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

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    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.
    Yeah, stop on by! We could use some new blood - on the floor (just kidding, it's not that bad). We joke about the "Red Font of Doom," but it's all done to help.

    We'll break your script down line-by-line if necessary, to help you build it back up better than it was. And the queue is only out a couple weeks right now, so it'd be a good time to get something in.

    The Proving Grounds

  2. drgerb Guest

    And the queue is only out a couple weeks right now, so it'd be a good time to get something in.
    Gah, quiet you! I noticed that a few days back and have been frantically trying to get 5-6 pages done I can submit your way soon. I'm kinda stuck on page 4 right now though. Feel like I've got a few interesting bits on page 1 and 3, and I don't really wanna slow it down for the next few pages. I wanna be able to have something else come in on page 5ish, then slow down the pace some.. Gah. Back to the drawing; Erm, writing board.

  3. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by drgerb View Post
    Gah, quiet you!

  4. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Now, to get back to the Mamet-ian verbiage (and I know this because Lee knows a TON of great books to read for sequential, visual storytelling), Lee, could you please go over "converting action into juxtaposed frozen moments of time." I think it's important, and I don't want the readers to miss it, and go away scratching their heads.
    Now that we have a breather, after a brief but furious flurry of posts, "converting action into juxtaposed frozen moments of time" is something we'll explore in great depth later, but for now, this says (in non-Mamet-speak), "finding the right images for a sequence of panels that will visually advance the story."

    First, I will probably cannibalize what follows for its own column, because it's that important for understanding visual storytelling.

    The Mamet reference is to David Mamet, who introduced me to this term in On Directing Film...and now I'm going to read like a hypocrite.

    After writing a column that contains, as a central premise, that comics isn't film, how on earth can I utilize a book on directing film as a tool for writing comics??!!

    Well, it's a special book, and what he teaches about film can be converted to comics-think.

    I first spoke to Brian Bendis on the phone, after reading his co-written extraordinary book, "Torso," which tells the true story of a post-Untouchables Elliot Ness and his search for America's first known serial killer. Coincidentally, Untouchables was written by Mamet.

    Anyway, the first book we discussed was On Directing Film, and noted how important it had been to our respective development as comics writers.


    It teaches how to find the images necessary to advance a story, as well as where to put the camera, and, even though the book doesn't mention that these images can be frozen moments of time, they mostly can be.

    To me, this is the single best book ever written for how to visually tell a story...with intention.

    If you know what you need to accomplish in a scene, this book will offer you a functioning methodology for how to translate that into a series of the most important images you'll need to accomplish your goals.

    I was two-thirds of a way through a three-part graphic novel that was being produced for Disney Adventures; it actually is the only graphic novel that DA ever published.

    It was called Space Mickey and the Throgg Ray Wars, and was my Mickey-take on Star Wars.

    The scripts were packed, full of action and dialogue, too much dialogue, I think, in retrospect.

    Anyway, I knew exactly what needed to happen to conclude the third part, and hesitated writing it for months. MONTHS!!


    Because there was so much in it, I knew if I started writing it I'd run out of space; I didn't know how to fit it all in with my current writing process.

    Then I read On Directing Film. It was a revelation. It showed me how to find the necessary visual images I needed to advance my story in the most economical way possible.

    Finishing it, I grabbed a notepad the next morning, a Sunday, and jotted down, in sequence, every important image I absolutely had to have in the story.

    When I was done, I put in hash marks where I imagined the page breaks.

    It came out perfectly, more a miracle than an intention.

    Then all I needed to do was write the dialogue to bridge those images.

    There were some amazing scenes I wished I could expand on, but I was stuck with the number of panels I had...and the finished third part was the perfect conclusion, because it read like a bullet train.

    This is how I learned to write comics a third way.

    The first way was thumbnail method, where I'd sketch images and write dialogue. More about this another time.

    The second way was writing dialogue to advance a story. More about this another time, too, though I will add that this is the non-artist writer's biggest crutch, and sometimes it needs to be discarded.

    And now I had a third way: telling stories with pictures.

    More on this another day, but this is a partial explanation to what Steven was alluding to.


    PS. That third process is a writer's version of the Marvel/plot method. Come up with compelling dynamic images to advance the story, then dump it off on the dialogue/caption part of your brain to make it work.

  5. StevenForbes Guest

    Thank you for that, Lee.

    I know others are going to thank you for it, later. Once they absorb and understand it.

    If you want the book, do a search on it at Lee turned me on to this site, and I got hte book (and many like it) for ridiculously low prices. I think I got that one for about $2. I paid more to have the book shipped than what the book cost, and I got it darn fast, too.

    You can find a great many books on that site. I suggest going for it.

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