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Thread: The Comics Panel Time-Master--PART 2: How We Read Comics

  1. LeeNordling Guest

    The Comics Panel Time-Master--PART 2: How We Read Comics

    WARNING: This column can cause a rise in blood pressure. Should this occur, please remember these three things:

    1) Certain points are going to be redundant because I want to make sure they’re given due consideration;

    2) Sometimes it takes a really big hammer to pound a point through a skull;

    3) This will hurt me more than it’ll hurt you…er, okay, two things.

    Nobody sets out to write comics badly, though some ignore the signs that they are doing so, much like a blindfolded man in the driver’s seat on a cross-country road trip.

    Nobody intends to write a page or a panel that will be read differently from how they intend it to be read.

    “Everybody wants to be great at it,” you summarize.

    “That’s right,” I say.

    “Then where do they go wrong and head south, aiming straight for Antarctica?” you ask, employing my blindfolded driving-man analogy. “Is it a lack of talent?”

    “Let’s take talent off the table for now,” I say. “We’ll discuss that in the future with a number of other ingredients that help creators achieve their personal and/or professional goals.

    “For now, let’s focus on what it takes to write a single sequential art panel with intention, to write a panel and have the reader correctly interpret the writer’s intent. To do this, there’s a two-fold solution. First, the writer needs to take off the blindfold; next, he or she needs to concentrate on learning to use the steering wheel.”

    “Can we dump this analogy?” you ask, your face scrunched into confusion. “I’m not making the connection.”

    “Translation,” I quickly reply, not wishing to lose momentum, “creators need to begin with the assumption that they haven’t accomplished their editorial goal in a panel, page, or story, need to continue to examine the work, word for word, and they need to have the right mindset for doing so.

    Simple.

    “Simple???!!!” you explode. “You want creators to assume they did something wrong, in order to do it right?”

    “That’s correct.”

    “Then how will writers know they ever get it right?” you ask, completely exasperated.

    “They won’t,” I reply, getting to the heart of the matter. “That’s why ‘writing is rewriting’ is such an important step towards becoming a good writer.”

    To temper this sentiment, though, there’s another important quote from Voltaire to consider, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”

    Translation: you need to do the best you can, and learn when something is “good enough.”

    Should you discover something’s not good enough, that readers didn’t take from your work what you intended, you need to examine the work again, this time from their perspective, and work once more to make your writing “good enough.”

    Do this, and you’ll constantly be striving to improve, and, in so doing, you will improve.

    Honestly, you will.

    “I dunno,” you consider, skeptically, “I know creators who write stuff over and over again, and the work doesn’t seem to get better. It gets different, but not necessarily better.”

    “I know,” I reply, weeping tears for the Lost Ones. “But that’s because they haven’t found a working mindset for how to improve. When these writers revise their work, they’re usually not turning the steering wheel in the right direction, or, worse, when the wheel is turned well, they don’t know how they did it, so they don’t necessarily know how to do it well again.

    “In short, the good writing was somewhat accidental, not the result of intention.

    “Comics Pro Prep is intended to raise the level of comics craft so that creators will be able to do whatever they need to do to make the finished work the result of their intentions. Even where inspiration and spontaneity are what prime a story’s pump, or propel it forward, or give it life, it will still take a measure of comics craft to fashion the finished result.”

    “I get it!” you exclaim, actually getting it. “You’re saying that we need to figure out what we want to do, work hard with the right focus to do it well, find out whether we did it well, and then, where we didn’t do it well, work hard to get better at doing it.”

    “By George,” I exclaim, quoting ‘enry ‘iggins, “I believe she’s got it.”

    “Okay,” you say, excited that we are finally getting down to business, “I accept that I need to do more than just read these articles to be able to apply them well. I need to practice, consider the work, get constructive feedback, then practice again, and continue to do so until I’m old and gray like you.

    “Meanwhile,” you declare, “I’ll continue to drive cross-country toward my intended destination.”

    “Something like that,” I mutter, disgruntled by the “old and gray” remark.

    “So my blindfold’s off!” you conclude. “How do I steer the particular course we’re discussing today?”

    As I noted at the end of the previous column, it’s scary-simple to become...

    “The Comics Panel Time-Master”
    (or why people should stop trying to write movies on paper)

    PART 2: How We Read Comics


    We’ve corrected the most important misguided mindset: sequential art isn’t film, and should not be written like film, because sequential art panels do not contain motion; panels contain one or more frozen moments of time.

    (If we haven’t corrected this mindset with you, then read and reread Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, as well as Part 1 on this topic, until your eyes bleed; do not pass Go, and do not collect a class credit to proceed to Part 2.)

    SFX: (sound of lone pissed-off screenwriter, who doesn’t want to deal with the learning curve of understanding a new medium) STOMP STOMP STOMP

    SFX: (sound of same lone pissed-off screenwriter, slamming door on his way out) SLAM!

    For the sake of focus, let’s not concern ourselves with the quality of writing. Mixing the apples-and-oranges of clarity-and-quality would blur the lesson. Once we understand how to write clearly, then we can concern ourselves with writing well.

    Here’s a progression of topics we’re going to consider for this and the final column on this topic:
    • How images read inside sequential art panels
    • How time flows inside sequential art panels
    • Controlling time inside sequential art panels
    • Influencing how much time a reader spends on sequential art panels

    How images read inside sequential art panels
    (or why it’s important that I be pedantic)


    Begin with the following mantra, and never stop repeating it: elements inside panels read from left to right.

    This is the scary-simple part, on which each of the following discussions will hinge: elements inside panels read from left to right.

    There are a ton of terrific tricks that can pull the eye in different directions--Brian Bendis is a master of all of them--but the important thing to remember, the critical thing to understand, is that these tricks pull the eye away from reading left to right...because, in our culture, we read from left to right.

    Of course, right-to-left-reading Asian manga comes from another culture, so, for those wishing to work in that discipline, reverse the directionality we’re discussing about page turning, page flow, panel flow, and balloon placements.

    Also, there’s a stubborn trend in Direct Market comics that have balloons in sequential art panels reading from top to bottom, meaning that the first balloon to be read in a panel might be on the upper right, and the next one on the lower left. This has never been an intuitive way to read comics--it’s entirely learned and specific to U.S. Direct Market comics--it confuses readers outside the industry, and if you wish to write or draw with this as your directional compass, please make whatever adjustments are necessary to apply our left-to-right-reading discussion to that culturally inbred approach.

    But first, a few words to those of you who write comics with this conceit....

    Once upon a time there was an editor who is still fairly well known in the Direct Market comics industry.

    This editor looked at a lettered page and asked for two balloons to be moved.

    The letterer said, “But the balloons read from left to right. If we make that change, they’ll read from right to left.”

    The editor said: “No, they’ll read from top to bottom. This is the Direct Market. In the Direct Market, we read balloons from top to bottom, not left to right.”

    Yes, he actually said that balloons are not read from left to right.

    And then he insisted on the changes, which the letterer made.

    It’s a very sad story with a very sad ending; the poor comic book died.

    In full disclosure, I’ve never encountered another editor who mouthed such a preposterous mandate, but a recounting of this discussion reveals the extent to which top-to-bottom panel reading has permeated the Direct Market comics culture.

    If you don’t care that people outside the Direct Market may not be able to read your comics the way you intend them to be read, then, by all means, continue writing with this conceit.

    SFX: (sound of lone pissed-off Direct Market comics writer, who doesn’t like the way he reads comics to be criticized) STOMP STOMP STOMP

    SFX: (sound of same lone pissed-off Direct Market comics writer, slamming door on his way out) SLAM!

    Here’s what you must take from this: we read from left to right.

    We read books from left to right, spreads from left to right, pages from left to right, panels from left to right, and balloons from left to right.

    If you remember and apply this in all things we’re about to discuss, you will have the makings of a true Comics Panel Time-Master.

    Again, how do we read panels?

    Correct, from left to right.

    I’ve had this same discussion with artists. As an editor, it’s one of the few absolute ground rules I lay down; I insist the flow of art and balloons inside panels read from left to right. Never once has an artist objected to this premise; they all know this is how panels are supposed to flow. Would it come as a surprise to you that, for over half the artists I’ve worked with, even after these discussions, it takes me about ten to twenty pages of layouts to drive this point home, time and again, with note after repetitive note, that the elements inside panels need to read from left to right?

    Eventually these artists understand that if they don’t have elements inside panels flow from left to right, I will ask for a layout revision; no exceptions. Ever.

    How do we read panels?

    Correct, from left to right.

    Here’s a sad truth: “We read from left to right” is so obvious, so basic, so ingrained, that many of you will forget to apply it to every aspect of your sequential artwork. Even after this pedantic plea, many of you will not consider it to be your most important editorial tool for becoming Comics Panel Time-Masters.

    Do you want to really understand how this medium works?

    Do you want to swim as effortlessly through this medium as Scrooge McDuck swims through money in his bin?

    Then you need to get really anal about this. You need to become obsessive about this. “Left to right reading” needs to become second nature, something so obvious that it pains you to not see it applied well. If you do not embrace this core concept, you will never master the sequential art form, and you will never become a Comics Panel Time-Master.

    Never.

    How do we read panels?

    Correct, from left to right.

    How time flows in a sequential art panel

    Let’s explore that oft-repeated phrase of mine: “panels contain one or more frozen moments of time.”

    Here’s a description of one frozen moment of time: Johnny Action Jr. is in mid-leap over the picket fence, fiercely racing to stop the two pintsized bullies who’ve pinned a frightened Boy Scout to the lawn. Having turned to see Johnny rushing toward them, Bully #1 is alarmed; Bully #2 is more concerned with demolishing the Boy Scout, his arm cocked back, his fist clenched, ready to deliver a punishing blow to the face. The frightened Boy Scott anticipates the blow, wincing, his eyes clenched shut. Inside the house behind them, an Angry Little Old Lady leans out her kitchen window, brandishing a rolling pin, calling for the bullies to leave her grandson alone.

    For the sake of simplicity, we’ll skip specific visual layout direction, and trust that the panel will be large enough to contain everything that’s described. (We’ll discuss, at a later time, the problem of writing more stuff into a panel than the panel will allow.)

    This panel is a snapshot of a single moment.

    It can be drawn.

    It is described from left to right.

    That’s the first thing to consider when writing or rewriting a panel.

    If you consciously write panel direction from left to right, you’ll be setting up, in your description, the order in which you wish the elements to be drawn, and it’ll be the order of elements that the reader is intended to perceive.

    I don’t want this point lost amid all the other points that are crying out for attention.

    If all your panels are written from left to right, then you are introducing ideas in a consistent manner that conforms to how you think they should be drawn. Do this and an artist will consistently know your intent. Then, even if the artist doesn’t draw things the way you imagined them, he or she will still be building on your intent, rather than misinterpreting it.

    This is an ideal circumstance for a collaborative effort.

    This approach to writing your panel direction also gives writers and editors a tool with which to critique layouts: panel descriptions with clearly written objectives. It then becomes less about whether an artist got the angle right, and more about whether the editorial objective of the panel was achieved.

    Forget whether writers, even writers whose work you love, write this way or not; that argument is just a lazy way out of having to do your job of communicating your intent to the artist.

    SFX: (sound of lone pissed-off comics writer, who doesn’t like to be told what to do when it interferes with his style) STOMP STOMP STOMP

    SFX: (sound of same lone pissed-off comics writer, etc., slamming door on his way out) SLAM!

    A hand raises in the back.

    “Yes?” I ask.

    “If other professional writers don’t necessarily write their panels from left to right, how can you say this is the way to write?”

    “Good question.

    “First, not all professional comics writers are Comics Panel Time-Masters. Writers get work for a combination of reasons, and their level of sequential art craft is only one of them.

    “Next, and more importantly, I’m not saying this is the way to write. I’m saying this is a way to clearly write your panel descriptions, which is our point.

    It’s your choice how to write panel descriptions; it’s your choice what to put into them. I’m merely revealing to you a method that will allow for more consistent interpretation by artists and editors. If you discover your intent isn’t being interpreted well, I’ve supplied some tools with which you may be able to course-correct your approach.

    Like all advice, this is a compass, not a rulebook.

    For those of you still with us, there’s another reason you need to think of panels this way: it clearly orders your intent for a panel. The more you deviate from this, the harder it’s going to be for you to keep straight the different frozen moments of time in a panel.

    Worse, it’s harder for an artist to correctly anticipate the order in which you need elements revealed in a panel.

    A hand in the back raises again.

    “Yes?” I ask.

    “You just mentioned more than one frozen moment of time in a panel, but you previously described this panel as being only one frozen moment.”

    “I did, didn’t I?” I respond. “Good catch.”

    Yes, this image I described is currently one frozen moment.

    What happens when we add dialogue?

    ***

    JOHNNY ACTION JR.: I’ll save you, frightened Boy Scout!

    BULLY #1: You can’t save everybody, Johnny Action Jr.!

    BULLY #2: That’s right! And I’m going to deliver my punishing blow to this frightened Boy Scout’s face before Johnny Action Jr. can reach us!

    FRIGHTENED BOY SCOUT: I can’t bear a punishing blow!

    FRIGHTENED BOY SCOUT: My grandma hates having to scrub the blood stains out of my clothes!

    ANGRY OLD LADY: That’s right, you meanies!

    ANGRY OLD LADY: New & Improved Super-Terrific Cheer isn’t any better than the crap they were supposed to be improving!

    ***

    Now how many frozen moments of time do we have in this image?

    (Imagine the Jeopardy music)

    Time’s up.

    The answer: Arguably, five.

    That’s right, there are five frozen moments of time, roughly one for each of the characters speaking, though a case could be made that the second balloons attributed to Frightened Boy Scout and Angry Old Lady add two beats, making it seven moments of time. (We’ll discuss balloons and the beats of time they create later.)

    In which direction do the frozen moments of time move across the panel?

    The hand in the back goes up again.

    “Yes?” I ask.

    “I don’t get the question.”

    “Where is the earliest frozen moment of time in the panel?” I ask.

    “Johnny Action Jr.,” the voice in back answers.

    “Correct,” I reply. “Where’s Johnny Action Jr. in the panel?”

    “On the left,” the voice in back answers.

    “Correct,” I reply. “Where’s the next frozen moment of time in the panel?”

    “Bully #1,” the voice in back answers.

    “Correct,” I reply. “Why?”

    “Because he responds to what Johnny Action Jr. says,” the voice in back answers.

    “Correct,” I reply. “Where is the next frozen moment of time in the panel?”

    “That would be Bully #2,” the voice in back answers.

    “Why not the Frightened Boy Scout?” I ask, probing.

    “Because,” the voice in back replies, “the Frightened Boy Scout responds to what Bully #2 is saying. If he were placed before Bully #2, then the balloons wouldn’t read in the correct order.”

    “Good,” I say. “So, again, in which direction do the frozen moments of time move across the panel?”

    “From left to right,” the voice in back answers.

    Yes, that’s how this panel reads.

    Let’s try a really simple image: Johnny Action Jr. has delivered a fierce blow, and Bully #2 is flying back from it.

    It’s one moment of time.

    Let’s add dialogue.

    JOHNNY ACTION JR: Take this, Bully Boy!

    SFX: (point where the fierce blow was struck) POW!

    BULLY #2: OW! That smarts!

    ***

    The panel now contains three frozen moments of time: the moment before the blow was struck; the moment when the blow was struck, signified by the SFX; and the moment of Bully #2 reacting to having been clobbered.

    And they read from left to right.

    Let’s test this left-to-right-reading theory.

    What if we try reading this image backwards from right to left? Here’s how it will look and read:

    Bully #2 is flying back from a fierce blow that’s been delivered by Johnny Action Jr.

    BULLY #2: OW! That smarts!

    SFX: (point where the fierce blow was struck) POW!

    JOHNNY ACTION JR: Take this, Bully Boy!

    ***

    Doesn’t work, does it?

    But something interesting happened: the image can be drawn. Why can’t it work without that particular dialogue?

    Answer: it can.

    Here’s how:

    Bully #2 is flying back from a fierce blow that’s been delivered by Johnny Action Jr.

    BULLY #2: OW! That smarts!

    JOHNNY ACTION JR: Not as much as Grannie’s rolling pin is going to hurt you, Bully Boy!

    ***

    In this version, we’ve made: Bully #2 flying back the first image in time; we’ve eliminated the SFX; and we’ve got Johnny Action Jr. reacting to what Bully #2 says, making it the last moment of time.

    And how does time flow in this panel?

    Again, from left to right.

    So we’ve learned that we can flip our images from “action & reaction” to “reaction & action,” but we still need to make sure that any corresponding dialogue sets the earliest frozen moment of time on the left, then moves progressively to the right.

    As an exercise, write ten panels as you wish them to be perceived, with action on the left, and reaction on the right. Then flip each of them, and write reaction on the left and action on the right.

    Then add dialogue to each, with the realization that, by flipping them, you’ve chosen different frozen moments of time from which to proceed.

    The hand in the back goes up again.

    “Yes?” I ask.

    “Does this mean we have to put every detail in our script to capture all the different frozen moments of time?”

    “Of course not,” I reply. “Much of what does or doesn’t go into description is up to the writer, depending on his or her intent.

    “What a writer does need to do is make certain is that the elements in the description read…. What’s next, class?”

    “FROM LEFT TO RIGHT!” the classroom answers in chorus, completing the thought as though they’d just had it pounded like a nail through their skulls.

    “Very good,” I reply, my job done.

    Now that we know how panels read, as well as how time flows within them, we’re armed with the necessary tools to bend time to our will, and take that first of many conscious steps toward becoming...a Comics Panel Time-Master!

    The hand in the back goes up again.

    “Yes?” I ask.

    “Didn’t you promise to teach us to be Comics Panel Time-Masters this week?”

    “Yes,” I reply. “But that was before people started stomping out of the classroom, and then you kept raising your hand to ask questions.”

    The hand in back goes down.

    ***

    Lee Nordling is the owner and founding partner of The Pack (the-pack.biz), a comics-related content provider for the publishing industry. He is also author of “Your Career In the Comics,” an overview of the newspaper comics syndication profession and industry.

    If you wish to contact Lee separately from Comics Pro Prep, please write to him at lee@projectfanboy.



  2. drgerb Guest

    I think there's two potential aspects of time in every panel. If we acknowledge them it may make it easier on us, the creators.

    1. What you see and 2. What you read.

    What you see will always be one precise finite moment in time. The artist cannot draw multiple times in the same panel (maybe, breaking the rules, one could, but for understanding the rules, we should say the art in a panel is always one moment in time).

    When you introduce dialogue, that's when you introduce this secondary element of time; ""The time within the panel's time."" Erm, like a second time frame...


    Erm, my feet are coming out from underneath me methinks. I'm kinda losing my point I think... So before I confuse myself any further...

    Thanks for another great article, Lee. This one really had me thinking. Especially just the whole idea of one panel having more than one time. That's one issue I've ran into before; Staring at a questionable panel knowing something is goofy but not being able to figure out what. And now, being able to understand that, I think I'll be able to catch messups before I miss them. Woo.



  3. BarriLang Guest

    SFX: (the sound of Barri's jaw hitting the floor at the realisation that the flow of the panel left to right was actual the passage of time) WHAP!

    I knew left to right was how things work and have hopefully already been subconsciously applying the rule. But now I'll be looking for it to MAKE SURE I stick to it.



  4. LeeNordling Guest

    You're absolutely right, Roberts.

    The time span it takes for characters to start and complete word or thought balloons adds another dimension of time to a panel, one that is theoretically encompassed by the frozen moment of time it's pointing to.

    I'll certainly want to touch on this later, perhaps even next week.

    Thanks.

    --Lee



  5. Join Date
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    Ah, any column that justifies my being pedantic is fine by me.

    In fact, the only thing better than one of your columns that teaches me something new, is one of your columns that assures me that something I'm already doing is correct.

    SFX: (sound of people who don't care how I'm doing, getting up and leaving the room) STOMP STOMP STOMP

    SFX: (sound of same same people, slamming door on their way out) SLAM!

    ME: Way to be supportive, Mom and Dad!!
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  6. LeeNordling Guest

    Actually, I was just justifying me being pedantic.

    Once upon a time, when I was at Disney, being me, somebody responded to something I said with a really annoyed expression, "You know, Lee, sometimes you can be really obnoxious."

    I just looked at him, stunned. I thought this guy was a pal.

    I'd been called obnoxious many times in my life, but this is the first time, in my late thirties, that I realized it was a pejorative.

    Now I try to warn people I'm going to be doing it, and for a reason...not that it always succeeds.

    I'm an acquired taste.

    --Lee



  7. Join Date
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    I can relate. I have mild Asperger's, and therefore redifine pedantic. Ask Forby or Scott, they''ll be HAPPY to tell you.

    I figure, I'm a jerk, but I have a note from my doctor!
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  8. StevenForbes Guest

    An acquired taste, Lee? I wouldn't say that. Not now. But then again, I didn't know you then.

    I'd call myself an acquired taste. Did you see the train wreck that was Barri's pitch thread on DW? Yeah. I'm kinda curious about how the other side of that went.

    Anyway, on to this week's column.

    Left to right. Left to right. Left to correct (right). Left to "write."

    I like to think I write this way generally instinctively. Generally. It may not always get there.

    This is the reason why I say that everyone needs an editor. (Although Seth is of a mindset that if you need an editor to make your stories better, you're really not much of a writer to begin with.) It's the simple things that often get overlooked because we're so focused on the big picture that we forget that the comics panel is the absolute base of everything we're doing. We have to build that base over and over and over again, hundreds of times within a single issue or graphic novel, because it is that base that makes up the whole.

    I do, however, take some exception to your panel description after the dialogue is added.

    Here's what I'm seeing in my head as a layout: Top of the page, a single wide-screen type of panel, where we have Johnny Action Jr. leaping on the left, Bullies and The Bullied in the middle, and Rolling Pin Lady on the right.

    As a frozen moment in time, that works.

    For me, it starts to break down when you add the dialogue.

    The first moment of Johnny talking is fine. Bully 1 talking is fine, as well. If I stretch my time-sense, I can just put in Bully 2, which forces me to fit in The Bullied. Now, my time-sense is stretched but is still working. It gets broken when you add in Rolling Pin Lady's dialogue. Why? Because she's responding to The Bullied's response, which is in response to Bully 2. My time-sense is now broken.

    (I may have to create a jerky character and name him Bulle, just because.)

    Arguably, you have 5 moments in time in this single panel. I'm seeing it more as three: Johnny and Bully 1, Bully 2 and Boy Scout, and Granny.

    This frozen "moment" is more like three moments, and is more like 6 or 7 seconds (possibly 10), instead of only taking 2 or 3.

    This is because all the dialogue builds off of each other.

    This would be an interesting way to tell a story, if your editor doesn't pull out a scimitar and cuts off your head with a single, mighty blow. As a panel to moment ratio, you've got at least a 1:3, moving up to a 1:5, depending on spacing.

    I think you can get away with a 1:2, but most comics I've read (and I'll admit to reading mostly Marvel/DC) are a 1:1.

    If the writer was doing something interesting with the entire book, going meta with the storytelling and having a story that would allow it, I think 1:3 can be done. It would read weirdly at first, but after a while, I think readers would get it. (I might have to dig out my issues of Promethea and see what Moore did there. There may have been some 1:2's in there, but I don't recall any 1:3's.)

    For the sake of simplicity, let's just say that I think you broke the panel to moment ratio with the example given, and I personally hope that writer's don't pick this up as "Lee said I could do it this way, and he's a geeeenyus!" Let's call it a great example of what can be done, but generally not something you'd normally do over the course of regular, standard storytelling.

    Experimental storytelling is something altogether different, but you should definitely learn to crawl before you teleport.

    (And now, I wanna try the 1:3 with one of my stories! See what you did, Lee?! I won't call it blame, I won't call it credit, because both have connotations. A less charged, more neutral word would be 'responsibility.')

    SFX: (Steven getting his papers together as he prepares to leave) Shuffle shuffle shuffle

    SFX: (Steven hitting the floor because Calvin tied his shoelaces together) WHAP

    Calvin: If it's anything like that script I just went through in TPG, ferget it, pally! I'm not reading it!



  9. LeeNordling Guest

    Hey, Steven.

    Thanks for the thoughts, but I stand by five frozen moments of time for a very specific reason.

    Each drawing of each character's expression must key to what they're saying.

    So, if there are a progression of five characters speaking, each one pointedly spoken after another (as I intentionally structured it), then the time lines are clearly drawn between these separate moments.

    Could it be rewritten to the two bully boys and the Boy Scout are all (in theory) shouting at once, as though they were speaking over each other? Sure. And, in that case, you could argue for three frozen moments of time.

    But since the point of this exercise is to get creators to consciously differentiate moments of time so this will start to become second nature, I intentionally wrote the dialogue so it was progressive and couldn't be construed as overlapping.

    Potentially compressing them would muddy the instructive waters, and I didn't yet want to pursue these inevitable complications.

    ***

    And yep, I have heard about the dust-up over at DW, read the posts and came to this conclusion, which is not too different from problems I've had with people in the past: to understand Steven, you have to start with where he's coming from. If you don't begin by recognizing that he's trying to help by telling an unvarnished truth, then you may misunderstand his INTENT, and conclude he's an asshole.

    I've argued this point, off DW.

    I've had my goals terribly misunderstood in the past, and it has, truthfully, bugged me...so I try to qualify myself more often, try to lay the groundwork for the points I have to make, and I step back from arguments quicker.

    My sole goal is to be understood, not necessarily to be agreed with.

    It's perfectly okay to disagree with me, to think I'm wrong, and I like conversations about differences of opinion, and finding, through discussion, the point where our beliefs depart.

    To accomplish this, I have to do everything possible to understand somebody's perspective, and work to get mine across, without challenging their right to disagree.

    It's difficult.

    I know your goals are honorable, Steven.

    I know you offer critiques like a drenching of cold water, and you know, too, the repercussions: that your approach is likely to be misunderstood. It's a tough road.

    I think it may harm you more than help you, but may help those who need to be seriously disillusioned about the quality of their work...providing they're the kind of people who can get right back on the bicycle after being knocked off it.

    I'm not sure everybody needs that level of directness...but if folks know where you're coming from, then they can adjust their Steven Meter accordingly.

    Hang in there.

    --Lee



  10. Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
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    Post Thanks / Like

    Just 'cause Forby's an asshole doesn't mean he's wrong!! LOL

    I keed, I keed! I think anytime people get all up in arms over Forby, it's because he tells you what you NEED to hear, rather than what you want/expect/hope to hear.

    The point people need to focus on, is that both of you (Lee and Forby) are trying to help us all become better at this, and you dispense your wisdom for free and altruisticly, albeit painfull and harsh at times.

    So, those who are about to write salute you, sirs.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



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