THE JUDGE’S THOUGHTS:
Courtland Funke – A CONVERSATION ABOUT SPACE AND TIME
TITLE – Terrible name. Not only does it bring about feelings almost immediately that it’s derivative of Dr. Who, but it also is too much of a mouthful for potential new readers. (0/1)
THE PITCH (FORMAT) – This is not how a standard pitch is offered. You should usually submit a comic pitch in a way that the first paragraph gives a full overview of the story, then follow it up with the details as needed. Sometimes an “elevator” pitch (or one sentence summary) precedes this as well. In this case one must read thoroughly to the end for any sort of payoff and wordiness can prevent an editor from getting the gist of your pitch. Your pitch suffers for this as it should not be a page by page description of how the story progresses. (1/3)
THE PITCH (STORY) – I’m not sure that I see anything resembling a 22 page story in this concept. Certainly not something with three exciting and intriguing acts. Part of that is due to the way in which you presented it, but I also think that it comes across as too much of a “talking heads” story that is much more cerebral and short on action, and a one-shot really needs to draw in readers with action. (1/3)
THE SCRIPT – Your job as an writer is to get a reader invested in your story by the fifth page. The first three pages are virtually without any dialogue (seven short lines of dialogue) or information (no special effects, no captions). Just imagery, and finally on the last two pages things pick up quite a bit. But you make a common mistake in putting actions that would take more than one panel into a single panel (“Richard is slowly walking towards the counters to his right” – followed by “Richard slows down”). Very difficult to get an artist to show something like that. After you mention that Page 4 has only 4 panels, you have five panels (including two panel #4s) as a result of the uncertainty in action. Your “time has stopped” panel loses the effect because it’s a static reveal. There’s no way for a reader to differentiate that time has stopped/frozen because a comic panel already is a moment frozen in time. There is an overall awkwardness at how the story starts out so slow for three pages and then progresses so quickly in the next two. (1/3)
TOTAL SCORE – 3/10
Sam Read – SURGE
TITLE – A nice, short title that’s pretty easy to remember for people and helps it stand out. My only concern is seeing where the title fits in with the story. (0.5/1)
THE PITCH (FORMAT) – There are some spelling and grammar errors that, to some editors, would result in near immediate dismissal from consideration. The format of your pitch isn’t perfect, but you do a solid job of summarizing the plot in a manageable bite. (1.5/3)
THE PITCH (STORY) – I like the concept. And I like the ideas behind it (war and fear). I also really like that you took the black & white format into consideration with the theme. I think that this is normally a theme that could work for us, but there seems to be something missing in the pitch that differentiates it from other war-time horror stories. (1.5/3)
THE SCRIPT - Very happy that you started out right in the middle of the action. This would certainly draw readers in right away. Again some spelling and grammatical inconsistencies, but you have very good script-writing abilities otherwise. Bendis can’t spell and low where he is! You use the five pages allotted to really set up the action and build the tension and make me want to read page six. (2.5/3)
TOTAL SCORE – 6/10
Jared Moore – THE BOOK
TITLE – Again, a simple, short title only suffers in being too familiar. This one hits right in on the story and fits nicely. (1/1)
THE PITCH (FORMAT) – Similar to what Courtland did, this is not how a standard pitch is usually offered. The slight difference here, however, is that your story seems much more linear in your approach. While it’s not presented properly, the progression of the plot is natural and leaves our just the right amount of details that otherwise may have been unneccesary. (1.5/3)
THE PITCH (STORY) – I love the concept. The whole Portrait of Dorian Gray as a book (something that could have been used in your elevator pitch description, if you had one) idea is appealing, both in its creepiness and in the potential for it to work out well as a one-shot comic. (2/3)
THE SCRIPT - I like the Prologue as a plot device but wonder if it will dull the payoff of the reveal of book being something evil. The rest of the script is tight and works very well. The last page doesn’t leave much of a cliffhanger (as many 5-page pitches do) but it does show that you have the pace worked out in your mind. I think some of the pages may be a bit too cluttered but that can be resolved with combining certain panels. (2/3)
TOTAL SCORE – 6.5/10
Overall, Jared ekes out a win. I think that both The Book and Surge could be solid hits for GrayHaven, but The Book gets a very slight win.
Title – I agree, just too long and not specific enough. It sounds like a PBS special. 0/1
Pitch – While I appreciate the detail, this is very long and doesn’t offer any sort of quick entry point. I feel like reading this, most editors would probably find their minds wandering and dismiss this pitch. 1/3
Story/Characters – This section is competently done, but I feel like there isn’t enough meat to this story to really support a 22-page comic. Our Doctor meets the Stranger, they talk for 22 pages, and then the stranger murders him. There’s a fatalistic, creepy tone to it, but overall, it doesn’t do enough with the concept of time travel to really justify a one-shot. I feel like we needed to see more, more of what the stranger fears, of what time travel could cause. As it is, it just feels…a bit hollow. 1.5/3
Script – Courtland has a knack for script-writing and has all of the major techniques down pat. The script was detailed, easy to read, and with very good descriptions for an artist. Unfortunately, I think as a five-page sample of the story, it doesn’t really work. There’s three pages of a guy going to work before anything related to the core of the story actually occurs. Much like with the pitch, I think it makes us wait too long to get to the meat. 1.5/3
Total – 4/10
Title – Clear, and a good title for a horror book. It’s the one that captures the subject of the book the best, I think. A bit literal, but I could see a movie being titled this. 1/1
Pitch – Like Courtland’s, this suffers from a bit too much detail for a standard pitch. I do think, however, he engages us a bit quicker than Courtland did, and sets up an intriguing scenario for a horror book. I just wish he had given us a quicker synopsis at the start to really pull us in. 1.5/3
Story/Characters – This is Jared’s strongest section, in my opinion. He sets up a tried-but-true concept – a cursed object wreaking havoc on a family – and gives it an intriguing twist with a dark backstory for the protagonist. The characters are well-fleshed out for one issue, and there’s a sense of foreboding and dread throughout. I do worry about the sudden escalation of chaos being a bit rushed, and I don’t like that it ends on a cliffhanger right before the real horror begins. This is supposed to be a one-shot. Still, overall, very well done. 2.5/3
Script – I think Jared makes a very smart choice by starting the story with a flashback that shows the threat being posed. The scene with the Priest is really creepy and sets the tone well. Unfortunately, I don’t think the dialogue in the present-day segment is quite as strong. It feels overly jokey, almost cartoonish in places (particularly the bed scene). There’s a bit of mood whiplash that really didn’t work for me. Overall, a good effort. 2/3
Total – 7/10
Title – The least literal of the three titles, but the term “Surge” is familiar to anyone who knows anything about the Iraq war. It can also refer to a surge of unusual power. The double-meaning is clever, and a one-word title is smart to hook people in. It’s not immediately engaging, but it works. 1/1
Pitch – I think Sam has the best, most manageable pitch of the three. He quickly summarizes his concept effectively and sets it up so we know enough to jump in, but we don’t get information overload. I do think, however, that he didn’t proofread his pitch quite as much as the others, and it shows. So points off for grammar/spelling. Professionalism matters. 1.5/3
Characters/Story – I think he sets us up very well here for an intriguing story. One thing that I notice is that Sam’s characters aren’t so much characters as archetypes. They’re players in a twisted morality tale. So we know little about them beyond their role. I think that works for this story. The story itself is a horror tale that we’ve seen before, but in a situation that’s new and intriguing. The idea of fusing the horrors of war with supernatural horror is intriguing, but I think it has a lot of potential. Still, I would have liked a bit more about the characters besides the lead. 2.5/3
Script – And this is where Sam shines. I think he picked the best sample of pages of anyone. He starts us off with some real-world action from minute one, and then slowly builds until the supernatural element arrives later. This is by far the tensest of the three scripts, with the action rarely letting up. The detail is strong, and the action is choreographed effectively. I do think the spirit’s dialogue is a bit wonky near the end – it feels a bit too Joker-esque for my tastes, and that takes away from the horror. But a very strong effort overall. 2.5/3
Total – 7.5/10
So by a razor-thin margin…Sam gets my vote to win.
Drew, it’s over to you.
Title- Well it certainly sums up the story well. It’s nothing particularly exciting but it’s short, sweet and lets you know what the story is about 1/1
Pitch- On the technical side it falls short in that it’s more of a narrative than just a simple ‘here’s the deal’ pitch. It takes some time to ‘get to it’ but in you favor you captured my interest immediately. Horror is a popular theme for us and you deliver a story that certainly kept me scanning ahead looking for what comes next. It’s nothing overly complex but it works. 1.5/3
Characters- James seems to be the weak link in the cast and it also seems like he’s your least favorite given the way he’s fleshed out less but overall you handled this section well. Slight back story, details about the characters and not a A-B-C this is what they do in the story. Very descriptive. 3/3
Script- The formatting of it is fine. The opening page is effectively done and I do like the use of the flashback/time jump to get us right into it…though using that opening takes away some of the potential shock factor of a big reveal later in the story. Some of the dialogue between James and Julia comes off a bit hokey but there’s also a sweetness about it. Nothing too bad that couldn’t be fixed through editing. 2/3
Title- Too long. I like it as the heading of a chapter but as the main title it just doesn’t work for me. 0/1
Pitch- It’s detailed but I think there’s too much time spent building up to what the story is about. I agree that it seems like it could be very talking heads and I don’t have an issue with that but to sell it like that I really have to be invested in the overall concept. Time travel is cool, I know Glenn loves it, but there’s still a lot of talk of mysteries and the stranger but not enough about why the stranger would be compelling to us. 1/3
Characters- I think the description of Richard is well done. We get to know what he is like but it’s not bare bones and it’s not a direct telling of what happens in the story. The other character descriptions don’t fare so well. There’s nothing particularly compelling about anyone outside Richard and the stranger. 1/3
Script- The layout and format of the script is fine. I don’t have any issues there. The 4 panel/ 5 panel mistake should have been caught but I think the big problem here is the script, especially as this is the first few pages of the story sort of shows the big problem of the overall story: it’s slow. If we’re going to do more telling than showing then I want to be blown away by the dialogue. It’s not bad, it just doesn’t captivate me as much as a story like this would need to. 1/3
Title- I like it. Simple, effective and gives one a very good idea on what the story would be about. Or so I thought. It’s ‘a bit’ misleading given the direction the story does take. .5/1
Pitch- Fairly decent job summarizing the entire story and what’s compelling about it in a short burst but gotta watch those grammatical/spelling errors. The editor’s job is to correct this stuff before it sees print but going in on a blind pitch is usually one’s first impression so you want this to be perfect. I was surprised by the darker and supernatural tone of the story but horror is a popular theme for us. Personally I think it would have been stronger if this was a straight war story. 1/3
Characters- The photos references were a nice touch and something a lot of our writers have used in the past. It’s a tool a lot of artists (and editors) appreciate. The character descriptions themselves were fine. Told us who’s who without giving away the story in the details. 3/3
Script- I’ve always enjoyed your scripts and this one is no different. Good formatting and you chose a very good place to start the story, making me interested from panel one and that interest carried through right to the end of your section. 2.5/3
Courtland, even though the score may not reflect it, I thought you had some very good ideas in your story. A couple changes here and there and it may have very well been my favorite of the group. You battled hard throughout the game and I really appreciate the work you put into all of these challenges both with the final projects and the work you were doing behind the scenes throughout. You were a great competitor.
Sam, you were definitely an early favorite and I don’t think that’s a big secret. You came out of the gate strong, were a leader in all the competitions and created some great projects. For me this was definitely down to the wire. Your strengths were pretty clear again and I did enjoy the story and the supernatural twist but think it just could have been that much stronger if you had focused on the ‘horror’ of war without the supernatural element. It’s been a pleasure watching you these past couple months.
Jared, you had a few ups and downs early on but came on very strong towards the last few competitions and that was a great time to find your groove. You were a great teammate and there are a lot of behind the scenes things that the folks ‘at home’ don’t get to see in google groups and so forth but it was impressive. You handled yourself well both in leading projects and advocating your case in the boardroom. When given this task in the final 3 you pulled out all the stops and came up with a great story.
Congrats to Jared and Sam and Courtland and to all the competitors who played this first game. It was a lot of fun for the judges (most of the time) and we’ll definitely be doing it again….
Couldn’t this be one document? First impression is I don’t like having to go back and forth (I’m a fussy bussy though). I don’t imagine though many major/minor publishers would want to read three separate documents about one pitch (time is money and all)
War comics had their day long ago (Sergeant Rock and even Howling Commando’s and whatnot) but could it be time for their return? Well maybe but this isn’t exactly a war comic, it reads more to me like a modern day Twilight Zone episode. Your taking the potential horror/consequence of war and giving it a physical presence. I could be misreading your pitch but I assume that this could all be a figment of the young soldiers imagination and yet…it might not be. Again you clearly know (or rightly guessed) that horror is a big hit with us in the past so here you try to give war with a bit of a supernatural twist.
I’m having a mixed mind about this pitch. There are elements I like about both parts (the war and the horror) but mixed together I’m not sure it’s a good mix. If it is all in the soldiers mind it could be an interesting commentary on how war effects someone but that is what I’m assuming from your pitch not what you state.
I do like you have reference images which gives you a bit more of a professional feel but I feel I’m reading ideas from two different comics. I’m reminded of going to see the film ‘Sunshine’ which started out as a straightforward sci-fi character piece and literally in the blink of an eye turned into a horror movie. One second it was one thing, the next it was something else entirely. Both elements of the film on their own are quite good but meshed together it doesn’t quite work and that’s how I feel about this pitch.
It’s different which is good but I would have preferred a straight up gritty war story which hasn’t been done in comics for quite some time and as shown by the Oscar winning Hurt Locker can be done very, very well or more of a horror slant but both together? I’m not sure. I was reading your pitch and as soon as I read ‘shadow creature’ my eyebrows kind of went up in surprise and I became disconnected from the rest.
Your script is very well written, very professional and the first 3 pages are brilliant. This is a comic I would buy but after the supernatural element comes in it kind of loses me.
I like you Sam (I like Courtland and Jared who have been my friends for years too) and you’ve been strong throughout. Being blunt I would say your a lot more talented at this comic game than I am.
I just think you’ve got two pieces from two different jigsaws and you’ve tried to make them fit and it’s not working.
When I opened your pitch I got very excited. I don’t think it’s a big secret that I LOVE time travel stories. From Booster Gold to Doctor Who I’m a big fan and I was looking forward to seeing what you had for us.
Strategically your book could be very well placed. Given writing/drawing/production time it would lively be released around the same time as Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ which will be covering similar themes. You could have people looking for assimilate material in comic form or it might not matter in the slightest.
Your pitch draws a lot of similarities to other things in my mind. You could be describing the role of the Phantom Stranger in Kingdom Come or the Watcher and Reed Richard’s in the Marvel universe. What it reminds me of the most is the JLU episode where Lex Luthor uses the Legion of Doom to attempt to resurrect Brainiac. Moments before his plan is enabled Lex receives an ominous warning from a being from the future who name escaped me (Metron?) due to his actions bringing back ultimately bringing back Darkseid.
Now you may have no clue what I’m on about but that’s what it reminds me of. Long story short the concept of ‘ominous warning from mysterious entity’ is not a new one but can be used well in places.
The trouble is I think there’s too much mystery in your mysterious entity. Your pitch leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions about who this guy is, why Reed’s time machine is so dangerous and many others. Now I know this pitch (to my knowledge) will be released on the GH website and you want to keep some elements a secret for your potential readers should you win. This is the problem because while I appreciate that logic I shouldn’t be left asking these type of questions after your pitch. I should have a thorough idea of what your story will deliver.
As it is your pitch sounds like one giant conversation between two characters about the trials of time travel. It sounds on paper to be a very dull affair with little variation from the reader and instead a visual guide to time travel. Dialogue heavy issues can work and some of the best issues of say…Ultimate Spider-Man where the character driven ones. In those issues though the writer kept the visuals new and fresh to keep the readers interest. Here you do mention a lot about time travel and talks about that but you don’t tell me if Reed and the stranger go anywhere. Do they journey through time? Is it a flashback of the future? I’m not sure because I’m not told. I’m left to assume the entire issue is one long dialogue scene in a lab between these two characters. It just doesn’t sound particularly visually interesting and I think that might be the main problem of the pitch.
Also being a time travel fan I have to wonder if the Stranger kills Reed how does he cause the events that cause the Stranger to come back in the first place? Paradoxes in time travel stories are not only common they’re almost mandatory but it does leave me with another question.
Your script is good overall. There’s a few off points that jumped out on me. Two points were Lisa not calling her boss Richard instead of Dr. Allen. They likely have known each other for years but generally it is rare for a secretary to be so informal no matter how close she might be with her employer.
The other point is how casually Richard responds to this Stranger in his lab. You say he has an odd appearance but Richard doesn’t seem at all freaked out and very politely asks him to leave.
Both are minor points. Both are fixable but they just stuck out to me. It is a good 5 pages if not a little slow paced.
However if we’re looking at over 20 pages of dialogue this could be just setting the tone.
On paper it would make a lot of time travel fans happy but as a comic reader it would probably be rather dull. I’m left with too many unanswered questions and wondering if I really want to read about two guys talking about the perils of time travel when I can pop in Back To The Future Part II and watch Doc Brown explain it on a chalkboard in 5 minutes.
There’s something here but I think it’s buried under everything else.
One of the classic novels I’m a big fan of is ‘The Picture Of Dorian Grey’ and some elements of this story reminds me of that. In some ways Julia is sacrificing her life to Courtney (the character in the book). So it’s kind of a reverse unintentional Dorian Gray where Julia’s continued use of the book leads to her misfortune rather than her benefit.
Another think it reminds me of is the (in my view) Underrated ‘Wes Craven’s New Nightmare’ which was doing self referential meta stories before it was cool. In the movie the characters from the Nightmare On Elm Street movies take on a creature who is trying to break into our world that sounds similar to the one trapped in Julia’s book. This creature is not Freddy Kruger but takes on his form but in the case of your book it can seemingly be defeated like how the red sweatered murdered can…by ignoring it.
Again just what my mind is drawn to but they are both very god concepts and in particular the last one is not one to my recollection I have seen before or since.
I think your book has a solid concept and I like the almost horror movie feel of it. Horror volumes have always been a big hit for us and this reads like an extended version of something that would belong in any of our Abyss volumes. It reads like an old fashioned horror movie (as does even the opening to your script which we’ll get to in a moment).
There are a few typo’s in your script and it could have maybe used another quick look over. I’d be careful of that when doing a pitch like this at this stage with typo’s. They were few and far between but keep mindful of them.
That being said your pitch caught my interest but I would have liked to have a tad more detail in some regards. Would we see the world inside the book and outside? It would be interesting if we could maybe have different art styles for both, that type of thing. I’m assuming there would be both sides of the coin so to speak but I’d rather you told me that rather than be left guessing.
Your script is good but you do have some pages which are very panel heavy. You have 20 pages to play with and I understand you’re wanting to grip us but choose your panels closely.
That being said I loved the first few pages and if we could trim a panel count and some typo’s here and there is a solid start to a full script.
Very well done.
Courtland, Jared, and Sam I just want to congratulate you all on making it this far. You’ve all put a ton of work into this competition, and you stuck it out the whole way when so many others had to bow out. You all took very different paths here, but you all showed a creative spark that makes me feel honored to be working at Grayhaven with you.
Now, on to the projects. You all showed some real promise, and came up with a trio of intriguing concepts. I’ll post the judges’ final thoughts after I announce the winner, so you can get a closer look at exactly what we liked and didn’t.
Courtland, you chose to go with a sci-fi concept, making your pitch stand out from the rest of the horror pitches. Also, the judges are big fans of time travel, and the story had a very promising concept, dealing with some heady concepts. Your script was very detailed and well-organized. However, the judges felt that the story you gave us was very dialogue-heavy, and didn’t have enough meat to it to fill a 22-page comic without some major changes.
Jared, you took a rather time-worn concept of a cursed object destroying a family, and gave it a new twist. A book that tells the secrets of the protagonist, in a way? That’s something I haven’t seen before. We thought your cast of characters were the most compelling of the three pitches as well. However, we did have some quibbles. The dialogue between husband and wife seemed off at times, and we weren’t sure about the pitch ending on a cliffhanger. However, it was very effective and creepy.
Sam, you had the most unique setting of the three, with a horror/ghost story set in the heat of the Iraq War. Your characters were less fleshed-out than the other two pitches, but it worked for the story, in that we’re seeing the story through their eyes and picking up in the middle of the action. Your script was very strong, with a great grasp of action scenes. However, the judges felt the dialogue for the spirit was a bit wonky and too lighthearted. Your pitch was also plagued by occasional grammar and spelling errors. The core, however, was very strong.
You all had elements we liked in your pitch, and elements we had issues with. There will be time to sort out the quibbles for the winner in development. I can tell you this was a close vote. It was a vote of 3-1 among the judges, but all four of us picked the winner by a slim margin. So that being said…
Jared. You’re HIRED!
Congratulations to everyone for a great season, and stay tuned for news on future seasons at some point.
Challenge #8- Task (The One Shot)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/14/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-8-the-final-project/
Challenge #- Completed Projects- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/27/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-the-final-projects/
Challenge #7- Task (The Pitch)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/09/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-7-the-pitch/
Challenge #7 (Completed Projects)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/13/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-7-completed-projects/
Challenge #7 (The Results)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/14/grayhaven-comic-apprentice-challenge-7-final-results/
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/
Challenge #6 (Boardroom/Results)- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/09/09/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-challenge-6-boardroom-and-results/
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/
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/
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- 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- Boardroom- http://www.grayhavencomics.com/2013/08/04/grayhaven-comics-apprentice-2nd-challenge-the-boardroom/