Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

New writer looking for critique
st_rails at 12:35PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
I'm trying my hand at writing webcomics for the first time. I think that what I'm writing is funny, but I need a second opinion. Is this the subforum for that? I've got a full mini-arc written, ten four-panel scripts – if this is the right place, I'll throw ‘em up here.

Also, when webcomic writers share scripts for critiquing, what’s the format? I've done mine like a movie script, but I'm worried that without some kind of storyboarding, body language and physical jokes get lost.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
Plague Doctor at 2:10PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 186
joined: 6-29-2010
Well,this is the right forum for this but…you should post your script FIRST so we have something to critique :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:46PM
st_rails at 3:24PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Heh, yeah, didn't want to be all “HEY GUISE REVIEW PLZ?” and I couldn't think of any other way to show restraint. Plus I was hoping to figure out a way to post .docs as attachments so they don't take up a ton of posts – if anyone knows of a way to do that, I'll edit it back to being attachments to save space.

Heads up! The following is pretty much R for profanity, alcohol and drug use, and sexual references. I have no idea if this violates forum rules – if so, my bad. Also, because keywords jump out at people instead of tl;dr, NSFW!

Modeled after Questionable Content in most ways, if that helps you to visualize. The panel structure of four descending letterbox panels is used.
Main characters: Glenn, Jayna, and Iris.
“Panel 3.5” means that the third panel is made up of two side-by-side half-sized panels, and this is the second of the two.
If the same person has two consecutive lines of dialog that aren't on the same line, it's because they get separate word bubbles.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:26PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
(Also, I was going to bold/italicize things, but copy-pasting gets rid of them, so I've only done that where necessary.)

Page 1

Panel 1(Walking outside a Goodwill)

Glenn: … so I wake up and there’s a cop on the train— big guy, shaved head, and glasses — and all I can think is “Why’s Tycho asking for my ticket?”
G: Wait, this is a Goodwill?
Iris: Either that or a Betamax museum.
Jayna: Isn’t Goodwill nationwide, Glenn?

Panel 2 (Glenn looking up)

G: No, we’ve got them down south… but ours aren’t two stories.
J: We like our charities supersized in Seattle.
G: Jayna, this isn’t a charity, this is an outlet.

Panel 3 (Walking into the Goodwill. G points to where the jackets are.)

G: Nothing good can come from this much vintage.
I: Seattle: the city of tomorrow, the clothing of yesterday.

Panel 4 (Pawing through the racks of jackets)

J: Exactly, Iris! Welcome to civilization!
G: There are more coffee shops here than cars per capita. That isn’t civilized, it’s European.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:28PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 2

Panel 1 (They spot a girl, their age, across the aisle in the Goodwill.)

Jayna: Ack! Quick, Iris! How’s my hair?
Iris: Makes you look like a mouse.
J: Shit!
Glenn: Wait…

Panel 2 (Glenn looks over at the girl.)

Panel 2.5 (Glenn looks back at Jayna)

Panel 3

G: Ohhhhhh.
J: Yeah, but I can’t talk to her looking like this!
I: You mean the way you always look?
G: Good point. Iris? Battle stations.
J: What?

Panel 4 (Glenn picks Iris up by the legs and lifts her above the clothing racks)

G: Up periscope!
I: Contact turning this way, Cap’n!
J: You sons of bitches!
G: She who hesitates leaves it for her friends to decide!
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:30PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 3

Panel 1 (They’re ducked back behind a rack of clothes again)

Glenn: How do you know her?
Jayna: I was the quiet girl who sat behind her in class!
G: And didn’t you say that you don’t want to be quiet anymore?
G: Hey, do you know Jayna Rivers?!

Panel 2 (Jayna pouts for a second)

Panel 2.3 (Jayna sighs)

Panel 2.6 (Jayna pounds her fist into her palm.)

Panel 3 (Jayna steps out, smiling and in control)

J: No matter what this conniver tells you, he is not in fact Jayna Rivers. You’re Sarah, right?
Sarah: Wait, you were in Earth Sciences—

Panel 4

S: Omigod you blaze, don’t you? You could get us green!
J: Geeze, a little louder!
S: We’re having a party later and our dealer’s dry!
G: You’re too pretty for jail! Mousy hair and all!
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:32PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 4

Panel 1 (Jayna’s holding her hand out for Sarah to shake.)

Jayna: Aaaaaanyways… yeah, I’ve got a little. But you know, it’d be the height of rudeness to take a woman’s weed and then turn her away at the door…
Sarah: Of course you’re all invited! Nine o’clock, Apex apartments, 302. You know where it is?
J: Yup. Shake on it?

Panel 2 (Jayna spins Sarah, who giggles.)

Panel 2.5

S: See you all later tonight, then.
J: Yeah.

Panel 3 (They all stand, satisfied, as Sarah walks away)

G: Nicely done, but are you going to follow through?

Panel 4 (Jayna bends down, holding a skirt to Iris’ waist – checking for size, but in her personal space)

I: Explanation or mace.
J: I want a skirt that looks too short on our resident pintsize.
G: Attagirl! Miniskirt shopping, drug deals, and harem management – the juggling act of a true warrior.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:33PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 5

Panel 1: (Back at Glenn’s apartment. Glenn is washing dishes. Iris is asleep on the couch. Jayna is sitting on the edge of the couch.)

Jayna: So what’d you think of Sarah?
Glenn: She seemed okay.
J: Not your type?

Panel 2: (Glenn tilts a moldy plate at an angle, like 45 degrees)

G: Jayna, I’ve been in Seattle for less than a month. I’d rather make friends than chase my type.
J: So what you mean is that Mr. Alpha Male is scared of rejection.

Panel 3: (Glenn flips the plate upside down and looks up at it. Jayna facepalms.)

G: Hey smartass, who was scared earlier?
J: Ugh, sorry. I was trying to be funny and fucked up. But you really expect me to believe you’re going to be as asexual as that mold?

Panel 4:

G: Or autosexual, I guess, but —
G: Sweet, it’s growing from some kind of meat sauce!
J: That used to be pasta?!
G: I think so! It's always good to find something you don't recognize at the bottom of the sink-mold, because that means it wasn't your fault.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:35PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 6

Panel 1 (They arrive at Sarah’s apartment. Iris has a sketchpad.)

Glenn: All right – Jayna and Sarah, set up the green! You! Name!
Rob: Rob, sir!
G: Rob, can you be trusted with an iPod?
R: Sir yes sir!

Panel 2 (Glenn and Rob are off-screen, but Iris is on the edge of the couch that Jayna and Sarah are sitting on)

Sarah: And you guys still have a good time when he’s bossy like that?
Jayna: He’s only organizing. Once things get going, he settles down.
G: “Tik Tok?” Rob, we’re going to have words.
Iris: I like it.
G: Iris, stop undermining my authority in front of the unwashed!

Panel 3 (Jayna playfully shoves at Sarah. Iris starts sketching.)

J: When he pushes, you just gotta push back, y’know? That way everyone has a good time.
S: (giggles)

Panel 4 (Iris holds up a sign saying “STOP FLIRTING! GREEN!”)

S: You guys are so fun, and we’re all boring.
J: You aren’t boring, you’re just deficient in egomania and death wishes.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:36PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 7

Panel 1: (Iris and Glenn are playing beer pong versus Rob and a friend, Mike . Mike and Rob have three cups left. Glenn takes a shot. Iris is sketching at the edge of the couch. Jayna and Sarah are sitting on the couch. Sarah breathes out smoke.)

Mike: Nice shot.
Glenn : Back-left cup, Iris.
G: Now I’ve heard of side beers, but a side whisky?
Rob: Man, pong is fun, but all it does is fill me up.

Panel 2: (Iris shoots, same cup.)

M: You had to jinx us, Rob.
R: Open mouth, insert foot.
G: That’s no rebuttal, too.
Sarah: Whoo, panda pictures time.

Panel 3: (Iris goes back to her sketch pad.)

R: I just got my ass beat by a girl I could bench-press.
G: And how does that make you feel?
R: Good news is I’m already holding the solution to that feeling.
Jayna: The Big Book of Pandas?
S: Heh, yeah, I’ve got a bit of a panda fetish.

Panel 4: (Glenn is reaching to grab Iris and pull her away, a little angry that Iris is screwing this up for Jayna.)

J: Wait, how can you have a panda fetish?! Pandas don’t even have a panda fetish!
Iris: Maybe she just likes guys who can’t get it up?
S: I – what – I meant pandas are adorable!
I: The commercials during golf tournaments must break your heart.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:37PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 8

Panel 1 (Iris and Glenn are standing by the iHome.)

Iris: What’re you doing?
Glenn: Playing wingman. If Jayna’s going to escalate, she needs encouragement.

Panel 2

I: “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” though? That’s your idea of a romantic song?
G: Hey! The lyrics, the riff, the whole thing of sensitive bad boys…

Panel 3

I: What about the last bit? “Where do we go?” That’s pure angst.
G: The rest of the song is romantic, though.
Jayna: I can attest that “Sweet Child” is, in fact, a romantic song.

Panel 4

I: Your evidence?
J: When Glenn put it on, Sarah said it was “our song,” grabbed her boyfriend Rob, and started making out.
G: … at least she’s got good taste in music, right?
J: Sloppy make-outs, three feet from my face.
I: That sounds more like “Rocket Queen.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:39PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 9

Panel 1:

Glenn: Really sorry to hear that, Jayna. She should’ve made that clear from the start.
Jayna: Eh, I think we were both being oblivious. The night’s winding down anyways – Rob’s passed out on the couch.

Panel 2:

G: It’s only midnight, what the hell kind of party is this —

Panel 3:

G: Hmmmmm. Iris, I’m scheming.
Iris: Yeah?

Panel 4: (Glenn puts his fingers on Iris’ temples)

G: My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts…
I: Mwahaha!
J: And I didn’t trust either of your imaginations alone…
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
st_rails at 3:41PM, Sept. 8, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Page 10

Panel 1: (Parody of surgery scene. Camera is looking up at Iris. For this panel,
it’s full-length, people looking down at him. For the other panels, everyone else is off-screen, except for hands holding out what she asks for.)

Iris: Washable markers.

Panel 2:

I: Black sharpie.

Panel 2.5:

I: Water and soap.

Panel 3: (Iris looks up)

I: Everybody back. Let some air through.

Panel 4: (Double-sized panel, shows everyone standing around watching Rob, who’s passed out with his shoes on, getting a full-back sharpie job from Iris. Iris pulls off the surgeon mask and fans the air.)

I: Whoo, sharpie fumes.
I: Sarah, towel him off and we can start coloring in this outline.
Sarah: If he doesn’t get this tattooed tomorrow, we’re breaking up.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM
El Cid at 6:35AM, Sept. 16, 2010
posts: 946
joined: 5-4-2009
Well, it's not really “ha ha” funny, more like “look how clever I am” funny… which I don't think is terribly funny to most people. It's a ten-page comic whose highlight is the main characters smoking weed and playing beer pong. I don't see the appeal.

One thing to consider when doing a comic is how it's going to look visually. In some of these panels, you have like four or five different people talking. I'm not sure how you plan on fitting all of those speech balloons into a single panel and still having room for the art. Which of course leads to the next problem, that I can't see this as being a visually interesting comic. Even stellar artwork can't save a comic in which nothing happens, but more importantly I can't see anybody putting too much effort into illustrating panel after panel of people basically doing the things bored people do, so I'm guessing it will have simplified artwork. Or manga, which is worse. So, simplified artwork, a lot of dialogue, and nothing really happening. I'm trying to picture what this comic would look like, and my first inclination is to wonder why you would even want to make this in a comic format? Not a good fit.

The highlight of the script is the snappy dialogue, which is very witty and believable, but not enough in and of itself to carry a comic. Something interesting has to happen, and definitely before ten pages in. Especially at the rate webcomics tend to update, if you're ten pages into your comic and still nothing has happened, you've lost your readers. Pacing counts for a lot, and with comics you have to do a lot of condensing to fit the medium. This script could maybe work for an indy film, as the disposable dialogue between main characters before the major plot elements get introduced, but personally I don't see any prospects for making a comedic webcomic out of it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
TheShah at 8:54AM, Sept. 17, 2010
posts: 33
joined: 9-17-2010
I'm gonna have to agree with El Cid here.
It's witty for sure, but too much going on per panel.
Nothing pushing the story forward page after page.

The type of format and genre you've chosen it seems it's a strip-like comic.
So if you take a look at some of that style of comics, they're very succinct and get to the point immediately within 4-5 panels.

You story takes too long to build up, and even then it's not overly exciting.
The humour of the exchange between characters gets drawn out by the length and pacing of the story and where it's headed.

Take a look at some shorter, funny, strip format comics and you'll know what I mean.

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:28PM
st_rails at 12:13PM, Sept. 22, 2010
posts: 13
joined: 9-8-2010
Yeah, most of that is exactly what I was afraid of…

I'm not sure how much I agree that there needs to be something in particular that happens versus slice-of-life-style where there isn't a coherent focus… but I do agree that if the goal is readership, clear events that the plot revolves around would be necessary. I'm definitely glad to hear that the dialog is believable, though.

Think you've hit it on the head, Cid – if this is the kind of storytelling I want to do, webcomics aren't the best medium. Time to hit up the library, I think.

Thank you both again for the critiques, they're much appreciated.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:00PM

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