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Old 11-30-2015, 01:26 PM   #1
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TPG Week 257: Bad Taste Makes Me Stop


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have Brave One Jave Galt-Miller with us. We also have Liam Hayes in blue, Ryan Kroboth with pencils, and I'm the guy in red. This week, we're all going to see what Jave brings us in

LESBIAN ZOMBIES FROM OUTER SPACE

A couple of things before we begin: this is issue 5 of a limited series, so there should be things that have been previously established that probably won't be readily explained. I can live with that. Also, Jave gaev a legend so that the artist knows what kind of camera angle he's going for. These should be self-evident. I cut them (and the character descriptions) for the sake of space. With that said, let's go!

PAGE ONE (THREE PANELS)

PANEL ONE

Afternoon. A gravel pit site that’s been recently transformed into a makeshift military base. Surrounded by wooded hills, several trailers and small buildings line a dirt road, the ground dropping off into a gravel pit in the foreground. Paramilitary Men march in small groups, Guards stationed at key points. Most wear camouflage, but there is no specific uniform, many of them unshaven and wearing baseball caps.
(A couple of things. First, Jave typed of the panel descriptions in bold, but left the dialogue in plain text. That's a stylistic choice, and is neither right nor wrong. As you'll also see, he put the dialogue in all caps. Another stylistic choice. Some writers say it helps them to see how it will look on the page better. That's their experience, and I have nothing to say about it. I just wanted to bring it to the attention of the collective. Next, this is missing something. Mostly, it's missing a mess hall and a command post. If this unit has any kind of military experience, the command post should have some sort of flag or marking on it, and the mess hall should also be marked. Sure it can be makeshift, but still, people should be lined up to eat. Just saying.)

NO COPY

PANEL TWO

A pimply Guard stands outside the door of a trailer, rifle leaning against his shoulder, eyes straight ahead.

1. KEARNES (WITHIN TRAILER): (Where's this coming from exactly? The door? From a window?)

YOU SHOULD EAT. YOU’LL NEED THE STRENGTH. (No, I didn't look ahead. But eating. See how important it is? Now if the person knew where the mess hall was, that would be great.)

PANEL THREE

Ace sits at a small metal table, his left wrist handcuffed to the metal leg under the tabletop. Pleading. An MRE is opened in front of him, as Kearnes stands nearby, looking out a small window.

2. ACE:

SHE’S NOT ONE OF THEM, DETECTIVE. YOU CAN SEE FOR YOURSELF: (Colon?)

3. ACE:

SHE’S NOT EVEN HOT.

4. KEARNES:

MY WIFE WASN’T HOT EITHER. (Comma-fail.)

Click here to read more.
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:09 PM   #2
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I'm a long way from understanding this.

It's a light-hearted gory horror story, like Blood Sucking Bastards? If so, it needs jokes. Is it meant to be super-gross, like South Park?

I'm guessing that you're going for something ironic about men objectifying 'hot' lesbians, who turn out to be monsters, but none of the dialogue helps me out with that. You don't have a 'wise fool' character who can speak truth to power.

Gimme a film/comic or two which this is aspiring to copy the tone of?
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:35 PM   #3
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Thanks, Steven and Liam, for the edits/critique. All of this was very helpful. Definitely have some things to consider.

As far as "makeshift military base" - my intention wasn't clear here, though I wonder if it would be more clear if you had knowledge of what happened in Issue 4. Maybe not though, and I could always be dealing with a new artist.

I did not mean that the base was actually run by the military. As I write this, I realize "pseudo-military base" would probably be better. This is just supposed to be a few dozen guys in town who got together to stem the lesbian tide. They took over the granite mine work area, and they're led by a police detective from the small town. But they have no authority whatsoever. So I'm wondering: would "pseudo" solve the confusion, or should I have gone into more detail?

As far as too many stressors: I can see how there might be too many. If I saw this many in a more serious piece, I would agree. Maybe I even agree now. But part of the reason I have so many is that the previous issues have been like that, so I'm trying to keep the same style... I may go back and kill some of these here (and from Issue 4). Thanks for pointing that out.

If page 1 is light on material, it's not because I'm going for page count. I just want to establish place (the larger "base" and then a closer look at a trailer within the base, and then within the trailer). In fact, from the beginning I've been trying to cut down on pages per issue, not looking to add more. (This one started at 26, but I had reduced it to 24. Recently cut it to 22.) But also, for me, "My wife wasn't hot either," IS the page turner. This is likely only explainable through the actions and dialog of previous issues, which, I guess is silly to explain here.

That being said, I can see the wisdom of consolidating the first four pages into three. I agree with Liam - that last panel on 4 is a great page turn moment. So I'm going to have to think on that...

To Steven's point (and Liam's throughout), yes, there were a number of panels where I was lazy with character action and emotion. I have fixed some of these since submitting this, but there are probably more. I should warn you, however, that we ALREADY found Ace masturbating on page 3 of Issue #1, so it would not surprise me if that's what he was doing here as well.

As far as funny vs. gross: I hear you, Steven. This story isn't for everyone. However, anyone who reaches Issue #5 shouldn't be entirely put off by Kearnes' revelation here. It's a story about lesbian zombies who kill by eating - not brains, as your normal zombie - but male private parts. Is the eating of an infant's balls going a step further than even this premise? Yes. But that's the point. Full disclosure: I've always found this scene to be the funniest of the series. (At least, in my head.)

--"Detail of the plastic water bucket as it slices through the air, attached to Gwen’s hand. (That’s a weird way of saying Gwen is tossing the bucket.)"--

What I meant to communicate here was not that Gwen threw the bucket, but that she was swinging it at Kearnes' face -- but I wanted a close up of just the bucket and her hand as she swings it. I guess what I just wrote here IS more descriptive and clear.

"— Gwen looking back at Ace with a big grin, as Kearnes crashes through the door to outside. (We don’t want to alert the whole base, so let’s smash him out of the door? What? Where’s the logic there?)"

Ace said not to alert the base. Gwen isn't listening. No?

Frankly I'm amazed we got through 8 pages (or Liam did, anyway). Thanks again for the time and effort.

And incredibly, I have not yet seen Murder By Death. I definitely will check that out.
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Old 12-01-2015, 12:00 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamRoads View Post
I'm guessing that you're going for something ironic about men objectifying 'hot' lesbians, who turn out to be monsters, but none of the dialogue helps me out with that. You don't have a 'wise fool' character who can speak truth to power.
That's a good guess. These particular pages probably do not speak to that particular idea as well as others would. Except in this way: the joke thus far has been that people keep calling these zombies lesbians, and Gwen has constantly had to try to correct this assumption. Then Ace doesn't believe she IS a lesbian, since she's not as hot as the ladies who populate his pornographic fantasies.

In this scene, however, Kearnes is seeing a zombie/monster in the lesbian Gwen. A reverse kind of confusion.

Ace is certainly our fool. Is he a wise fool? He shouldn't be. But in the end, he may turn out to be "wiser" than anyone ever suspected...

Ultimately that scene is all about Kearnes, who is a secondary character. He has saved Ace and Gwen at least twice before, but now he has turned on them. This is his "rubber ducky" moment. The reason for why he is what he is. (And yes, the whole, "just yesterday" comment was a conscious play on that idea, and the fact that the story itself is so compressed.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamRoads View Post
It's a light-hearted gory horror story, like Blood Sucking Bastards? If so, it needs jokes. Is it meant to be super-gross, like South Park?
Huh, I've never heard of Blood Sucking Bastards. And is South Park super gross? And does this mean that South Park doesn't have jokes?

I think if anything falls under the category super gross, Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space would do so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamRoads View Post
Gimme a film/comic or two which this is aspiring to copy the tone of?
You know how Shaun of the Dead was Romantic Comedy meets Zombie movie? I think of this as Teen Sex Comedy meets Zombie movie. I've been watching the new Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead, and I feel a kindred tone here. (Just without all the sex stuff.) I cannot think of any comic like this, but my knowledge there is not encyclopedic...

Ultimately the whole point for me is that I like girl on girl action. I'm not a porn aficionado like Ace, but when I'm fantasizing, that's where my mind tends to go. But I'm also an analytical son of a bitch. And so I wonder what the hell is the point of that kind of fantasy? It doesn't make any sense. And of course, obsessive fantasy is likely to turn into nightmare at some point...so Lesbian Zombies from Outer Space is my expression of that.
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Old 12-01-2015, 12:11 AM   #5
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By the way, Sam, I know you've been a champion of Save the Cat on this board. I liked it too. Lesbian Zombies was my response to Save the Cat. It was after reading that book that I moved away from Polis for a while and knocked this one out.
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Old 12-01-2015, 03:31 AM   #6
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Okay. You guys win.

I just did a rewrite of the first four pages (some of which I had already tweaked since submitting), consolidating them into three, and I think this is a significant improvement. (However, don't expect any more tastefulness.) Would love to hear anyone's thoughts:

PAGE ONE (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL ONE
Afternoon. A gravel pit site that’s been recently transformed into a makeshift pseudo-military base. (Not really military. Just a bunch of rednecks who decided to play soldier.) Surrounded by wooded hills, several trailers and small buildings line a dirt road, the ground dropping off into a gravel pit in the foreground. Paramilitary Men march in small groups, Guards stationed at key points. Most wear camouflage, but there is no specific uniform, many of them unshaven and wearing baseball caps.

A pimply Guard stands outside the door of one of the trailers, rifle leaning against his shoulder, eyes straight ahead. A figure (Kearnes) in the trailer’s window. Smoking a cigarette.


1. KEARNES (AT WINDOW WITHIN TRAILER):
YOU SHOULD EAT. YOU’LL NEED THE STRENGTH.


PANEL TWO
Inside the trailer. Ace sits at a small metal table, his left wrist handcuffed to the metal leg under the tabletop. Pleading. An MRE is opened in front of him, its contents spread out, as Kearnes stands nearby, looking out the small window.


2. ACE:
SHE’S NOT ONE OF THEM, DETECTIVE. YOU CAN SEE FOR YOURSELF.

3. ACE:
SHE’S NOT EVEN HOT.

4. KEARNES:
MY WIFE WASN’T HOT EITHER.


PANEL THREE
Close on Kearnes through the window (from outside) as he remembers. Wistful and sad.


5. KEARNES:
SHE NEVER COULD LOSE THE WEIGHT AFTER THE BABY.

6. KEARNES:
SAMUEL.

7. KEARNES:
SAMMY.


PANEL FOUR
On Ace as he listens. This is more than he wanted to hear. A bit grossed out.


8. KEARNES (OP):
SHE WENT TO PILATES CLASS FIVE TIMES A WEEK FOR THREE YEARS TRYING TO GET HER FIGURE BACK. BUT I DIDN’T CARE, ACE. I LOVED HER.


PANEL FIVE
Kearnes turned from the window and toward Ace. Flicking away the cigarette.


9. KEARNES:
THEN ONE DAY SHE CHANGED.


PAGE TWO (SIX PANELS)

PANEL ONE
Kearnes walking toward the table, Ace trying to follow the story
.

1. KEARNES:
IT WAS YESTERDAY, AFTER I GOT HOME FROM THE STATION. I FOUND HER WITH ANOTHER WOMAN. AND SHE WAS HOT, BOY. HOTTER THAN THE DAY I MET HER--


PANEL TWO
Close on Ace again, clearly confused.


2. KEARNES (OP):
--LIKE SHE HAD ONE OF THOSE GASTRIC BYPASS SURGERIES, ONLY IT ALL HAPPENED IN A MATTER OF HOURS.

3. ACE:
I’M…SORRY?


PANEL THREE
Furious, Kearnes slams his fist on the table in front of Ace.


4. KEARNES:
NO!


PANEL FOUR
Kearnes looking away, trying to calm down. His hands in front of him at gut level, palms down, as if he’s trying to push the fury back under his diaphragm. Long exhale. Ace behind him, looking on. Bewildered.


5. KEARNES:
NO. IT DOESN’T END THERE. I WISH IT DID, BUT…


PANEL FIVE
On Ace, one eyebrow arched, mouth open, something between fear and disgust: fear because he doesn’t know what’s coming; disgust, because he knows it’s gonna be bad.


6. KEARNES (OP):
I ASKED HER, “WHERE’S SAMMY? HONEY, TELL ME WHERE’S OUR BABY BOY?”


PANEL SIX
On Kearnes as he laughs, a sad laugh. Eyes cast down, more smirk than smile.


7. KEARNES:
AND THE CRAZY BITCH -- YOU KNOW WHAT SHE SAID?

8. KEARNES:
“I WANT TO SUCK YOUR COCK, PETER. WE WILL SUCK YOUR COCK.”


PAGE THREE (FIVE PANELS)

PANEL ONE
High shot of the room, both men in view. Kearnes is clearly upset as he points at an imaginary couch. Ace looks in the direction of the imaginary couch, horrified.


1. KEARNES:
AND AS SHE AND HER GIRLFRIEND CAME FORWARD I SAW HIM -- THERE ON THE COUCH, WHERE THEY WERE MAKING OUT. OUR LITTLE BOY--

2. KEARNES:
--SHE ATE HIS BALLS, ACE!


PANEL TWO
Close on Kearnes as the tears stream down his cheeks.


3. KEARNES:
MY WIFE ATE HIS LITTLE BABY BALLS!


PANEL THREE
Profile shot. Ace on the left, eyes wide, bewildered. Kearnes leaning across the desk, inches from Ace’s face.


4. ACE:
MY GOD.

5. KEARNES:
I PUT A BULLET IN MY WIFE’S HEAD. SO DON’T TELL ME GWEN’S NOT A LESBIAN BECAUSE SHE ISN’T CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE.

6. KEARNES:
THEY COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES.

7. ACE:
I’M NOT SAYING SHE ISN’T A LESBIAN--


PANEL FOUR
Wide shot of the room. Ace standing, pulling on the cuffs, desperate. Kearnes opening the door to the trailer in order to leave. We only see his back.


8. ACE:
SHE’S NOT ONE OF THEM, DETECTIVE -- NOT A ZOMBIE!


PANEL FIVE
High angle, close on Ace, pulling up on the handcuffs, desperate to keep Kearnes from leaving. (Yes, think Star Trek II.)


9. ACE (BURST):
KEAAAARNES!!
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Old 12-01-2015, 09:05 AM   #7
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Thanks for the explanation.

In Blood Sucking Bastards, the central conceit is that blood-sucking corporate types are literally blood sucking corporate types. There's plenty of Shaun of the Dead type humour contrasting the corporate bullshit against the vampire killing.

Buffy did something similar with its 'school is hell' theme becoming school is literally hell.

In each case there's a joke within the central conceit.

I don't see it yet with yours. They're lesbian, but they're hot lesbian zombies? There's no twist there, unless I'm missing something.

Your tagline: "Sometimes when Hot Girls make out: IT'S EVIL!"

I don't get this either. Generally lines like this set up an expectation and then twist away from it, or are based on some meme.

Have you seen Life After Beth? (That seems to combine zombies with rom com, but not very successfully.) The title takes an expected meme and twists it.

Heathers (a must-watch film) has the tagline: "Best friends, social trends and occasional murder."

If I were your editor, I would have demanded a better tagline before you began even starting issue 1. But then I (as you say) agree with Snyder that you need to know what your story is about, what its heart is, before you start.
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Old 12-01-2015, 01:46 PM   #8
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Well, there is a portion of the world that believes Homosexuality is evil. Lesbians fit under that heading. This is contrasted with the popular fantasy/turn-on of girl-on-girl eroticism - which, I believe, there are some homo-phobes who can be anti-gay, but pro-"lesbian" porn - as long as there's a dude delivering his johnson somewhere into the equation.

In this story, of course, the girls making out happen to be zombies - out to kill you - and therefore, evil. In other words the tag line suggests: while girls making out with girls is usually awesome, sometimes (i.e. here in this story) it can be very very bad.

The main central joke, however is this: the fantasy lesbians in porn or personal imagination, as noted above, at the end of the day want your dick. That is the fantasy. (But of course, why would a lesbian be interested in dick?) Here the lesbian zombies are like honey pots for their victims, and instead of moaning "Brains" they often mutter "cock". They want your dick. Great! Only not great. Because they want to bite it off and cause an agonizing death.

Anyway, that's the joke within the central conceit.

Again, this would probably be more clear had you read the story from the beginning.
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Old 12-01-2015, 02:16 PM   #9
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Dude, this story sounds awesome, I'm checking out your comic now!
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Old 12-01-2015, 11:32 PM   #10
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Dude, this story sounds awesome, I'm checking out your comic now!
It is interesting and it looks fun.

I'm tired of zombies, but I like this twist.

Jave, shoot me an email. I've got a proposition for ya.
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:40 PM   #11
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Quote:
Kearnes walking toward the table, Ace trying to follow the story. (And the second part of this isn’t a panel description. What does his expression say? Oh, Ryan? You’re at bat.)
Sure thing!

This is the panel I came up with for this one.



I know that this is a later issue in the series, so I'm sure your artist already knows the personality of the characters. Since I'm unfamiliar with the story I made Ace's face sorta like me trying to figure out what was happening in Kearnes flashback story. It wasn't until I read your forum response that I knew what was happening!

I wasn't sure what expression you were going for with Kearnes. My guess is he is still sad, but the dialog makes me unsure. He could be getting momentarily aroused. So I went with a neutral walk toward the table with a small bit of sad left over from the earlier panel, and a small bit of my paper rolling up and me not noticing it scanned like that.

Nothing in the room is described besides the window and table. So that's all there is in the panel. Although, I did consider adding a deer head on the wall because you said it was a redneck version of a military base. But that isn't in the script at all, so no fun deer heads this time.

I do have to give you props on character placement for sure. You do well with keeping your characters on the same side of the 180 line. That's always a big plus! I also get the impression you have a lot of trust in your artist. From the few sequentials I've seen of the story, I can see why! Good stuff!

A few weeks back I checked out your site for this comic. I looked around, and it seemed like if you missed the Kickstarter (which clearly I did) you could only purchase digital copies of the story. I couldn't find anywhere to pick up a print copy. Unless there isn't print copies. Anyway, I'm more of a paper comic kind of dude. So if you do sell them, maybe go back and add that so no one else looking passes by! I still want to pick up the first issue sometime.

Looking forward to your next submission, Jave.
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Old 12-02-2015, 11:48 PM   #12
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Quote:
On Kearnes as he laughs, a sad laugh. (An artist can’t draw a sad laugh. What does that even look like?) (Oh, Ryan?)
This was...tricky.



I showed this expression to a few people, and no one guessed "sad laugh". I tweaked it quite a bit, but I don't think what you are going for is going to come across just right. I know what this looks like in real life, but this is my best attempt to capture it into a still image. What makes it even trickier is the dialog that pairs with this panel doesn't really fit with "sad laugh" for context. If anyone has any more feedback for this one, I'm all ears!

Side note: Kearnes totally has a mullet because I couldn't find him in a Google search.
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Old 12-03-2015, 03:53 AM   #13
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Hey Ryan,

Thanks for these!

Yeah, when Steven pointed out the difficulty of a sad laugh within a static image, it definitely gave me pause. I can see it in a movie, but it's tough on the page. I sat by my desk doing a sad laugh, trying to feel what was going on with my face. My best guess was a kind of smirk/smile for the lower part of the face, but the upper part scrunched in concern, and maybe with downcast eyes... ? But yeah: writing words is always easier than illustrating them.

Actually, what you drew here is pretty close to what I just wrote above. But I agree: it doesn't quite sell what I was thinking in the script.

The first panel with Kearnes and Ace looks great - and you even have the famous Captain Hammer T-shirt! Full disclosure: I was picturing a more rectangular table. But that's on me. Otherwise, yes, I just wanted an empty trailer apart from the table and chair. More of an interrogation room kind of feel.

As for Ace's expression: I think what you have here can totally work. I was thinking more of a ditzy, mouth agape, semi-confused "trying to follow" - but I didn't write that.

(By the way: Kearnes would definitely not be turned on while saying this. At this point, he is totally anti-lesbian.)

And as far as the website: yeah, I suck. I'm way behind on updating the website. Thanks for checking it out though! I do have some printed books, which I'm selling through ebay, or with paypal... but yeah, I have to get a working shopping cart kind of thing on the website. If you want the first issue, send me an email at jpgaltmiller@yahoo.com - I'd love to get one out to you.

Thanks again!
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Old 12-03-2015, 04:00 AM   #14
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Maybe he could have tears rolling down his cheek, I think you did a good job Ryan. Very difficult to capture that moment where the two meet, now I want to try it.
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Old 12-03-2015, 11:37 AM   #15
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Hey Ryan,

Thanks for these!
No problem!

Quote:
Yeah, when Steven pointed out the difficulty of a sad laugh within a static image, it definitely gave me pause. I can see it in a movie, but it's tough on the page. I sat by my desk doing a sad laugh, trying to feel what was going on with my face. My best guess was a kind of smirk/smile for the lower part of the face, but the upper part scrunched in concern, and maybe with downcast eyes... ? But yeah: writing words is always easier than illustrating them.

Actually, what you drew here is pretty close to what I just wrote above. But I agree: it doesn't quite sell what I was thinking in the script.
It was a challenge, for sure, but it was still fun. Sometimes seeing things is the best way to know if it will work or not.

Quote:
The first panel with Kearnes and Ace looks great - and you even have the famous Captain Hammer T-shirt! Full disclosure: I was picturing a more rectangular table. But that's on me. Otherwise, yes, I just wanted an empty trailer apart from the table and chair. More of an interrogation room kind of feel.
I figured since you already had content out I'd do a search to see if I could find the character from the page. I only found about 3 or 4 sequential pages, so I was making a guess that character was Ace. I was about 90% sure, haha.


Quote:
And as far as the website: yeah, I suck. I'm way behind on updating the website. Thanks for checking it out though! I do have some printed books, which I'm selling through ebay, or with paypal... but yeah, I have to get a working shopping cart kind of thing on the website. If you want the first issue, send me an email at jpgaltmiller@yahoo.com - I'd love to get one out to you.

Thanks again!
I'm just as guilty with updating my website (read: getting it completed so I can actually post it). We only have so much time to do our creative work that I get caught up in that. Sometimes it's that swift kick in our bums to get us to do the background stuff that is just as important. I'll hit you up with an email in a bit!
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