Wednesday, September 12, 2012

PWC Hero Cast Finale

In an earlier post I wrote about the PWC Hero Cast Auditions, how it’s not easy to find the right actors for a superhero movie franchise. That being said, it’s been almost a year since the first Hero Cast Audition. The last audition will take place on September 25, 2012.

The PWC Hero Cast Audition Schedule:

Episode 8: Now online, until 10:00 PM tonight!
Episode 9: Online this Friday, September 14!
Episode 10: Online September 28, 2012!

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So far (out of all the auditions) 45 actors will move on to the second audition. Round Two is much harder! Actors will be assigned specific characters, tailored to fit their style, and lines will be memorized. I’m looking forward to a lot of successful auditions because these actors have proven that they have enthusiasm for the superhero genre. This is the time to wow me! I’ll be narrowing down all the returning actors to ten top finalists. (Five men and five women.)

Those actors will join me at the Boston Super MegaFest Comic Convention on November 17 & 18. There, the finalists will woo comic & sci-fi fans in person. No small task!

If you can’t make the convention, that’s okay because we’ll be uploading one final episode of PWC Hero Cast on Friday, November 16. It will feature the intense second auditions of all top ten contestants. Voting happens one more time, and the winners of PWC Hero Cast will be announced!

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For more detailed information, head on over to the Official PWC Hero Cast Website: www.pwcherocast.com. You can check out the latest group of actors, and cast your vote for the best audition, and have a say in who becomes the next great superhero sensation!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Writing With Boarders

There’s an advantage to writing a book over a comic. You don’t have to space out each plot point and line of dialog panel by panel.

Comic book writing requires the author to break up their story so that it flows naturally and creates a sense of movement between frames. Even for something as simple as a dinner conversation, with very little action, spacing out the dialog between panels must be taken into consideration.

If it were a movie script, the scene would be written as one long sequence, filmed from a variety of angles, and edited together to tell the story in the most effective way. In a comic, there’s only so much dialog that fits in each little box. For formatting purposes alone, dialog must be evenly spaced, but creatively, dialog must be spaced out in a way that naturally progresses the comic from panel to panel, and page by page.

Let’s take the following scene, which we can imagine is for a four panel comic strip. Perhaps even a Mission Park Weekly comic strip. Or even… Since we’re doing this… A lost strip that shows Chris and Tessa out to lunch. (Head on over to www.perroworldwide.com to get caught up with Mission Park Weekly comic strip if you’re interested in context.)

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A busy Italian restaurant. Chris Ember sits across from Tessa Faux. They are in the middle of a conversation.

Chris: This chicken parmesan tastes a little funky.
Tessa: Really? That’s disappointing. The waiter seemed to be talking it up.
Chris: Yeah, probably because it’s getting old and needs to sell.
Tessa: Probably…

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For this scene, it’s rather simple. We could easily put each line of dialog in it’s own panel and focus on one person talking, frame by frame. It’s okay, but doesn’t exactly establish that Chris and Tessa are at a restaurant. Remember, the direction won’t be included in the final strip. We need to show that visually.

So what if we open up with a two-shot? Maybe it’s better to have the first panel show Chris and Tessa sitting at their table in the middle of the restaurant, along with the first two lines of dialog. Then a second panel with just Chris and his line, and a third panel with just Tessa and her line. I like that, but now I’m one panel short, and I need to fill a four panel strip.

So, let’s start over. I’ll go with the two shot for the first frame, but only with the first line of dialog. Then, the second line in panel two with a close shot on Tessa, the third line in panel three with a close shot on Chris, and the fourth line in panel four with a close on Tessa.

Okay, good… But let’s take a look at the spacing. With the lines broken up panel by panel, each line will feel like it happens with the same breaks of time between sentences. Person speaks… Break. Person speaks… Break. It’s not natural and doesn’t get the timing across that I’ve imagined.

With the first two lines in the same box, the conversation flows more naturally. Then with the next line in the next panel, we mentally add a pause, which fits with what the characters are saying. And with the final line, we get another pause. That also fits.

See, look:

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Chris: This chicken parmesan tastes a little funky.
Tessa: Really? That’s disappointing. The waiter seemed to be talking it up.

Pause

Chris: Yeah, probably because it’s getting old and needs to sell.

Pause

Tessa: Probably…

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If it were a movie, these characters wouldn’t be running each line on top of each other. They’d be taking breaks, thinking about what they’re saying. In a comic strip we can use the spaces between panels to our advantage.

So…

How about we start with an exterior shot of the restaurant in panel one. And we’ll add one new line of dialog: “Hmm…” Then in panel two, we have the long two shot, fully establishing the scene with both lines of dialog, followed by the two single shots in the remaining panels. It works!

But there’s more. What’s happening in the scene? The first panel is simple enough. We have an exterior. No characters… For the second panel, Chris should be looking at the chicken, mulling over the taste. In a non-moving comic, that’s not easy to show, so it might be better if Chris has his fork in the meat, and his head is pointed down, directly towards the dish. It’s too big for a movie, but we have to show the big shots when the characters are still. Since Tessa is talking in that frame as well, we’ll need Tessa to look as though Chris has completed his sentence. She should be looking at him, while saying her line.

Now in the third frame, Chris will be looking up. His focus should be on Tessa, but it’s a close shot, so we’ll be seeing Chris more head on, with possibly Tessa’s shoulder towards the reader.

Then, in the final panel, since it’s only one line, maybe Tessa should be holding a cup of water, as though she is going to take a sip, progressing the movement.

So, that’s how we’ve framed out a very simple four line scene. It gets far more difficult with movement! But we’ll talk about that some other time!