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I posted this in the introductions section but I think I need to post it here.

I recently finished a Christian Webcomic,

Johnny B. Goode

I have been working on ideas for several years for old school 50s style Superhero comics with Christian Characters. I have a lot of Ideas but I'm not a great writer, anyway let me know what you think. I can't seem to get any feedback. Please tell me honestly. I'm not going to change this Johnny B. Goode story but it could help me with the next one. I eventually want to introduce my Christian superhero group The Shock Squad into this 1950s world and have stories involving doctrine, christian issues, apologetics, and biblical teaching using superheros fighting evil as the metaphor of spiritual warfare.

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Paula Richey said:

Hi Christopher :) Welcome!
The art looks classic and while not groundbreaking (and not meant to be), it's technically sound. The overall effect is charmingly retro :)

As far as the story, I think the pacing is slow and there's a lot of rather circular interior monologuing going on. What do Milly and Johnny see in each other? She has nice eyes, he's a Christian, and this has kept them going 3 months even though he keeps ducking out on her a la Clark Kent? He doesn't even attempt to ask her what she thinks of anything vaguely related to what he's up to? Kendall could be interesting, but the closest we come to interacting with him is a wristwatch.

Your dialogue between characters is quite good - also charmingly retro - but all the exposition in the interior monologue is killing your forward momentum and suspense. I'd rather hear about how the stakes are being raised - Milly's been dropping a lot of hints about how she appreciates honesty, or Johnny has some nagging suspicion that Kendall isn't all he says he is, or some specific worry about the kidnap victim (idk, kidnapped from a hospital room? Has asthma that's triggered by stress? Johnny's met this kid, and he's a total punk, but part of being the good guy is saving punks too?) Something for Johnny to think about other than, "As you know, Self, this is where my powers come from..."

Other than that, I think this could turn into something really cool - my mind is going to time travel, since the concept's already introduced with Kendall, and it would be fun to keep the retro style.

I am not a fan of Prayer Power, but it works for some people, and if it works for you, that's what counts. :)

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Well Paula thanks for the critique. As I said before I'm not a great writer, I'm not really a writer at all but I've had some stories in mind for many years. I'm going to keep trying though and this time I'm going to go full script before I draw the story. I did this one Marvel Style pictures first and then wrote the dialogue. I've been working for years on my Shock Squad comic ^above^ and hit a dead end. I have about 15 pages of artwork but the story is awful. I did research on the 1950s extensively and know all my characters well. But doing a team book is difficult. I decided to start with a solo hero and later introduce The Shock Squad and spin them off into their own story.

I don't know anything about pacing and all that. Hopefully I can learn. I wanted to introduce the characters and set them up. In the next story I want to deal with Johnny and Millicent and the lying and their relationship. I want to do it against a backdrop of villians robbing banks and Johnny and some other local superheroes helping Johnny take them down. One of the heroes is a superhero from the future he has ties to Charles Kendall and the technology from the future. I don't want to show Kendall for a while.

My goal here is that Johnny Grant is a 50s kind of guy, but he is very sensitive inside but back then he couldn't express any of that. He's torn up that he can't tell the one person he loves the truth. If she isn't  "the ONE" he risks a lot by telling her his secret but as a Christian he feels he has to. The prayer power thing didn't work out the way I wanted it to. I wanted to evoke a Samson sort of thing, his suit has augumented strength but some of it was that and his faith. This is not his "superpower".


Richie Stoneman "the Kid" and his Dad J.B. Stoneman end up financially backing Superheroes later on. Ice King breaks out later and comes back to cause trouble.

All of this eventually will lead to the Shock Squad being formed, I've even thought of putting Johnny in the group now.


I don't know how this works but would anyone be willing to help me write stories or if I post them here or e-mail them to them give me tips on how to improve them?

C.J.

Johnny was loosely based on Sky Wizard a Public Domain character.

Mr. Lee, I was quite taken with your original tale. It had me from panel 1, and took me right through. It felt very much like early Spider-Man.

I thought the pacing was spot on - and you nailed the 50's pastiche. For an introductory story, I'm dying to find out how Johnny and Milly are going to resolve their issues.

I think a really fun thing to explore is if Johnny is a stand-up believer, then how does he reconcile lying according to his faith? He will have to out his truth eventually - or he will lose Milly completely. (But does she have lies of her own?) This could be a very fascinating topic to explore, and in this format, very potent. (I just read your explanation fully and it's all the same...sorry for reiterating what you already know.)

Frankly, I don't think your stories need to be very complicated. Just have the characters do what they do. This is kind of heralding back to younger more innocent times, and is like a breath of fresh air. The thing you have going for this is, you can learn from the mistakes of the early "bad writers" and just tweak to be more modern in the dialog/caption.

You have established:
- ongoing villain - external conflict (though of course, you can have a new villain every time).

-The lying - internal conflict

-The rich benefactor (can become like the guy who provides new toys and gadgets)

- Spiritual principles (the power of prayer - though if he's lying, will his prayer be heard? So then this would obviously lead to repentance.) Also, maybe the prayers can be answered in unique ways - perhaps when he prayed for freedom from the ice, someone somewhere was boiling a vat of water, and it accidentally spilled therefore melting the ice, setting him free.

My only quibbles: Maybe the dialog could be a touch sharper -like who's Kendall? You can still leave the mystery as to who he is, but as it stands, the way the dialog works, it feels like something is missing...  Almost like all you need to do is add a last name, or some sort of job title or what the relationship is to Johnny - or why did Kendall give Johnny the suit as opposed to using it himself, or what is it Johnny owes him (hence the reason for him being a hero). It can be simple, short and sweet, just like the dialog, but it needs to be there instead of feeling like a dangling afterthought.

And when the bad guy starts spouting about Ruby, it feels like there should be some minor explanation. Or even in the first dialog balloon, saying "...my girl Ruby". The first balloon it sounds like he's talking about a jewel...you clarify later, but it should be established up front.

Sometimes, you might still want to keep with the hokey captions - like when his watch goes off - "Just as Johnny and Milly get comfortable..."

It just felt empty when hitting that panel, and the watch was flashing. (That's just me).

So, Mr. Lee, for my money, if you were to keep your stories straightforward, and nothing too complex, I think you'll do just fine.

Story ideas:

-Going to work - does he have to deal with a crime problem on the way - and how does he tell his boss why he's late?

- Sets up another date with Milly but this time he doesn't even show.

- Perhaps he's ambushed, escapes, but is badly hurt, stashes his costume and crawls to Milly's door for help...but when she asks what happens he refuses to answer.

- Maybe eventually he's outgunned, and needs to go to the benefactor to get new tools in his campaign against crime.

- I think it would be hilarious and neat if you actually ended up having the Ice King just be a misunderstood person (who for some reason can't ever come up with a straightforward way of getting to his girl Ruby), is eventually helped by Johnny, helping her and Ice King being reconciled.

- Maybe have Johnny tell Milly upfront - because the lying is just eating away at him, and then you can have several episodes dealing with if she wants to be with a man who is a Superhero.

Of course, everything leads up to the eventual happy marriage of Milly and Johnny ;)

You told the entire story in 40 PANELS. That's all it took. Keep the same pattern for future stories, and the skies the limit. Again, keep it simple, and since you know your characters so well, I think the stories will write themselves. All you really have to do is come up with a simple everyday thing for Johnny or Milly to do, and then work your way from there. Based on the previous story, have Johnny call Milly up for their next date. Have him say he felt badly, and he's going to explain, but needs to do it in person...then he doesn't show.. and boom. You're off to the races.

Martin,
You guessed a few points i am working into the next story. Johnny is going to call Millicent for another date and I haven't decided how she will respond. All this is going to happen as robberies take place that Johnny has to attend to. I'm glad you enjoyed the story. If i had found this site before i wrote it i could've avoided some of the problems you and Paula mentioned.
I will be posting a rough draft or outline of the second story soon as in a week or two and hope you will offer more feedback and ideas.
Chris Jones

Hello Christopher,

I enjoyed your work very much. I think your writing matches the wonderful art and effects (I love the aged paper look) very well. Your story reminds me of the early Batman and Superman stories I used to read in the library's book collections, and I really think you've got the talent to maek Johnny B. Goode and the Shock Squad work wonders.

My impressions were that you could trim his thoughts wording when he's jumping the fence just a little bit. It just felt a tad wordy to me.

"Kendall has everything. He knew the exact route Ice King would take". I can easily accept Kendall being from the future and some kind of mentor/guru, but this line made me stop and disengage from the story and go 'If Kendall knows the future, why didn't he have Johnny stop the crime before it happened?'

Perhaps change the wording of '...getting Ruby back' to 'getting my girl Ruby back' to clarify the situation a little.

And that's all I would ask you to consider changing, if you were to revisit this episode in the future. Honestly my overall experience reading your story was one of delight and excitement. I loved the classic comic age feel, it's wonderful and you do it so well. I like the dialogue and the way no two of your characters sound alike when they talk, something I need to work on myself. A very very promising beginning to your Comic world!

I decided not to change any of the story once it officially was posted. When i originally did it i posted it on my facebook page 4 panels a day for 2 weeks. I made it editable then but have since flattened the artwork.
The inner monologue is something i need to work on. Several people have mentioned that. I have been annoyed that most comics don't use thought bubbles anymore and i think they are a great tool that comics have. Kendall is Charles Kendall and i have a picture of him in my shock squad folder. He has technology from a Superhero from the future who appears in the next story. Kendall has a kind of GPS that he used and i eventually will explain it.
Ice King is in love with a bad villian girl named Ruby who doesn't care for him he's delusional. He is also messed up because of his frozen state.
Comparing my work to old Batman and Superman is a huge compliment. I'm going for 50s DC with 60s Marvel type stories and Christian sensibilities.

Same advice I gave to Nathan(?), you finished, this, keep moving forward! NEXT!


Excited to see where the next one goes.

Martin

@Martin from reading your earlier reply does this mean comics are not dead?

This made me happy. Normally, when someone does a retro comic nowadays - adopts its mentality, its method, its spirit - it's with irony and parody in mind. But you didn't do that here. There wasn't this self-referential meta acknowledgment that the bad guy has a freeze ray or that the girlfriend said "you better show me a nice time" - there wasn't this realization at all that these retro style comics are so much simpler and enduring, and silly but genuine. And speaking as someone who is very cynical and sarcastic, I thought it was refreshing. Loved it. 

Thank you Steven.
I really want to capture some real human emotion and problems with these comics. I love the silver age comics so much i really live there in my imagination. But it wasn't all wonderful and it wasn't all silly either. The 50s was the last of America's innocence but we took it for granted. Everyone went to church but no one knew their Bible. The rebellion of the 60s was a ticking time bomb. Everyone dressed right and acted right but inside there was the struggle such as women and minorities with equality and ideas that were promoted as Biblical but were really just empty rules. I want to explore some of that but not get too bogged down and miss the point.
I want to entertain but more than that maybe make people think about their spiritual walk the kind of battle of the mind we as Christians are engaged in.
Some people won't get any of that but i'm glad if they like it.
Sorry Sven, i called you Steven.

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