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Thread: TPG: Week 56 - Harry Durnan

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    TPG: Week 56 - Harry Durnan

    Harry Durnan is bringing us something interesting today. He's put this together to try and get some practice with a Zuda-style landscape format. Let's see how it goes.

    Untitled Space Opera (tentatively Rebellion until I come up with something) by Harry Durnan

    Page One, (two panels)

    Panel One. The Sterrasian flagship Indomitable hangs in high orbit above the earth-like planet Carran. Around it smaller ships and mechanized battle suits do battle, all tiny in comparison to the large central vessel.

    BRIDGE OFFICER (from the bridge of the Indomitable):
    High Lord Protector, the Carran's orbital defenses are crumbling.

    Panel Two. Aboard the bridge of the Indomitable. The Bridge Officer stands in the background, wearing a headset communicator and looking down at a bank of monitors. In the foreground, High Lord Protector Marcus Alamon stares out toward the reader.

    With no descriptions of the ships or the characters, I'll assume you're working all that out with the artist outside the script?

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    Squads Gamma through Omega are requesting new orders, High Lord.

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    Regroup and prepare for the final assault.


    Page Two, (four panels)

    Panel One. High Lord Protector Marcus continues to stare ahead, lost in thought. General Tain, obviously excited and ignorant of the High Lord Protector's introspective mood, has come up behind him.

    Where did Tain come from? Steven would call him "magically delicious." I think you could probably get away with it if your last panel was fairly tight on Marcus, then you pulled back to show more of the bridge and reveal that Tain was there all the time.


    GENERAL TAIN:
    Another glorious victory for the Empire! These barbarians won't disrupt the galactic peace for much longer.

    I hope Tain is supposed to be as much of a blowhard as he sounds there. If he is, that's fine, but the line still feels slightly clunky.

    Panel Two. A large wall mounted display shows the planet below. High Lord Protector Marcus stares at it sadly.

    Where did the large, wall mounted display come from? If it's in front of Marcus, where the camera was before, and we're changing viewpoints to reveal it, that should probably be noted.

    Also, if we're looking at the display so we can see that planet, and Marcus is also looking at the display... how can we see his expression?

    Is Tain supposed to be in this panel, or not?


    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    Yes... Perhaps peace is almost upon us at last.

    Now, this may be purely a personal preference, but I would probably have ended page one here. I think it makes a good page turn – why is the guy sad, if they've finally won peace? It makes me want to know more. A status update on the battle... not so much.

    I don't think it would crowd anything, either. You'd only have four panels on the first page (presumably a big, dramatic shot of the space battle and a stack of smaller panels) and that's easily doable in Zuda format. Some Zuda comics (winners among them) have used seven or eight panels per page.


    Panel Three. General Tain grins proudly, all peacock with his chest full of medals.

    Is this a close-up on Tain, alone? Is Marcus in this panel? I think you need to be a bit clearer about how you're describing your shots so the artist knows who you want in them.

    GENERAL TAIN:
    With the Carrani brought to heel, who would be foolish enough to defy us?

    BRIDGE OFFICER (OP):
    M'lord, we're receiving a long range transmission from Justicar Galat.

    Panel Four. High Lord Protector Marcus, finally showing a hint of excitement, strides away from the monitors. General Tain bows slightly toward his retreating Lord.

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    Route it to my quarters. General Tain, you have the bridge.

    GENERAL TAIN:
    I shall let you know when it's time for your liberation speech, m'Lord.

    Now you've probably noticed that my different page-turn would leave this scene hanging. It's true that it would mean a mid-page scene change, but I think you could get away with it.


    Page Three, (four panels)

    Panel One. Inside the Carrani hangar, General McCloud stands on a raised catwalk addressing unseen troops. He has a cigar firmly planted on one side of his mouth and he leans on the catwalk's railing as he yells.

    Alright, to sort out your revised page (if you decide to revise it). I'm thinking this panel stays on page 2, but not quite the way you've described this panel. What you need here (regardless of whether you decide to mess with the page turns or not) is a nice, wide establishing shot of the hanger, with some waiting ships, the troops (they definitely don't want to be unseen in the establishing shot), and McCloud up on the catwalk in the background. Ideally, I'd also like to be able to see through some big hanger doors to the outside, to reinforce to the reader than we're on the ground now instead of in a space ship.

    Given that, I'd say stack the two panels from the last scene on the left and make this one a big, full height panel in the middle, with a couple shots zoomed in more on McCloud on the right.


    CAP:
    On the surface below, inside the Carrani planetary defense main hanger.

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    I know you lads have been itching to get up there with the rest of the squads, but this op may be our only shot to win this war!

    Panel Two. General McCloud continues to address the troops - a series of golden-bronze domed battle suit helms arrayed below the catwalk.

    Following up on what I said last panel, this is where I'd begin zooming in on McCloud. Maybe a shot from over the shoulder of one of the soldiers, looking up at him.

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    The plan is simple. Once his forces have committed to the ground assault, you will take out that bastard's flag ship.

    I would break the dialogue, ending with "ground assault..." in this panel, and then add another panel, zoomed in closer on McCloud to show his cigar-chewing determination, as he finishes with, "you will take out that bastard's flagship!"

    Now you've got another good page turn – Take out the flagship? How will they do that?



    Panel Three. General McCloud looks down at two rows of four golden-bronze [golden bronze what?] standing at attention. Lieutenant Gwayan's battle suit is on the right end of the front row.

    How do we know the suit on the right end of the front row belongs to Gwayan? Is there something to distinguish it from the others, or are we going to have to read a name-tag on the shoulder of some guy in a line of troops?

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    Gold Squad, you are the best of the best! Now get ready to get up there, and win this war!

    GOLD SQUAD:
    Yes, Sir!

    Panel Four. General McCloud leans more casually on the railing, slightly out of wind after his speech.

    Shouldn't there be more description in this panel? Are the troops heading to their ships? Is Gwayan looking up at McCloud?

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    Lieutenant Gwayan, a word in private before you go.

    LIEUTENANT GWAYAN:
    Sir?



    Page Four, (five panels)

    Panel One. General McCloud smiles ruefully down at Lt. Gwayan's battle suit.

    What is Gwayan doing? I'll let you get away with ignoring the other troops now, because the shot should be close enough that we won't see them getting ready to go, but you need to address the people and things that are here.

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    You're one odd son of a bitch. Hell, if not for the war, you'd have been discharged a dozen times over.

    GENERAL MCCLOUD :
    But, you are the best damn pilot I have ever seen.

    Panel Two. General McCloud stands at attention, saluting down at Lt. Gwayan, who returns the gesture.

    Again, what is Gwayan doing?

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    No matter how this battle goes, it has been an honor serving with you.

    LIEUTENANT GWAYAN:
    Th – Thank you, Sir!

    Panel Three. General McCloud points off behind Lt. Gwayan, back to his shouting military bluster.

    GENERAL MCCLOUD:
    Now get on that shuttle, and go kick some Sterrasian ass! Dismissed!

    Again, what is Gwayan doing?

    And (since I'm trying to get you to scramble all your panels & pages) here's where I'd break this page. It's not a stellar page-turn, but at least the reader will be looking forward to getting to the big battle. And I'm also wondering what makes Gwayan so special, so that's something to look forward to.


    Panel Four: T. J. Boggs stands looking up in awe at the passing legs of a Gold Squad battle suit, a wrench all but forgotten in his hands. Behind him, Crew Chief Ericson is hip deep inside a badly damaged Carrani military battle suit.

    Okay this description is just plain bad. I don't know where Boggs is in relation to anything else, or what he's doing. I don't know if the battle suit is walking by on some level above him or flying. I don't even know if we're still in the same building, because there was nothing about a wreaked battle-suit laying on the floor of the hanger in earlier descriptions.

    I don't know if you're visualizing these panels or not, but if you are, you're sure not writing it down for the artist so he knows what you're visualizing.


    T.J.:
    Wow. They're finally sending up Gold Squad.

    ERICSON:
    Yea, yea... big deal, T. J. Did you find that C-Size wrench yet?

    Panel Five: Crew Chief Ericson has extracted himself from the broken battle suit and looks at T. J. expectantly, a hand held out for the wrench. J.T. holds it out toward him, while looking wide eyed over his shoulder.

    T. J.:
    So, do you think we'll win it, Cheif? [Chief]

    ERICSON:
    Look around you kid...

    Page Five, (one panel)

    Panel One. Crew Chief Ericson gestures out at the vast hangar. Aside from Gold Squad boarding a shuttle, the rest of the hangar is Carrani military battle suits with varying degrees of battle damage. A double row of stretchers carrying wounded pilots lines the back wall.

    Nice powerful image. Unfortunately you needed to let the artist know about all this back when the hanger first appeared, so he can set up the positions of scene elements and camera angles to hide it.

    I'm also wondering if there's supposed to be anyone else in the hanger now? We've got Gold Squad boarding a shuttle, but what about McCloud on his catwalk? What about other mechanics working on all these wreaked suits? What about medics working on the wounded pilots? What about officers getting in everyone's way? It seems like the hanger should be a bee-hive of activity, but you're not asking for any of that.


    ERICSON:
    … From where I'm sitting, it doesn't seem to be going too well.

    Include this as a big panel to the right of the last two, on the same page, and now you're back on track after my mucking about with your pages. Of course this is now page 4 instead of page 5, but that'll just give you an extra page in your submission for more story to grab the reader with.

    Now keep in mind, all that panel/page-mucking is just what I would do. The way you structured it isn't a disaster, and you certainly don't have to do it my way. I just think your pacing could be tighter and your page-turns stronger than they are, so I think it'd be worth taking another look at it.




    Page Six, (five panels)

    Panel One. Aboard the bridge of the Indomitable, in the background the Bridge Officers stands over his array of monitors. In the foreground, General Tain grins at the planet below.

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    All forces have landed successfully, Sir.

    GENERAL TAIN:
    Excellent!

    Panel Two. The Bridge Officer looks at a display with some concern, General Tain continues to grin self-assuredly.

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    Sir, I detect a shuttle launching from the surface.

    GENERAL TAIN:
    Rabble trying to escape, no doubt.

    Panel Three. The Bridge Officer looks over toward General Tain in alarm, whose grin has been replaced with a look of confusion.

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    It's heading for our fleet, Sir.

    GENERAL TAIN:
    Huh? Open a channel.

    Panel Four. The Bridge Officer squints at a monitor and holds a hand up to his earpiece.

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    No response... wait, it looks like their hull may be breaking up...

    GENERAL TAIN (OP):
    Who fired? I gave no such order...

    Panel Five. The Bridge Officer looks up in alarm.

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    Multiple contacts! Eight battle suits incoming!



    Page Seven, (four panels)

    Panel One. General Tain points sternly at the Bridge Officer, who is desperately looking at his monitors.

    GENERAL TAIN:
    Get some of our squads back up here to deal with them!

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    It's too late, sir. They're all engaged with the enemies ground forces! [that should be "enemy's ground forces" or "enemy ground forces"]

    Panel Two. General Tain has advanced on the Bridge Officer with a fist raised, shouting at him.

    How is the bridge officer reacting?

    Now that Tain has joined the bridge officer, can we see what the officer was looking at on the monitor? Will we be able to at any point?

    GENERAL TAIN:
    Get the reserves in the air! Contact our gunships! Ready my battle suit!

    Panel Three. General Tain leans menacingly towards the Bridge Officer.

    How is the bridge officer reacting now?

    GENERAL TAIN:
    I want them destroyed before the High Lord knows we are under attack.

    BRIDGE OFFICER:
    Gulp... Yes, Sir.

    Panel Four. Gold Squad flies toward the imposing bulk of the Indomitable.

    As a suggestion... it might be cool if each of the panels leading up to this shot were zoomed in closer and closer to the monitor the bridge officer was looking at, serving as a bridge between what the monitor shows and this shot of what's happening outside.


    Page Eight, (six panels)

    Panel One. High Lord Protector Marcus sits in his dark chambers, before a monitor displaying the visage of Justicar Galat.

    What do his dark chambers look like? What is he sitting on? Lounging in an easy chair? Sitting at a desk? What is his demeanor? Same with Galat... what's his demeanor? Is there anything in the background? Is he sitting? Standing?

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    The Tarvoni have acquiesced to all our demands?

    JUSTICAR GALAT:
    Yes, High Lord. Soon they will join our glorious Empire.

    Panel Two. High Lord Protector Marcus looks up at the screen over steepled fingers.

    This sounds like he's most likely at a desk and leaning his elbows on the surface, but I'm guessing and your artist shouldn't have to guess at what you want to see.

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    What of the Sanada?

    JUSTICAR GALAT:
    We have been unable to contact them. All their colonies along our border seem abandoned.

    Panel Three. Justicar Galat salutes on the screen down at the shadowed figure of High Lord Protector Marcus.

    He's saluting down at Marcus, but you never said the screen was above Marcus.


    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    Keep looking, [period] they can't have all disappeared. Good work Galat.

    JUSTICAR GALAT:
    Thank you, High Lord.

    Panel Four. High Lord Protector Marcus slumps despondently in his chair.

    Has the screen been shut off, or is he putting on this show in front of Galat?

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    Damn. Have I finally run out of enemies willing to fight?

    Panel Five. High Lord Protector Marcus gathers himself, sitting up in his seat.

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    No. I was the only Protector smart enough to find this loophole. I can find a way out of this peace.

    What loophole? I assume it's something we'll hear about later, but the way you've brought it up right now, it's just confusing.


    Panel Six. High Lord Protector Marcus stands with a fist raised, defying the heavens. Clearly crazy as he monologues to himself.

    H. L. P. MARCUS:
    There will be war!

    That page was a little long. You can easily knock a panel out of that and it'll play better for it.

    Now, if you've decided to take my advice about improving page turns and condensing the pages, you've got another page left. It would be a perfect opportunity for an inset of Marcus reeling in surprise, laid over a splash page of the Gold Squad laying into the flagship.

    _____

    Nice little story. I liked it. The pacing wasn't bad and it pulled me along, but I think you could improve on it with some better page turns and such. Just needs a little tweaking to make it shine.

    The dialogue was mostly serviceable. It was a bit rocky in some places, but a little polishing should fix it up.

    I'm a little worried about character names. I'd have liked to have seen Marcus's name in a place where the reader could see it - we know "High Lord Protector" but we don't know "Marcus." Unfortunately it could be tough to pull off, him being the kind of guy most people wouldn't address on a first name basis - at least he's identified by title and that'll let the reader catch up later. But we never see General McCloud's name or some of the other people - which may not matter if they're just walk-ons we won't see again. But if that's the case, why bother giving them names at all, aside from "the General" or "the mechanic"? You did identify Lieutenant Gwayan, but it won't help much because we don't know what he looks like outside the battle suit, so that may become an issue too – you'll need to identify him again once he's out of the suit. Just something to keep an eye on.

    Now for the bad news...

    Overall, your descriptions sucked. I'm sorry, but it's true. When I don't know who is in the panel or where the scene in the panel is taking place, it's pretty bad. And you've been around here long enough to know better. You're not thinking about what you want to see or you're not communicating it – probably both. You need to fix that, and make sure you're getting enough information down for the artist to know what he's supposed to draw.

    If you handed this to an artist right now, you'll either have a frustrated artist asking tons of questions or you'll end up getting something back that isn't what you thought it would be. Both of those are things to avoid.

    I think I'm done. Anyone else have any thoughts?



  2. harryd Guest

    Thanks Calvin! Some good ideas on reworking it, though there are a few points that were intentional. I was overall trying to do a more minimalist description, though I may have erred a bit (or a lot) on the side of too little in a few (dozen?) places. A lot of it does presume previous work being done on character and ship design outside the script.



  3. JohnLees Guest

    I see where you're both coming from, as far as panel descriptions go. While Calvin came down on you quite hard in places for leaving things out or not mentioning what angle you wanted, I figured that this was you being very loose and unrestrictive, and giving the artist a lot of creative freedom to interpret the scene. I know I can be very anal in the amount of detail I sometimes get into with my panel descriptions - I almost always include "camera angles" (long shot, medium shot, close-up etc) and one panel description I wrote not too long ago was nearly a whole page long, intricately describing the layout of a classroom right down to who was sitting where - and I find myself thinking an artist might appreciate a bit more free rein than what I'm giving them. So I can definitely see the merits of your approach.

    However, where Calvin is definitely right on the matter is the moments where you DO then mention that you want something specific, that should have been mentioned earlier if you really want it. That's a bit like having your cake and eating it. For each panel, I try and close my eyes and picture the image, then write down absolutely everything that needs to be there, even if it's just something that needs to be in place for when it's actually significant 3 pages later.

    However, I'm not totally down on your panel descriptions. You manage to produce some strong, evocative images at various points in the script, such as:

    "Crew Chief Ericson gestures out at the vast hangar. Aside from Gold Squad boarding a shuttle, the rest of the hangar is Carrani military battle suits with varying degrees of battle damage. A double row of stretchers carrying wounded pilots lines the back wall."

    I could visualise that one clear as day. And I guess that's what a comic script should do - encourage those reading it to imagine the words in picture form. That's what the artist is wanting from it.



  4. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by harryd View Post
    Thanks Calvin! Some good ideas on reworking it, though there are a few points that were intentional.
    If you have specific intentions regarding your layout then, by all means, don't let me interfere with them unless you want to. When I present a different method of tackling something like that, I'm not saying, "Do it my way." I'm just trying to make sure you're thinking about your choices, and making those choices the best they can be for your purposes.
    I was overall trying to do a more minimalist description, though I may have erred a bit (or a lot) on the side of too little in a few (dozen?) places.
    Just a bit. I notice John seems to think I was a little hard on you, and maybe I was, but there is a big difference between a minimalist description and a description that's lacking important elements. I won't fault you for the first, I applaud it in fact. But if I'm looking at a description, thinking about it as if I have to draw it, and I'm having difficulty visualizing what you're looking for, then I see that as a problem. And that's what I'll call you on.

    As for camera angles... that's very much a matter of style. I usually leave them out myself, when the specific angle doesn't really matter. But the trick to doing that is to make sure you notice those times when it does matter. I think it's important to at least be able to visualize A camera angle that will make the panel work, even if you don't choose to hold the artist to that specific angle - at least you'll know that the panel can be draw.

    A lot of it does presume previous work being done on character and ship design outside the script.
    Absolutely nothing wrong with that.



  5. harryd Guest

    Well, after reading some of his comments, I do agree that I should have mentioned more details, or wasn't clear enough in a few places. I'll probably try to do a cleaned up version at some point, but since I don't have much of an expectation of it being put together anytime soon, it's not too big a priority. Really more of a writing exercise (which I need to do more of... both writing and exercise!)

    For the first scene, I was thinking of having the view point pull back and rotate around. You wouldn't see what he is looking at for the first few panels, because that's where the point of view is coming from. Page 2, panel 2 does need some clean up, what I really had in mind (but didn't really get on the page) was seeing the monitor, with his face reflecting in it.

    For the whole hangar scene, I was intentionally trying not to show much of a background of the hanger. It's tightly focued on the General and Gold Squad, until it shifts over to the 'Chief' and when we do finally see the entire set-up with the wounded troops, it's suddenly clear that this is more of a desperation plan.

    A lot of the places where a conversation is talking place, and I only mention one person, it was because I was thinking of having them be the only one in that panel. There are a couple places where it probably would work better to have both parties in the same panel, and I should try to clean that up a bit more.

    Heh, not trying to come off as too defensive of it, because there is room for improvement. I can see rearranging it in a way that would probably leave room for another page. Maybe I'll fool around with it a bit tonight, as I do need to get some work in on other projects, and stop worrying over the one I've been trying to pitch lately.



  6. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by harryd View Post
    For the whole hangar scene, I was intentionally trying not to show much of a background of the hanger. It's tightly focued on the General and Gold Squad, until it shifts over to the 'Chief' and when we do finally see the entire set-up with the wounded troops, it's suddenly clear that this is more of a desperation plan.
    I think you misunderstand what I'm saying. You don't have to immediately show the background of the hanger, in the comic. You can hide as much as you want from the reader. But what I was getting at is that you can't hide it from the artist. The artist needs to know that all that stuff is there from the beginning, so that he can choose viewpoints and camera angles that will make sure that stuff is hidden from the reader until you want him to reveal it.

    It's not hard. Just say something along the lines of, "There's this that we can see in this panel. And there's also this, this, and this that needs to be kept hidden for the big reveal later."

    A lot of the places where a conversation is talking place, and I only mention one person, it was because I was thinking of having them be the only one in that panel. There are a couple places where it probably would work better to have both parties in the same panel, and I should try to clean that up a bit more.
    That's fine. You don't always have to have both characters in panel. It's just that, when you switch from a panel with two people to a panel where you only mention one, but you haven't specified that you've pulled the camera in closer to that person, or mentioned the other person is now off-panel, it can be tough to know if the other guy is supposed to be there or not.

    Heh, not trying to come off as too defensive of it, because there is room for improvement. I can see rearranging it in a way that would probably leave room for another page. Maybe I'll fool around with it a bit tonight, as I do need to get some work in on other projects, and stop worrying over the one I've been trying to pitch lately.
    Harry, you don't need to worry about coming off as defensive to me. I'm the guy that butted heads with Steven every week and fought for every inch of progress I've made. I figure if I'm not allowed to explain my reasoning, defend my choices, how can I tell if I'm really right or wrong? To allow others to do the same is only fair.

    So if something I tell you doesn't make any sense to you, or you think I've completely missed what you were intending to do... feel free to tell me about it. We can hash it out and see what we can see. It might help us both. Or you might decide, "Screw that Camp guy. He's full of crap on this one," and that's cool too. You never know, you might just be right.



  7. afeman Guest

    You really do put in a lot of detail, but other people will always interpret scenes different thean what you had in mind



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