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Thread: TPG: Week 57 - Chris Lewis

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    TPG: Week 57 - Chris Lewis

    Chris Lewis is back this week. Let's see what he has for us.


    Jason Dynasty by Chris Lewis

    PAGE ONE (four panels)


    Panel 1. Establishing shot. This is a page-wide horizontal panel showing the depths of space. There is a silver, wire-like fiber that stretches across the panel from the left, looping two to three times around a large, orange planet on the right. As if a cowboy has lassoed the planet with a rope. The fiber isnít looped on the surface of the planet, but rather at a distance similar to Saturnís rings. This is entirely implausible considering the length and size this wire would have to be to loop around a planet and stretch across space, so the actual design of it could look more magical than physical. The important thing is that it is visible and striking.

    CAP:
    Planet BNDS-13.

    CAP:
    One of ten directions confirmed by Stringer theory.

    WHAT is one of the ten directions - the planet? The fiber? The camera angle? The line makes no sense to me. The only way I can get it to, possibly make sense is to assume that the direction being referred to is the next line (in the sense of instruction) - in which case, "One of ten directions confirmed by Stringer theory is..." might help make things clearer.


    Panel 2. Cut to a CU of our heroís face. This is Jason Dynasty. Heís in his late 20ís, unshaven, dirty, matted hair. Think homeless space man preacher. His eyes are full of a burning belief. His skin is pulled tight over his skull, making him look like a wooden marionette. He is holding two fingers next to his face in the shape of scissors as he addresses someone off panel. There are knots tied around his wrists. These knots are made from a heavy, string-like fiber that dangles slightly down from the knots. These ďstringsĒ can be used as whip-like weapons, which will be important later in the story. For now it is only important to show them hanging off of him without seeming to be too much of a burden. We never see exactly how long they are, but they obviously canít be tangled around his feet or be too cumbersome. We canít see much of the background, but there is a dirty, dusty wall covered in alien graffiti behind him. It is the middle of the day, with a warm light spilling down on him.

    If it's a close-up of the heroes face, you're probably not going to see enough of the wall to tell anything about alien grafitti, though that's okay (as long as you're not expecting it to be seen yet) because at least the artist will know it's there for later. But how do you expect to never see how long the whip-fibers are if he's going to be wearing them all the time? In this shot they could just continue behind the edge of the panel, but at some point they're going to be visible.

    JASON:
    First you let me out and then you cut the string!

    JASON:
    With these words the Stringer religion promises to reveal your Grand Manipulator.

    Was that first line supposed to be a quote (from Stringer scripture or something)? The dialogue suggests it, and if that's the case, it should have quotation marks.

    VOICE (OP):
    Gangawee!


    Panel 3. Pull back to show Jason turning to address someone else OP. We see him from the waist up. His billowing shirt and pants are made tight at the elbows and knees by means of more knots tied around them. This makes it looks like his body is segmented into various moveable parts, just like a puppet. Heís holding a worn leather book to his chest. His other arm is raised and his pointer finger extended, trying to get the attention of passersby. Itís difficult to see his body due to his loose clothes, but his limbs are taught with muscles. He is incredibly cut but without being overtly buff. He also has a satchel slung over one shoulder.

    How will we know he's addressing someone, if the person is off panel? As far as we know, he could be talking to himself, or to a camera - this could be a broadcast of the Sunday Morning Stringer Evangelical Hour and the off-panel voice is some alien sitting on his couch in his underwear. Now I'm not saying you have to establish that he's talking to someone, in person, yet, just so long as you're not expecting the reader to assume that he is - because they might assume something else entirely.

    Between this and the earlier panel, you've given a good description of the character, but (personally speaking) I'd have rather seen it all presented when the character first appeared, so the artist doesn't have to go hunting for it. Remember, just because the reader isn't seeing everything yet, doesn't mean you need to hide stuff from the artist till you want the reader to see it.


    JASON:
    We search for his nimble fingers. Spread throughout the fabric of the universe they move, guiding us to our individual destinies.

    JASON:
    Gently pulling the ornaments.

    VOICE (OP):
    XXxiipeep?


    Panel 4. Pull back more to reveal that Jason is standing on a large box. We also see that he has more strings knotted around his ankles. A large, cracked, NASA-looking space helmet is lying upside down on the ground beside the box. This should really capture the feeling of a crazy street preacher. The ground is dirty and dusty just like the wall behind him. Jason is looking in another direction, still trying to get the attention of the unseen crowd. He now has the book extended out slightly with one hand, while the other handís fingers are spread directly above it as if he were a puppeteer. In the extreme foreground right we see an alien arm in the panel. This creature has just passed us as it walks to the right. It is a strong, well-muscled arm that obviously belongs to a big creature. The OP voice comes from this direction.

    JASON:
    One by one we articulate as we are articulated. To find our body in the Mecca context! To preach the words.

    JASON:
    To sayÖ

    VOICE (OP):
    Stringafeendyo.


    PAGE TWO (five panels)


    Panel 1. Big shot here of a market square in a town that could be in the wild west, if it were not for the various aliens lurking around. There are stalls set up in rows, where various alien-looking fruits, vegetables, and meats are for sale. Jason is on the left here with his back to one wall of the square, looking to the sky with a big smile, his arms and hands outstretched as if waiting for a big hug from somebody. The majority of the creatures are small, silly-looking purple blob things. They have normal facial features such as eyes, mouths, noses, etc. They have arms as well but what passes for legs are just blobby mushy stumps that propel them forward by hopping. The hands only have four fingers. The most common dress style is a comfortable turtleneck sweater, usually in pastel. These creatures donít even come to Jasonís knees, and their silliness is in start contrast to Jasonís dire seriousness. All but four of them are bouncing here and there, not paying him any attention. A mother and her two even smaller children are watching Jasonís show. Another is ďrunningĒ frantically in Jasonís direction on a collision course with the family. This is an adult male wearing a shirt similar to Jasonís. We canít really see it yet, but this blob has strings similar to Jasonís hanging down from his arms. These wonít be significantly visible since theyíre about as thin as floss, but we might infer it from the way his loose shirt is tied at the ďelbows.Ē There are other types of aliens in the crowd, such as the big, ugly, lumbering Lugg whose arm we saw in the last panel. The Luggs are human height, but their bulk makes them seem much bigger. They donít look friendly, but the other aliens donít seem to pay much attention to them. The purple blobs make up the majority here.

    You're flirting with a moving panel there, with things "bouncing here and there" (I'll give you the frantically "running" blob, though - that could be done with body language and motion lines). You also have an unrealistic expectation that we can tell the aliens are acting silly, without telling us what they're actually doing to give us that impression.

    JASON:
    Howdy Doody, Iím wired!


    Panel 2. From a ground level perspective we see that the running creature, whose name is Sloop Jíon, has leapt over the family. Heís in quite a hurry and has almost landed on the left side of the panel. On the right side and clearly not amused, the mother protectively crouches over the children and looks at Sloopís back in anger. The children think this is kind of funny.

    You want Sloop J'on to leap over the family and land on the left of the panel, yet you never specified that he was approaching from the right in the last panel. And, actually, neither should be happening, because the direction of the major action in a panel should lead the reader toward the right whenever possible, not toward the left (unless you're writing Japanese manga).

    SLOOP:
    I return with news, Jason Dynasty!

    MOTHER:
    Breeblibit!


    Panel 3. Jason is stepping down to get closer to his friend. One hand is holding open his satchel while the other is placing the book into it. Sloop is standing in front of the box, gesturing back where he came from with one hand excitedly.

    JASON:
    Indeed, Sloop Jíon?

    SLOOP:
    A caravan of Friskmen has arrived!

    SLOOP:
    They are taking on supplies and preparing to depart for the deep desert!

    What's the family doing? Are they still in the shot?


    Panel 4. Jason is now bent down to Sloopís eye level, strongly gripping Sloop by the shoulders. His eyes are wide and transfixed with a mixture of fear and excitement. Sloop is somewhat frightened by this display.

    JASON:
    Strings be praised!

    SLOOP:
    What could it mean, Preacher Teacher?


    Panel 5. Jason has set Sloop down on the left and is now looking down at his palms. Sloop also has his hands open, but is looking curiously over at Jasonís.

    Set Sloop down? When did he pick him up?

    JASON:
    Friskmen are attracted to spectacle, blob friend. Their appearance suggests a surfacing.

    JASON:
    If the Hands of Swish have indeed risen, itís there I must go to string my words into the rope of gospel.


    PAGE THREE (five panels)


    Panel 1. From the perspective of the wall facing out to the market, we see Jason reaching frantically into his upturned space helmet with one hand. He has placed his satchel down beside the helmet. The helmet is filled up with many pieces of paper. These donít have to be a uniform size, but rather torn scraps, pieces out of a notebook, napkins, etc. It should look haphazard and untidy. All of the pieces are blank. His frenzy has caused many of them to be thrown about in the air. Sloop is standing on the right looking at one of the pieces in confusion. Business continues as normal in the background.

    If the helmet was filled with paper, shouldn't the artist have known that before?

    JASON:
    Hurry, help me gather the pilgrimís pages!

    SLOOP:
    Um, these are all blank.

    JASON:
    Exactly, young Stringerson! A Stringerís diary is written in the mind!


    Panel 2. Jason has that crazed look of belief on his face once more. This is a tight shot of him and the blank pages heís holding up to his head.

    JASON:
    To arrive with words recorded outside his presence is an affront to the wisdom of He-Who-Moves!


    Panel 3. Jason now has one piece held up in front of his face with both hands. The other sheets are falling to the ground around him. Jason is starting to tear the piece of paper down the middle as the still confused Sloop looks on.

    SFX:
    Riip.

    JASON:
    Blank pages are disposable symbols, showing our thanks for the wonderful lives weíve been given. The stories we embody.

    JASON:
    The ultimate test is to retell your story without help. Just as your life can only be lived in the moment, you only have once chance to get the story right.


    Panel 4. The paper is now in two pieces and Jason is now holding them on each side of his face.

    JASON:
    Do you tell it like this or like that? Thatís the deciding factor.

    JASON:
    If the Five-Fingered sees potential you may achieve Marionette status, and then --

    VOICE (OP):
    Marionettes?


    Panel 5. From over Jason and Sloopís shoulders we wee another Stringer and his Stringerson. This is Harvey Cobain and a Lugg named Blarth. Harvey looks like an overweight, middle-aged Kurt Cobain, even though heís around the same age as Jason. His poor appearance is due to his extreme laziness. He also has the strings tied around his arms and legs, but he has done away with the traditional Stringer outfit in favor of Kurt Cobain-like flannel pajamas. His hair is also similar to the former Nirvana front man. Itís blond, somewhat greasy, and in his face, but Harveyís hair is thinning and maybe bald in the back. Heís reclining on a divan that is being pulled by Blarth. Blarth, like other Luggs, is ugly and mean looking. As a Stringerson he also has the strings tied around his massive arms and legs. In fact, the ďstringĒ on his arm is actually the rope heís using to pull the divan. He doesnít look too happy about having to do this. The divan has many pillows supporting Harveyís ample belly, as well as small satchels hung over the sides. These contain the delicacies that Harvey lives on, including alien sweets and alcohol. We see a plate of these sweets on Harveyís big belly. His hands are folded behind his head.

    HARVEY COBAIN:
    I didnít know you brought your little dollies all the way across the galaxy, Dynasty.

    BLARTH:
    Blarth!



    PAGE FOUR (five panels)


    Panel 1. Large shot of Jason and Sloop confronting Harvey and Blarth. Jason has approached the couch and is looking down benevolently at Harvey. Harvey is eating some of the fruit from his plate and seems to be mocking our hero. Sloop has his back to us. His arms are crossed and his head inclined as he looks up at the giant Lugg in a tough guy pose. We can tell that heís looking up challengingly at Blarth, like a little dog barking at a much bigger one. Blarth looks down at Sloop with a slightly hungry look on his ugly face. He is holding out a handful of strange fruit to Harvey.

    Where did the strange fruit Blarth is holding out come from? He didn't have it before. And what does a "slightly hungry" expression look like? How do you expect the artist to convey that to the reader?

    JASON:
    Becoming a Marionette is the goal of all Stringers, Harvey. The Book of Trejtnar --

    HARVEY:
    And the month-long battle with ContíEstants! How dreadfully aboriginal of you.

    HARVEY:
    The strings absolve us of the myth of free will, Dynasty. You should learn to enjoy it.


    Panel 2. Tight shot on Harvey, now totally relaxed in a grotesque position with his hands behind his head and his legs spread out. This has pulled up his pajama top, exposing his fat belly for all to see. The plate of fruit is resting just above the fold of his belly.

    HARVEY:
    Our mission is to lie back, muse on the vagaries of the Oversum, eat popup fruit, and nap amongst these pitiful natives until we are recalled.

    HARVEY:
    All in the true comfort of missionary position.


    Panel 3. Sloop has jumped onto Harveyís belly and is pointing a finger at him. Harveyís eyes are almost closed as he looks up wearily at Sloop.

    SLOOP:
    Jason says that laziness is the root of all problems on your home world, Mr. Harvey.

    HARVEY:
    Ahh, thatís Father Cobain to you, little Stringerson.


    Panel 4. Harvey, eyes completely shut, holds out an upturned palm to Blarth, demanding some of the precious liquid that heís now holding. Blarth has three small shot glasses in one hand, and heís sloppily pouring from a bottle with the other.

    Now Blarth has a bottle and shot glasses that weren't there before. I don't think I want to know where's he's pulling this stuff out of (Yes, from the satchels on Harvey's divan, I know. But you never mention him even approaching it - the stuff just suddenly appears in Blarth's hands).


    HARVEY:
    You should really think about tying the knot with a sturdy Lugg, Dynasty.

    HARVEY:
    None of the bothersome pipsqueakery you find with the blobs, and the service is impeccable.

    HARVEY:
    Another flight of leposada tequira, Blarth!


    Panel 5. Harvey is slumped over in the background, his head facing Blarth and now almost passed out. The shot glasses lie scattered around his chubby hand and there is liquid running down his chin. Blarth is leaning down in a somewhat motherly fashion to check on him. Jason and Sloop are in the foreground, leaving through the market. Jason is looking over his shoulder at his fellow missionary, waiving to him somewhat sadly.

    BLARTH (meekly):
    blarth?

    JASON:
    Ah, Sloop. I fear Harveyís string has come undone.

    JASON:
    Come, let us turn the page on this disheartening event and continue to the thrill that awaits.



    PAGE FIVE (five panels)


    Panel 1. Cut to a small panel here of Jason and Sloop Jíon peeking over a small hill on the outskirts of town. The hill is sandy with scrub grass poking up through it here and there. Jason is pointing down past us.

    JASON:
    Ah! Friskmen!


    Panel 2. From over Jason and Sloopís shoulders we see the Friskmen at the bottom of the small hill. The Friskmen and their transport ship are on an inhospitable, cracked plain. We see various cacti and desert brush, but otherwise the land is bare. The Friskmen are as skinny and elegant as ballet dancers, and their ankles and feet are wrapped accordingly. They wear dance belts, leg warmers, and wrist support for all the work they have to do. The Friskmen however look like they could be very dangerous. They have small masks over their mouths and noses that provide them with their opiate sustenance. They are in the process of loading a large transport for their trip into the dessert. This transport ship resembles a sailboat, with one mast, two sails, and many ropes hanging from the sail to the hull. Each one of the Friskmen is in the middle of an elegant ballet move as they lift baskets, pull ropes, and tighten knots. There is a small figurehead at the prow of the ship, but it is either facing away from us or is too small to see all the details in this panel. The figurehead is the head of a male Friskman.

    You want skinny dudes in leg warmers doing ballet moves while they work to look "very dangerous" - even from a distance? Okay, good luck with that, I'll just be over here snickering. (I could kind of see it if they turned out to have claws and teeth like daggers, when seen close up, but looking across the plain from far enough away to see the ship - it's only going to look as dangerous as the average dance recital, though a little weirder than most) Now I know dancers have to be in phenomenal shape and one could probably break me in half without breaking a sweat, but they still don't look dangerous.

    JASON:
    How those creatures get anywhere with all their gallivanting and frolicking never ceases to amaze me.

    JASON:
    Using art as a method of transport, not just a means of passing time. Fascinating.


    Panel 3. Now Jason and Sloop are cautiously approaching as one of the Friskmen, on his tip-toes, is setting a basket onto the top of the transport.

    JASON:
    If I could just get one of these performers over to Stringer-side weíd have someone to pull in the crowds.

    SLOOP:
    I imagine we would, Sir.


    Panel 4. Extreme CU of Jasonís head with one of the Friskmenís wrapped toes pointed at it like a gun. Jason is reacting as if someone was holding a gun to his head.

    Okay. Maybe they're dangerous, but I'm still snickering.

    And this is not an extreme close-up. An extreme close-up is coming in so close (usually to a portion of the face, like the eyes) that you can see nothing else. Which means if this is an extreme close-up of Jason's head, then we can't see the foot, much less know what/who it's attached to, and can't even see Jason's reaction outside of his expression. You need to rethink this - I advise pulling out for at least a medium shot, to show Jason recoiling from this foot in his face.



    JASON:
    Maybe Iíll ask if--

    FRISKMAN (OP):
    Stiffs approach the dance!


    Panel 5. Jason and Sloop are stopped in their tracks, looking up at the Friskman that has challenged them. Sloop is a little scared and is hiding behind Jasonís leg. Jason has his hands at his sides, and we see that he has loosened up the strings around his wrists. The Friskman that has caught sight of our two is balancing on one foot, while the other leg is held up horizontally with the foot and toes pointing directly at Jason. He does not look happy.

    What do you mean by "loosened up the strings"? Were they wrapped before, and he's played out some length? (which might make your earlier comment about the unknown length make sense, though wrappings weren't the impression I got then) Or is he loosening them as if to take them off? Also, when and how did he do this loosening?

    FRISKMAN:
    Are you looking to join without the trance?

    FRISKMAN:
    Have you moves of your own, [comma] pilgrim puppet, or will you be just a burden to bear? And what of your Stringerson there?



    PAGE SIX (four panels)


    Panel 1. From the Friskmanís location we are low looking up at Sloop and Jason in the background. Sloop Jíon has moved off to the side to give Jason, now holding the much longer strings like giant whips, some room to operate. His arms are down at 45-degree angles and he looks ready for battle. We can see the Friskmanís grounded foot in the extreme foreground.

    Why are we looking up at Sloop and Jason? Are they taller than the Friskman? And if we're looking up from the Friskman, how can we see his foot on the ground below him?

    And how did strings suddenly become "giant whips"? (whips I might buy, but giant?)


    SLOOP:
    Typical confrontational strategy. The Friskmen donít take kindly to anyone without a limber body and a dance belt.

    JASON:
    Moves you say?


    Panel 2. Sloop is amazed by Jason, who has whipped out one of his hand strings, now wrapped around the grounded foot of the Friskman in question. The Friskman is caught by surprise and is already off balance and tipping over. Two of his friends have rushed over and are looking on.

    I'm having a little trouble visualizing what's happening to the Friskman. Has Jason used the string to yank his feet out from under him, making him fall?

    And how do we know the Friskman's friends rushed over, if they're already there watching (and are they just watching, not moving in to help)? I think you might want to split this into two panels, if you want to get everything - one of Jason wrapping the string around the guy's foot as the two friends run over, then one of Jason yanking the feet out from under the guy while the friends watch (or move closer to help).


    JASON:
    My moves are articulated from on high!


    Panel 3. CU on the two Friskmen. Their hands are held up to their masks, which are filled with a noxious looking substance. This drug of theirs has fired them up for the kill.

    SFX:
    Floop!


    Panel 4. From Jasonís POV, we see these two angrily pirouette past their fallen comrade towards us. Between them is another warrior, leaping over the fallen comrade in a grand jete. See here for a visual: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grandjete.jpg.

    Where did the third warrior come from? Why didn't we see him approaching with the other two?

    FRISKMEN:
    Pirou!

    FRISKMAN:
    Jete!

    Okay. I'm going to stop there, so I don't give your whole story away.

    You've got some minor compositional issues with the progressing fight scene and the description of the departure is a little confusing to me. See if you can spot the problems, but I can help you out off-column if you're having trouble (or I can post the rest here if you want).

    Overall, I liked it quite a bit. There were some minor rough spots in the script, but it was a fun little story and executed pretty well in general. I liked Jason and Sloop J'on and I'd happily read more of their adventures - and that's exactly the reaction you want. Good job.

    Anyone else have any thoughts?



  2. ChrisLewis Guest

    PAGE ONE (four panels)


    Panel 1. Establishing shot. This is a page-wide horizontal panel showing the depths of space. There is a silver, wire-like fiber that stretches across the panel from the left, looping two to three times around a large, orange planet on the right. As if a cowboy has lassoed the planet with a rope. The fiber isnít looped on the surface of the planet, but rather at a distance similar to Saturnís rings. This is entirely implausible considering the length and size this wire would have to be to loop around a planet and stretch across space, so the actual design of it could look more magical than physical. The important thing is that it is visible and striking.

    CAP:
    Planet BNDS-13.

    CAP:
    One of ten directions confirmed by Stringer theory.

    WHAT is one of the ten directions - the planet? The fiber? The camera angle? The line makes no sense to me. The only way I can get it to, possibly make sense is to assume that the direction being referred to is the next line (in the sense of instruction) - in which case, "One of ten directions confirmed by Stringer theory is..." might help make things clearer.
    As strange as it may sound, the planet itself is one of the ten directions. It would make more sense to say "locations," but I like the sound of directions better and it fits with the Stringer philosophy cursing through my veins! Do you think it might hurt the story?


    Panel 2. Cut to a CU of our heroís face. This is Jason Dynasty. Heís in his late 20ís, unshaven, dirty, matted hair. Think homeless space man preacher. His eyes are full of a burning belief. His skin is pulled tight over his skull, making him look like a wooden marionette. He is holding two fingers next to his face in the shape of scissors as he addresses someone off panel. There are knots tied around his wrists. These knots are made from a heavy, string-like fiber that dangles slightly down from the knots. These ďstringsĒ can be used as whip-like weapons, which will be important later in the story. For now it is only important to show them hanging off of him without seeming to be too much of a burden. We never see exactly how long they are, but they obviously canít be tangled around his feet or be too cumbersome. We canít see much of the background, but there is a dirty, dusty wall covered in alien graffiti behind him. It is the middle of the day, with a warm light spilling down on him.

    If it's a close-up of the heroes face, you're probably not going to see enough of the wall to tell anything about alien grafitti, though that's okay (as long as you're not expecting it to be seen yet) because at least the artist will know it's there for later. But how do you expect to never see how long the whip-fibers are if he's going to be wearing them all the time? In this shot they could just continue behind the edge of the panel, but at some point they're going to be visible.
    I guess it would have been better to write that we never see how long they can be. How long they can extend. This description definitely needs some tightening up.

    JASON:
    First you let me out and then you cut the string!

    JASON:
    With these words the Stringer religion promises to reveal your Grand Manipulator.

    Was that first line supposed to be a quote (from Stringer scripture or something)? The dialogue suggests it, and if that's the case, it should have quotation marks.
    It's actually a line from a Radiohead song, but here it's supposed to be scripture. Quotation marks it is....



    Panel 3. Pull back to show Jason turning to address someone else OP. We see him from the waist up. His billowing shirt and pants are made tight at the elbows and knees by means of more knots tied around them. This makes it looks like his body is segmented into various moveable parts, just like a puppet. Heís holding a worn leather book to his chest. His other arm is raised and his pointer finger extended, trying to get the attention of passersby. Itís difficult to see his body due to his loose clothes, but his limbs are taught with muscles. He is incredibly cut but without being overtly buff. He also has a satchel slung over one shoulder.

    How will we know he's addressing someone, if the person is off panel? As far as we know, he could be talking to himself, or to a camera - this could be a broadcast of the Sunday Morning Stringer Evangelical Hour and the off-panel voice is some alien sitting on his couch in his underwear. Now I'm not saying you have to establish that he's talking to someone, in person, yet, just so long as you're not expecting the reader to assume that he is - because they might assume something else entirely.

    Between this and the earlier panel, you've given a good description of the character, but (personally speaking) I'd have rather seen it all presented when the character first appeared, so the artist doesn't have to go hunting for it. Remember, just because the reader isn't seeing everything yet, doesn't mean you need to hide stuff from the artist till you want the reader to see it.
    Would it have been better to write that he's addressing something OP? I want the reader to have the suspicion that he's just crazy and is either talking to himself or to an imaginary crowd.

    A question about character descriptions: I would also prefer to lay it all out the first time we see the character, but how then do you specify what items the artist should reveal in subsequent panels without repeating yourself?

    By the way, I absolutely love "Sunday Morning Stringer Evangelical Hour" and will use it in the story with your permission!



    Panel 1. Big shot here of a market square in a town that could be in the wild west, if it were not for the various aliens lurking around. There are stalls set up in rows, where various alien-looking fruits, vegetables, and meats are for sale. Jason is on the left here with his back to one wall of the square, looking to the sky with a big smile, his arms and hands outstretched as if waiting for a big hug from somebody. The majority of the creatures are small, silly-looking purple blob things. They have normal facial features such as eyes, mouths, noses, etc. They have arms as well but what passes for legs are just blobby mushy stumps that propel them forward by hopping. The hands only have four fingers. The most common dress style is a comfortable turtleneck sweater, usually in pastel. These creatures donít even come to Jasonís knees, and their silliness is in start contrast to Jasonís dire seriousness. All but four of them are bouncing here and there, not paying him any attention. A mother and her two even smaller children are watching Jasonís show. Another is ďrunningĒ frantically in Jasonís direction on a collision course with the family. This is an adult male wearing a shirt similar to Jasonís. We canít really see it yet, but this blob has strings similar to Jasonís hanging down from his arms. These wonít be significantly visible since theyíre about as thin as floss, but we might infer it from the way his loose shirt is tied at the ďelbows.Ē There are other types of aliens in the crowd, such as the big, ugly, lumbering Lugg whose arm we saw in the last panel. The Luggs are human height, but their bulk makes them seem much bigger. They donít look friendly, but the other aliens donít seem to pay much attention to them. The purple blobs make up the majority here.

    You're flirting with a moving panel there, with things "bouncing here and there" (I'll give you the frantically "running" blob, though - that could be done with body language and motion lines). You also have an unrealistic expectation that we can tell the aliens are acting silly, without telling us what they're actually doing to give us that impression.
    Their silliness was only referring to their appearance. That should be specified as well. Thanks. The moving panel worries are noted and I'll try to fix that as well.



    Panel 2. From a ground level perspective we see that the running creature, whose name is Sloop Jíon, has leapt over the family. Heís in quite a hurry and has almost landed on the left side of the panel. On the right side and clearly not amused, the mother protectively crouches over the children and looks at Sloopís back in anger. The children think this is kind of funny.

    You want Sloop J'on to leap over the family and land on the left of the panel, yet you never specified that he was approaching from the right in the last panel. And, actually, neither should be happening, because the direction of the major action in a panel should lead the reader toward the right whenever possible, not toward the left (unless you're writing Japanese manga).
    Good to know. Is this a pretty solid rule? I didn't mention that he was approaching in the last panel because I was following my new Lee Nordling approved "writing left to right" approach! Guess I should've made that clear. But I'm sure my use of this technique still has a lot to be desired as I'm just starting to apply it.

    Panel 3. Jason is stepping down to get closer to his friend. One hand is holding open his satchel while the other is placing the book into it. Sloop is standing in front of the box, gesturing back where he came from with one hand excitedly.

    JASON:
    Indeed, Sloop Jíon?

    SLOOP:
    A caravan of Friskmen has arrived!

    SLOOP:
    They are taking on supplies and preparing to depart for the deep desert!

    What's the family doing? Are they still in the shot?
    The family isn't in the shot that I imagine. Is this something I definitely need to include for the artist?



    Panel 5. Jason has set Sloop down on the left and is now looking down at his palms. Sloop also has his hands open, but is looking curiously over at Jasonís.

    Set Sloop down? When did he pick him up?
    Good point...


    PAGE THREE (five panels)


    Panel 1. From the perspective of the wall facing out to the market, we see Jason reaching frantically into his upturned space helmet with one hand. He has placed his satchel down beside the helmet. The helmet is filled up with many pieces of paper. These donít have to be a uniform size, but rather torn scraps, pieces out of a notebook, napkins, etc. It should look haphazard and untidy. All of the pieces are blank. His frenzy has caused many of them to be thrown about in the air. Sloop is standing on the right looking at one of the pieces in confusion. Business continues as normal in the background.

    If the helmet was filled with paper, shouldn't the artist have known that before?
    Yes.


    Now Blarth has a bottle and shot glasses that weren't there before. I don't think I want to know where's he's pulling this stuff out of (Yes, from the satchels on Harvey's divan, I know. But you never mention him even approaching it - the stuff just suddenly appears in Blarth's hands).
    Yep, got it. Do you think this problem could be solved by showing him approaching or reaching into one of the satchels for the first item, and then just having the next items "appear" in his hands? Then at least the reader would have a reference right?


    Panel 2. From over Jason and Sloopís shoulders we see the Friskmen at the bottom of the small hill. The Friskmen and their transport ship are on an inhospitable, cracked plain. We see various cacti and desert brush, but otherwise the land is bare. The Friskmen are as skinny and elegant as ballet dancers, and their ankles and feet are wrapped accordingly. They wear dance belts, leg warmers, and wrist support for all the work they have to do. The Friskmen however look like they could be very dangerous. They have small masks over their mouths and noses that provide them with their opiate sustenance. They are in the process of loading a large transport for their trip into the dessert. This transport ship resembles a sailboat, with one mast, two sails, and many ropes hanging from the sail to the hull. Each one of the Friskmen is in the middle of an elegant ballet move as they lift baskets, pull ropes, and tighten knots. There is a small figurehead at the prow of the ship, but it is either facing away from us or is too small to see all the details in this panel. The figurehead is the head of a male Friskman.

    You want skinny dudes in leg warmers doing ballet moves while they work to look "very dangerous" - even from a distance? Okay, good luck with that, I'll just be over here snickering. (I could kind of see it if they turned out to have claws and teeth like daggers, when seen close up, but looking across the plain from far enough away to see the ship - it's only going to look as dangerous as the average dance recital, though a little weirder than most) Now I know dancers have to be in phenomenal shape and one could probably break me in half without breaking a sweat, but they still don't look dangerous.
    All the male alien ballerinas I know are really dangerous, Calvin. Or is that ballerinos?

    My main problem with this panel is including Jason and Sloop for Jason's dialogue. That's why I made it a small hill so that they wouldn't be too far away. Do you think it would be better served to just place the dialogue in a caption?


    Panel 4. Extreme CU of Jasonís head with one of the Friskmenís wrapped toes pointed at it like a gun. Jason is reacting as if someone was holding a gun to his head.

    Okay. Maybe they're dangerous, but I'm still snickering.

    And this is not an extreme close-up. An extreme close-up is coming in so close (usually to a portion of the face, like the eyes) that you can see nothing else. Which means if this is an extreme close-up of Jason's head, then we can't see the foot, much less know what/who it's attached to, and can't even see Jason's reaction outside of his expression. You need to rethink this - I advise pulling out for at least a medium shot, to show Jason recoiling from this foot in his face.
    Good idea. And I guess this is another example of how (beginner) writers should give up on using camera descriptions.


    Panel 5. Jason and Sloop are stopped in their tracks, looking up at the Friskman that has challenged them. Sloop is a little scared and is hiding behind Jasonís leg. Jason has his hands at his sides, and we see that he has loosened up the strings around his wrists. The Friskman that has caught sight of our two is balancing on one foot, while the other leg is held up horizontally with the foot and toes pointing directly at Jason. He does not look happy.

    What do you mean by "loosened up the strings"? Were they wrapped before, and he's played out some length? (which might make your earlier comment about the unknown length make sense, though wrappings weren't the impression I got then) Or is he loosening them as if to take them off? Also, when and how did he do this loosening?
    Playing out some length is the exact thing I was trying to say. Guess I should've said it then. I might have to go back and make sure this works with the earlier description.




    PAGE SIX (four panels)


    Panel 1. From the Friskmanís location we are low looking up at Sloop and Jason in the background. Sloop Jíon has moved off to the side to give Jason, now holding the much longer strings like giant whips, some room to operate. His arms are down at 45-degree angles and he looks ready for battle. We can see the Friskmanís grounded foot in the extreme foreground.

    Why are we looking up at Sloop and Jason? Are they taller than the Friskman? And if we're looking up from the Friskman, how can we see his foot on the ground below him?

    And how did strings suddenly become "giant whips"? (whips I might buy, but giant?)
    Looking up is a bad description. I meant that they are in the upper portion of the panel in the background. Also, "giant whips" should be "long whips."


    Panel 2. Sloop is amazed by Jason, who has whipped out one of his hand strings, now wrapped around the grounded foot of the Friskman in question. The Friskman is caught by surprise and is already off balance and tipping over. Two of his friends have rushed over and are looking on.

    I'm having a little trouble visualizing what's happening to the Friskman. Has Jason used the string to yank his feet out from under him, making him fall?

    And how do we know the Friskman's friends rushed over, if they're already there watching (and are they just watching, not moving in to help)? I think you might want to split this into two panels, if you want to get everything - one of Jason wrapping the string around the guy's foot as the two friends run over, then one of Jason yanking the feet out from under the guy while the friends watch (or move closer to help).
    My first fight scene! This was definitely harder than I'd imagined. But yes, the string is wrapped around his foot and he's starting to fall. I will work on better describing the friends and what the heck they're doing instead of helping their dancing buddy.



    Panel 4. From Jasonís POV, we see these two angrily pirouette past their fallen comrade towards us. Between them is another warrior, leaping over the fallen comrade in a grand jete. See here for a visual: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Grandjete.jpg.

    Where did the third warrior come from? Why didn't we see him approaching with the other two?
    Yep, he should've been there before.


    Okay. I'm going to stop there, so I don't give your whole story away.

    You've got some minor compositional issues with the progressing fight scene and the description of the departure is a little confusing to me. See if you can spot the problems, but I can help you out off-column if you're having trouble (or I can post the rest here if you want).

    Overall, I liked it quite a bit. There were some minor rough spots in the script, but it was a fun little story and executed pretty well in general. I liked Jason and Sloop J'on and I'd happily read more of their adventures - and that's exactly the reaction you want. Good job.
    I'll be out of town with no Internet access until Wednesday, but I'll try to fix everything by then. Thanks so much once again!



  3. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisLewis View Post
    As strange as it may sound, the planet itself is one of the ten directions. It would make more sense to say "locations," but I like the sound of directions better and it fits with the Stringer philosophy cursing through my veins! Do you think it might hurt the story?
    Well, I wouldn't say it would do a lot of damage to the story. At worst it'll come across as esoteric gibberish, which doesn't seem entirely out of character for whacked out street preacher from space. Oddly enough, my initial assumption was that the planet was the direction. I just didn't see how that made sense. So maybe it's not too far off, after all.

    I suppose you could always be really blunt and say, "Planet BNDS-13 is one of ten directions confirmed by Stringer theory." That probably won't make any more sense to the reader but it'll make it absolutely clear what it is that doesn't make sense (I hope I'm making sense ).


    I guess it would have been better to write that we never see how long they can be. How long they can extend. This description definitely needs some tightening up.
    I think the trouble I was having was that I initially thought they were just a single loop tied around his wrists with the ends dangling, but it seems you're looking for more of a wrapping or winding effect with the strings. Shouldn't be too hard to clarify.

    Would it have been better to write that he's addressing something OP? I want the reader to have the suspicion that he's just crazy and is either talking to himself or to an imaginary crowd.
    No, no. You're fine having him talk to someone the reader can't see (up to a point of course) as long as you don't have an expectation that the reader will assume he's talking to someone just because he's looking off panel and speaking. They may assume that, they may assume he's crazy, they may assume something simply caught his attention - if that works for you, then you're okay. Keeping the reader guessing is fine, so long as you're aware of it.
    A question about character descriptions: I would also prefer to lay it all out the first time we see the character, but how then do you specify what items the artist should reveal in subsequent panels without repeating yourself?
    Why worry about repeating yourself? You might occasionally have to refer to something if you want it specifically hidden or revealed, but not often and never again in detail. If you've described his entire costume and string-wrapping thing, then you just say, "In this shot we see Jason holding two fingers next to his face in the shape of scissors as he addresses someone off panel." The artist already knows the strings are there, because you already described Jason completely. Even if you want to be specific, you could just say, "all we can see of his costume, in this shot, is the strings at his wrist," - you still aren't describing the strings all over again.

    By the way, I absolutely love "Sunday Morning Stringer Evangelical Hour" and will use it in the story with your permission!
    Knock yourself out. I can't imagine I'll find a use for it.

    Good to know. Is this a pretty solid rule? I didn't mention that he was approaching in the last panel because I was following my new Lee Nordling approved "writing left to right" approach! Guess I should've made that clear. But I'm sure my use of this technique still has a lot to be desired as I'm just starting to apply it.
    It's a pretty solid rule, yeah. You want to always be leading the reader's eye in the natural direction of the reading flow. Having major action moving right to left is fighting that flow, so it's good to avoid it if possible.

    And the left-to-right action rule in no way conflicts with Lee's left-to-right writing method. The location of panel elements and the direction of action flow are two entirely different things. But they work well together, and it may even help to think of it as writing everything "left-to-right" - your panel elements and your action. That way your writing (and your action flow) will naturally progress in the direction the comic will be read. Start on the left, end on the right, and everything follows.

    The family isn't in the shot that I imagine. Is this something I definitely need to include for the artist?
    Probably not. If you don't call for them to be in the shot, he's got no reason to put them in (though he's got no major reason to avoid putting them in either - it's a little ambiguous).

    Just suddenly ignoring them felt a bit abrupt to me, is all. Personally I'd most likely show them wandering off, in the background, just to provide some closure for their part of the scene, but I don't know that it's really essential.

    Yep, got it. Do you think this problem could be solved by showing him approaching or reaching into one of the satchels for the first item, and then just having the next items "appear" in his hands? Then at least the reader would have a reference right?
    Yeah, or you could show him pulling stuff out. Like where he's handing Father Cobain the fruit - you could have Blarth handing a piece of fruit to the Father while pulling another out of a satchel. Or where he's pouring the liquor - in the background of the panel before (where Sloop is perched on Father Cobain's belly) Blarth could be pulling the bottle out of a satchel. Just little clues, to help things along.

    Could the reader figure out what's happening without those clues? Sure. But having them included can make the reading experience more easy and smooth flowing.


    All the male alien ballerinas I know are really dangerous, Calvin. Or is that ballerinos?
    I'm sure they are. But I bet they still get laughed at behind their backs.

    My main problem with this panel is including Jason and Sloop for Jason's dialogue. That's why I made it a small hill so that they wouldn't be too far away. Do you think it would be better served to just place the dialogue in a caption?
    Depends on what you need to show. I think you can probably get across the idea of teamster ballerinas at a distance. Whether you can get much detail is the question.

    You could always split the panel. Do an establishing shot over Jason & Sloop's shoulders (does Sloop even have shoulders? Hmmm) to show the ship, and the Friskmen as small figures, and then zoom in on a couple of the Friskmen for more detail.

    Good idea. And I guess this is another example of how (beginner) writers should give up on using camera descriptions.
    Well... "Give up" might be a little strong (though I think it might help some folks if they did - it's definitely not everyone's strong suit). "Resist the urge" might be better. Sometimes there's just that one way that a panel will work, for your vision, that requires that extreme close-up, or that bird's eye view, or whatever. The trick is knowing when you really need to get specific about camera directions and when you just think you need to - that can take some practice. Personally, I decided to stop writing camera direction when I found myself revising my own (written) shots at the sketch stage. That was all the proof I needed, that I was wasting my time writing camera description into the script.

    Plus, just to complicate things even more, not everyone interprets camera direction the same way. I've recently run across someone (a person with experience, so he's not a newbie who's just messing up) who apparently learned different definitions of close shot, medium shot, etc, than I've ever seen in the sources I've studied - and that means they're going to be seeing the same camera directions very differently than I do. So me writing camera direction for them (or them for me) would be an exercise in frustration, if not futility. I wouldn't have thought a writer would need to include a shot guide, breaking down what he means by the shots he's calling for, but... *Shrug* Don't ask me. I don't have all the answers. All I can do is make sure you're thinking about the questions.

    Playing out some length is the exact thing I was trying to say. Guess I should've said it then. I might have to go back and make sure this works with the earlier description.
    Yeah, you can have them play out, unwind, or lengthen magically if you want to, as long you make sure the artist can tell what you're looking for.

    My first fight scene! This was definitely harder than I'd imagined. But yes, the string is wrapped around his foot and he's starting to fall. I will work on better describing the friends and what the heck they're doing instead of helping their dancing buddy.
    Fight scenes can be tough. I certainly won't pretend I'm good at them, but like everything else, clarity is key.

    I'll be out of town with no Internet access until Wednesday, but I'll try to fix everything by then. Thanks so much once again!
    You're welcome.



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