my eyes and smile.

    In fact, I was jokingly saying to Jamie Fairlie a couple of days back that I should steel myself for a bad review whatever happens, because even on the off-chance of Steve liking it, Calvin was sure to tear it to shreds due to his views always being diametrically opposed to Steve's!
    That is kind of funny. And I certainly lived up to it.

    But, in reality, I agree with Steven far more often than not - it's just that I don't usually bother making an announcement when I agree with him, so it seems like we're more diametrically opposed than we really are.

    Between you and Steve - and some of the feedback from others - it seems the major problem of the script is the narration. Should I redraft this, I'll definitely need to look at ways of framing the voiceover, better ways of utilising it. I definitely see how the omniscient outside author saying "EARLIER" could get mixed up with a character narration, and things get even more confusing later when I introduce another type of caption in the form of a voice in a different character's head. Maybe Steve's advice of speciifc coloring instructions could help remedy any confusion. But otherwise more radical restructuring might be needed.
    Different colors or styles for the caption boxes would definitely help. You could also go with the omniscient captions un-boxed, which would probably be best if you really want to keep them - especially if you're going to switch character voices within the captions (The “not a box” look will help to reinforce the “not a character voice” aspect, and make it one less thing the reader has to keep track of). I'm not a fan of multi-voice captions, and my advice would still be to not do it, but, if you can keep the captions obviously differentiated (narrator from characters, and character from character), then you probably could get away with it.

    In terms of that opening panel on page 3, however, the intention with the neutral background was to create a sense of ambiguity. With the first panel of the page, we as the readers think he is talking directly to us. In the second panel, however, we get the reveal that this is the story he tried to tell the police. Like a mini-punchline, which might work better visually than it does on the page.
    I kind of thought that's what you were going for, but I honestly think it will work less well visually than you think. You've already given us captions that talk directly to the reader. Then you switch to a balloon that talks to the reader, except it doesn't (nah, nah, fooled you), and then switch back to captions talking to the reader. I think it'll basically be a visual speed bump.

    But what the heck. Give it a try. It might work, and, if it doesn't, the lettering shouldn't be hard to change.

    And, just to beat this dead horse, regarding the "neutral background"... Black isn't really a neutral color. Big, solid black is pretty intense. It's probably going to look like it means something. Neutral would be the kind of bland, lifeless color they'd probably paint an interrogation room wall. That's what I'd use as the background for that first panel. You still wouldn't have to add detail, just a blank, innocuous color that matches the room in the next panel. Just a thought.

    I think I have to defend my switching of locations, though. I've tried to do my homework, and study what's gone wrong with a lot of the previous Proving Grounds submissions. And a recurring weakness, something which Steve repeatedly associates with "boring", are scripts that are static. Those crucial opening pages lingering on a single scene in a single location for far too long. The whirlwind tour across multiple locations may be disorientating, but I want it to be a bit of an assault on the senses.
    You might be right. I suppose if disorienting is the goal, the effect may be working. But it just seemed overly busy to me, and I certainly didn't find it more interesting because it felt so busy. But I'm probably the wrong one to ask. Talk to the people who liked the story, and see if they thought the jumping around added to the experience.

    However... whether the jumping around causes the "assault on the senses" that you're looking for or not, I don't believe lingering in a single scene is what makes a script boring. Taking too long to tell the story, or simply not telling enough story, is what makes a script boring. You could set an entire story in a single room and have the readers on the edge of their seats, if it's an interesting story. If it's not, no amount of jumping around is going to make it one.

    That said, if you want to jump around, I’d say stop trying to set up individual scenes. Forget establishing shots and just give us snapshots. You’ll be able to move even faster, allowing you to add more story and that should help keep it from being boring. And, if you play it right, you could also use it to reorient some things to improve your pacing and page turns.

    Just for the sake of example, let’s say you end page 3 on the cops laughing (which I think is a better page turn - not great, but better) and then go on to the next page for “the boring life of Artie.”

    Page 4
    Panel 1 - Artie brushing his teeth.
    Panel 2 - Artie eating breakfast (without the meaningful wide shot).
    Panel 3 - Artie walks to his car, avoiding the sneer of his neighbor, whose dog is crapping on Artie’s lawn.
    Panel 4 - Artie is cowering in his car, being flipped off by someone while driving to work.
    Panel 5 - Artie being snarled at by Gladys as he passes her desk (because I actually like that panel, if Artie is in it).

    Substitute whatever visual jokes you like, these are just examples. But now you’ve got more evidence of Artie’s loser, boring life, with a more natural flow because you’re not trying to establish scenes, just hit highlights (so the bouncing around shouldn’t be as in-your-face). And the bouncing is self-contained on one page, which should also help. Then on to…

    Page 5
    Now we’re in the exam room and we meet the radiant Rita. With five panels on this page, you can end with, “WELL, RITA, FOR A START YOU COULD SIT ON MY FACE.” Now that’s not even my kind of humor, and I’d still turn the page to see the reaction to that. Note that there’s one location for this page.

    Page 6
    Now we get the reaction and the hook-up. End it on, “DR. SCHLEBB?” so that we have to turn the page to see why his name suddenly became a question. (an additional suggestion is to make the earlier “Dr Shlebb! Dr Shlebb! Dr Shlebb!” big, bold and almost SFX-like, so that a nice, soft, small balloon at the end is an obvious indicator of an, as yet, unknown change in the situation) Two locations for this page.

    That will, obviously, push your last few panels out to a seventh page. Now you may be wondering what the heck I’m doing making your story longer when I said it was boring. Well, let me say that this still doesn’t necessarily make it a better story, but it makes it (in my opinion) a better reading story. Which, in itself, should make it less boring. And I think the couple extra “this is my life” scenes will give a little more story (along with a couple more juvenile jokes), and the pacing of the story, overall, is improved by putting the more compelling moments you have on the page turns. Which should also make it less boring.

    The argument that pages 3-6 are boring holds more water. This was something else I discussed with Jamie, the perils of what I myself called "calculated boredom". Namely, would the action of the first 2 pages provide enough excitement to tide over a reader through 4 pages of deliberately-induced boredom to depict an incredibly boring life, before the action kicked back in on page 7? It was definitely a tricky balancing act, and my failure to grab you shows it wasn't an entirely successful one. But I'm still generally happy with how the intro to Artie's life pans out.
    You don't need to make the story boring to depict a boring life. Your panel with Artie eating breakfast, small and alone in the middle of that big drab home, did more to evoke the idea that he leads an incredibly boring life than everything else you did combined. That was good storytelling, IMO. Unfortunately, as you note in the quote below, it also tells a type of story you weren’t intending.

    I think the main recurring problem though, Calvin, is that you see a different story here than I was intending. You say that buried underneath all the gore and juvenile humor, there is a potential for some emotion and characterisation.
    I'll grant you that I'd rather have read something else. Not that I want you to write anything but the story you want to write (I stand adamant against that sort of thing), but, the thing is, I only saw the emotion and characterization that I did because you put it there.

    While I kinda looked at it as "once I get the emotion and characterisation out of the way, I think there's some gore and juvenile humor in here to have fun with!
    I can respect that approach, I really can. But, if you want my advice (if you don't you're getting it anyway ), it's this... if you really want to get the emotion and characterization out of the way, then literally get it out of the way. Get it out of the story. Get it out of the script. Keep it all shallow, all gore and juvenile humor.

    Take that panel I liked so much, and trash it. Tear out anything else you might have in mind like it. Don't try to be clever or do a "thinking man's panel" like you tried in couple spots. You don’t want the reader engaging their brain that much. Don't try to get me inside Artie’s head and make me identify with him. Don't make me feel sorry for Artie because he's lonely. Don't make me say, "Aww," with a halo around Rita (when you could have done the angelic glow around her ass instead). Make the reader point at Artie and laugh, and say, "Look at that pathetic loser! Ha! Hairy man ass! More flying body parts! Whoo Hoo!"

    Honestly, if you’d dialed it up to 11 with a full-on juvenile send-up celebration, without any illusion of depth (potential or otherwise), I could have probably embraced it for the fart joke that it was, rolled my eyes and smiled.
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Monday, October 26, 2009 at 04:48 AM.



  5. BarriLang Guest

    Technically you've hardly put a foot wrong. Nice panel descriptions that benefit the artist but also have enough detail in there that'll help a letterer and colourist nail their part too.

    The narration was confusing but, as Steve said, this seemed to be more from the fact that you changed your tact (on page 3?) as the mid point.

    The story was bitter, sweet for me. Off the bat I thought the most of the dialogue had a nice dark humour to it (the Don Corleone line especially, not so much Steve's "Comedy Gold" line ) but then I struggled to find an element of the protagonist (Is it Artie?) I could empathise/sympathise with.

    That being said it's written in such a way that I want to know more. I would be interested to know how he went from a sad unlikeable dentist to a psycho killer. So job done.

    Nice work John



  6. Dungbeetle Guest

    What would I know about not offending anyone's delicate sensibilities?

    I guess that image is another chance to fit in more little artifacts that might hint about Rita's personality in the mise en scene - like the colours of the room etc.

    I'd have them in the same position, but a side angle. Now imagine we can see the bottom of archie's back and a little bit of a hair arse at the bottom, so his back is running along the right gutter of the panel. Then have Rita's leg (the furthest one from us) sticking out into the air and breaking the panel. You lose the full-on "OMG I'm looking up his sphincter" effect and maybe get a bit more ambiguity and contrast between his gross ass and her not-so-gross leg. You have an image that can be tittilating or gross depending what you're focussing on and just shade out anything too dodgy.

    There's my attempt, which may or may not be hideously wrong.

    As for the comedy, it's hard. There's a lot going on and it's hard to set the tone as dark and get the jokes in there as well. There's been "hard" stuff I've read where the entire thing just being dark and Lynchian with the sex and violence just made my bored rather than offended (see: Desolation Jones).

    Opening page of The Boys is still a winning way to do it in my mind.

    1: Butcher sitting on park bench, legs wide, nonchelant geezer pose.
    2: A-Train flies over, a low angle shot.
    3: Close-up on Butcher.
    Butcher: I'll have you, you c**t.



  7. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by BarriLang View Post
    The narration was confusing but, as Steve said, this seemed to be more from the fact that you changed your tact (on page 3?) as the mid point.

    The story was bitter, sweet for me. Off the bat I thought the most of the dialogue had a nice dark humour to it (the Don Corleone line especially, not so much Steve's "Comedy Gold" line ) but then I struggled to find an element of the protagonist (Is it Artie?) I could empathise/sympathise with.
    I think Barri has zeroed in on what I'm having the most trouble with. The story is changing its tone as it goes along.

    It starts off with nice dark humor. Then it went bitter sweet - making me feel sorry for poor, lonely Artie, sitting alone in his empty, drab home and hopelessly in love with his assistant (as opposed to just gagging to get in her pants). At that point I was looking forward to a fairly nuanced, tragic, dark comedy set against a background of horror (which is the potential I was seeing, and liked). Then you did a cannonball off the high dive into a pool of complete silliness, about as nuanced, dark and tragic as a whoopie cushion. And I think that threw me. It was like being promised Shaun of the Dead and then being handed Scary Movie 3.

    So I'd say (given your intent) it might make sense to start off sillier, sooner, leave out the bitter sweet, and then the juvenile humor you intended might play better, since that would then be the tone all the way through.

    Of course it may have been your intention to surprise the reader. If so, it apparently worked. It wasn't a surprise I liked, but others might. So just consider this more food for thought.

    It's funny - For a story I didn't like, it's made me do an awful lot of thinking about it.



  8. JohnLees Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by BarriLang View Post
    Technically you've hardly put a foot wrong. Nice panel descriptions that benefit the artist but also have enough detail in there that'll help a letterer and colourist nail their part too.

    The narration was confusing but, as Steve said, this seemed to be more from the fact that you changed your tact (on page 3?) as the mid point.

    The story was bitter, sweet for me. Off the bat I thought the most of the dialogue had a nice dark humour to it (the Don Corleone line especially, not so much Steve's "Comedy Gold" line ) but then I struggled to find an element of the protagonist (Is it Artie?) I could empathise/sympathise with.

    That being said it's written in such a way that I want to know more. I would be interested to know how he went from a sad unlikeable dentist to a psycho killer. So job done.

    Nice work John
    Yeah, the character of Artie could be problematic. I wanted to emphasize how sad and pathetic his life is, but in a way that doesn't take the story into hand-wringing, downbeat drama. And as such he does come across as this gaping moron you can point and laugh at, which doesn't really equate to someone particularly likeable. Perhaps as the story progresses and he rises to heroic status/descends into a psycho killer I could find something more substantial there to draw out of him and get the reader behind him and his plight a little more.

    I'm glad, however, that the story interested you enough to want to keep on reading. I guess that's the job I have to accomplish as a writer, so I'm happy to know I succeeded in that for you. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Barri!



  9. JohnLees Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by Dungbeetle View Post
    What would I know about not offending anyone's delicate sensibilities?

    I guess that image is another chance to fit in more little artifacts that might hint about Rita's personality in the mise en scene - like the colours of the room etc.

    I'd have them in the same position, but a side angle. Now imagine we can see the bottom of archie's back and a little bit of a hair arse at the bottom, so his back is running along the right gutter of the panel. Then have Rita's leg (the furthest one from us) sticking out into the air and breaking the panel. You lose the full-on "OMG I'm looking up his sphincter" effect and maybe get a bit more ambiguity and contrast between his gross ass and her not-so-gross leg. You have an image that can be tittilating or gross depending what you're focussing on and just shade out anything too dodgy.

    There's my attempt, which may or may not be hideously wrong.

    As for the comedy, it's hard. There's a lot going on and it's hard to set the tone as dark and get the jokes in there as well. There's been "hard" stuff I've read where the entire thing just being dark and Lynchian with the sex and violence just made my bored rather than offended (see: Desolation Jones).

    Opening page of The Boys is still a winning way to do it in my mind.

    1: Butcher sitting on park bench, legs wide, nonchelant geezer pose.
    2: A-Train flies over, a low angle shot.
    3: Close-up on Butcher.
    Butcher: I'll have you, you c**t.
    Isn't it funny that we both included fat, hairy arses in our scripts? There must be something wrong with us.



  10. JohnLees Guest

    I won't quote your previous post, Calvin, as there's a lot of stuff in there to cover on a point-by-point basis, but I will say that I read it all, and I appreciate your input. In terms of expanding Artie's "this is your life" by a page, again I don't think this is really the direction I'd be going with the story: as the script continues I introduce a whole ensemble of oddball characters, and I was already thinking I'd lingered on Artie a little too long.

    Quote Originally Posted by madelf View Post
    I think Barri has zeroed in on what I'm having the most trouble with. The story is changing its tone as it goes along.

    It starts off with nice dark humor. Then it went bitter sweet - making me feel sorry for poor, lonely Artie, sitting alone in his empty, drab home and hopelessly in love with his assistant (as opposed to just gagging to get in her pants). At that point I was looking forward to a fairly nuanced, tragic, dark comedy set against a background of horror (which is the potential I was seeing, and liked). Then you did a cannonball off the high dive into a pool of complete silliness, about as nuanced, dark and tragic as a whoopie cushion. And I think that threw me. It was like being promised Shaun of the Dead and then being handed Scary Movie 3.

    So I'd say (given your intent) it might make sense to start off sillier, sooner, leave out the bitter sweet, and then the juvenile humor you intended might play better, since that would then be the tone all the way through.

    Of course it may have been your intention to surprise the reader. If so, it apparently worked. It wasn't a surprise I liked, but others might. So just consider this more food for thought.

    It's funny - For a story I didn't like, it's made me do an awful lot of thinking about it.
    I don't agree with this assessment of the story. There's a difference between wanting the story to be a silly, anarchic caper rather than a pensive, soulful character study, and outright wanting the whole thing to be totally throwaway trash.

    I don't think it's inconsistent to show a sad loser going totally batshit-crazy off the deep end, then a sad loser being lonely, then a sad loser fantasising about being a hit with the ladies, so much as it's showing different aspects of his character or different stages in his development. As such, I think it's a bit of a defeatist stance to take to say "since I think the end is crap, you should just make it all crap right from the beginning and remove any of the things I thought were more effective, so as not to give people false expectations this is anything but crap." It's very much a note from the perspective of an editor who already dislikes the story as a whole, and as such is merely an exercise in damage control after the battle is already lost - the flipside to Steve's point of how the battle is half won if you have an editor who LIKES the story from the outset.

    You use the movie analogy of expecting Shaun of the Dead but getting Scary Movie 3, but to use a similar movie analogy for your thought process here....now, I'm not saying my script is anywhere near this level, but it's like saying that Airplane! fails as a film because Dr. Rumack isn't a nuanced protagonist or because McCroskey's drug habit wasn't dealt with sensitively enough, then concluding that if they wanted to be stupid they should have removed the great one-liners and just had people falling over for 2 hours.

    I don't want to come across as being defensive or precious here - I'm not hurt or offended or anything. I'm just enjoying the chance to discuss and debate about my writing, and so I'm glad you've thought a lot about the story despite not liking it. Thanks again.



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