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Thread: Style Has Substance

  1. LeeNordling Guest

    Chris's grade:

    PASS with a GOLD STAR.

    I like the second version best, because it would be up to the artist to figure out how to use the wife and daughter in the last two panels, if at all.

    Your third version only has them in one panel, and, editorially, I suspect them reacting to Biff might be the icing on the cake.

    However, it's entirely possible you really do only want it to be drawn as written, with them only appearing in that one shot at the table.

    I hope everybody is paying close attention here, because any of you who are thinking that the wife and daughter SHOULD be in either of the last two panels is doing what an artist will be doing: tweaking it to make it (possibly) work better.

    Part of this exercise is to help you become more self-aware about the impact of your approach to a script.

    Nice work, Chris.

    --Lee



  2. LeeNordling Guest

    Inhibitor hasn't returned.

    Here was the plot method version, which clarified his intent: A monkey is sauntering through the jungle without a care in the world, when he happens upon a banana on a large rock. The monkey spots the banana, then tentatively checks it out. After a bit of back,-and-forth indecision, he grabs the banana and sits down on the rock to eat it. At this point, the rock sprouts a mouth and eats the monkey, banana and all, resetting the trap with a fresh banana.

    For those who don't recall, I had an issue with his two versions of panel five, the first of which read: "The monkey walks away from the banana, looking over its shoulder, clearly wanting the banana, but unsure if he should take it."

    It was supposed to be the panel where the monkey was at this stage: "After a bit of back-and-forth indecision..." Since walking away doesn't make that clear, I feel a moment of real consideration, in a wordless panel, has the best chance of communicating that to the reader. In short, NOT grabbing the banana and considering it demonstrates indecision.

    This is important for each of you to note, because this is clearly a case of the writer having an intent that was not communicated in the other versions of the script.

    Here's my suggested panel five revision to his post:

    Full Script Without Camera Direction

    PANEL 1

    A monkey is walking through the jungle without a care in the world.

    PANEL 2

    The monkey walks up on a banana sitting on a large rock.

    PANEL 3

    The monkey looks hard at the banana, obviously thinking it over.

    PANEL 4

    The monkey starts toward the banana.

    PANEL 5

    The monkey, on its haunches, ponders the banana, and we can tell from his squinty eyes and "Thinker" pose that he's really considering his options.

    PANEL 6

    The monkey sneaks toward the banana.

    PANEL 7

    The monkey reaches out to take the banana.

    PANEL 8

    The monkey grabs the banana.

    PANEL 9

    The monkey seats himself on the rock, a look of excitement on his face.

    PANEL 10

    The monkey starts to eat the banana.

    PANEL 11

    The rock reveals a mouth at the top, gulping the monkey down.

    PANEL 12

    The rock spits something into the air.

    PANEL 13

    A new banana lands on top of the rock.

    ***

    NOTE: I also deleted the word "back" from panel 6, just to smooth out the difference between the original and my edit.

    --Lee

    PS. For you guys who like milestones, this was the 900th post in Comics Pro Prep, which demonstrates, in our short history, your dedication to glomming from this whatever there is to glom. Thanks so much.
    Last edited by LeeNordling; Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 03:14 PM.



  3. danialworks Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by LeeNordling View Post
    Chris's grade:

    PASS with a GOLD STAR.

    I like the second version best, because it would be up to the artist to figure out how to use the wife and daughter in the last two panels, if at all.

    Your third version only has them in one panel, and, editorially, I suspect them reacting to Biff might be the icing on the cake.

    However, it's entirely possible you really do only want it to be drawn as written, with them only appearing in that one shot at the table.

    I hope everybody is paying close attention here, because any of you who are thinking that the wife and daughter SHOULD be in either of the last two panels is doing what an artist will be doing: tweaking it to make it (possibly) work better.

    Part of this exercise is to help you become more self-aware about the impact of your approach to a script.

    Nice work, Chris.

    --Lee
    As I picture it, the reaction shots would continue into panel 11.

    And I, for one, was impressed with Chris's readability and his comic timing.



  4. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by danialworks View Post
    As I picture it, the reaction shots would continue into panel 11.

    And I, for one, was impressed with Chris's readability and his comic timing.
    That's where I'd show them, too, with just Biff in panel 10, sitting down.

    So that others may consider the ramifications of this: Chris's #3 version may work fine, but it doesn't allow for somebody to consider showing the reaction shots of Mom and the daughter...without disregarding the scripted direction.

    Yes, you can always show a script three version and let the artist know you're open to input--I do it all the time--but, in this case, it becomes a "change."

    If I was the artist, I don't know if going progressively closer to Biff as he's knocking down the beers will work as intended, but it really, could, too.

    Now, what we aren't doing is hybrid scripts, where sometimes there's camera direction and sometimes there isn't. This is probably the better thing for you to consider, moving forward.

    As Rain noted, he's going to refrain from the use of camera angles unless he has a real vision for how they will work.

    That's a GREAT rule of thumb.

    Just because you CAN use camera directions, it doesn't mean you should.

    Okay, back to work!

    --Lee



  5. DaveHughes Guest

    Thanks Lee. That was one of the ideas I had been toying with, but just hadn't had the time to come back to re-revise the script.

    You're right...that definitely clarifies the intent in panel 5.

    Thanks!



  6. ChrisLewis Guest

    Thanks for the encouraging words! I have a question though. I think writing in a version #2 style (no camera directions) turned out to be a very liberating exercise. And I'm completely sold on having the woman and daughter in the last panel if the artist could make it work out. That said, what do you think about a writer NOT mentioning what every single character in a panel is doing in a team setting for example. I sometimes have multiple characters standing around with only one or two at a time doing or saying something that actually influences the story as I see it. I wouldn't really mind having the other characters in each panel, but in some cases it doesn't matter to me. If a character speaks in panel 1 for example, but then doesn't speak or react (meaningfully) again until panel 5,6,7 or the next page, do you have to write exactly where that character is standing in relation to all the others? It feels so ridiculous to keep writing, "Monster A-Bot is still picking his nose and doing nothing on the left of Master Of Disaster." But I have had some critiques in the past from people wondering where the heck the other characters went if I didn't mention them again and again. If it isn't integral to the panel, can't we just leave the character in script limbo, and let the artist decide his/her/its fate?



  7. LeeNordling Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisLewis View Post
    Thanks for the encouraging words! I have a question though. I think writing in a version #2 style (no camera directions) turned out to be a very liberating exercise. And I'm completely sold on having the woman and daughter in the last panel if the artist could make it work out. That said, what do you think about a writer NOT mentioning what every single character in a panel is doing in a team setting for example. I sometimes have multiple characters standing around with only one or two at a time doing or saying something that actually influences the story as I see it. I wouldn't really mind having the other characters in each panel, but in some cases it doesn't matter to me. If a character speaks in panel 1 for example, but then doesn't speak or react (meaningfully) again until panel 5,6,7 or the next page, do you have to write exactly where that character is standing in relation to all the others? It feels so ridiculous to keep writing, "Monster A-Bot is still picking his nose and doing nothing on the left of Master Of Disaster." But I have had some critiques in the past from people wondering where the heck the other characters went if I didn't mention them again and again. If it isn't integral to the panel, can't we just leave the character in script limbo, and let the artist decide his/her/its fate?
    Well, not mentioning what every single character is doing is often (usually) fine, as long as the artist will know, from how you wrote it, how the characters are (more or less) supposed to be thinking.

    For instance, in our monkey one-pager, we were rarely told its expression, but I felt that the his goals in each panel were clear enough to there shouldn't--SHOULDN'T, not wouldn't--be confusion.

    Now, to your one-pager, including Mom and the daughter is actually kind of important, because their reaction is the punch line.

    They could be exchanging "not-again" glances, or be bored, or Mom could be pissed and the daughter laughing uproariously.

    So, I think it's good to note expressions when it's important, and the hard part is learning what is and isn't important, as well as what works and doesn't.

    Re. leaving characters in Script Limbo, for artists to determine their fate.

    Can you? Yes.

    Should you? No.

    Why not? Because it's lazy writing.

    Now, if you were working in the second style and just concentrating on story, that leaves a lot for an artist to interpret. So, what's in a panel and how it's all positioned DOES become their responsibility...within the context of the story, which will, in this style, be your ace in the hole. "Ace in the hole" because when something doesn't flow, you and the artist have your storytelling as your guide. (I hope, later, we'll get into how you can do this.)

    But coming back to the question, when you're writing a full script with camera angles, everything that's IMPORTANT needs to be in the script, so if you intend for Mom and the daughter to be in the last panel, it's your job to note that, as well as, considering the importance of it, their expressions.

    So, addressing the specific question: in the second stylistic version the artist just needs to know what's important, and even if a character doesn't speak after panel one, as long as the artist knows that character is "listening carefully" or "listening in disbelief" or whatever, you don't need to concern yourself further.

    In the tighter version, you need to note whether they're in the scene or not, even if they don't speak and are listening, because, by not including them you're taking them out.

    Any working comics professional with an IQ over 60 will tell you there are no hard and fast rules; there's only what works.

    Even as we go through these Comics Pro Prep exercises, that remains true.

    Here, you have the opportunity to see, in a pretty tightly controlled environment, what is and isn't working, within the context of the assignments.

    Any comics creator with a strong sense of craft SHOULD be able to address these assignments...easily.

    But here's the not-so-secret secret: most of them couldn't.

    Most of them have learned what well works for them, and that's been good enough.

    And it IS good enough...for them.

    There's more to creating comics than having a strong sense of craft and learning to write with intention.

    But--and this is why we're here--for those who have not yet succeeded/got where they want to be, these are things that can help you get there.

    Learning to write what you intend for the right kind of artist in the right kind of market is really complicated stuff.

    Many who succeed at this do through talent and dumb luck.

    I can't teach talent--though we can observe it--and I wish I COULD teach dumb luck--because I'd be the first in line to learn it--but I can teach learning to do stuff on purpose.

    And that's Comics Pro Prep in a nutshell: learning to do stuff on purpose.

    As you've experienced, it's more complicated than it seemed to be.

    --Lee



  8. drgerb Guest

    My first attempt. Wow. Did it take me a while to think of something to do. I settled on a scene in a past zombie project I was working on. Gotta love zombie stories for these non-dialogue assignments. Once you see a zombie and a survivor, it's like you don't even need any dialogue. Woot. Anyway.

    Plot Method.

    (First of all, when I say 'Zombie infested midwestern city,' I don't mean the opening shot shows numerous zombies standing about. It is a seemingly empty street this takes place in. The zombie infested bit suggests this scene takes place in a zombie story, but in a street that is not infested with zombies at this particular time.)

    Mark is standing in the middle of a deserted downtown street in a post apocalyptic zombie infested midwestern city. I'm thinking almost spoof 'high noon' / a gun fight in the old west, artistically. Standing down the street from mark is the silhouette of a woman. Mark pulls out his gun, aims it directly at her and begins crying as she charges him. At the last possible second, upon realizing she's a zombie, Mark brings the gun up to his chin and pulls the trigger. There will, however, be no zombie marks on the woman, so we aren't entirely sure whether she's a zombie or not. There will be no roaming, no physical suggestions that she's a zombie. When she charges him, Mark assumes she is one. She could theoretically be his former wife who, upon seeing him alive, runs in for a hug.

    (Stretched a bit farther than what I was shooting for. I think I needed that bit of clarification to get the mood across to the artist.)


    Panel 1. Mark standing in the middle of a deserted downtown street in a post apocalyptic zombie infested midwestern city.

    Panel 2. We now see a figure in the distance standing down the street from Mark.

    Panel 3. We now understand the figure is a woman.

    Panel 4. Mark has his hand on the gun in his pants.

    Panel 5. Mark is now aiming the gun.

    Panel 6. The woman is standing still.

    Panel 7. A tear runs down Mark's face.

    Panel 8. The woman is running down the street towards Mark.

    Panel 9. Mark holds his gun to the underside of his chin.

    Panel 10. Mark shoots himself just as the woman reaches him.


    Comic trim.

    Page 1. (5 panels; the top 2/3 is one big panel, and the bottom 1/3 is 4 evenly sized panels.)

    Panel 1. Wide out shot of Mark standing in the middle of a deserted downtown street in a post apocalyptic zombie infested midwestern city. The camera angle is as if we are at eye level of a 5 foot woman standing a good fifty yards down the street, looking straight at Mark's silhouette. The buildings line the sides of the street and there are fires, corpses, anything to remind us we are in a post apocalyptic type setting.

    Panel 2. Over the shoulder shot of Mark, who is looking at a figure on the far off horizon.

    Panel 3. Closer shot of the figure, who we now notice is a woman, with her hips and long hair.

    Panel 4. Close up shot of Mark's hand on the gun in his pants.

    Panel 5. Close up shot of Mark as he's aiming the gun straight at us, the reader.


    Page 2. (5 panels; The top 2/3 is four panels conforming to a 6 panel grid, and the bottom 1/3 is one wide panel.)

    Panel 1. Over the shoulder shot of Mark, aiming his gun, at the woman who is still standing still.

    Panel 2. Mark pulls his face away from the gun, as if to get another look at the woman, as a tear runs down the side of his face.

    Panel 3. Medium shot of the woman running straight at us, the viewer. (To the artist: Or a shot from somewhat behind the woman, as she's running away from us and towards Mark, who is a tiny silhouette standing in the middle of the street aiming his gun at us?)

    Panel 4. Close up shot of Mark's gun against the underside of his chin.

    Panel 5. Mark pulls the trigger, blood and brains spew out the back of his head, as the woman drops to her knees, sliding in towards Mark.



    Man, if anything, this assignment made me realize how much of an artist I am, not a writer. I can't tell if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but you gotta play to your strengths, right? The idea of midunderstanding camera angles, but feeling I have to use them anyways to convey what it is I (the writer) AND I (the artist) see sucks. I guess, if anything, if I pair up on a project with an artist I believe in, I can try skipping the camera angles at the writing stage. But working with an unproven artist, or one I don't quite know / a beginner, I feel I'd have to use camera angles. Which sucks, because truth be told, I might not understand them as good as I think I do. Gah. Anyway... Thanks again for the learning process, Lee.



  9. drgerb Guest

    Damnit. Fail. After rereading it (and not editing it, stupid stupid me), I realize panels 2 and 5 on page 2 of the third part are different from the same panels on the second part.

    On the second part, I suggest:

    Panel 7. A tear runs down Mark's face.
    Panel 10. Mark shoots himself just as the woman reaches him.
    And in the third attempt, I added in elements that weren't there in the second (and even first) attempt. From the third attempt:

    Panel 2. Mark pulls his face away from the gun, as if to get another look at the woman, as a tear runs down the side of his face.
    Panel 5. Mark pulls the trigger, blood and brains spew out the back of his head, as the woman drops to her knees, sliding in towards Mark.
    If Mark is pulling his face away from the gun to get a closer look, I should had added that in the second example.

    And if the woman is sliding on her knees toward Mark, I should have mentioned that in the first and second examples, also.

    Did I catch those two mistakes to warrant this "fix" a pass? Hah.


    After thinking for a moment, I think my biggest problem / challenge with almost every assignment I've had problems with so far, has been the writer part of me and the artist part of me not seeing eye to eye. I describe something, but not to the full effect that I hope for (had I drawn it), and instead I let the artist figure it out. Which is fine, but not when the only thing we are looking at are camera angles. I describe action in the second example, and let the artist freeze frame it (namely panel 5 of page 2, where I just say, in example 2, 'Mark shoots himself just as the woman reaches him.' Here I am leaving MORE up to the artist than *just* the camera angle. And that was the point of the assignment. I messed up, in that I left out the image I had in my mind, of her kneeling in, in mid slide, reaching Mark just as he shoots himself. I dunno.

    It's a struggle for me the writer to describe panels for some other artist to draw without camera angles. And it's a bigger struggle for me the writer to describe a panel to me the artist without camera angles. Like I can't tell where the break off point is.

    Blah, sorry. Tangent. I'll wait for the grade from Lee now.
    Last edited by drgerb; Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 03:43 PM.



  10. LeeNordling Guest

    So that we're not going back and forth, Roberts, I recommend that you post a new revised version that is complete.

    From the school of better late than never, congrats on catching stuff before I looked at it.

    I'll look at the new version you post...but haven't looked at the others yet.

    Thanks.

    --Lee



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