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Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1450 - About Scripts for Comic Books and Jack Kirby

A Sense of Doubt blog post #1450 - About Scripts for Comic Books and Jack Kirby

Hey all, Yeah, I am still writing about comic books. It's sort of on my mind a lot. My students are writing comic scripts and we have been reading Watchmen. So, duh...

I am so excited that there are comic scripts available online. This is a magical place.

I also decided to toss in some art and some comic script archive content AND some stuff on Jack Kirby, whose family deserves some compensation.

That's it for today.




THE ORIGINAL UNCANNY X-MEN: KIRBY TO NEAL ADAMS: I read many of the early X-Men comics in reprint in the years following the run by Neal Adams and Roy Thomas. I was also a huge fan of Neal Adams' work on DeadmanGreen Lantern and Green ArrowThe Avengers and Batman. In my entry for T-shirt #43: Deadman, I refined my list of favorite artists. As I have written many times, part of this blog's function is to catalogue with lists the popular culture elements that had the greatest impact on me as a child, a teenager, and an adult.

In fairness to these artists, I surely need to group them by era. I had dropped Alex Ross from my initial list for this reason to make room for Neal Adams. Probably, I should make a separate list for the 1970s or even the 1980s that would feature George Perez and John Byrne.

If I listed the original 1960s artists with greatest impact on me in a top five, they would be:
This is a difficult occupation because I am leaving out some artists that I dearly love like Steve Ditko and Nick Cardy. But lists are exclusive by nature. Go ahead. Try to make a top five and not leave out someone beloved or important.

The cover featured here for Uncanny X-men #59 (though the word "Uncanny" does not appear on the cover) may be my first X-Men issue. It was published in August of 1969, right around the time my sister was born and might have been part of the week of gifts and special fun to which I was treated so that I would not feel neglected once my baby sister arrived and received the more majority of my mother's time and attention.

KIRBY SCREWED: I just read the first issue of a new magazine called Comic Book Creator. The issue can be read for free online. There is also a great blog article on Comic Book Justice: Taking Credit (Part One) about Jack Kirby. Though not directly related, but in keeping with my trend for recommending books, another book that I frequently recommend to my wife along with Pattern Recognition as "one of the best books on the shelves of this house" is Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, which explores the ways in which comic book creators of yesteryear were not fairly compensated for all their creations. There may be no comic book creator as prolific and as poorly compensated as Jack "The King" Kirby.

Just for some quick perspective on this issue: Kirby created Captain America, the Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Spider-Man, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Doctor Doom, the Silver Surfer, and The X-Men among many, many more. The total movie revenue (just movies, not the merchandising or other related revenues)  earned so far from just those creations listed is SEVEN BILLION DOLLARS ($7,310,655, 909). This figure does not include revenue from Iron Man 3 or any movie thereafter.

Jack Kirby died in 1994. The Marvel/Disney empire is reaping astronomical profits based on Kirby's creations. Kirby's family has received exactly zero compensation in profit sharing from the movies featuring these creations.






MAIN : http://comicbookscriptarchive.com/archive/



Bitch Planet #3 & #6 – Kelly Sue DeConnick

Hi all,
Yes. It’s been a minute. BUT, we’re back with a stellar addition to the Comic Book Script Archive, and it’s from a writer a number of you have asked about in the past: Kelly Sue DeConnick. 
Obviously, Kelly Sue has been a juggernaut in the comic book landscape for the past few years, between Marvel and Image work, her name appears more or less daily on comic industry news sites. But funny enough, when I think of her, I think of her schedule of all things. Back in the hay-day of the Bendis Boards, Kelly Sue (along with a number of other writers, such as Matt Fraction, Warren Ellis, B. Clay Moore, and others) would host Q&A threads for us aspiring types. In one of those threads, the topics of writing hours came up– and seriously, Kelly Sue’s dropped me to the floor. Sadly, the Board isn’t archived any longer, but the gist of it was detailed in a great Vanity Fair article:
(The whole piece is great as well, highly recommend you give it a read.)
I think about it when I’m pushing a late night working on my own stuff. I mean, I’m on the opposite end of the day, but when I get that “I’ll just brush it off until tomorrow” feeling, I think about Kelly Sue waking up at 3am to write. Because sometimes, that’s what it takes to juggle all the stuff in your life. She goes into more detail on that schedule in a blog post here, and honestly, as someone that has a pretty screwed up work/life balance (and I think most of you reading this will relate) this post is like an hour’s worth of therapy. Or at least mutual grousing.
I also love the fact that Kelly Sue is a process junkie. One of the cooler bits of writing advice that I’ve seen, and one that I don’t see often enough, is from a talk she gave where she discusses how to read a comic critically. To write, you need to read– and hell, I don’t think I ever see anyone giving advice on how to read. Here’s some bullet points from that talk, written by glamorousgamine on tumblr. 
How to Read a Comic Critically
  • On the first read-through, just have fun. You may notice certain things that catch your attention, but just have fun.
  • Go through and count panels. Panel count per page varies with whether it’s exposition or action and on the artist. Current industry standard is 5-6 panels at Marvel and 4-5 panels for DC. Figure out average panel counts. Compare average panel counts between writers and artists.
  • Ed Brubaker’s tip for action scenes: 3 panels with insets for detail like a fist connecting with someone’s jaw.
  • Warren Ellis’s tip for action scenes: “Call your shots.“ If a vase is going to be smashed against someone’s head, show the vase in a panel before it’s used. If a gunfight is about to happen, zoom in on the fighters taking out their guns.
  • Look at size of word balloons. The following three bullets are general guidelines and can be broken.
    • Max of 210 words per page (Moore)
    • Max of 3 lines per balloon (Brubaker)
    • Max of 3 balloons per panel (Ellis)
  • What looks good to you? What feels right to you?
  • Balloons affect tracking. Where you have the most text is where the reader’s eyes will stay the longest, so make sure there’s something interesting going on there.
  • Show, don’t tell. Do not write what can be drawn.
  • Do not tell the readers what they see. If the art shows the heroes riding across the prairie, do not say in the caption box, “Our heroes rode across the prairie.”
  • Do as little handholding as possible with transitions. Give enough for clarity, but not so much that it’s redundant.
  • Read David Mamet’s book on filmmaking.
  • Take note of repeated themes in other writers’ work. Neil Gaiman often goes Meta and explores the very act of storytelling. Warren Ellis talks about technology and optimism in spite of or even with human failings. This repeated theme is Truth.
So, enough fanfare, let’s get to the scripts (click image to download):

Of particular notice to me are the opening pages of both scripts, in which Kelly Sue address the artists of each book. Chances are, you’ve probably discussed your book with your artist via email/skype (or if you’re lucky, in person!)– but I really like this approach of beginning with a “welcome letter” to your script. If nothing more than to get everyone on the same page…pun intended.
A very, very, very, special thanks to Comics Experience (partner of The Comic Book Script Archive) ‘s Nicole Boose for these scripts!!
You can follow Kelly Sue DeConnick on Twitter @kellysue
And I highly recommend signing up for the Milkfed Criminals newsletter here: http://milkfed.us— it’s a cool little read that pops up pseudo-weekly in your inbox and makes for a fun little mobile distraction while you’re on a lunch break.

Over on Jim Zub’s blog, he’s posted up a comic script critique he gave to a student. There’s a LOT of great gems in this piece, and although the specifics might not relate to your story, trust me, there’s knowledge that applies to EVERY story in this piece.
Here’s Jim:
One of my students from Seneca College (where I teach Animation courses) sent me two finished comic scripts for feedback. I don’t normally have time for this kind of critique, but we’ve talked quite a bit in the class about his desire to create comics and I wanted to encourage him to continue and push him to dig deeper. Here’s the feedback I sent, since I think a lot of the critique I write applies to new writers just starting out.
(Please do NOT send me your pitches/scripts for feedback. I really don’t have the time to review them. I did this as a personal favour for someone I know. I can’t spend all my time critiquing the work of strangers, especially with my insane work schedule right now).
Hi (name removed),
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this.
First off, congrats! Writing stories is tough and creating something new for yourself, especially the first few times, is always an intense uphill battle. You’ve finished a draft and that’s worthy of praise.
I read through both scripts and have quite a few thoughts, but I want you to know that I’m giving critique because I want your skills to improve and feel you’re capable of learning from the feedback rather than taking it personally. Tastes vary and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, but getting feedback and deciding what criticism is valid for yourself is key.
TITLE: I’ve been told by several people that titling a story something negative can create a subconscious negative impression of the story itself. I know what you’re going for with that title and it’s okay, but I thought I’d mention that right out the gate.
FORMAT: Many of your panel descriptions are too brief and far too generic. You don’t have to create flowery prose for a comic script, but you do need to have enough material in there for the artist (unless you’re drawing it yourself?) to draw inspiration from. Using terms like “the city”, “the bank”, “the police station” doesn’t give us a sense of the place or atmosphere. What kind of city is this? What impression do these places give? Rich, poor, modern, historic – what do we need to know about these places to help us visualize them?
Always impart relevant information the very first time it’s required. You have several pages mentioning the crowd of people at the start of the story before you include information on the fact that there are mutants mixed in with that crowd. You also don’t mention that the main hero guy is wearing tech on his wrist until later when he uses it.
Remember that ‘page turns’ happen on even page numbers. You have several surprise/big reveal moments happening on odd page numbers, which means that if this was a printed comic the reader would already have seen the big moment with their peripheral vision as they read along.
PLOT: Your core story (cops investigating a superhero murder, a lesser hero murdering the #1 hero they’re jealous of) is really, really well worn cliché ground that’s been done many times before. Every twist and reveal is exactly what I expected it would be as I was reading. There’s nothing new here that hasn’t been done in other places.
One of the toughest things about creating new stories and being inspired by all kinds of different sources is that your earliest stories tend to be Frankenstein monsters of all your influences as you learn about form and storytelling methods. In that way, that’s exactly what you’ve done here. It’s competent, follows narrative logic and all wraps up cleanly. I think you’ve learned a lot just by writing this… BUT, it doesn’t have anything new/different/unexpected to say about superheroes, murder, or police work. The tropes are locked in place and a reader who knows the genres you’re taking from enough to want to read this will also see nothing here to excite them.
RESEARCH: After reading the story I don’t get the impression that you’ve done any research at all in to how actual murder investigations are conducted. Go beyond base level clichés and easy 1 note solutions. Even if you don’t use 90% of the research you do on actual police work, you can enrich the story with a 10% extra dose of reality by doing the legwork and finding out about the real thing. Everything goes too smoothly for your loser cops. They stumble across evidence and solve everything without breaking a sweat. They don’t follow any kind of protocol and just sort of stumble along and have it all go their way.
Same thing with the technology. Everything comes across as generic and too simple. They don’t give a sense of high-tech/future tech or any kind of specific reality. They’re just sci-fi-style shortcuts without anything new/unexpected.
DIALOGUE: If the entire story played out in a generic way but the characters were unique and witty the story could still be entertaining. What really hurts it for me is that your dialogue is just as cliché as the plot. Every character says the expected thing in the blandest way possible to move the plot forward. Everyone’s dialogue is interchangeable. There’s no personality coming through in the way they speak or their attitudes. They spout plot facts and move to the next scene.
This is where research can really come into it. Enrich the characters with facts about their lives, the city the story takes place in, the things that are happening before the story ever began. How did they end up where they are in the police force? What do they do when they’re not working? Who are they and why should we care?
Read the dialogue out loud. Get into character and say it differently for each person. How can you make the characters more distinctive sounding? How can you strengthen their personalities through the way they speak?
Again, I get that you’re playing with clichés, but would it kill you to have a woman (multiple women) in this story anywhere? Two superheroes, multiple bank robbers, cops, the police chief… they’re all guys. Don’t fall into the toxic head space that guys are protagonists and women are background material. It’s bullshit.
THEME: What is the theme of the story? What are you trying to say above and beyond the basic sequence of events? Not every story will be deep and meaningful, but finding a message/theme can be a helpful way of pushing yourself with bigger ideas to help drive the story.
I’m not saying you have to force a ‘deep’ moral core into it by any means, all kinds of fun stories can be built on silly/slight premises, but right now there’s absolutely nothing beyond the sequence of events and those events are generic.
Say something you believe in, not just what you think the audience wants to hear.
I know the above may come across as harsh, but I really do want to reinforce that you’ve done a good thing by completing these scripts. The only way to really learn storytelling is to do it. Reading tutorials and how-to books can’t replace the work itself. These scripts are the building blocks towards your improvement and you should be proud of that, even when I’m cutting deep with my criticism. I hear far too many people tell me they want to write stories and create things and then lament that they never have the time or make other excuses. You’re doing it and that is worthy. Keep doing. Keep building, self analysing, and improving.
Hey! Marvel did Champions in D&D-verse


From Marvel Chronicle - First Jim Cheung's inked pencils and then the colors with Justin Ponsor.



- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1902.09 - 10:10

- Days ago = 1316 days ago

- New note - On 1807.06, I ceased daily transmission of my Hey Mom feature after three years of daily conversations. I plan to continue Hey Mom posts at least twice per week but will continue to post the days since ("Days Ago") count on my blog each day. The blog entry numbering in the title has changed to reflect total Sense of Doubt posts since I began the blog on 0705.04, which include Hey Mom posts, Daily Bowie posts, and Sense of Doubt posts. Hey Mom posts will still be numbered sequentially. New Hey Mom posts will use the same format as all the other Hey Mom posts; all other posts will feature this format seen here.

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