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Thread: The Comics Panel Time-Master--PART 1: The Problem

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Thanks, Calvin.

    I knew you wouldn't fail me.
    Are you saying I'm predictable?

    I guess I can live with that. And the moving panel issue is dear to my stubborn, mulish heart. I've come to my own conclusions about it, but I'm still eager to see those conclusions challenged and tested.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling
    You've actually nailed an important point.

    And I will do my best to sidestep it.
    Intriguing. I'm interested to see how you tackle that.

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling
    ...when a discussion is about "moving panels," the battle is already lost, the core, most important point is already passed by.
    I like this way of thinking, but I think it'll only take you so far.

    I think it's the right way to approach the idea. Coming at it from behind may help folks to grasp the idea easier, but there's still the execution. You say, "the challenge is to write that moment or those moments," and that really is the challenge. And it's a bigger challenge than it might seem, because it's possible to think in static images and still write something that comes off to others as a moving panel.

    I firmly believe that at least one of my arguments (and I'm leaning toward all of them) with Steven over moving panels was actually a clarity of description issue - I envisioned it as a still image, tried to describe it as a still image, and even drew it as a still image to prove it could be done, before finally coming to the conclusion that it wasn't the action itself that was triggering the "moving panel" reaction. I believe he just didn't understand what I was describing, because I didn't describe it clearly enough.

    Interestingly, it was the first example he posted here. The original description was, "The Posoti is pulling Dag by the hand while she's half-dancing along the wharf beside the warehouses." We then proceeded to go round-and-round-and-round while I insisted that, since it could be captured in a frozen moment, it couldn't possibly be a moving panel. All because "half-dancing" meant something different to me than it apparently did to Steven.

  2. danialworks Guest

    Everybody remember to keep their tenses straight. He punched the bad guy. Or he punches the bad guy.

    Comic book scripts are harder to accomplish than screenplays or teleplays. Each panel represents a whole scene, a complete mural, a full sculpture in 2-d, even if all that happens in a panel is somebody saying, "Hi." A scene in a movie script can be two lines or twenty pages, using one setting. But a comics panel is the whole setting, even if that setting is reinterpreted 5 times a page for 3 pages. Or more.

    Question time.

    What are the best ways to establish transitions of time or location in a comics script?

  3. LeeNordling Guest

    Answer time: we'll discuss this next week.

    Hint: He punches or punched somebody doesn't matter if everybody doesn't understand the different moments of time.

    He HAS punched somebody, and that somebody is flying back from the blow, shows a specific moment of time.

    He punches somebody, his fist still in contact with the somebody's chin, shows a DIFFERENT moment of time.

    He swings to punch somebody shows yet another moment of time.


  4. danialworks Guest

    Tom has punched Ray-- and Ray is now flying at our pov-- his mouth open in surprise. Our background is their three gathered friends, Billy, Sal, and Miranda looking really startled by Tom's action.

    Does this work?

  5. LeeNordling Guest


    As you explain it, Ray has been punched and is being propelled by that punch toward us. That means he was facing away from us when he was hit, but you've got his mouth he's either turning around in mid-air, or he's been hit so hard he's nearly done a flip so we see his face upside-down, or we're seeing a down-shot of the action, and this is all complicated by the three characters in the background, making this many hoops for an artist to jump through.

    We may not get to this next week, but how much or how little information you indicate for a panel directs the artists. The more you put in, the more you put the artist in a corner.

    Now, Alan Moore's scripts usually dictate specific layouts, but they're layouts that can be drawn...and that's always something for the writer to consider.

    We can't just write stuff that a reader will understand but that can't be drawn.

    I'm sure you have a frozen moment in mind for this scene, but you've left out critical bits of information that are necessary for an artist to understand it.

    So, the artist will probably draw it differently from how you intend it to be drawn, or, worse, will leave out stuff that you feel are important.

    Neither situation is good.

    This was a classic case of not thinking through or communicating the image.

    My instinct is that it doesn't matter that his mouth is open; in any case, look at how that one designation caused all kinds of trouble.

    I look forward to seeing clarification for how you imagine it.


  6. danialworks Guest


    Panel 1. A really tight shot of Ray's face. His temper is finally boiling over.

    RAY: YOU...!

    Panel 2. Even tighter-- Ray's clenched fist.

    Panel 3. Ray's fist to Tom's jaw.

    Panel 4. Tom is going down, and it looks like he's going to hit the ground hard.

    Panels 5, 6, 7. Startled reactions of Billy, Sal, and Miranda.


    Panel 1. Ray is looming over Tom. Ray is our focus here, so Tom can be left more of a vague shape.


    Panel 2. Sal is starting forward, but Miranda is grabbing his arm.


    Panel 3. A pleading look for Miranda.


  7. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    He HAS punched somebody, and that somebody is flying back from the blow, shows a specific moment of time.
    Thank you, Lee.

    I've been waiting so long for a straightforward, no-beating-around-the-bush, confirmation of that as a valid method of describing a static panel. I've said it works, but it's nice to hear someone else say it too. (This type of set-up action [this has happened], coming before the frozen action [this is happening], has also been at the root of a couple of moving panel debates.)

  8. StevenForbes Guest

    And, to add to what Lee said, it's a perfect example of what I harp on a lot: knowing what can and cannot be drawn.

    Here's your panel description:

    Tom has punched Ray, and Ray is flying back towards us, his mouth open in surprise. Billy, Sue, and Miranda are in the background, surprised at Tom's reaction.

    Okay, so not only does Ray have his back to the camera, he's flying toward us. So, we can't see his face, we can't see Tom, and we can't see BillySueMiranda, who's behind Tom.

    With Ray flying toward us, he's going to be blocking everything else you want to show. Depending on how close the camera is, you're not going to be able to see any of the background you didn't mention (unless BillySueMiranda IS the background).

    So, if the artist is going to draw this, they're not going to take your suggestion. They're going to compose it differently:

    Tom has swung a haymaker at Ray, connecting with him. Ray flies back, to the right of the panel, twisting in the air, mouth open in surprise and pain. Billy, Sue, and Miranda are off to the side, across from the camera, out of Ray's path of flight.

    This should put Tom on the left of the panel, possibly just off-center, with Ray flying back to the right. This also puts BillySueMiranda across from the camera, but still able to watch the action.

    This is a panel the artist should be able to draw to someone's satisfaction (provided, of course, a proper establishing panel has already been done giving Who Where When).

  9. danialworks Guest

    "Twisting in the air."

    One small phrase makes so much difference.

    Also the placement of characters and objects in the panel in relationship to each other.

    Got it.

    I don't think I've ever heard/seen a discussion of comic book script writing as educational as this one in my life. I only hope everyone on this site who hopes to write sequential art someday is paying rapt attention.

  10. StevenForbes Guest

    If you want to have a script looked at by your peers and get some feedback on it, you could do worse than to submit it to The Proving Grounds. Just read the Welcome & Rules first.

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