question for storytellers~

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Ganter
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question for storytellers~

Post by Ganter » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:00 pm

alright, so I've been having lots of scenes lately in my comic with lots and lots of long conversations. I'm trying to figure out ways to tell these parts of the story while trying to avoid the following traps:

1) having the camera switch around so much it makes the reader dizzy
2) being so monotonous that the reader falls asleep (a.k.a. talking heads)
3) having it so that the dialogue takes up the entire panel and the reader skips reading it all together cause it's all crammed into one space

My toughest critic suggests I intersperse the dialogue with related subject matter (like if the characters are discussing a certain event, cut to the event and have the character's dialogue as a "voice-over"). The thing is I don't want to do this all the time as the trick will get old quickly. I was thinking of giving the characters a task, like cooking, while they're talking so that things are going on at the same time without being distracting.

I was just wondering how some of you approach the problem of straight dialogue for many pages at a time. It's one of the many problems of comics that I always struggle with.

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Mothos
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Post by Mothos » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:18 pm

While every writer and artist is different, I shall attempt to impart some sage word to aid you in your quest.

What is the nature of the dialogue? If it is emotional, perhaps words are not the best way to convey the feelings of a character. Remember that a comic is a fusion of text and image, and that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Does it all need to be told now? A device that keeps the reader coming back is withholding vital information until further issues. Consider Wolverine. What makes him so dynamic is the fact that no one knows his whole backstory. You learn snippets here and there, the anticipation holds the reader.

Does it need to be told at all? George Lucas, with Episode IV, just threw us into that world of rebels, jedi and an empire. We didn't have to know why and how all the jedi were gone or hiding. It wasn't neccessary to the story. Plus the theorizing helped keep fans interests. Remember Waterworld? It tells why the world is flooded and as a prologue and destroys the mystery, the reasons didn't matter for the story to be told.

Hope that helps for now or future writings. I'm off to wrestle with XHTML now.

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Joel
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Post by Joel » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:21 pm

Dialog can be a real pain at times, especially with lengthy exposition....and there's nothing more boring than "talking heads".

One of the best examples of something to aspire to would be the incredible job Azzarello and Risso do monthly on 100 Bullets.
They always integrate the surroundings of the conversation, so that you'll be reading one story, but actually watching another story unfold in the background, and the dialog "fits" with what's going on, even though everything seemingly is happening of it's own accord.

I know I'm doing a horrible job describing what they do, but go check out the softcover collections, and you'll see what I mean.

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Vera
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Post by Vera » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:28 pm

This is pretty well-known and helpful.

http://poptown.net/22panels.JPG

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Ganter
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Post by Ganter » Sun Feb 29, 2004 11:40 pm

Mothos - that's all excellent advice. In fact, I'm going to save it. I have such a hard time smoothing out all the kinks in my story because there's so much story to tell, and I'm trying to have it unfold in a natural way.

The dialogue in this particular scene is basically one character spilling her guts to someone for the first time, telling a painful childhood secret. It came out great in the script, but not in the horrible page I drew. I basically did a slow close up of her while she spurted out her dialogue - HORRIBLE. I'm thinking of dividing it up into two pages and just show what happened while she's telling her point of view on it to her friend.

Joel - I haven't read 100 Bullets yet~ I've been looking at movies to see what they do with their dialogue, but maybe I should be looking at comics? I was planning on using the background story thing with a different sequence, I think it would fit. I think I understand what you're talking about, but next time I'm in the comic shop I'll check it out~

Vera - ah yes. I think I have this on file somewhere, but always good to look at twice. Sometimes I just forget the basics, y'know? Thanks~

Thanks for the helpful tips guys!

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Kazu
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Post by Kazu » Mon Mar 01, 2004 12:03 am

Amy, I'm currently pushing through a bunch of dialogue pages myself, and I have run into a few occasions now where I felt I was "running out" of panel layout ideas. Generally, I've just been going back and forth between characters faces, closing in on them when the scene gets tense, or using close-ups of interesting things like a gun holster in the foreground, especially if the dialogue is referring to it in some way (literally or figuratively). I also cut away to objects the characters are tinkering with during the conversation or just pull back to a long shot of the entire scene from a distance, if I feel I need to bring in some of the room's ambience. Hope that helps somehow. Well, gotta get back to work!
Image
Image

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Ganter
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Post by Ganter » Mon Mar 01, 2004 8:51 am

hey kazu~ thanks for the advice. I do the object focus thing sometimes too~ it does work! I should use it more often~! There's a scene where two characters are talking over breakfast, I think I could use the object thing a lot there since it's alien food we're talking about hehe~ Maybe I should throw in some action somehow between all this talking to reduce the monotony of my panels? My friend used to hang up all her pages on her wall so she can see the overall pattern and try to discern where the pattern gets uninteresting. Maybe I should try that... Good luck with your own pages, Kazu~

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Post by Yenner » Mon Mar 01, 2004 5:03 pm

One thing I've seen used that seemed to work well was to draw a full-page pic of the two people talking. Then divide it into panels, and attach some speech to each panel. You get a great full-page image, and lots of panels to throw speech into.
"I am at two with nature." --Woody Allen

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