Open Studio 5/19/2012 (pages)

Here are Rapid City pages 16 – 20

Nice page. They look very natural and relaxed. In panel 2, though, Sidekick’s paunch looks a little odd.  He looks almost unhealthy. He should be thick, like a wrestler. Maybe think someone like Bam-Bam Bigelow  You know what it is, in panel 2, his gut seems to continue getting bigger even below his belt-line. Usually, in the case of “a few extra pounds”, The belly recedes at the belt-line to accommodate the groin.

Also, his hair is missing in the last panel and shaded out in the first one. This should be an identifying characteristic for him, so include it as often as is reasonable. It wouldn’t hurt to make it a little bit longer either. And since we are talking about designing Sidekick, he should also be as lovable as possible. He is the warm heart of Rapid City. Everyone likes him because he genuinely cares about the people he meets… I mention this because the hatching, eye-shading, and short hair in panel 5 make him look (just slightly) like a homicidal clown with a hangover (just ever-so slightly)

i remember you urged me to make sidekick look heavier so that’s why the paunch.  will fix hair and belly. thick, not saggy.  i get it. want me to remove homicidal clown eye shadow?


Really nice. I was thinking that this kind of shift is where we should use an establishing shot, but then I see that you have essentially worked that in at the bottom of the page. Not the traditional placement for one of those, but you very effectively set the scene. Nice.

yes for pages  like this an establishing shot is critical-if one is not scripted I will fit one in.  PS its now nightime on these pages and will be in DB today.


I was afraid that panel 1 would be hard to draw, you pulled it off. Very nice. Panel 5 is just great. Kinetic looks like such a doofus back there. Very nice.  yeah he thought he was gonna be a big hero and he’s uneccessaary-this has happened to me.

Ok, here it is. The big moment. Panel 6. I love Kinetic’s reaction. The pic is sexy… but maybe TOO sexy. Not too sexy for our precious reader’s delicate eyes, I mean too carefully, professionally, sexy. It looks like it was posed by a photographer. (what lucky person IS holding that camera?) This picture is the result of Anne Marie trying to temp Kinetic back home to her. It should seem more playful.

webcam? ok i fix

The matching lingerie is strange and unlikely, and fishnets like that are Hourglass’s style but not Anne Marie’s.

my thinking here was AM wants to be like HG she borrowed a pair of her fishnets


As it is, this looks more like something that was found on the web rather than snapped in a moment of playful taunting.  This pic needs to show that it is clearly Anne Marie, that the person with her is clearly a superhero, and that they are being playfully sexual. So, this is how you achieve all of that in one image. Anne Marie, with her shirt off, is behind Hourglass who is fully clothed. This shows that there IS nudity going on without actually revealing anything. Anne Marie is reaching forward over Hourglass’s shoulder to snap the picture. She is raising an eyebrow at the camera like “How about it, sailor?”, while Hourglass is turning back toward her with amused surprise. They are probably both a little tipsy.

-yeah i get it now- a closeup-this is one of those panels that stresses me out-i spent a lot of time looking for a pic-i know i’m not going to be able to find the scene you described so i will have to do something a bit different-mostly showing their heads


Kinetic’s reaction here is priceless. I love it. I also love that he can’t stop looking at the picture.

One other thing, I just re-read these script pages and I realize I left out a detail. It should be darkening as these scenes go on, turning night. I hope that this will not be TOO drastic a change for you to make. As it was my omission that caused it, I will be happy to pay you for it if it turns out to be a page-worth of work.

All in all, very nice work here.


no josh its night slowly lightening. ps in that review  he compared me to Mike Alred!  thats pretty awesome! dynamic is what i strive for.  PS stressing a bit-I am penciling 5 RC pages, 5 CM pages and doing revisions.  Gonna be busy today.


Open Studio 4/9/2012: The Pages

OK, now let’s talk about pages 6-10. Here the are.

Page 6. I love the crazy angle and poses in panel 2. I also love the interesting buildings in panel 1. Rapid City is really starting tio take on its own look. The other thing that stands out on this page is that these guys really look like two buddies hanging out.

Josh that’s EXACTLY what I was shooting for!  I feel like its me and you up there dude.

Page 7. I already told you how much I enjoy those first two panels. They look great. I like how this scene turned out. A pointless argument, a pointless fight, and a pointless intervention. Nice. The panel with the fist looks good. But I worry that, with the blast around it, it will look too much like Kinetic is doing the punching.

GOOD CALL!  Thats why i need another pair of eyes!  I’m removing that blast.

Page 8. Another great page. Love the plane showing the passage of time! Is that a call back to our conversation about what is in the sky? The one change that I might suggest from all five of these pages is in the last panel. The caption for that panel is quite dark and sad, yet his posture looks just as fun as when he was hanging out with Monkey. Maybe a higher angle would make him seem more powerless.

It WAS a call from that conversation.  What if I add a frown?  so it seems like he’s trying to leap away from his problems?  I’ll redraw the panel if ya want.  But a higher angle will withdraw the character from the reader…remember low angles pull you into the character high push you out.

High angle is just a thought. I love the idea of him seeming to leap away from his problems. I feel like the answer is in his posture.

Page 9. This whole page is breath-taking. You show so much with her body language. I love that first panel.

Its so feminine even tho she’s a tuff chick.  this was a hard page-i think i explained the trouble i have with good capes.  Cape in panel 4 my fave.

Page 10.Looking back at my script, I can see that you played around with the panels here a little bit. Good. I am embarrassed to have crammed so many panels onto this page, but you really made it work. Same with the previous page. Really good stuff.

Oh I did some fast thinking to make everything fit Josh.  Last panel I didn’t have enough room to show her answering phone and a clear smile so i broke it up-it almost seems like her time power puts her in 2 places at once.   I especially like the eyes panel 8-very hard to draw an iris.  Her eyes look wet and glistening i think.   I really feel I know these characters now and how they need to be depicted.

Yeah. Those eyes look amazing.

Issue #8

The script for the eighth issue of the superhero comic book, Rapid City, has now been posted.

Read and discuss it here.

Panel 5 Hourglass is now close to Kinetic and Max. Kinetic is, once again, making it to his feet by stepping away from Max who had been looming over him. Kinetic’s gut is bleeding all over.


Can’t hold on.


Don’t. I can do this. Just hold on.

Panel 6 Tight shot of Hourglass and Max face to face. They are both in profile. He is enraged, and still frozen in place. She is looking bad. Blood and tears on her face. But, also, clarity.

Panel 7 Similar to panel six, but turned so that we can see it more from Max’s POV. She is looking clear and focused, but she is also tense with effort. Emphasis on open bullet hole.


Who are you? Why did you kill me?

…. Vs The Clock

My deadline for issue #8 is today.

I am going to miss it, but not by much. This is bad, but not terrible. I started this project as a learning experience, and I am learning a hell of a lot.

The story that I am writing is a about a man trying to be a superhero. The idea is that his progress at being a superhero will mirror my progress at writing a superhero. So far it has been working out pretty well.

The intentional parallels are very nice, and work well whether or not any reader ever notices them. The real fun for me, though, is when things pop out at me that I did not initially intend to include.

For example, the reason that I am late with this issue is because it is moving toward a definite ending. Two characters and a story arc WILL END within these next few pages. I know how it is going to happen, but I am afraid of doing it. I am afraid that I will bungle the execution, and I am afraid of what will happen after.

Each page brings me closer to that uncertainty, so the longer I can stall it, the longer I can exist in a state of pre-determined purpose.

And guess what the characters are going through in the scenes that I am writing. Exactly that. They are comfortable with DOING when it means going after a bad guy or racing to a new fight… but the lingering dread that every step brings them closer to a conclusion eventually becomes paralyzing.

So take a guess what has been happening to me as I wrote those scenes.

Same thing! The allegory holds!

So last night I was at the scene where the final decision is being made. To be or not to be. And I was afraid to start it. Starting is the first step toward finishing. And finishing one thing leads to the uncertainty of the next thing.

The thing that made my characters move is the same thing that made me move. A ticking clock. For them it is a countdown. For me it is Celtx’s session timer. When I see that number going up, adding seconds… and I am not adding words…. I just start typing. If it sucks, I can come back and change it. I just need to fight that clock….. and so do my characters.

Issue #7

The script for the seventh issue of the superhero comic book, Rapid City has now been posted.

Read and discuss it here.

Panel 4 Shot from approximately the passenger side door, looking past Hourglass back at Kinetic. He is still looking serious and concerned. Hourglass is so far in the foreground, that we can’t actually see her. She is part of the frame. We should see either her shoulders, her hands, or some of her face. If her face, it is in shadow and she is looking down. Whatever we can see of her, she is shaking.


Are you ok?



Panel 5 Now we see what Kinetic has been looking at. We see Hourglass from Kinetic’s POV. She is looking back at him and there are tears rolling out of her eyes and down over her mask. She is reaching up to wipe them away.


I’m ok. I’ll be fine.


Don’t look.

Panel 6 Shot from outside Kinetic’s window. He is looking away from Hourglass and up at the house. Behind him, we can see her lifting her mask just enough to wipe her eyes on the back of her glove.

Panel 7 Shot from a similar angle, but closing in on Hourglass. She is straightening her mask.


Ok, I’m ready.

In this issue, Kinetic and Hourglass‘s pursuit of a killer leads them to the doorstep of Red Lion, the living embodiment of destruction. Tensions mount, loyalties are tested, and the real identity of the victim is revealed.

Issue #6

The script for the sixth issue of the superhero comic book, Rapid City has now been posted.

Read and discuss it here.

Panel 1 Hourglass is still talking, but now we see Kinetic
and Justin’s reactions to her story. They are both

The man was gone and so was the girl. I could have
stopped the whole thing, but I screwed up. Her
death is on my head.

Hey, you did the best you could at that moment.
It’s ok to be scared.

Panel 2 Kinetic keeps talking. He is gesturing to his own

No one can be expected to know how to deal
with….with death like that. I can’t imagine how
that must mess with you up here.

Panel 3 Hourglass looks back at him with a look resembling

This issue is the second part of the Hourglass story arc. Kinetic and Hourglass are getting closer to finding a killer, who is getting closer to finding them.

Back to work

I spent the last week in Florida with my family.
And the week before that getting ready for the trip.
We did Family Christmas while there, so that week was spent making and shipping gifts. It was exhausting and stressful to scramble all of that stuff together, but it was well worth it to see the results.
My girlfriend, Bekah, and I each got dedicated writing notebooks. So, while my brother fished for sheepshead in the intracoastal waterway, I was able to sit and write for a little while.
I also managed to punch a few keys on the two flights on the way down. All told, though, this was NOT a productive fortnight.

Now that I am back in my routine, though, I think I know what I need to do. I have a few scenes to re-work, but the characters seem to be moving into position.

There is a confrontation at the climax of issue two, about which I have not done enough thinking. Ideologically it makes sense. The characters are in conflict with eachother. One represents a subject about which the other is in deep denial, so it makes sense for her to respond with strong emotions…. which in superhero terms means FIGHT! I just have not paced out the escalation of that confrontation.

Once that is done, I can put this issue to bed.

I just hope I don’t go too far over my page count. It is dense as it is and I would hate to have to chop things or move them around.

It occurs to me now that if I do need to cut some pages, I can set up that fight, and leave the pay-off for the next issue. That has the added benefit of putting that fight in what will be the last issue of this story arc.

And, hopefully that will mean that the third act will wrap itself up with minimal coaxing and I will be able to get back on deadline for next month.

As always, keep up on my blog here.
And read my Rapid City scripts here.

…meanwhile, in Rapid City.

This is some of what I was working on today….

Panel 1: They are in the “waiting room” of Justin’s lab. It is really just a place for nerds to sit and drink coffee while experiments are processing. There are two couches and two chairs, plus a coffee machine and a few simple computer stations, some comic books, some nerdy slogans on posters on the wall. Kinetic has changed back in to his work pants and a t-shirt. He sits on one couch with his elbows on his knees. Hourglass is still in costume, and she is trying to get cozy with a ratty blanket.




I know it’s frustrating when it feels like you are going no where. But, believe me, you are doing the right thing.

Panel 2: Close on just Kinetic talking.


When you saw this girl getting attacked, you did the right thing….you did SOMETHING. Which is more than most people do. So quit beating yourself up over it, you did good. Ok?

Panel 3: Shot from Kinetic’s POV of Hourglass, she still has her mask on and is clenched up like she might cry.


I know…I know….But, I was there. I should have been paying attention. I should have stopped it.

Panel 4: Shot of the whole room.


It’s ok. You did what you could. And right now, we don’t even know what happened. This girl could be a live somewhere. That could have been a teleportation bolt. You know, anything’s possible.


Don’t worry. In a few hours, we’ll talk to Red Lion, we’ll figure all this out. Just try to get some rest.


You’re right.

Read all of my Rapid City scripts here.