Friday, June 21, 2013

Comic Book Heroes by Matthew Arnold Stern

Thank you for checking out this week's Feedback Friday review. This week, Matthew Arnold Stern shares the first 10 pages of his screenplay Comic Book Heroes.

Comic Book Heroes by Matthew Arnold Stern. 

Reviewed by Erman Baradi

Genre: Comedy

Logline: Four college roommates search for a famous comic book author who disappeared. 


It was a pleasure reading the first ten pages of your screenplay. Heroes was a fun read and I definitely would love to see where you go with this. 

Let's start off with your logline. Several ways I can think of to make it stronger and pack more of a punch is:

1. Spice it by letting us know what is at stake for the roommates. What's in it for them? We want to know how we can connect with our protagonists. Do they have a connection with the author?

2. Is there a time constraint? How long do they have to find him? Limiting the heroes' time to find the author would up the ante in terms of consequence. What happens if they don't find the author?

3. Are they overcoming other obstacles (personal, physical, emotional) amidst their search that would hinder their goal?

4. Maybe add an adjective to describe the roommates to let us know what the genre is (ie. Are they "inept" or "senseless?"). Heck, maybe they are fanboys and stoners.

Your first page has me hooked as we dive right into pages of the aforementioned comic. The story within the story is action-packed and makes me want to know more about the comic book. Nice visual aspect in the first scene with the flipping of the comic book pages to produce an animated feel. Here, female protagonist Amy narrates a script she is writing based on the roommates' favorite comic book. I like the surprise here where one of the roommates' interrupts the narration, bringing us into the real world and introducing us to the characters, whereby he expresses his disappointment in Amy's straying from the source material/canon. Maybe a little wink to Hollywood? It made me laugh a bit. There are a few notes here though. In Amy's character description I personally would hold back from describing her as a "21-year-old English major at Fullerton" when all we hear is her voice at the beginning. Perhaps wait to describe her until the narration ends and we finally see her physically. Even then, her choice in major and college is not something we can acknowledge visually. The dialogue a few pages in does, however, help explain that for you. Also, in the narration since Amy is a V.O., I would indicate the character she is voicing by writing AMY/HEROINE or AMY/VILLAIN. Visually, on the script, it would help the reader understand quicker who she is voicing rather than having to read back the action above.

I like the interplay between the four roommates a lot! Total geekdom, passionate about the material. They all have a role in the following week's "ThrillerCon," for which they are trying to complete the story, their costumes, etc. (They are submitting script to fan fiction contest at the convention) Their individual needs and voices are distinct here. 

Page 4 has talking heads. I suggest breaking the dialogue up with small action here and there for the characters. Also, I begin to understand the double entendre in the title. Clever!

I commend you so far on the writing of the character. It is a realistic portrayal of college students from their wardrobes to their habits, from their frustrations to their goals (the superficial and the career-oriented), and from their distresses to their vices. I believe the demographic can really relate to the characters, especially comic book nerds! Personally, I would spread out divulging into Trent's issues. That way it feels like we are growing with him and are on a journey. Letting us know it all in one scene of dialogue feels like it's more explanation than dialogue. Otherwise, the touches with him becoming what his father wants him to be has been seen many times before but is still reality-based. He, like many college students, are at an identity crisis I look forward to exploring as the story progresses. 

Page 10 ends on the introduction of a new character who seems extremely important to the story, and will potentially thrust them into their journey. Good place to introduce her. I am wanting to get to page 11 now!

Thank you for throwing in pop culture references! It feels like a must in this type of story, and you write them in naturally rather than forced, especially during discussions of the movie version of the comic book. 

Kudos for an entertaining read. The characters have appeal and the world you have structured is tailor-made for those who enjoy The Big Bang Theory or Comic Book Men. Maybe there are action sequences in the vein of Kick Ass? We shall see!

Keep writing! I'm intrigued.

If anyone is interested in reading the first ten pages of Comic Book Heroes, please email me at!


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