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Old 08-22-2014, 11:22 PM   #1
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TPG Week 191: Trite Is Not True



Welcome, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Joshua Crowther.

A bit of business before we get into Josh's piece.

Unfortunately, Steve Colle will no longer be joining us here at The Proving Grounds. He has left comics to pursue other interests. We thank him for his time, talent, and energy, and we wish him well in whatever he does next.

We still have the services of Samantha LeBas in purple, though, and I'm ever in red. We'll both see just what Josh does with

Transgression


PAGE ONE (six panels)

Panel 1. A wide, aerial establishing shot. It is day time. The sky is a dull-grey hue. We are looking down on a market town that resembles Edinburgh in the very early 18th century. Small patches of snow have yet to melt from many of the rooftops. The initial focal point is a large, ominous cathedral with a tall bell-tower in the center of the town. It casts a large shadow over an adjacent market square that is bustling with tiny, human figures. From the center of the market, a distant voice shouts.(We may need more info on the bakerís stand, if it is going to come into play in later panels.)

Click here to read more.
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:20 AM   #2
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PAGE FIVE (five panels)

Panel 1. Wideshot. The panel extends from the left to the right of the page. Profile view of the lawman and the thief. The lawman points the pistol down on the thief, who cowers in fear on his back. (No. Alyssa, tell me why.)
Aw CRAP, Steven! I dunno...

"The lawman points the pistol down on the thief" should probably be, "The lawman is pointing the pistol down at the thief".

And when people cower in fear, would they do it on their back? Laying on your back is a pretty vulnerable pose. If I think of someone cowering in fear, they're probably going to be in a more protective pose, hunching, turning their back/shoulder to the offender, arms held up defensively, maybe legs drawn up. Basically they're trying to shield their soft and squishy middle.

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Thereís also a problem that happens when you just start writing without really seeing. Alyssa is going to explain what Iím talking about (after she picks herself off the floor), because thereís a perfect example of it that I asked her to explain. If she misses it, itíll be open to anyone who wants a shot before I explain.
Did I get it?

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Some of it makes me want to drop-kick a koala,
I dare ya! Koalas can be bloody MEAN, dude.

Josh was kind enough to let me read this script last month, for my newbie feedback. I stopped nitpicking at Page Ten, because like Steven mentioned, I felt this needed a more broad revision. The opening chase scene struck me as cliche, and the "I have a story to tell" segue to flashback was a slap in the face, for me.
The script needs rejigging before it'll successfully tell the story Josh wants to tell, I think. I'd be interested in seeing the revised version.
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:47 AM   #3
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Thanks a lot guys. This is really, really helpful! I see what I did wrong with the panel descriptions. I can definitely learn to conjoin the sentences into clearer, complex sentences, and describe things from left to right.

To address some of the smaller concerns, I didn't mention the pistol before it appeared because I figured it would be part of his costume, which would be worked out with the artist. I missed the ending punctuation on that page four because I wasn't sure if it's okay to end an unconnected world bubble in a comma, or I would have to turn them into sentence fragments by using a period. To be honest, I kind of just wanted to see what you would end up throwing in there. A couple days after I submitted the draft I learned about how comic grammar works in regards to captions vs captions with quotations, so I knew I was going to get reprimanded on that. I think I can learn to implement these changes quickly and continue to refine them.

As for it being crap, I sort of saw that remark coming...Don't get me wrong, I worked hard on it, but I wanted to pick a story that would be challenge for me to write as a comic. Maybe if I lay out the plot summary and the themes you can give me ideas on how to better organize it into a 22 page one shot?

----------

In an oppressed, dirty, religious town, a lawman chases a cowardly, starving thief into an alleyway. He tells the thief he has to die for breaking one of the Ten Commandments, and that God sees everything we do. In the end, we will be judged for our sins. The thief, seeing the lawman is religious, tries to flip it around on him by using the clichť religious adage, “Let he without sin cast the first stone.”

This leads the lawman to agree that he is not without sin. He confesses his greatest sin he has ever committed to the thief. Something he has never told anyone before. It’s a love story about how he falls in love with a girl, is forced to leave for war, and finds out that she has married another man upon his return. In a state of mania he breaks into their house at night and kills them both.

After confessing all this to thief, the thief understands that the lawman also believes he too will have to pay for his sins someday. The lawman apologizes, and the thief thinks the lawman is going to let him go. Suddenly, however the lawman shoots him, and tells him, “If only the sinless were to uphold the law, there would be no law to uphold.” Snow begins to cover the town, and the church bell rings.

----------

There are certain themes and symbols I want to add in though. I want the town to start off dirty and mucky and end up all pretty and covered in snow at the end, because I want it to be a subtle comment on how society allows evil to exist to maintain order. We accept corrupted systems to govern us, because without them there would be chaos, which is worse. The cop is worse than the robber, but men like him exist to maintain order.

I want a church and a bell tower to symbolize the thought that eventually the bell will toll on everyone’s life, and even if we are not truly judged by God, we will at least have to face our guilt and memories. Like God after the sinner, a cop after a robber, a cat after a mouse, our time will inevitably come. Time will catch us and we will pay for our actions.

And one of the final themes I want to put in is the contrast between compassion and hatred. The God of the Old Testament talks about love, but is often jealous and prone to violence. The lawman’s “love” for this woman is what twists him and turns him into a merciless monster. Love of country and patriotism lead to the war that he was in. I want to be able to use objects and imagery like "Lord of the Flies" but apply them visually like "Watchman." With things like the cat and bell tower I want readers to try and figure out their significance, like the smiley face images that are always cut to in "Watchmen".
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Old 08-23-2014, 04:18 AM   #4
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Aw CRAP, Steven! I dunno...

"The lawman points the pistol down on the thief" should probably be, "The lawman is pointing the pistol down at the thief".

And when people cower in fear, would they do it on their back? Laying on your back is a pretty vulnerable pose. If I think of someone cowering in fear, they're probably going to be in a more protective pose, hunching, turning their back/shoulder to the offender, arms held up defensively, maybe legs drawn up. Basically they're trying to shield their soft and squishy middle.



Did I get it?
Nope!

Next!
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Old 08-23-2014, 05:59 AM   #5
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Here's the thing about one-shots, Josh:

You want people to buy them.

At 22 pages, who's going to buy a religious one-shot? One with themes and symbols that are designed to make people feel bad. (Or, if not bad, not "good." I have yet to meet someone who feels good after reading any particularly powerful story of the Bible. They'll feel anything but "good." Pride, love, a mix of other feelings that might feel good, but the underlying cause isn't really a "good" feeling. Anyway...)

This is not a "feel good" comic. Not with that ending. And you want people to buy it.

Here's a tip to organize this into a 22 page one-shot:

Tell a tale of a Wookie ballet dancer that's in love with an Ewok street dancer. Don't place it on Kashyyyk or Endor. Place it on Hoth, where they can both learn to ice skate.

(How many people are surprised that I know the name of the Wookie home planet, AND that I spelled it correctly without looking it up first? I looked it up afterward, to make sure I spelled it correctly. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm both impressed with myself and just a bit saddened about the level of nerdiness I've just realized I have.)

Anyway, that would sell better than this story, in my opinion.

(I feel a dialogue about religious stories coming. I hope I'm wrong. I'm taking bets, though...)
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:03 AM   #6
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I'm glad you spelled Kashyyyk right. I would have noticed.

About the "feel bad" thing...well...ya...I wanted to write a short, twisted story that makes you feel a bit gross after reading it, like a Charles Bukowski short story or "Tales of the Black Freighter" (that comic within Watchmen).

And I agree this story, in all likelihood, wouldn't sell. I probably wouldn't spend the money to illustrate it, unless I was rich and didn't want my money back. I still want to find a way to write it well though, just for purposes of practicing script writing. I think it's a little hypocritical, when you say you want to see more diversity in comic stories and then turn around to say, "But that story has no place in comics."

There's a lot of "feel bad" short stories in prose, and I don't see why a good one couldn't be told visually in comic form. A lot of writers write some projects not to sell, but just to write something with a message they want to convey. I didn't write this well, but I do think this is a story that could be written well as a comic.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:12 AM   #7
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Also I would never, ever write a story with an Ewok. I still refuse to believe they exist.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:29 AM   #8
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Most of the short stories that really stuck with me aren't feel good.

The Chaser by John Collier, is a short story about a young man who walks in to a potion shop to buy a love potion. The old man spends a bunch of time talking about a undetectable poison he sells for $5000, then sells the young man the love potion for just a dollar. He then tells him, "I like to oblige. Then customers come back, later in life, when they are better off, and want more expensive things. Here you are. You will find it very effective."

The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a short story about a brilliant scientist who marries a gorgeous woman with a small, red birthmark on her cheek. He becomes unaturally obsessed with it and dreams about cutting it off. He begins to experiment on it, without her knowledge, to try and get rid of it. In the end he kills her by accident and laments his inability to accept a small imperfection.

I just remember reading these stories when I was in 7th grade and having them dig and fester under my skin all day. I couldn't get them out of my head, and I would be very happy if I could successfully write a story like that in a medium I love. (Successfuly meaning well, not necessarily profitable.)
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by crognus View Post
I'm glad you spelled Kashyyyk right. I would have noticed.
But you missed that I misspelled wookiee, though. Twice!


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About the "feel bad" thing...well...ya...I wanted to write a short, twisted story that makes you feel a bit gross after reading it, like a Charles Bukowski short story or "Tales of the Black Freighter" (that comic within Watchmen).

And I agree this story, in all likelihood, wouldn't sell. I probably wouldn't spend the money to illustrate it, unless I was rich and didn't want my money back. I still want to find a way to write it well though, just for purposes of practicing script writing. I think it's a little hypocritical, when you say you want to see more diversity in comic stories and then turn around to say, "But that story has no place in comics."
I didn't say that.

What I said was that people wouldn't buy it. Not in enough numbers to make it fiscally feasible. Because it's a one-shot that makes them feel not-good. Does it have a place in comics? Sure! Everything can be made to have a place somewhere. However, that doesn't mean that you're going to find enough people to cover production costs.

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There's a lot of "feel bad" short stories in prose, and I don't see why a good one couldn't be told visually in comic form. A lot of writers write some projects not to sell, but just to write something with a message they want to convey. I didn't write this well, but I do think this is a story that could be written well as a comic.
Conveying a message means you're getting it out to people. In comics, that means putting a comic book into production, and then getting eyes on it somehow.

Writers often have the luxury of not being businessmen. They can sit at their desks, or on the porch, or the park bench, or on someone else's couch, and think their deep thoughts, get their pie-in-the-sky dreams, and wonder why everyone's angry all the time. They can write a story that will end war, cure cancer, and stop all hatred, everywhere, for all time. Then they'll try to sell it, and be slapped in the face with reality. This happens a lot with comic book writers.

By all means, continue to pursue the story. Write it. Write the absolute hell out of it. Just understand that it isn't worth putting money into.

(I do think that, if done well, it would sell--as a one-shot, at that--but you'd have to do a few things first. First, you'd have to be writing comics for about 20 years, and during that time, you'd have to have written seminal works. Second, you'd have to have a name as large as Alan Moore's, or larger. Probably approaching Stephen King. Third, this would have to be a hell of a story. Fourth, you'd have to launch a "Joshua Crowther Presents" type of series that are all done-in-one's. That's the only way to tell this story as a one-shot and actually have a shot of it selling. Stephen King can sell his grocery list, as well as directions on how to get from his home to the middle of Topeka. People would buy it in droves--enough to be profitable--because of his name. Think he couldn't sell a series of one-shots, as long as his name was on it?

(Anyway, this isn't a waste of time. No writing is. But it isn't going to sell, which is my main point.)
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:28 AM   #10
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They can write a story that will end war, cure cancer, and stop all hatred, everywhere, for all time.
I don't know about writing something that will cure cancer, although I think I've read some things that may have given me cancer...

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Just understand that it isn't worth putting money into.
Well, why did you think it was the type of story I would want edited on TPG?

The barrier to entry is a shame though. Cool, niche short stories can be written in prose because they don't cost much to produce...not the same can be said for comics.

Sidenote: I did read this one-shot Challenger Comic I enjoyed yesterday, called Fatherhood. It was about a divorced father, who after not getting to see his daugther often, beats a man with a tire iron to steal a doll his daughter wants. It wasn't great, but it was an interesting short read. And has anyone here read Demeter by Becky Cloonan (Vertigo)? THAT was a good one-and-done.
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:30 AM   #11
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Here's a tip to organize this into a 22 page one-shot:

Tell a tale of a Wookie ballet dancer that's in love with an Ewok street dancer. Don't place it on Kashyyyk or Endor. Place it on Hoth, where they can both learn to ice skate.
If my next TPG submission is this story, would you be upset or accept that you brought it upon yourself?
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Old 08-23-2014, 12:52 PM   #12
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If my next TPG submission is this story, would you be upset or accept that you brought it upon yourself?
Just as long as it's a realistic story, and not just a comedy setup, no, I would not be upset.

Challenge!!!
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Old 08-23-2014, 01:21 PM   #13
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I dare ya! Koalas can be bloody MEAN, dude.
I would trust the Aussie on all issues marsupial. Koalas are bad a--, they survive purely on poisonous leaves. If I met someone who ate all their meals with a side of cyanide, I definitely would not try to drop-kick them.
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Old 08-23-2014, 05:54 PM   #14
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PAGE FIVE (five panels)

Panel 1. Wideshot. The panel extends from the left to the right of the page. Profile view of the lawman and the thief. The lawman points the pistol down on the thief, who cowers in fear on his back.
So are you going to tell us what's wrong with this? I'm sure my guesses are wrong. I know now I listed them in the wrong order, because I wanted the thief on the left, but that's not going to be what Steven will say.

Just so you all can see how terribly I failed at describing what I wanted, I scribbled a sketch.

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Old 08-23-2014, 07:00 PM   #15
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That's about what I imagined, I think it would great with both figures and the foreground in silhouette, and have the thief's raised hand closer to his face with the palm facing outward for a more dramatic posture.
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