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B-McKinley
12-05-2015, 10:27 AM
Here's a few of the first rough draft pages from my story. Yes, I started in the middle. I'm drawing this myself so I've only included the minimal visual description. I want to encourage visual exploration when I'm drawing, and if I have written super detailed descriptions and shot set ups, then I'm not going to explore the variations like I should.

Here's focus sentence describing the story. Ayesha Novikova is a 23-year-old, novice nun who took vows that sent her on a lifelong journey of exploration through deep space because she felt a desperate need for direction and meaning and instead of making a rational decision she made an impulsive one that she can’t back out of. But things don’t get any better when she feels useless as the biologist exploring a lifeless moon. Her continued need for purpose spurs her to revive an alien plant that then drives her crewmates to madness and forces her to kill or be killed.

PAGE 12

PANEL 1
Establishing shot of a sea of ice stretching to the horizon. The gas giant Baba Dochia hangs in the sky. The smooth surface of the ice is punctuated by outcroppings of columnar basalt. The basalt outcroppings vary in size and give the impression of megalithic ruins. A complex structure of interconnected caves formed by layers of flattened out bubbles can be seen below the surface of the ice. The expedition's rover is parked at the edge of the ice field. Standing next to it and dwarfed by the eerie landscape are the six astronauts in environment suits and their robotic assistant H.O.L.I.

CAPTION
Four hundred years ago a wise man posed a question to the other wise men. Where is everybody?

CAPTION
Given a high probability of intelligent life and a galaxy that is billions of years old evidence of other civilizations should be everywhere.

CAPTION
But it wasn't. Where was everybody?

CAPTION
One of the answers proposed is humanity is not ready.

PANEL 2
Wide shot of the explorers on the ice field. The complexity and extent of the ice caves isn't as apparent from this perspective.

H.O.L.I.
Orbital sensors are detecting a complex structure embedded in the nearby ice.

PANEL 3
Medium shot of H.O.L.I. and the Commander.

H.O.L.I.
Subsurface air pockets have been detected with higher ambient temperature

H.O.L.I.
and an atmosphere with increased levels of methane and carbon dioxide.

CMDR.
A natural structure or an artificial one?

H.O.L.I.
Insufficient data.

PANEL 4
Niraj pointing at something in the distance.

NIRAJ
The signals we are receiving seem to originate from that direction.

PANEL 5
The explorers trudge across the ice field toward the megalithic formations in the distance.

CAPTION
How could anyone ever be ready?

PAGE 13

PANEL 1
The explorers wander over and around a large rock formation similar to the Yonaguni Monument.

PANEL 2
Medium shot of Niraj examining a readout.

NIRAJ
These could be ruins. We might be looking at the relics of a lost civilization.

NIRAJ
Cities built from stone can stand for millennia.

PANEL 3
Medium shot of Sakura.

SAKURA
How could we possibly know if we are looking at the product of intelligent hands, or just natural weathering.

SAKURA
Our minds are wired to look for patterns, to see ourselves everywhere.

PANEL 4
Medium shot of the Commander.

CMDR.
We approach with questions. We reach toward answers.

PANEL 5
Everyone emerges onto a large plateau. A series of standing stones are arranged in concentric circles like an alien Stone Henge.

PANEL 6
The explorers walk between the stone pillars.

CMDR.
Natural stone arranged artificially.

SAKURA
An astronomical calendar? Or an observatory?

NIRAJ
It's not an observatory. It's a transmitter.

PANEL 7
Ayesha is reaching out and touching one of the stones with her hand. There's a look of wonder on her face. Light is reflecting off her helmet.

AYESHA
The stones. The stones are alive.

PAGE 14

PANEL 1
Closeup of alien petroglyphs running through the basalt columns. The petroglyphs are grooves cut into the stone in lines and curves resembling a circuit. They are filled with crystal that glows softly with piezoelectricity.

NIRAJ
It's some sort of piezoelectric structure. A natural radio transmitter.

PANEL 2
Medium shot of Niraj and Ayesha examining the symbols in the stones.

AYESHA
This is what's transmitting the numbers?

NIRAJ
Yes, but this can't be natural phenomena. And we still have no idea what the pattern is trying to tell us.

NIRAJ
Except that someone wanted to get our attention.

PANEL 3
Closeup of Zahara looking with gleeful, excited expression.

ZAHARA
We found something else.

PANEL 4
Zahara, Ayesha, and Niraj approaching a towering stone formation.

NO COPY

PANEL 5
Zahara, Ayesha, and Niraj pass through a narrow gap into the interior of the basalt structure.

NO COPY

PANEL 6
A sort of grotto formed by the basalt columns. On the floor of the grotto is a dark opening. Inside the gap in the floor, columns form a makeshift set of stairs that descend into the darkness.

AYESHA
How nice. You found a hole in the ground.

PAGE 15

PANEL 1
Zahara argues for bold action.

ZAHARA
We should take our chances. I didn't travel forty years to catalog ice cores.

PANEL 2
Sakura stands firm and urges caution.

SAKURA
We don't know what's down there.

SAKURA
Going down there means taking only what we can carry.

PANEL 3
Ayesha in the foreground with an impatient, excited expression on her face. In background the rest of the team continues to debate what to do next.

ZAHARA
Most of your tools can be run TP.

SAKURA
That's not the point.

PANEL 4
Ayesha cautiously starts descending the basalt columns. Everyone else is caught up in arguing over how to proceed, so no one notices what she is doing.

SAKURA
This isn't about technology, it's about proper caution.

PANEL 5
Ayesha continues to awkwardly descend the makeshift stairs formed by the basalt columns. The darkness has almost completely enveloped her.

ZAHARA
What are you afraid of sealed in your suit?

PANEL 6
A panel of total darkness. Ayesha has completely disappeared.

AYESHA
Help! I need help!

gmartyt
12-08-2015, 02:41 AM
Since this is a rough draft and you'll be drawing it yourself, I'll keep this light.

1. Your focus sentence is long. Trim it down if you can. The shorter it is, the better it will do at its job, which is to keep you on track.

2. This is supposed to be the middle of a story, but the captions make it feel like the beginning of one.

3. The dialog. Just about every time you give a character two speech bubbles in a single panel, the second one doesn't add anything. Also, none of the dialog reads as a conversation. Just a heads-up.

4. On page 14, panels 4 and 5 don't do anything. You'd be better off having Zahara find the hole and then have Ayesha in the next panel.

Hope this helps.

B-McKinley
12-08-2015, 09:03 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I definitely feel the weakness on page 14. It's the area I struggled the most with. I like the suggestion that a more aggressive cut might be what's needed. Less is more.

I definitely feel like dialog (including captions) is a struggle for me. Part of it is I see the words as the place where I can squeeze in philosophical or thematic ideas that can't be drawn, and that of course leads straight into so stilted speech. I'm thinking of approaching the first draft entirely silent. For one thing I won't be slowed down trying to create juicy dialogue, and it will also hopefully prevent me from having so many panels described as "walk," "wanders," "stands around."

Anyone have thoughts on that approach? What are some good resources for improving dialog and captions?

gmartyt
12-09-2015, 02:18 AM
I do it all the time. I find it's a lot easier to write out the stuff that has to be done for the story to make sense, be it an action or a conversation, and coming back later to make it good.

Artloader
12-11-2015, 01:46 PM
Not sure how useful my comments will be to you B-McKinley since I am a novice at this but here goes:

Strengths:
1. I found the story itself to be really gripping - just reading through your script really gave me a sense of mounting intrigue and mystery. It made me want to read more.
2. Your panel descriptions to me were very clear, somehow I could almost picture your panels in my mind's eye.
3. I found your dialogue to be an entertaining mix of scientific information and characterisation e.g. I got the impression that Niraj seems to be the scientist of the group.

Weaknesses:
1. I sorry to say I failed to pick up on any weaknesses.

Overall an enjoyable read though.

B-McKinley
12-14-2015, 10:43 AM
Thanks, I appreciate all feedback. Both good and bad comments are useful, because no comments at all is the hardest thing to analyze. It's always interesting seeing what people focus on and pick up on without any prompting.