An exhausting day today spent watching every NFL game televised (and that was all of ’em, folk!).  God bless the NFL package provided by my local satellite provider.  At one point, I was flipping between five different games in order to track the progress of my fantasy roster.  Looks like week 9 was kind to my Snow Monkeys who are poised to notch their fourth victory of the season and put them within sniffing distance of a playoff spot.  Provided their fifty-some point lead heading into tonight holds.  I won’t jinx it by declaring the win but let’s just say I’m feeling confident.  Still, I’d like to give credit where credit is due.  Thanks to RB Arian Foster for yet another monster game.  Thanks also go out to Atlanta QB Matt Ryan, Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff, and the Ravens D (nice to have you back, Mr. Reed) who between ’em served up a little under 43 points.  Thanks for nothing to Chargers RB Darren Sproles, a purported week 9 sleeper who ended up doing just that – sleepwalking through his game enroute to a 0.90 point outing.  And thanks-in-progress to Green Bay RB Brandon Jackson, the latest addition to the Snow Monkey line-up via trade, who is well on his way to a killer game versus the hapless Dallas Cowboys.

I’m sorry.  I don’t want to give the impression that all I did today was watch football.  I did stop to eat and drink.  And, this morning, I did spend about an hour revising those my scripts for the first two issues of my (coming soon!) comic book series.  Damn, scripting for comics can be damn tricky.  Some of the biggest challenges I keep coming up against:

1) Keeping the panel per page count down.  Ideally, you want average about five panels a page.  You’ve got to keep your story concise, but entertaining.

2) Saving the dramatic reveals for the next page.  You time the beats so they build on one page, then deliver that visual or dialogue revelation on the following page.  What you’re gunning for is, quite literally, a page-turner.

3) Knowing when to go big.  Like I said, I’m trying to average about five panels per page.  Some might have  a little more, some a little less, but five feels about right.  But the occasional page may just have one big glorious panel.  I figure these are like Jagermeister shots.  You want to go easy on ’em, so it’s a matter of being very selective about when you splash.

4) Given the limited amount of space available, another obvious challenge is to keep inform the reader without bogging down the narrative.  The script guide my editor sent me warned writers to keep the word count down to 25 words per dialogue balloon, 50 words per panel and limit the per panel exchanges to, at most, a comment, a response, and a counter-response.  ‘taint easy.

5) Do comic book writers still use thought balloons?  They strike me as kind of old-fashioned, so I’ve avoided using them in my scripts.  Of course, that just meant I had to find another way to convey what my characters are thinking.  It forces you to be more subtle in your approach – and I prefer subtle (ie. check out the set up and final reveal in my short story, “Downfall”, appearing in the Lou Anders Masked anthology of superhero-themed fiction).

By the way, with regard to those creative head shots I displayed in a previous post.  Yes, the Indy Volker was compliments of our very own Chevron7.  Not to be outdone, actor Jamil Walker Smith (SGU’s Master Sergeant Ronald Greer) put his own photoshopping skills on display…

Looking ahead to a short week on the production side.  Prep on Stargate: Universe’s second season ends as we head into production on the season finale, Gauntlet.

27 thoughts on “November 7, 2010: Snow Monkeys about to win! The challenges of scripting comics! Jamil’s new, personalized head shot!

  1. Hey, Joe!
    When I was reading the comments from yesterday’s blog, I started making a list of various things that various people mentioned that they would like changed about SGU… it’s interesting how some of the things on the list contradict each other. Anyway here is a list of what some of those people mentioned that they did NOT want to see on SGU (or what turned them off of SGU)… so if you can null all of these items from every episode then that should make everybody happy!

    -shaky camera
    -too dark (however in HD & on the Blu-Ray dvds it is not noticeable as it is during the SyFy broadcast)
    -too much focus on “life” issues (divorce, emotions, self-control, selfishness, alcohol, sex, pecking order, death, etc.) not enough sci-fi
    -too sci-fi, not realistic
    -too much talking, not enough action
    -too much focus on relationships
    -the people don’t get along, they are locked up in ship together so they should be friends by now
    -space travel, not enough Earth focus
    -time travel
    -military vs. civilians
    -death of funny/interesting characters
    -boring characters
    -lack of humor
    -“dream sequences” that aren’t real

    …hey, Joe, just a thought… you & Paul should go on The Amazing Race!

    Okay, originally I was going to say you & Carl… but he seems more the Survivor type! 

  2. Hello.


    What would I watch on tuesday nights if all that was eliminated? -And don’t say reality TV. 😉

    The Bourne films (one of my favorites) use the shaking camera to great effect, and come to think of it, SGU has a very Jason Bourne feel to

  3. Hello.


    What would I watch on tuesday nights if all that was eliminated? -And don’t say reality TV. 😉

    The Bourne films (one of my favorites) use the shaking camera to great effect, and come to think of it, SGU has a very Jason Bourne feel to it. With an obvious SciFi (excuse me…) SyFy twist to it.

    The dark tone fits the show perfectly, and many fans will remember the original 1994 release of the Stargate feature was VERY dark before subsequent DVD and the first Blu-ray release tried to butcher the hell out of the picture by artificially brightening it to the point that it looked unnatural.

    I won’t get into the lack of humor debate because Eli brings more humor to the show than James Spader did in the original feature film. In short, I and many fans feel the show is perfect. I understand that a lot of fans who were introduced to the franchise by SG-1 disagree with me, and I understand and respect that, but if you look at the 15th anniversary edition of the Stargate Feature film, you will see that from a stylistic standpoint, it is closer in tone to SGU than to any of the other series.

    Check it out for kicks in a rainy day and see if you agree with me.

    Best Wishes.


  4. @Lewis

    Sorry if I sound like an @s5 there, I didn’t mean to suggest that this was entirely your opinion, and know that you are just pointing out what the divided fan base has commented about. 🙂

    Best Wishes,


  5. Dear Joe;

    As usual, the cast rocked what they were given. But really big shout outs to both David and Brian for some excellent work in “Trial and Error”. While Louis had to feed to Brian, Brian did some fine subtle knock-it-out-of-the-park work.

    It was also nice seeing a different side to Greer.

    – Brandon

    p.s. – Can you please use magic of some type to stop people from not liking me simply because I liked SG1 and SGA a lot and like SGU a lot as well? It’s bumming me out.

    p.s.s. – And to those people out there in the world who think the end of the episode undermined what happened in it … you really do need to understand things better. In no way did it undermine anything. Sheesh

  6. I’ve heard #2 about children’s books (good ones, anyway). That’s where the normal mom’s voice pitches up a little as she finishes that last hanging statement and turns the page wide-eyed.

    Me, I’m usually trying to catch my breath from whatever throat-stripping shriek I added to the characters so that Cucumber Soup doesn’t turn into soul-crushing boredom for me. It gets hard to slow down and count cucumber-pushing grasshoppers for toddlers when your own entertainment choices have been far from that pace.


    My little grandniece, Baby T, was born last month. She’s had a hard time. She has a severe case of De Morsier’s Syndrome. The resulting diabetes insipidus is her biggest challenge right now.

    Looking toward the future, there is hope to more fully generate her optic nerves through umbilical stem cell treatments in China. If I hadn’t followed Jelly’s progress, I’d have thought the whole concept was snake oil so knowing there’s hope for her sight is encouraging. I have plans in the works that should help me be able to contribute to financing the treatments.

  7. Just coming up for air…

    I just finished Relic. Whew! Blew through 300 pages in two evenings, my heart in my throat, knees drawn up protectively as I crammed myself as tight as I could into the corner of my couch, jumping at every little noise my cat made in the next room. Right when I got to a part where the beast was sniffing at a door, Mr. Das – sound asleep in the bedroom – let out a heavy breath, and all the little hairs on the back of my neck stood straight up. I’m used to reading mystery stories, and used to reading adventure, but NOT used to reading SCARY!!! Next time, I only read one of these books by DAYLIGHT!

    Now I gotta go read a couple comics to settle down. Never thought I’d see gory Wolverine comics as ‘light reading’. 😛

    Speaking of comics…Joe, I’ll drop you an e-mail. 😉


  8. @B.M.W.
    No offense taken, I get what u were meaning. That checklist was just “tongue-in-cheek” based upon what people wrote yesterday. If everybody w/ different opinions came together, ..then it would just be a big group of people w/ different opinions. It doesn’t matter what the writers/producers/actors on SGU do because they’ll never please everybody, so they might as well stay true to what the product is meant to be. Personally, I like where SGU is going; it keeps getting better and seems to be building steam as the season goes along (and I really can’t wait for the back half of the season, the tidbits of info about those episodes make me count the days until they air in April). I totally agree w/ what u said about the SG motion picture vs. SGU (hey, that reminds me, I remember hearing a while back that they were in talks to make 2 sequels to the original motion picture to come out in 2012-13 or something… totally different storyline than SG-1 or any of the TV shows, because it’s a totally different production group). And as for humor in the original motion picture, I don’t think there was any in it was there? Well except for the fact that French Stewart played a “tough” military type. The funniest part of the motion picture was the marionette re-enactment in episode 200.
    I started watching SG-1 when it first came out on dvd because of RDA and instantly got hooked because of the camaraderie and great storytelling, long before I ever saw the motion picture. SGU may not have the same characteristics as SG-1, but that’s fine because the show is called SGU not SG-1:the 3rd series. SGU has the same great storytelling, but from a different perspective. It’s really more like the old hollywood serials… SGU’s biggest downfall is that it can only be seen one episode at a time per week; it’s when SGU is shown in consecutive order all in a row that you truly realize just how masterful the storytelling is!
    And one point about it being too dark on the Destiny…. the ship is how many millions of years old?? Just how bright do people honestly think a ship that old would be? Even the Energizer Bunny would’ve lost its mojo after all those years!

  9. @Bryan: I agree with the Bourne feel to Stargate, especially starting with some of the Atlantis segments. I think BamBam does a great job and the stunts do have a very “Bourne” quality to them. I actually saw a documentary on maybe it was the history channel asking if the stunts on Bourne were close to what real agents do and there was a resounding yes to that. The fights are quick and lethal. Real agents do use common everyday things around them as weapons and/or items to defend themselves (like a rolled up newspaper or magazine). They took specific scenes of the movie and broke it down on whether it was close to reality. It was a wonderful documentary.

    @DP — Hugs to Baby T and everyone. I know you all will do everything possible to help your niece and her family through the journey ahead.

    @Lewis: Proof that you’ll never please everyone. I find it funny that there are two extremes though to SGU. Either people love it or they hate it. I haven’t met many middle-of-the-roadsters.

  10. @ Lewis – Wolverine AND Todd…

    This is how I see it…Wolverine rejuvenates, right? Well, Todd could suck him nearly dry, and eventually Wolvie would bounce right back…Todd wouldn’t even have to puke that yummy gift of lifestuffs back into him. It would be a perfect symbiotic relationship! Todd, of course, would have to provide something in return to keep Wolverine from cutting his head off. You could say that the pain of his life slipping away would be gift enough, seeing how ol’ Wolvie tends to be a bit of a masochist. But I’m thinking something a bit more…well…useful. I’m thinking…Todd the Pimp. 🙂

    See…girls love Todd (PROVEN FACT!), but, really…what is Todd going to do with a girl? First chance he gets he’s gonna flex those lovely fingers of his and give her a wicked-mean hand hickey from hell, that’s what he’s gonna do. But here’s ol’ Wolvie, and he loves girls! Thing is, he’s a busy fella. How can he find a gal when he’s out fighting the Hulk every other issue??! Plus…he’s…ya know…got back hair. 😛 So, he dangles the bait (i.e. sends I’m So Sexy Todd out to the nearest Goth bar), and then reels ’em in (i.e. ‘bring me a broad, and it’s kibbles and bits time, Fido!’). This is the beauty of it all…just follow it through…Wolverine has his bit of fun, Todd gets din-din, Wolverine shrivels up like a Shrinky Dink, girl wakes up and freaks out ’cause she thinks she just had sex with a Tribble, and out the door she flies…right into Todd’s waiting arms. 😈 No ‘call me laters’, no crazy stalker-ex-girlfriend scenes, no complications…no nothing. And both get what they want – Todd his food, Wolverine his women. It’d be the perfect relationship! (I’d read the hell out of a book like that!)



  11. I guess I’ll throw in my 2 cents. I didn’t have cable when Universe premiered. I had to watch it on Hulu and did as soon as it showed up for the first half of Season 1. Then I didn’t have access to broadband internet either. I’ve seen episodes 11-12 and 19-20 of the back of season 1. I’ve started watching it on cable this season so I’m caught up.

    I think it really has to go back to the characters. I write some and I understand a little of how hard it is to make characters that work with an audience. It seems like so often the characters are just reacting to each other. It’s far more interesting when you see the characters dealing with a non-character situation (such as in Time) and their personalities and issues are explored in how they dealt with that situation.

    For whatever reason, when you see them reacting to interpersonal situations it is just not very interesting or appealing. There’s less of that in Season 2 obviously but that’s where I felt season 1 struggled early.

  12. @PBMom, when Universe started I think I was a “middle-of-the-roadster”. I didn’t love it nor did I hate it. There was stuff that I liked (Eli, the ship, more realistic, darker tone) and stuff that I didn’t (the stones & earth stuff) though. Then, Young hit Rush and left him for dead. Though that shocking and great acting/writing. And the second half of the first season appeared and I started to love the show.

    I also love that the second season has cut back on the stones a bit and its focusing more on the ship. I’ve been enjoying the heck out of Season 2 so far. “Trial And Error” was so cool. I liked that it was just a “dream” instead of a premotion or a Cause & Effect (TNG) type of thing.

    I’m excited about the upcoming episodes. What little I’ve heard so far sounds great. I’m really going to miss this show when it takes a break. And if Syfy ever cancels it, I’ve decided to stop watching the network. I can catch other shows like Warehouse 13, Eureka, even Blood & Chrome via Netflix. I’m VERY unhappy that Syfy canceled Caprica. I was loving the whole Universe/Caprica Tuesday nights. If Universe went, there goes my reason for watching the network Live.

    Anyway, there’s something else I want to say: I liked SG-1 a lot and I thought Atlantis was good, but Universe is my favorite Stargate now. Its a great series and has potential to be as great as Battlestar, Babylon 5, and Farscape. 🙂

  13. Hello Joe !

    News on television films, Exinction and Revolution?

    Thank you very much !

  14. You should load up your Snow Monkeys with whomever the Dallas Cowboys are playing next. Ya can’t lose. Do you think your Monkeys could give the Cowboys some pointers?

  15. that photoshop has me worrying about jamil’s mental health. Must be dealing with the writers and producers getting to him…
    glad to see the Snow Monkeys are fighting their way back into championship contention. Even if the majority of players you name as your team mean nothing to me. I’ve got enough obsessions and addictions as it is. I dropped out of the football pool a couple of years ago because I found myself watching too much football(for me, that means more than 1 game a day) on weekends. I’ve come to the conclusion that it has to be a y chromosome thing that allows certain people to tolerate so much game watching in so short a time period.
    So, when do we get a release date on the comic? wouldn’t want to miss picking up your latest project on the first day possible.
    I’ll second the idea the you and Paul should do the Amazing Race. It would at least prove that Paul is not just some actor you hire for the occasional photo op, and is in fact a real person and writing partner. and it would be entertaining to see how the two of you handle the stresses of the show.
    Still waiting on doggie updates, and a small mailbag would be appreciated. Despite those slight flaws, great post. Thanks for taking the time to keep us updated.


  17. I hope Monday Night Football will be kind to our northern primate friends of wintry extraction.

    I got to chat with author Peter Clines at a writerly gathering and after I raved about Masked, Mr. Clines told me about his new zombie-superhero novel “Ex-Heroes,” it looks very cool. While I was in LA I got more delicious little Japanese rice crackers wrapped in wafer thin seaweed from the Famima’s; very tasty.

    Thanks for explaining the comix process; I’m comfy with the novel and screenwriting formats but comic scripts have long mystified me.

    I’m off to purchase copious amounts of Emergen-C and Zicam to combat the effusive coughing of the girl next to me on the plane ride this weekend.

  18. Lol speaking of TV I had to get my box replaced recently. It dropped like half of the channels. The ones I watch ironically enough, wasn’t happy lol

  19. When you are writing your comic, do you make little doodles or stick figures to try to frame the dialog on the page? If so, I’d love to see your “artwork” some day!

    This project sounds really interesting, I look forward to the final product!

  20. and @Julie Merritt – you have to find some con reports on Chris Heyerdahl from this past weekend, it seems he “ships” (or slashes, whatever) Todd/Sheppard too!

  21. I’ve not advertised my regular reviews of the SGU episodes before on this blog, but drastic times deserve drastic steps. I missed 3 episodes (some of my favorites) because of my kidney stone issue (2nd surgery coming up soon), but I got back into the groove with Cloverdale and here is Trial and Error:

    The site gets a lot of traffic and hopefully I’ve added enough tags to get it at the top of the list for a Google search.

  22. Hello,

    As some of you are aware, my blog provides extensive coverage on both Stargate Universe and the upcoming Stargate Movies, Stargate Extinction and Stargate Revolution.

    We recently launched a new Facebook and all are invited to join. To join, please follow the link below.By joining you will be able to keep up with the latest site updates related to Stargate.

    Thanks and I hope you will join!

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