View Poll Results: Which is your favourite story?

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  • Shaun - Gasp

    2 50.00%
  • Chris2.0 - Unusual Suspects

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  • MisterPants - THE VIGILANTE

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  • Joseph Dredd - MASKS

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Thread: Writing Contest #110: "Masks"

  1. #21

    Page 1

    Panel 1

    CAPTION: 11:15 AM

    Establishing shot - large panel. A sparse interrogation room. A table with two chairs is in the corner. Typically interrogation scenes have two people sitting across from each other, but because the table is in the corner the two chairs can't be positioned that way. The chairs are under neighbouring sides of the table instead of opposing sides

    A skinny, NERVOUS MAN of about 30 sits in one of the chairs. He is looking around, his eyes worried.

    Detective ALAN WALSH sits in the other chair. He is a black man, 50, with grey hair. His face is craggy with age. At the moment he looks tired of it all. Walsh is dressed smartly with a button-up shirt, a tie and black dress pants.

    Walsh places a pocket-sized tape recorder on the table, next to an open manila folder. It has a small pile of papers inside.

    Panel 2

    A close-up of the nervous man's face.


    WALSH: (off panel) Detective Alan Walsh, November fourth, twenty-sixteen, case file one seven seven three seven oh five.

    Panel 3

    Walsh looks compassionately at the other man.

    WALSH: Okay... you sure you don't want anything to drink?

    NERVOUS MAN: No, I'm good.

    WALSH 1: Okay, now take your time. We're all on the same team here.

    WALSH 2: Why don't you tell me what happened?

    Panel 4

    The Nervous Man begins talking, his eyes wide.

    NERVOUS MAN: It all started this morning. I got up for work at five, which is unusual for me, but I wanted to come home early to see my little girl because I don't get to see her often.

    Panel 5

    A close-up of Walsh's face as he listens. Walsh has a stern expression on his face.

    NERVOUS MAN: (off panel) I try to spend a lot of time with my daughter because I miss her when I'm gone. So I made a quiet breakfast and --

    CAPTION 1: All right, shitstain.

    CAPTION 2: Let the games begin.

    Page 2

    Panel 1

    Panels 1-3 are all identical shots of the Nervous Man, the only difference is the gestures he's making as he talks.

    NERVOUS MAN: -- then I stopped at the gas station in Millimarta for a few minutes and I saw that guy watching me, the guy with the hair --

    CAPTION: Humans are highly emotional creatures. Even though we pretend our brains are exceptional machines, they're really not.

    Panel 2

    NERVOUS MAN: -- and so on the turnpike I looked out the window and there he was! He was driving so recklessly! He was out of control! So then I --

    CAPTION 1: For instance, we store memories based on how they emotionally impact us. We don't remember them as a logical sequence of events, we remember them as disjointed emotional spikes.

    CAPTION 2: We start with the most emotionally vibrant moment, then we recall the second most emotional moment, then the third, and so on.

    Panel 3

    In panel three, Nervous Man looks MUCH more agitated than in the previous two panels. It's important that the audience can tell this panel is obviously imagined by the detective.

    CAPTION: For instance, this is what I should be hearing right now:

    NERVOUS MAN 1: -- didn't even know I had been hit yet! It was so crazy! I just knew something was wrong 'cause there was glass everywhere and my windshield was gone!

    NERVOUS MAN 2: Oh! I forgot to mention earlier that I saw him at the gas station! He was staring at me and I just felt like something was wrong, like I was really creeped out --

    Panel 4

    Walsh staring intently at the man as he speaks.

    NERVOUS MAN: (off panel) -- didn't know what he wanted, so I decided to slow down so he wouldn't cause an accident. I just hoped he would leave me alone and keep driving --

    WALSH: But that's not what I'm hearing. I'm hearing something chronological.

    Panel 5

    A close-up of Walsh listening intently. He looks unimpressed, sour.

    NERVOUS MAN: blah blah blah blah

    WALSH 1: But that doesn't automatically mean he's lying. Being questioned by police is scary by design and he had a long wait in the bullpen. If he's the anxious type he could have been reviewing the details in his head.

    WALSH 2: Which, of course, would sound rehearsed by the time he got in here.

    WALSH 3: Too bad sucker doesn't know the other guy had a dashcam. I know he's lying.

    Page 3

    Panel 1

    Same interrogation room, but later in the day. This time the suspect is a SMARMY GIRL a twenty-something Asian girl. She's dressed well and has several pieces of expensive jewelry.

    Walsh is looking at a folder full of papers.

    CAPTION: 1:30 PM

    SMARMY GIRL: -- and it's a great thing you do as a police officer. My father taught me great respect for the difficult job you guys do. A lot of stress for very little pay.

    WALSH 1: Thank you.

    WALSH 2: Let's get back to the topic. Why would this girl accuse you of theft?

    Panel 2

    A shot of Walsh listening intently.

    SMARMY GIRL: (off panel) I don't know and it's just awful! I try to treat everyone with respect, but I think she's jealous of me. Her family doesn't really have the money to take care of her.

    Panel 3

    An extreme close-up of the Smarmy Girl's diamond necklace. We only see her mouth because of how tight the shot is; the upper part of her face is cut off by the panel border.

    SMARMY GIRL: blah blah blah blah

    CAPTION: That could be true. That chain looks like it's worth more than my house.

    Panel 4

    A shot of the Asian girl. She has a big, toothy grin.

    SMARMY GIRL: I would never lie to you, sir.

    CAPTION: And there it is. We call it duplicitous glee.

    Panel 5

    The detective looks down at his papers.

    CAPTION 1: The smile that humans reflexively flash when they're getting away with something.

    CAPTION 2: Once it's been pointed out to you, you can never unsee it.

    CAPTION 3: Up until now I had no reason to investigate her. She was just a spoiled rich girl with a manipulative personality. But now I think she's lying, so she goes to the top of the list.

    CAPTION 4: We're going to be going through your life, missy, with a fine-tooth comb.

    Panel 6

    Smarmy Girl continues to talk with her friendly smile.

    SMARMY GIRL: blah blah blah I try to help everyone blah blah I would never blah blah

    CAPTION 1: People wonder how I can do this job without taking it personally. It's so disrespectful for someone to lie to you like they think you're a complete fool.

    CAPTION 2: The truth is that you stop feeling hurt pretty quickly. They're not your family, they're strangers. Just voices from behind a mask.

    Page 5

    Panel 1

    Later in the day. A rough-looking, white GANGSTA, is sitting in the suspect's chair now. He's in his forties, grizzled, a bit tubby. He looks like he should be riding a Harley.

    Walsh is leaning back in his chair, his legs stretched out in front of him, his hands behind his head. His chair is turned so he's squarely facing the Gangsta's chair.

    Walsh's tie is undone and his top few buttons are open.

    The Gangsta is sitting forward like he's pleading. The Gangsta's chair is facing the table; he has not turned to be square with the detective.

    There is a folder full of papers on the table.

    CAPTION: 3:45 PM

    GANGSTA: I would never do anything to the guy! I mean, yeah, I never liked him, but I'd never want to hurt him.

    WALSH: The witness is pretty sure it's you. She says she went to high school with you.

    GANGSTA: I've never been to Gasoline Alley! I've never even been within a hundred miles of it!

    Panel 2

    WALSH: Help me out here. Why would she say it was you?

    GANGSTA: I dunno. Did you guys even check to see if she did go to high school with me? She must think I'm someone else.

    Panel 3

    WALSH 1: We've confirmed her story.

    CAPTION 1: I can tell lies, too.

    WALSH 2: Look, right now the guy's still alive. This is the time you want to admit it, before it gets too serious to plea.

    WALSH 3: Admit that you did it and we'll only charge you with assault. You can be out of here tonight with a little bit of bail.

    CAPTION 2: This is my favourite lie. Just admit it so I can hand the D.A. a murder confession so he looks good and I look good.

    Panel 4

    The Gangsta looks extremely upset.

    GANGSTA: I'm telling you, it wasn't me! Why are you doing me like this? I was in Fort Thomas all last night.

    WALSH: (off panel) Whoa, wait a minute now!

    Panel 5

    Walsh is sitting upright in his chair, energized.

    WALSH: Just a few minutes ago you said you'd never been within a hundred miles of Gasoline Alley and now you admit you were in Fort Thomas? That's only about thirty miles away.

    GANGSTA: Oh come off it, you know what I meant! That's a figure of speech.

    Panel 6

    Walsh gets to his feet, bringing a folder full of papers with him.

    WALSH: Yeah, but that's not what the jury's going to hear They're going to hear that a witness placed you at the scene of the crime, that you admitted to me that you hated the guy and that you lied to me about never being there.

    GANGSTA: What the Hell? You can't do that!

    CAPTION: And that's why you never talk to cops without a lawyer, idiot.

    Page 5

    Panel 1

    A dramatic shot of the detective, face covered in shadows, walking out of the interrogation room. Behind him the Gangsta is standing, bellowing at him.

    GANGSTA: You can't do this to me!

    CAPTION: Did he do it? Who knows, but I've had a long day of putting up with people's shit so I'm laying charges and going home to my family.

    Panel 2

    A large shot of Detective Walsh's dining room. He lives in a house, not a condo, and it looks very clean and well maintained.

    Walsh is pulling out a chair to sit down. His WIFE (white, heavy set, 45-ish) is already sitting.

    Walsh's SON, a skinny 15-year-old, is sitting and is already eating.

    WIFE: Randy, John's mom told me you've been hanging out with those damn Bruxley boys again.

    SON: Aw, that's not true.

    Panel 3

    The Wife looks stern, pointing a fork at him as she talks.

    WIFE: You stay away from them, they're bad kids. They deal drugs, they steal. If I find out you were involved in the break-in at Susan's --

    Panel 4

    The Son has a giant, toothy grin across his face, exactly like the Asian girl had. The composition of this panel must match the Asian girl's duplicitous glee panel so closely that we immediately realize the kid is lying.

    SON: I would never do something like that, I respect the Millers too much!

    Panel 5

    Walsh, now sitting at the table, looks stricken with shock as he listens to his son.

    SON: (off panel) I would never lie to you, mom.

    CAPTION: And there it is.
    Last edited by Joseph Dredd; 01-08-2017 at 09:49 AM.

  2. #22
    lol Penciljack censored the F word and the C word. Going to be hard to write potty-mouthed characters. Tarantino would hate this place.

    I'm going to read the other stories today and try to give some feedback on them.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Cool, great to have more people joining in!

  4. #24
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    North Carolina
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris2.0 View Post
    This one's for Mr Pants - congrats on writing a story, and a pretty good one for a first attempt!

    Overall impressions - I like the angle - pretty original (at least from what I've read/watched over the years).
    Cons - Not a lot of action, mostly talking heads. Maybe include some flashbacks on how they 4 managed to finally track down and defeat someone that has hounded them for years? I take it they've never teamed up before? So that could be one reason why they won. And perhaps they've had some outside help as well? A computer expert who hacked into TV's computer system to get to all his files? With files on his standard operating procedures for each gang & gang leader? And files on his allies, that could be used against him? Also, detailed schematics on his body armour, including any weak points to exploit, and for Takeshi's katana to go through!

    General comments:
    Page 1

    Right now it reads that only Takeshi was involved in killing The Vigilante (TV from now on), while I'm pretty sure that all 4 had their part? So I was thinking TV would have some battle scars on his costume from the other 3 as well? You've already gave a gun to Vic, so just need to to give Kira and Brockston suitable weapons? And maybe show Vic's gun in Panel 2, so as to lead into Panel 3? Nitpicking here, but how is the artist going to show Kira as being dangerous?

    Page 4
    I take it that Brockston was originally called Grimsdale? Then just one overall comment on the lettering part of the script - you already know how to use off-panel speech balloons. Maybe have a look at Kurt Hathaway's Lettering 101 PDF download - he explains the different lettering types - such as burst-type that should go into Panel 6 methinks.

    Page 5
    Panel 2 & 3 - think the backstory around this would be interesting to see, even just in a flashback. But 5 pages is not enough for this of course. And thinking Takeshi might know all these facts about his fellow gang leaders after they read TV's stolen computer files?

    Panel 4 - you don't need quotation marks on an off-panel speech balloon, unless he was quoting someone? And looking at the other dialogue, it does not seem like he did?

    And I really like your last panel!

    Another nit-pick - when did Takeshi/anyone throw some petrol/gasoline on TV to be able to set him alight?

    Final words - To perhaps increase diversity, maybe make Brockston African-American? As I'm getting an Irish vibe from Vic, correct me if I'm wrong. Takeshi is most probably from the far east, which leaves Kira. Not proscribing, just mentioning it - its your call of course to take whatever advice from this you want...
    Hi Chris, thanks for looking it over.

    Yes, all 4 had a part in killing him. I wasn't sure how to show that element though without it turning into a story about how they managed to kill him so I started the story right at the death blow.

    The talking heads are a problem. That's a great idea to show flashbacks to add depth to the story. I have to get out of my screenwriting head. Whenever you write a new scene in a movie, it adds a million $ to the budget. But comics can jump around easily at no extra cost. Part of the reason I love this format.

    Yeah, Grimsdale is what happens when you try and write while a baby is crying in the next room. That was from a totally different story. Sorry about that. The scars and torn clothing is a great idea. It should have felt like the aftermath of an epic battle. I had a big scar across Kira's face but that was part of her back story.

    Do you have a link to Kurt Hathaway's pdf?

    The quotation on page 5 was intentional, but I think I went back and changed the earlier dialog and didn't update the quote. But I had intended him to be quoting earlier dialog. The burning thing at the end was something I struggled with too. I know throwing a match on someone doesn't set them on a ball of fire. I'm thinking maybe after TV is stabbed on the first page, he stumbles and knocks over a can or cans of flammable liquid before he dies?

    One of the possibilities I thought of for Brockston was a Michael Clarke Duncan esque Kingpin type.

    My final words are, thank you for all the good advice. It is extremely helpful and really opened things up for me.

  5. #25
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    South Africa
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    Hi MrP,


    And talking heads can work - especially if you change the angles a few times like you did... The dialogue just has to work "harder" - but nothing wrong with yours. This is still something I struggle with quite a bit, but practice makes better as the saying should go.

    No sweat, cool name nonetheless.

    Link to Kurt's PDF - actually a script guide on second look - it's been a while since I went through it... The part on burst speech balloons are on page 9. But thinking you have a pretty good handle on comic scripting convention - so no need for in-depth study...

    Yup, you can always add him knocking over the can of accelerant & mixing with his blood..? So that The Vigilante can have a viking funeral & Takeshi throws the match - whatever works for you.

    Great image of MCD as Brockston - RIP Michael...

    And thanks for your kind words - constructive crits from your peers really do help. That's the main thing I was missing while I was away from PJ.
    Last edited by Chris2.0; 01-09-2017 at 02:02 PM.

  6. #26
    For Joseph Dredd, “Masks”

    I like this concept and it’s well written but I’m not sure how entertaining it would be to draw/read. I suppose it’s a personal thing but I don’t think it’s taking full advantage of the visual aspect of comics. If it was a low budget short movie you may be constrained to talking heads but in comics your only limitation is the artist's skill and your imagination. You could’ve made things more engaging by using competing flashbacks of the suspect’s and Walsh’s versions. Or maybe Walsh slips into bored fantasies while listening to their lies? You would have to streamline some things, but it’s a bit wordy and wouldn’t suffer from being slimmed down in places.

    I also wasn't clear if the suspects were being interrogated for the same crime? The crime itself seemed a little vague. It may have been stronger if the crime was clear and we knew Walsh was pinning it on the usual suspect to save himself some trouble.

    I do like the idea and it's a clever play on the concept of masks. So kudos for thinking outside the box.

  7. #27
    Join Date
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    And some thoughts on J Dredd's Masks story...

    Overall impressions - 27 talking head panels, and I'm not bored? This takes some writing! Good use of dialogue and captions to show the difference between the detective's speech and thoughts. And all the suspects were pretty diverse, as well as the dialogue/voice/tone of each character - kudos on that. Great use of memory theory as well. Getting Morgan Freeman vibes from Walsh, but maybe I'm just reading too much into it. At least he's still happily married, unlike Det. William Somerset...

    General comments:
    Page 4 (Or the first Page 5..!)
    Only issue I have with this page is most probably the 18 lines of dialogue/captions. But... I can't really find anything to cut, as each line conveys info and/or moves the story forward...

    Final words - A great example of less is more - 2 locations, 1 main character and a few supporting characters. And the ending ties up to the beginning of the story, a la Moore-style. OK, ties up to just after the beginning, but still a very good story. Wouldn't mind seeing this in an anthology one day! But as Shaun said - you would need to pair this script with a pretty damn good artist to knock the story out of the park.

    Post-final words - given that Walsh knows memory theory, maybe another story to do with him would be much later in his life, as he starts forgetting things, before getting memory loss/dementia? And all he remembers are all the lies, but not much else? As these made a bigger impact on him?

  8. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris2.0 View Post
    General comments:
    Page 4 (Or the first Page 5..!)
    Whoa I totally missed that! Good catch.

    Should we extend the deadline? Does anybody need more time? I know Zepster and Tudore seemed interested.

    BTW, are we voting for a favorite story? Implementing a star rating? Or are comments and feedback the extent of it? I'm fine with whatever.

  9. #29
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    South Africa
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    I'm sure we can give it a day or three more for the first writer's challenge in a while...

    Yip, we need to discuss voting and/or rating the story entries. How about rating on a set format? So that people don't miss anything? Although perhaps not as rigid as ComixTribe's Proving Ground by Steven Forbes? He had the following:

    Panel Descriptions:
    What's everyone's opinion? Here's a link to the last one -

  10. #30
    Maybe we give it till tomorrow? I think a three day extension is reasonable.

    Boy the feedback on that proving ground article looks brutal! But maybe deserved, I didn't read the story closely.

    I'm fine with those criteria. Seems to cover all the basis. Should we use "Weak, Fair, Great" distinction for each topic? Or just our general thoughts for each as Forbes had it?


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