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Old 01-29-2016, 07:31 AM   #1
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TPG Week 266: I Wish This Were On The Shelves


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds. This week, our Brave One is Galen Schulz. Aside from me being all crusty and cranky in red, we also have Ryan Kroboth with the pencil assists. Now, let's see what Galen has learned as he presents us

Court of the Air

Page Four

First four panels of this page are a flashback. (Notice that this is P4, not P1. This is because I want to draw your eye to this line right here. Galen is telling us that this is a flashback, which means that the panels can be shaped differently, or it can be colored differently, or both. Something has to happen to tell the reader ďwhenĒ we are temporally within this scene. I like it.)

Panel 1, Oliver is opening the door into an office (opening it to the right), having just come from outside in Hundred Locks. Ahead of him is Sergeant Cudban shining a cutlass that came from a rack on the left hand wall (Cudban is still right next to it). Cudban should look stern. Behind Cudban is another door in the corner, and a rack of rifles beside that. Make sure this office has exposed ceiling beams, and an overall hand made look to everything would be good as this town is pretty far from the hub of civilization in Jackals.

CUDBAN:

Aye, Oliver, your wee conjurer's all ready for you. Always seems like more than weekly, often as that prat's here.

OLIVER:

Hello, Sergeant Cudban.

CUDBAN:

Well come on in, laddie. Best to register and be done for a spell.

Panel 2, looking straight at Cudban, still shining that cutlass. He's smiling, turned to look at Oliver who is closing the door and looking back at Cudban. Oliver should be straight-faced. (Panel 2Ö It's not a record, but yeah, Ryan, could you please do your thing here? Tanks!)

OLIVER:

How was your week?

CUDBAN:

The usual. Did have the parson in here yesterday. Someone's been stuffing pamphlets in the book of Circlelaw.

OLIVER:

Pamphlets?

CUDBAN:

Highlights of Community and the Commons, aye. The thought of Carlists in the pews had him fit to collapse.

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Old 01-29-2016, 12:30 PM   #2
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Steven, I saw the title of this week's post and I actually started shaking. My adrenaline is through the freaking roof right now. Whoo!

Now I wish I could take credit for the part you liked best (the dialect) but that was one of the things I tried as often as I could to stay true to the source material (the novel of the same name by Stephen Hunt). When I failed, that's when you felt it was hamfisted. Usually. Even Stephen had to crowbar in some information at times, as crazily as that book was paced.

I'm guessing that the problems with shots were that since I'm in a 9 panel grid, these aren't going to be wide enough for the kind of establishing shots I wanted. With this project, I'm anticipating something like 160+ pages of graphic novel. Does that mean I can be more free with splash pages and such?

Wow. I'm just freakin' over the moon. Yes, I spelled bureaucrat wrong, and you were exactly correct as to why. And yes it was stylistic to not have ending punctuation in the location caption. That always looks weird to me, otherwise. I feel bad that the first time somebody I respect actually LIKES how I'm writing a script that it's somebody else's story. But I am glad that I can feel like I have learned a couple things. Thank you so much, sir.
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Old 01-29-2016, 12:48 PM   #3
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Hmm. Broken balloon. I wrote that a while ago and now I don't remember why. I'm pretty sure it was a placeholder until I could find the right terminology. What I was going for was a sort of broken border around the balloon itself, because only snippets of the dialogue can be understood. Is that a thing?
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Old 01-30-2016, 04:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Panel 3, a shot from right in front of the door now (the door is closed, so the light is from the chandelier above them) looking down the entrance hall. Damson Griggs is leaning down close to Oliver in the foreground, concern on her face. Oliver is still watching Harry climbing the stairs, a hand on the banister. On the ground floor, to the right of the stairs which curve to the left, are a couple doors, both of which are closed. (Most of this isnít needed. Rin, could you simplify this, please?)
Not sure which of the details were / weren't relevant, so I settled on simplifying the description instead and getting the 80 word description below 50. I ended up at 46. My re-write would be:

Seen from inside the closed front door, looking down the entrance hall, a concerned Damson Griggs is leaning down close to Oliver. Oliver watches Harry climb stairs that curve to the left. On the ground floor, to the right of the stairs, are two closed doors.

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What I was going for was a sort of broken border around the balloon itself, because only snippets of the dialogue can be understood. Is that a thing?
Blambot calls it "whispering".
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:47 AM   #5
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Panel 5, late afternoon, on the left is the gangway of a small zeppelin (called an aerostat), at the top of which is a rumpled looking Harry Stave, annoyed. Harry should be carrying a battered travel case about the size of his torso. Oliver is looking down at his feet, seated at a bench in the middle of a huge grassy field. The aerostat is landed on a circle painted in the grass, and there should be other such circles and benches elsewhere on the field, but at least 50 yards from each other. Deep in the distance is the town of Hundred Locks at the foot of the massive natural dike. (Yep. Problems here. LesseeÖ LesseeÖ Schuyler! Youíve grown in your prowess. Tell us what the problems here are.)
Harry is at the top of the gangway. I have no idea what the means.

However the real problem is size. There are nine panels on this page, and this panel is described as having things fifty yards from each other. Are we looking at this scene from space?

-Sky
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiyoko, Rin View Post

Blambot calls it "whispering".
I feel rather silly about this. It's not that they were whispering, but it also doesn't make a damn difference in a visual-only medium. Thank you, Rin.

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Originally Posted by Schuyler View Post
Harry is at the top of the gangway. I have no idea what the means.
Just the ramp that loads/unloads ships (and zeppelins, apparently). Gangplank is another term for it, though that calls into mind a more crude apparatus. I'll just use ramp, in the future.

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Originally Posted by Schuyler View Post
However the real problem is size. There are nine panels on this page, and this panel is described as having things fifty yards from each other. Are we looking at this scene from space?

-Sky
That's what I thought, as soon as I read Steven's go at it. I think I know how to repurpose the establishing shot of the mansion into a better one of location as well.

As for his issue with the pacing for that dialogue there in Page 5 panel 1, I'm not sure I understand the problem. Is it that there's too much gutter time between that and the next panel? Would it help if I had Harry or Oliver say or think something first and then have that line from Griggs?
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Old 01-31-2016, 02:57 AM   #7
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Letís not talk of it ourselves, then. Allow those whoíve moved along the Circle some rest in their new lives. (I have to say, though, Iím liking the dialogue here. Can you tell me why Iím saying that, Greg?)
I can take a guess.

Quote:
Hereís whatís intriguing me: the vocabulary. Itís foreign enough to make me question it some, but itís familiar enough to let me know what the word means.
I'm assuming it's something along these lines.

Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the dialogue. Some of the lines read like gibberish, and there were some parts where the punctuation felt a little off. (I know comma usage can be a bit of a personal preference.)

Maybe I'm just not that smart. Maybe I'm just a bit of a dick. Probably both.
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Old 01-31-2016, 03:57 AM   #8
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You know I'm honestly surprised Steven liked the dialogue so much. In the novel, the plotting is madness and pulls you along faster than you can process what's going on, so the only thing keeping me reading was how interesting the setting was. Most of that is done through dialogue (his descriptions are almost non-existent, something that is very infuriating for somebody who has a hard time visualizing things like me). A steep learning curve when you step into a novel isn't for everybody, but if the world is interesting enough, people will usually stick around to answer those questions of "what the hell do they mean by this?!"

It seems to me that you can rarely bank on that strategy in comics. That's why I was kind of surprised Steven liked it. I was expecting to get yelled at for the steep learning curve in this story.
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Old 01-31-2016, 10:24 PM   #9
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"Oliver is opening the door into an office (opening it to the right)"

I can read this two ways. A. the actor is facing the right, opening the door in the direction of right. B. the actor is "opening it, to the right", meaning the actor is on the right, facing left.

***

I'm not sure it's safe to have personal thought bubbles plus telepathy. Unless there's some fourth wall stuff that happens later when someone does some personal thought and it gets 'hijacked' by a telepath.

***

Lovely world-building and dialogue. Lovely. Where's the Kickstarter?

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I think 'old stick' is just WWII-era British slang. <David Niven> "I say, old stick, you don't fancy joining my squadron, do you? Good man."
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Old 01-31-2016, 10:29 PM   #10
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Ah. I now see that the world is built by another writer. But, still, credit for writing in an attractive style and (presumably) nailing the style of the books.
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Old 01-31-2016, 11:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
DAMSON GRIGGS (from next panel):

What ill wind has blown you to our doorstep, Harold Stave? (No. The pacing is off here, because this doesnít fit with this panel. What youíve effectively done is try to cover two panels: one as an off-panel bit of dialogue, and yet, you want the same dialogue to pull double duty for the next panel as well. Youíre trying to have it both ways, and while I applaud the ambition, itís not going to work as well as you think it will. Ryan, donít do the first one. Please sketch this panel and the next in order to show whatís heís trying to do and what it is that Iím saying. Thanks.)
This is one where the image pretty much explains everything.



As a reader, we have certain expectations. Since you specifically called for the dialog in panel one, so I would have to assume the entire dialog would be in that panel (as opposed to a slightly overlapping dialog over the gutter). It draws attention to itself, and kinda throws you out of the story. At least, that's my belief.

I'll probably do a super quick rough sketch of the other panel tomorrow morning, just to clarify what was meant.

This was an interesting entry. After reading the forums I have to ask, is this your interpretation of the novel? Some of this stuff was pretty interesting. I really liked what you were doing with the telepathic scene. I thought that would work well.

It sounds like if you're doing this that the small editor nudge is all that is needed. I hope you consider taking that path to hit this comic story home. I will have a few more comments for you tomorrow when I post, but overall I thought this was interesting. Great work, Galen. Keep the good stuff coming.
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Old 02-01-2016, 04:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamRoads View Post
"Oliver is opening the door into an office (opening it to the right)"

I can read this two ways. A. the actor is facing the right, opening the door in the direction of right. B. the actor is "opening it, to the right", meaning the actor is on the right, facing left.
Would it be safer to say "Oliver is opening the door to the right, into Cudban's office"? Or "Oliver is opening the door into Cudban's office. The door swings to the right"?

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Originally Posted by SamRoads View Post
I'm not sure it's safe to have personal thought bubbles plus telepathy. Unless there's some fourth wall stuff that happens later when someone does some personal thought and it gets 'hijacked' by a telepath.
So this was something I was waffling a lot on. That's why I settled for the black void, because the hijacking is sort of what's happening. Whisperer is IN Oliver's head and can hear his thoughts while sending his own. I wasn't sure if that would work, but I hoped the stark difference between reality and that black void would be the most obvious way of showing that Whisperer can only be heard by him, here.
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Old 02-01-2016, 12:00 PM   #13
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Panel 2, looking straight at Cudban, still shining that cutlass. Heís smiling, turned to look at Oliver who is closing the door and looking back at Cudban. Oliver should be straight-faced. (Panel 2Ö Itís not a record, but yeah, Ryan, could you please do your thing here? Tanks!)
Quote:
Would it be safer to say "Oliver is opening the door to the right, into Cudban's office"? Or "Oliver is opening the door into Cudban's office. The door swings to the right"?
Personally, I think since this wall is parallel to the left panel border it would be much easier to say opens toward the camera or away from it. The reason being is the alternative thought process is; "Okay, so he is walking in this door from this direction. And the door is opening to HIS right. And now the camera is over here, so..."

There is that option. You could also make a floor plan for your artist, or leave it up to them to make the best decision.

Now, I'm pretty sure that you intend for it to open toward the camera. I'm also thinking that you want the panel 3 camera to be in the doorway as it closes. At least that is the impression I get. Now, if that is the case for panel 3, the reason it won't work is because as the door closes (from panel 2) the area we can see will not include the area of view you want. And if it's just in front of the door, well, then...I'll come back to that.



I threw in panel one, because I have a suggestion for that I'll come back around to, as well. The reason you got dinged for this is that he is looking toward Cudban, but we can see his expression. He has to be looking away from the camera to be looking at him, so therefore we can't see his face.

Sorta the same thing is happening in panel 3 if the camera is in front of the door. The character is moving one way, but looking in the other. Since Cudban is completely behind him how it is being described, his head would have to be turned 180 degrees (ouch), or he is shuffle walking sideways (maybe dancing a jig?!).

And now, back to that panel 1 door. If you are, in fact, having it open toward the camera, my suggestion is to have it open away from it. Reason being is that door is going to be a big block of negative space in the composition. The character walking through it will have to already be past it in order to see him. You also want a bunch of other stuff in the room, and space is going to be a crunch. If the door is moving away from the camera, you can have Oliver within that space, saving room for the rest of the detail and also letting his pose feel more organic.

Also, I might suggest an over the shoulder shot from behind Cudban in panel 2. We have already seen what he is doing, and his silhouette should still be obvious. The way you have it could potentially turn out a little weird. But that could also just be me not sure how exactly to pose/position Oliver from that angle.

Just some thoughts on that.

Quote:
However the real problem is size. There are nine panels on this page, and this panel is described as having things fifty yards from each other. Are we looking at this scene from space?
This is a good point. I also think that the transition from the last panel doesn't line up to a flowing image. He wants this without a gutter (is that correct, Galen?), so on one side we have a room, then half a zeppelin on the other surrounded by grass. The visual transition is jarring for what will appear to be a single panel.

If you see a movie and someone walks into their childhood home, a flashback happens in front of them. There they are, playing in the living room, toys, furniture, family. As the camera spins back toward the person standing in the doorway, we see the room "aging" and the dilapidated state it is in. The visual transition is seemless.
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Old 02-01-2016, 05:52 PM   #14
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This page 4 is now officially giving me a headache, haha.

Ryan, I think I'll take the option of leaving it up to the artist with a floorplan as a guide or suggestion. The only reason I was specific at all was because when I finished a later page back in this place, I had a character posed a certain way so I had to go back and make sure the layout was the way I described it later. I think I'll just go and make it ambiguous in that sense later so that the artist can decide where things are early.

Your points about how this stuff works from your end is, again, always edifying and useful. I thank you. I'm not very good at the visual aspect of this, sometimes and giving me little tidbits of what YOUR job entails helps me make better decisions when I'm deciding on what I want to see.

So about the zeppelin panel. I had him sitting on the right side of it because he was on the right side of the last panel. Since we're coming out of his reverie there, would it be breaking a rule to have him back-to-back with himself? So basically just mirror image the rest of those panels (Harry would be disembarking on the left side of the zeppelin, the steamman would be unloading from the right).
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Old 02-02-2016, 02:55 AM   #15
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So, I've had the entire weekend to think about this, and here's what I've come up with.

1.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beardywriterface View Post
So about the zeppelin panel. I had him sitting on the right side of it because he was on the right side of the last panel. Since we're coming out of his reverie there, would it be breaking a rule to have him back-to-back with himself? So basically just mirror image the rest of those panels (Harry would be disembarking on the left side of the zeppelin, the steamman would be unloading from the right).
The 180 rule only applies to a single scene, so this should be fine. Incidentally, Ryan's more recent sketch (great work, as always) breaks the 180 rule.

2. Dialogue.

Quote:
Letís not talk of it ourselves, then. Allow those whoíve moved along the Circle some rest in their new lives.
This line is good. It gives the reader an idea of what the world is like without saying it outright.

Quote:
Their Special Guard uniforms and suicide torcs are as bad as the worldsinger gates theyíve got me locked behind.
This line is less good. There're too many unfamiliar terms for the reader (me) to make sense of it. Not only that, but it also reads a bit stiff. Nobody says "Pull the 1978 Ford Mustang around." They say "Pull the car around."

3. Thought bubbles. Steven accused them of being a little hammy, but I believe that that's just what thought bubbles are for, that their sole purpose for existence is to allow writers to ham it up. I'd cut them entirely and stick with the telepathy. However, I'm not exactly a fan of thought bubbles, in case you didn't notice.

4. The scene with the whisperer. It essentially boils down to the whisperer stopping by to say hi. Would he (or she, I'm not entirely sure) really go out of his way just for that? Wouldn't he have already told Oliver just how perfect he is at an earlier time? This whole exchange didn't make a lot of sense to me. (Most of this should probably be directed at the original writer.)
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