View Full Version : Just getting started, any advice welcome

01-04-2014, 12:39 AM
Hello everyone,
Would love to get some feedback on my script sample here. Thanks in advance:


Panel 1-Establising shot of a boat landing, very late at night (3am/4am). The moon is lighting the river and the gravel lot below. There is a tall wooden light pole hanging over where the water meets the landing, lighting the area more intensely. There are grassy knolls on either side of the gravel lot. Across from the river are the woods, giving the illusion that there are trees surrounding the landing.
Walking under the light pole is a dark figure decked out in fishing gear and wearing a fisher’s cap with hooks in the brim and the top. In one hand is the rod & reel and in the other is the tackle box.

Panel 2-Close-up of the trees. Like the viewer is being pulled over to the clearing where Helms is waiting.

Panel 3-Widescreen. We see a full-body shot of Helms staring down the barrel of an M-14 sniper rifle. He’s wearing coveralls, black gloves, and a baseball cap with the brim forward, so his face is barely visible.
He is squatting on a grassy hill with lots of thick trees in the background. He’s found a good clearing in the woods to wait for his target. Helms is very tense but has incredible patience. He’s squeezing the gun barrel, but his trigger finger is a bit loose. His mark is very close.
It’s around 3 or 4am, so the only light on him is the moonlight. It’s mostly silhouettes and shadows.

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “I dunno. Just couldn’t keep my hands on them.”

Panel 4- Seen through the POV of the scope. We get a better-lit image of the fisherman baiting his hook, while standing by the edge of the water. He is in his late-50s, has a pleasant demeanor about him and has a jolly expression on his face as he baits. Little strands of pure white hair stick out from under his cap. He’s wearing standard fisherman gear: flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up, long trousers, fisherman’s jacket. He just seems like he’d be the jovial neighbor you’d see on a sitcom. The scope gets a ¾ view of him.

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “Didn’t matter if it was eggs or a bag of mill. I’d just…panic or somethin’ and they’d slip outta my hands.”

Panel 5-Close-up. Silhouette shot of Helms tightening his grip on the trigger.


Panel 1- The fisherman rears his reel back. This should be a frontal shot so we can see more of his face.

Policeman CAP (white box with black font): “I didn’t ask about your time at the grocery store.”

Panel 2- Close-up frontal shot of Helms' face. He’s still looking down the barrel and now biting his lower lip. On his cap we can make out a cartoony-looking peanut, like a company mascot, in a silly little pose.

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “When I was a cabbie, I kept gettin’ lost.”

Policeman CAP (white font with black font): “Mr. Helms, if you’ll please get to the—“

Panel 3- Scope POV. The fisherman is mid-toss.

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “Alright…I told you that, so I could tell you this…”

Panel 4- Helms fires his rifle. The shot lights up the clearing a little bit. From what we can see of Helms' face, he is calm and collected. He doesn’t even let the recoil change his reaction.

Panel 5-Shadowy shot of the fisherman being shot in the head. His head thrusts violently backwards. Specks and streams of blood fly out of the hole in his head. His arms flail in front of him as he drops his fishing rod.

Panel 6- The fisherman’s body falls into the river with a mild splash. His rod has fallen in front of him.

Panel 7- Helms is squatting in a pose similar to the one seen on page 1, panel 3. Now, he’s much more relaxed and his fingers aren’t as tight. He is still staring down the M-14’s scope. Smoke is streaming from the barrel. Small leaves and feathers start to fall around him.


Panel 1- Extreme close-up of Helms looking up from the scope. He has a pleased expression on his face, but not too pleased. It’s more of a “job well done” kind of expression.

Panel 2- The fisherman’s body starts to get lapped up by the river’s currents.

Panel 3- Medium shot. Helms stands up, rifle still in his right hand. With his left hand he digs into the breast pocket of his coveralls.

Panel 4- Same angle. Helms pulls a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. A few cigs are sticking out of the top.

Panel 5- Same angle. Helms pulls one of the cigs out with his teeth.

Panel 6- Helms lights the cig as his turns to the left. He has a firm grip on the M-14 in his other hand.


Panel 1- Wide shot of the moon and lamp’s lights pouring down on the fisherman’s body as it is set adrift in the river. The surrounding trees are almost pitch black with a light outline. The lights reflection flicker over his body.

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “I was always a pretty good aim. Found that out kinda by accident, when I was around 12 or 13. “

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “I just figured if I couldn’t make it as a 9-to-5’er…”

Panel 2- Wide shot of Helms walking though the dark woods with the rifle carefully slung around his shoulder. He looks very pleased, like he could take on anything the world throws at him. Even though it’s still dark, we can get a good look at his face. It’s tilted slightly upward while he blows a stream out smoke out of his mouth. He’s holding the cigarette between his finger almost at sternum-level.

Helms CAP (black box with white font): “…I’d shoot people for a living.”

Screwtape Jenkins
01-04-2014, 11:35 AM
Not an expert, but I have some opinions.

In panel 1, you say the trees "give the illusion" the landing is surrounded by trees. I don't quite understand that - either it's surrounded by trees or it isn't.

In panel 2, you mention the camera is getting close to Helms but you haven't introduced Helms yet. I initially thought Helms was the fisherman.

In panel 3, you describe Helms as staring down the barrel of a gun. I might be weird, but I always think of "staring down the barrel" as meaning someone who is having a gun pointed at him. I would say "staring over the barrel of a gun" or "staring down the scope of a gun." But that might be my weird thing. If nobody else tells you that, ignore me.

In panel 5, I'm not sure it would be possible to see a finger tightening on a trigger in a silhouette shot, unless it was a close-up of just the finger on the trigger. If it was a wider shot of Helms, that detail might get lost in a silhouette.

On page 2, I like all the action, but the dialogue is a bit confusing. I'm just guessing, but it seems like we're listening to Helms after he's been caught explaining to a policeman how he came to be a sniper. But I had to read it again to figure that out. My suggestion would be to change the policeman's line to "I didn't ask for your work history" instead of "I didn't ask about your time at the grocery store." My first read through, I thought Helms was just talking about this one time when he dropped his bag at the grocery store, not that he was talking about how he wasn't a good grocery bagger.

I actually don't think you need page 3 at all. The first panel of page 4 accomplishes everything you were trying to do on page 3.

I don't know that the reveal of "I'd shoot people for a living" has the impact you're going for as an introduction. We already know he shoots people for a living, as he's just shot a person and it seems from his reaction like he does this all the time. If the aim is to draw the reader into the book, you need to tell the reader something intriguing that the previous pages haven't already made obvious. Not to rewrite your plot for you, but a line revealing that the person he just shot was his father or grandfather or something like that would make for a good hook. But him just telling me he shoots people for a living doesn't do much for me since I knew that from the first time I saw him with a sniper rifle.

But overall I thought it was pretty interesting and potentially a cool story and character. The dialogue was good and the descriptions were pretty clear. Good job.

01-10-2014, 02:40 AM
be less poetic and more concise, you have to remember that you're trying to describe a panel to someone else

"Like the viewer is being pulled over to the clearing"
"Helms is very tense but has incredible patience. He’s squeezing the gun barrel"
things like this are better suited to narration than panel description for the artist

it's a common mistake people make when starting out on comic scripting. something that might help you out is to do your own storyboards of sorts

try to describe what you see in your storyboards, this will make the artists job a million times easier