GRAYHAVEN COMICS APPRENTICE- Challenge 6 Boardroom and Results

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ANDREW- How would you rank your highs and lows in the game so far and do you think you can win this game?

MARY- The very first Apprentice task probably taught me the most about what it would take to stay in this game for the long-haul. My writing earned praise for its creativity which gave me the early confidence I needed to forge ahead. At the same time, the constructive criticism was specific and fair, immediately pointing out some flaws that I have been mindful of every week since then. I can attribute many (if not most) of my less successful tasks to weeks when I neglected those early lessons. Apprentice has been a growth experience and an education in comics. I have called upon my life/work experience to succeed in team tasks; I unexpectedly felt the loss of that team around me when this week I had to return to writing alone. Highs like brainstorming great stories with teammates or pulling marketing ideas out of thin air (and watching them work) have been tempered by lows when I have personally failed by delivering writing that could have been better. I have learned that I need to listen to that little voice inside my head that tells me when something I write is not hitting the mark and that one more careful read-through is almost never wasted.

I have come close to quitting this long, tough, and at times, intense competition yet I am, as of tonight, still here – beyond even my own expectations. I do think that I can win this game. I also want to recognize that there is a lot of talent your Top Five, and because I believe that it is possible for any member of this group to win, it follows that the competition is now in my own hands to lose.

The game has reached a point beyond “defeating” the other candidates. If I do not reach the top spot, it will be because of my own mistakes. With all credit and respect to my competitors, it is too late for me to worry about what they are doing. I think that the same stands true for each of uis.

I can only look within to move beyond the missteps I have made and find a way to produce better work than I ever thought possible when this game began. If I give my top effort and lose, or if I deliver less than I am capable of, then I will take away everything that I have learned throughout this experience and be proud of myself for having come this far. To do my best is all that I can contribute; that is my only influence over the eventual outcome. For this particular challenge, you did not receive my best work. That serves as an immediate wake-up call. I can win, and I know what I will have to do to make that a reality.

COURTLAND- The highs have been just being forced to write on the short deadlines and sometimes out of my comfort zone. It was also a lot of fun collaborating with my team, even when we were all wanting to go in different directions. I wasn’t used to creating that way and it was an interesting experience. Spending as much time as I have in the boardroom hasn’t exactly been a great experience but I can handle the criticism and welcome it.

JARED- I would say that my high point was probably the Milking the Franchise challenge. We took some knocks on it overall, but the plotting for that challenge was praised almost across the board; and I wrote the majority of that myself. My low point was either the first week or the promotion week. With the first week I worked so hard to try to deliver something I felt was creative and outside of the box but didn’t pay attention to what the judges were looking for. I feel that I learned from my mistakes in that case, because in subsequent challenges I made sure to check and double check the instructions to avoid mistakes. With the promotions week, I took the lead on that one becuase I knew it was something I was weak at and didn’t want to hide from, but rather jump into to try and get more comfortable with, because self-promotion is a huge part of comics creation these days. Bottom line, I don’t make the same mistakes twice, and I don’t run from my weaknesses. Rather, I try to confront and turn them into strengths. I definately think I can win this game, not just for the reasons I just mentioned, but because, even on weeks when I or my team has lost, the judges point out my creativity as a strength. Technical issues (crowded panels, paying more attention to directions, etc.) can be fixed, but creativity and imagination are something a writer has to be born with and I know I have them.

MARY- I think that depends on how much the past challenges and our past work are factored into the decision making process for you guys.  There are 1 or 2 contestants who have fared much better than the rest of us so far. If the judging in the final challenge comes down to the performance on that challenge alone, then yes, I think anyone can still win this but if it doesn’t, then I think there are a couple of odss-od favorites who will be tough to beat.  That doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying though.

RAY- What would you say drew you to this specific subject matter when you chose what to write?

JARED- I’ve had these characters kicking around in my mind for a while, and I felt their backstory was unique and compelling enough to provide a good hook for the first page. I knew I’d want to read more about a masked vigillante arguing with his pregnant girlfriend over dinner, so I figured other folks might want to too.

MARY- Ray, for me this was a strange occasion when I “got stuck” on a prompt. It has happened to me just a handful of times in writing class when I simply drew a blank, either because the concept didn’t stir my imagination or because I couldn’t relate to it.

In this case, I didn’t come up with very many ideas from the prompt and struggled unsuccessfully to develop those initial thoughts into a fully-formed, three-page script. Dissatisfied, I dove into my folders full of story ideas and came up with a scene from a larger science fiction plot that I thought fit the criteria. Scifi is a favorite genre of mine and the work of fiction I chose has been playing and rewinding on my internal monitor for several years, so I know it well. I felt that I could comfortably shape this scene from it into comic book form, particularly since fiction is very much a visual experience to me. As you have no doubt realized by now, I think in pictures.

The choice of a Scifi story is one that I continue to stand behind as it is well within my range as a writer. However, the characters were two that I had not sufficiently developed and that very much shows in this script. The criticisms I received from the judges were absolutely valid. As I worked on this deliverable, some part of me knew this story didn’t feel “relatable.” Instead of following my instincts to improve that story, by Sunday evening I had developed a second story – a humor piece – with what I think are more interesting characters and absolutely better dialogue. Why did I not go with that script? Because I was concerned about the subjective nature of comedy and ultimately lacked confidence that the appeal of that second script was universal enough. I have no idea whether the opposite choice would have garnered better reviews, but I fear that both scripts probably suffered somewhat from the splitting of my concentration.

COURTLAND- I had 3 different ideas rattling around in my head.  I quickly realized one didn’t fit the dinner requirement and the other was pretty dark but had a mechanic to it that I just couldn’t get to work in the time I had so I went with the Bone story.  It’s funny that most of the Grayhaven stuff I’ve done so far has been pretty kid friendly and light hearted. I suppose part of that has to do with being a teacher and being surrounded by little kids all day but the stuff I gravitate to when I consume tends to be a lot darker. I’ve been a big fan of Bone since the first or second issue came out (I can still remember seeking it out after reading an early review by the late Don Thompson in CBG) so writing two of my favorite characters was also a lot of fun.

RAY- Mary, your script seemed to be very heavy on description. Is this your usual writing style, or did you change it up?

MARY- I don’t remember writing this much description for anything, ever. Since reading the script again and receiving your feedback, there seems no question that I went overboard trying to “draw” this script in words. I kept thinking that this deliverable was too complicated, but despite reading quite a few sample scripts, I wasn’t absolutely certain how far to go in describing each page. Since I am new to writing comic book scripts, I’m still searching for the right balance between “too much” and “not enough” where description is concerned. This time, I erred on the side of too much (and sometimes unclear).

Herein lies the irony of my being an artist. I tend to have very clear visions of how the writer-half of me intends the story to look. I realize that this is all well and good if I am writing and illustrating my own work but I also know that it could be collaborative suicide in trying to be a writer working with an artist. From as objective an artist’s mindset as I can muster, I realize now that it would irritate the heck out of me to receive such detailed description from a writer. If I had the task to do again, I would give it a read with the (literal) right side of my brain. When I spend too much time in the “thinking” left-brain, the result can definitely be overkill. That is something I need to guard against.

GLENN- How much script writing do you have prior to this challenge?  I know you all have contributed to the Gathering (I believe) but I’d like to know how many volumes/which ones and anything outside of GrayHaven

MARY- Aside from the tasks in this competition that have touched on script writing, I have written only one comic script which was for YANA. That is the first and only time I have done this type of writing (I have never submitted any other comic book work) so I am a neophyte in this business. However, it seems a natural progression for me insofar as comics can be seen as a marriage of the writing that I enjoy and my artistic and visual nature.

Outside of comics, I have published short fiction (most recently a short story in an anthology here in Canada), and been long-and-short-listed in prose and poetry competitions. I also have a byline at a prominent Star Wars-based blog where I have contributed reviews, interviews, and articles for the past three years. During my professional career as a nurse, I authored and co-authored articles and research papers published in both nursing and international medical journals.

JARED- I have submitted four scripts for various Gathering anthologies: Adventure, Western (but due to an issue with the artist it was never published), Tales from the Abyss vol 3  and Public Domain. I also have scripted an OGN that is being currently being drawn by Jenny Gorman (another GrayHaven alum). Those are the ones I have completed and turned over to an editor and/or artist. If we’re including finished scripts that are still sitting on my harddrive waiting for the right opportunity to share with an artist/editor, I have about another six or seven.

COURTLAND- Grayhaven is the only place where I have published a finished script.  I have toyed around with it on my own but never finished or shared anything until I started submitting proposals for The Gathering.  I have 2 stories published so far (the first Hey Kids and Hey Kids Superheroes) and 2 more on the way (Spy and Hey Kids Fantasy).

GLENN- What was the inspiration behind your tales?

JARED- I would say the prompt itself inspired my story. Jason & Luci are two of the first comic characters I ever created and when I saw the scenario that was proposed, they almost screamed to be used. Here were two charachters that I knew intimately in a situation that I could see fitting their relationship. It felt like kismet.

MARY- I could say that it is all George Lucas’ fault, but that would not be entirely accurate.

Star Wars certainly showed me that nothing was impossible; that imagination could take you anywhere. Watching “A New Hope” for the first time was an emancipating moment for me as a child: I realized that I could dream anything and make it “real” through words and pictures.

Yet my inspirations (there are many) go far beyond the example of Star Wars. From the age of five or six, I loved comic books. At that time, my big brother was in the navy so I saved all my best comics for him to read when he came home on leave. Those piles of books were as high as his knees (and he’s 6-foot-four)! I read everything from Superman to Archie (!); spy stories to westerns (and being the good brother that he is, he went through them all). Still, it was me who pleaded with my mother to buy those comics, and me who read them first, taking care to choose the best ones to add to those reading stacks. I was one of those kids under the bed covers with a flashlight finishing the book my Dad brought home, and then dreaming about it after he confiscated my batteries. Those stories were the first sparks that caught fire in my imagination.

For many years I lost contact with comics and with the little girl who enjoyed them so much. I am happy to have found them again and even more so to have realized that perhaps I might have some ability to contribute to the creation of new ones. That child – who still exists in my head – wishes I’d thought of it sooner.

COURTLAND- Just a desire to write those characters really. I’ve been a fan of the book since the beginning.

GLENN- Win or lose your all a part of the final 5 normally that would be quite an accomplishment but a large portion of the contestants have left.  Do you think you would have made it this far if we didn’t have so many people up and quit

MARY- Yes, I believe I would have been here. My work has exhibited creativity, original thinking, storytelling ability, talent for visualizing comic books, receptiveness to constructive criticism, responsibility, and a variety of team as well as individual skills. In addition, I think that I have clearly shown an excellent work ethic through some tasks that were completely inside my wheelhouse, and even more so, challenges that terrified me or with which I had absolutely no experience. My errors and missteps along the way have been opportunities to improve and I have viewed the entire process as a significant educational experience. I realize that there is much more to learn if I want to create comics, but my Apprentice journey has been consistent and I think that I would have earned my place here regardless of whether those contestants who left voluntarily had remained in the game.

On that note I would like to commend you three and the other 2 contestants on sticking this out. This is a great opportunity and some have just thrown it away like its nothing. Even if you get fired you should hold your head up high for trying.

Thank you, Glenn. I am proud of myself for making it to the top five in a competition with so many talented contestants. Regardless of whether I continue or end my time in Apprentice right here, I want to say that it has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with you, Ray, Marc, and Drew, as well as my fellow Apprentice-candidates.

JARED- I can honestly say that I don’t feel that people dropping out helped me stick around longer. On most weeks when a team got a bye because people dropped out, it tended to save the opposing team. I’m not bitter, I understand it’s the luck of the draw. The only time I was ever in the boardroom before this week was when I was PM for the promotions challenge, and on that week we lost Ron to dropping out at the beginning of the challenge and Ryan at the end of it. So I feel my creativity, hard work and willingness to learn from my mistakes is what has kept me around.

COURTLAND- That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t want to diminish the things that people have going on in their lives. There are more important things in the world than comics (!?!?!?) and this competition shouldn’t take away from that but I also wish more people would have stayed in. Hopefully, if there’s another round of this, future contestants will look at what we’re doing now and realize how much work is involved.  I’ve survived 2 boardrooms after having a member quit and Jared survived 1 so I don’t think the drop out factor did anything to help our team.

RAY- You chose to work with Jeff Smith’s Bone, a highly regarded comic. Did you assume that readers of this script would be familiar with it?

COURTLAND- I think this might be where I’ve had a little confusion in the challenges because I have assumed that the judges have been familiar with the pre-existing properties I/we have chosen.   I didn’t feel the need to get overly descriptive with worlds that were already well established.  Some projects have been criticized for being too wordy while others not wordy enough so it’s been tough finding the right balance I think.

THE JUDGES SPENT QUITE AWHILE DELIBERATING ON THIS ONE. THIS WEEK ONCE AGAIN SAW TWO CONTESTANTS (JEREMY AND STEVE) HAVE TO LEAVE THE GAME FOR PERSONAL REASONS. WOULD THE ‘NO FIRE’ COME INTO PLAY OR WOULD THE BOARDROOM SEE A THIRD CONTESTANT’S GAME COME TO AN END THIS WEEK?

RAY- This was another tough week. We gave your scripts a lot of thought, as well as your detailed answers. Thanks again for the hard work all of you have put into the game.

Courtland, you gave us one of the most detailed, vivid scripts, with two stories, one spoken and one visual. It was also the only lighthearted script we got, surprisingly. However, you made the mistake of assuming that readers would be familiar, and as such it could have been a little hard to crack. Some of the judges were really hard on this script…but others ranked it as one of the best this week. Based on that clear split, we want to see more from you. You are safe, and can join Nathan and Sam.

So that leaves us with Jared and Mary. Unfortunately, both of you ranked consistently in the middle/bottom of the pack.

Jared, your script was competently written and the characters were engaging, but it felt a bit rushed in terms of panel layout and the dialogue didn’t jump out as much as some of the others. Mary, you put an enormous amount of work into description, but the dialogue didn’t feel as strong, and we didn’t feel the characters were engaging.

We had to look at the flaws and strengths here, and decide who we could see winning this competition based on these scripts.

Jared, we want to see more from you. Mary, unfortunately, you’re fired.

 

PAST EPISODES-

PAST EPISODES:

Challenge #6 Task (The Script)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/29/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-6-the-script/

Challenge #6 (Completed Scripts)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/05/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-6-the-script-projects/

WEEK FIVE

Challenge #5 Task  (The Rewrite)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/23/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-5-the-rewrite/

Challenge #5 Complete Projects- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/27/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-5-completed-rewrite-projects/

Challenge #5- The Judge’s Thoughts- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/28/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-5-judges-feedback/

Challenge #5- The Boardroom- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/29/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-5-the-boardroom/

WEEK FOUR

Challenge #4 Task (Marketing) –http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/13/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-4th-challenge-marketingpr/

Challenge #4- Completed Projects- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/21/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-4th-challenge-completed-projects/

Challenge #4- Judge’s Thoughts Boardroom-http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/22/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-4th-challenge-judges-thoughtsboardroom/

WEEK THREE

Challenge #3 Task (Milking the Franchise)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/05/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-3/

Challenge #3- Completed Projects- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/10/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-3-completed-projects/

Challenge #3- Judges- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/11/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-3-judges-feedback/

Challenge #3- Boardroom- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/12/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-3rd-challenge-the-boardroom/

WEEK TWO Challenge #2-Completed Projects-  http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/03/the-apprentice-2nd-challenge-completed-projects/

Challenge #2 Judges- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/04/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-2nd-challenge-judges-feedback/

Challenge #2- Boardroom- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/04/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-2nd-challenge-the-boardroom/

WEEK ONE

 

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