GRAYHAVEN COMICS APPRENTICE- 2nd Challenge- Judge’s Feedback

First up, the judges were all incredibly impressed with the thought and work that went into this week’s project. Extremely impressive, and well done. That being said, we did come to a consensus on our favorite, and that team is the winner. I know you’re all anxious, so I’ll post the judges’ thoughts.

SYNC – Hive Mind

I’m generally opposed to the idea of a Mary-Sue adventure, and while this isn’t a true Mary-Sue (since Lucia represents your theme and not the author), it still suffers many of the issues that people have with that trope as the main character does insert herself into the action. The Neverending Story, which had a slightly similar idea, was wise enough to keep Daniel (I think that was his name) out of the adventure itself and leave it up to Atreu. If you’re using Lucia as a mcguffin to move the story along, and to bring the characters together, I think it would have been more interesting to leave her out and instead work it in with either Dr. Who or the X-Men to be the cause and reason for the univeral crossover.

I really like the four character choices. Dr. Who was all but a given in something like this (a little too on the nose) but with the pairings you selected (particularly Ripley & the Xenomorphs) it’s an interesting combination. I also like that you took enemies from all four of the franchises and folded them in. One of the most interesting thing in situations like this is seeing how heroes from one universe deal with villains from another.

The “outline” itself is much more of a story summary/description. A lot more than what we asked for. I’m not penalizing you too much for that but I do have to take away some credit. Sometimes it’s important to know the difference between and outline and a full blown summary. Especially when it comes to pitching a comic (which this is NOT an exercise in doing) — knowing that sometimes more is not always a good thing as editors will want to see that you can say everything that is important as succinctly as possible.

The character introduction mentions that this is a post Aliens 3 Ripley but it seems to pick up at the beginning of Aliens 3. Not a big mistake, but a noticable one for someone who knows the story.

Grammar and spelling issues were minimal (“They enter to find Palpatine and Lucia sitting in a chairs…”) which are commonplace when you have multiple parties working on a project like this.

Overall, it was an enjoyable story — albeit a bit overexplained in some instances and too tidily sparse in others, particularly the ending.  I really do like that The Doctor allows Ripley to witness he daughter’s wedding. That was a nice touch.

One other note — in looking over the groups this week, that “Trailer” video that Giulie made was fantastic. I know you had to ditch it when you took out the Goblin King from Labrynth, but that’s a shame as something like that can be a difference maker in a close decision.

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Of all of the possible franchises you could have selected from every possible medium, these four were a bit of a head-scratching combination, so I was really curious to see how you would make it work. Kolchack especially, as it almost seemed no one was familiar with him as a character but for some readon you kept him in the story. This is made more obvious when he’s not mentioned in the archetypes disussion and is hardly mentioned anywhere other than the character page or outline.

In the story, Kolchack is a second thought. His actions are bland, and while his tinkering with the time travel device is ultimately what sends them home, it’s an action that is out of character for his traits and could have been done by someone more suitable — maybe Doc Brown from Back to the Future, or a number of other potential possibilities. I think the decision to include him was a mistake, even if the story is good and the outline much more in line with what I/we were looking for when compared to the other team.

I think that the plot itself moved forward naturally and using reality-based characters in a slightly out of the ordinary plot (time travel) worked really well. It kept things grounded and also made the twists and turns believable. The reason for their team-up made sense as did the resolution of the story.

There’s things that I love about both pitches, and things that frustrate me to no end. We couldn’t get two pitches that were more different, which pleases me. They’re so different, though, that comparing them is really tricky.

Team A’s pitch was very out of the box. I love the setting of Skull Island – one of the all-time great movie settings, and one ripe with so much potential. I also really like the idea of using human heroes instead of superheroes, as it’s something we don’t see often. Obviously, I’m happy with King Kong, so let’s move on to the other characters. Indiana Jones is one of the top “draft picks” for a crossover, so he worked really well. I feel like he was the star here. A-Team was an odd pick, but the team had a good grasp on them and used them really well. I got a good sense of all their personalities. Unfortunately, Kolchak, a very obscure choice, didn’t really work. I like the character, but he stood out like a sore thumb among the other heroes and wound up being sort of ignored in the pitch. It’s disappointing, because I think this pitch was one character away from being something amazing. The Back to the Future suggestion would have been great, or some comedy action heroes like the Men in Black or Ghostbusters would have worked really well. In addition, a female character (besides the Amazon) might have helped to make the interaction a bit more varied. I love the old-school pulp vibe that this pitch has, but I just wish the characters had been chosen with a bit more care.
Obviously, Hive Mind put an enormous amount of work into this pitch. It’s insanely detailed, which is a double-edged sword. They gave us a blow-by-blow of their entire story, which wasn’t really needed. Unlike Team A, they didn’t hold back at all with their choices, picking four massive franchises and packing the crossover with as many “OMG Kewl” Fanboy moments as I could imagine. I have no quibbles with the franchise choices – while some of them may have been obvious, I can see them working together really well. They’re all sci-fi based, and they all bring different things to the picture (strong mentors from Star Wars, scary monsters from Aliens, an interesting heel-face turn from X-men, and the time/space travel from Doctor Who). I will admit to getting a big goofy grin on my face from the Dalekmorphs. Unfortunately, this pitch had one glaring flaw in it, and that’s that the crossover franchises were, essentially, guest-stars in their own story. While Lucia was written well for this type of character, I – and I imagine most fans – would not want to see these characters there to serve someone else’s story. I didn’t find myself all that invested in Lucia’s storyarc, and I disliked the ending, which had her essentially neutralizing the big threats by herself. It made the entire crossover feel…not real, in a way, if she could simply control this world. It was obviously better executed in this pitch, but I sort of got a flashback to Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, where countless franchises teamed up to teach a girl to say no to drugs in the 80s. There were flashes of a fantastic story here that would send fans through the roof, but these characters weren’t the stars here.
This is a tough one. Both pitches were undone to a degree by some poor decision-making, and there’s a ton of potential in both that wasn’t quite realized. In the end, I’ve got to go with the one that, as a fan and a writer, would leave me more satisfied at the end. And despite a misfire with the cast, that’s Team A. Their old-school pulp crossover is closer to the mark for me.

I’m impressed to all hell at the amount of time most of the people spent on this. I loved watching the ideas flow back and forth. From determining PMs to how people delegated responsibilities and covered each other as time zones and other job obligations took place…was very cool.

The cast of characters had me concerned on the outset. While I was a fan of the old Kolchak series I wasn’t sure how the character would fit with a cast like Indiana Jones and the A-Team. But you know what, they made it work. Unlike you guys I think that Kolchak plays just the right amount of ‘screen time’ for the story. He’s there to get the story going, I can picture Darren McGavin acting out the moment where Kolchak tries to reason with the locals only to have the situation escalate beyond their control. On this note I think that the character, while not ones I would have chosen, serve this story well. Kolchak is investigating a paranormal occurrence just as he would have on the show and it’s nothing major…just a guy making money off betting from knowledge of the future with an artifact. The artifact naturally is something that appeals to someone like Indiana Jones and the A-Team is typically attempting to do good. I don’t know how any cross over can properly split time between all the leads evenly but I think Kolchak was given ample time. The Amazon was the character I thought was fleshed out the least. She serves her function in the story but that’s it. It’s like she exists only to get us that moment with Kong but nothing else. I felt that was the weakest part of the cast. With the pulpy vibe of the story route they chose to go maybe someone like Lara Croft would have been a better choice?
This team went big on characters. I mean you’re taking a huge world of characters with X-Men, Aliens and Star Wars alone. Throw in Dr. Who and Lucia and this is an ambitious undertaking. I’m glad the team decided to pare down the focus to just a few characters from each franchise or it would have been very unwieldy. I do think the weakness here is giving too much of a role to Lucia. She’s all over the story and it does make sense in that she’s a unifying factor but it seems like the other characters are taking cameo roles in her story. She’s written wonderfully but her focus comes at the expense of everyone else.
I think overall, Team 1 stuck to the landing better. There are some flaws but overall they delivered on what was asked and were able to do one of the most important things in this project: bring these characters together effortlessly and tell their story. It felt more natural. All of the characters are plucked from specific periods, go on their adventure together and are dropped back off to await what comes next.
Team 2 suffers from having too much. I admire the ambition. I loved the video and the bells and whistles that came with the pitch and showed a lot of creativity. I just think that there was too much to focus on and too much detail for specifics we didn’t really need and not enough in actually making the franchise crossover feel natural. Or as natural as could be in a crazy cross over like this contest. Like Marc mentioned this is much more detailed than an outline that was asked for and while I’m not going to deduct points for it just keep in mind that sometimes going over the top can be a detriment just as much as not delivering enough.
Watching both teams work throughout the week, I have to again say how impressed I was by the team’s performances. It was great to see this level of effort put into the project. But while I admire the work of HIVE MIND I think they came up short by going too big and not spending enough time on the basics while I think almost the entirety of Team 1 with the exception of the Amazon character met expectations.
Team 1 for me.
I must say that overall I’m very impressed by both teams work ethic this week,  It’s clear those that have survived the initial culling are hungry for this.  No offense to those that had to drop out but this is what I like to see, determination and drive for a prize many of us would give our eye teeth for.  You want to work in comics and don’t have the time?  You make the time.  I do so much work for GrayHaven it drives me batty sometimes but I do it because I know the hard work will pay off.  The remaining candidates have really showed me what they’re capable of.
Both pitches are very different.  Both teams went in very different directions, I think one pitch stands out a little more but here are my thoughts on both.
Team A
You guys need a name 🙂
You went for a much ‘smaller’ type crossover than Hive Mind and picked more obscure characters.  By far the top player in your selections is Indiana Jones and the last thing he’s known for is a movie that (putting it generously) had mixed reviews.  That being said I think the choices you made make perfect sense and all fill a specific role very well.  Although your story is a lot more scaled back in comparison to the other teams I really like it and it suits the characters very, very well.  Like one of my fellow judges said the feel of Skull island and using a misunderstood monster in King Kong suits the pulpy category your characters fall into.  I feel you really went for a match up that made sense for your story rather than going for the ever tempting ‘cool’ factor.
Your pitch is very well put together and easy to read.  You cover the main beats without giving story overload on what you’re going for.  I think there perhaps is a little repetition at the beginning when you guys are trying to justify the picks you made.  I think you nailed it in the first explanation so everything after that was unnecessary.
Overall some of your choices may have been a risk but overall it paid off wonderfully.  You present a story where I think old fans and new fans would adore.
Hive Mind
Nice name.
It’s funny that I have to call team a’s crossover the ‘smaller’ one when they packed in a lot but compared to you guys it’s hard not to.  You guys just went all out and created a crossover that on paper would likely leave fans in a wild eyed state of insanity similar to Alex at the end of Clockwork Orange.
I remember a poster I saw once that had like Harry Potter, Wolverine, The Avengers, LOTR and more on it as a gag for a big money making movie.  You guys have brought that poster to life in essence.
You pick more prominent character’s than Team A and some of which are super hot right now.  You give a lot of awesome moments and manage to cram in all the villains for each of your chosen characters and let it make sense.  While the premise sounds amazing I do feel you guys perhaps went too far in trying to tick all the boxes.  I think all your characters work very well together but it just seems like awesome overload.  There is such a thing as too much of a good thing.  That being said you guys managed to pull something really good together with your main characters.  Some of the smaller moments between them is where your pitch shines.
However that’s what I think is partly the problem.  Too few really great small character moments and too many fanboy orgasm moments.  Having too many villains is a mistake made many times in the past and I think you guys make it here.  The Daleks, The Emperor, the Xeno’s or Magneto would make a suitable threat on their own or perhaps a combination of two would have been fine but all four seems a bit much.  It also means that having such unpredictable and untrustworthy villains that they spend more time fighting themselves than the heroes.
I do like you have an original character to pull everything together but I feel the story focuses on her rather than the characters you’ve picked.  These are some great prominent characters and they all take a backseat story wise to Lucia.  She works as a good reason to pull everything together but really the moment that everyone else shows up she should be secondary.  People wanting to read this want to see these characters they know, not someone new.
I also noticed a lot of typo’s in your pitch and not as much cohesiveness as the other team.  I got really, really confused in particular in the paragraph you spoke about Yoda in particular.  The way it is written it sounds as if you’ve turned Yoda into a girl.
You guys put a lot of work in though and despite the many problems it has you delivered a strong pitch.
Seriously great work by both teams.  I think this is probably very close.  One team went for a more character driven smaller scale story that focuses on the characters selected and the other team goes crazy bananas.
It’s time for a trip down comic memory lane with Glenn.
In the 90’s there were 2 Batman/Spider-Man one shots written by J.M DeMatteis.  The first was drawn by Mark Bagley and featured them team up to fight the Joker and Carnage.
The second one I don’t even remember the artist but feature them teaming up to fight the Kingpin and Ras Al Ghul.
On paper the first one sounds amazing.  Two of my fave creators on two of my fave characters fighting two very high profile villains.  It’s a great book but lacks a lot of the story/potential I was looking for in a Spider-Man/Batman team up.  It’s a great story don’t get me wrong but I was wanting…more.  I kind of felt like I had fast food were I’d been filled for an hour and then was starving for more.
The second one was a lot more character driven, had some great Batman/Spidey banter and had them find a connection over classic movies.  Loved it.
These two pitches remind me a lot of those comics.  On paper I should adore Hive Mind’s.  It ticks all the boxes on paper but much like a takeaway I crave I feel myself feeling like I had a tasty meal but overall did not get what I wanted.
Whereas Team A delivered a more character driven pitch that was a lot smaller scale and allowed every aspect of their chosen franchises to shine.  They gave their characters room to breathe and although their characters are a lot more prominent (one I haven’t even freaking heard of)  they all shine in this story.
Great jobs by both teams, I really, really mean that.  No one has anything to be ashamed of but I really think Team A delivered a much more well rounded final product.
So clearly, one team scored a 4-0 victory here, and that team is…Team A, with “Wild Wild Science”!
Sam, congratulations, your team has won, and you’ll have immunity on the next task as the winning project manager. Great job.
Courtland, an impressive effort, but unfortunately, you’ll have to pick two contestants to join you in the boardroom, where someone will be fired.
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