Zombie Pride Parade Worklog - Tim Leigh

edited June 2012 in Work Logs

This is my first effort into writing specifially in the comic format (other than when I was 8), and I understand that it may be a tough project to sell to anyone, collaborators or publishers.  If nothing else, it will be something I use to break into some good habits, but I would also love to see something come of it if I were to put in the necessary work to do so.

The concept is that a zombie outbreak occurs during, and mostly localized within, a Chicago Gay Pride Parade.  It follows the story of a group of survivors thrown together from the course of events, and the majority of the themes - other than escaping zombies - are developed in the characters conflicts with each other's lifestyles.  The group is a mixture of gay, straight, atheist, and Christian, and even though the story is clearly meant to advocate tolerance of the LGBT community, it also tries to give each character a chance to see from their point of view.  The device of the "Gay Zombie" is meant to satarize how the "gay issue" is seen not only by the Christian community, but popular culture as a whole.  I've always thought it was interesting that we have our outlets for violence against others - for instance if I'm playing a video game, I have no guilt about blowing up zombies, Nazis, or ill-intentioned aliens.  The concept is intended to subtly compare that excused sense of violence with the excuses we make with how we treat the homosexual community in America and around the world.

And therein, I suppose, lies the problem.  I'm worried it's not gruesome enough to be a horror comic or wacky enough to be a humor comic.  I also know that telling an artist that I have a story that takes place during a parade may cause them to say "Hi and bye" all at once due to the volume and effort that would be required.

I currently have two 20 page scripts written.  My next step, other than getting started on issue 3, is workshopping what I've currently written to see where I can make improvements.  As I said, I understand that this project may never reach fruition, but it was a story in my head that I couldn't shake and I'll be happy once it's all on paper.  Once I've gotten what I can from this experience, I will be more able to pitch a nice concept focused on a single character that rarely goes to parades and prefers punching faces to tackling social issues.


  • You might simply establish the parade in a shot or two, and then pull the action off to the side... a cafe, apartment, alley. Makes life a little easier on the artist and allows you to focus more clearly on the story. An artist who won't do a few panels of parade isn't one you want to work with.
  • True. It would also be difficult to keep them alive for long in the thick of the parade. Thanks for the perspective on working with an artist.
  • once the zombie apocalypse starts, does the gay pride parade even matter? to meet the setting seems forced, or simply a comedic prop. and that could offend people. the setting should be integral to the story, if you are choosing such an unusual setting. I like the idea are examining gay culture and homophobia, but I worry about the delivery.
  • edited June 2012
    You're absolutely right @RussellLissau.  The parade itself won't matter so much as it's simply a device for bringing this variety of characters together and setting them up in a highly infected area.  Obviously, once the outbreak occurs, it isn't so much a parade as it is a highly populated area that has been infected.  There is some comedic affect intended in aspects of the setting, but more so at the expense of the more closed minded characters who have difficulty fully interpretting the cause and gravity of the events.  I too am sensitive about my delivery coming off as offensive, and am trying to take great precautions to avoid that from coming across in the story.  But I definitely see your point, it may not be entirely possible.
  • Regarding Marv's suggestion: A script I recently gave to an artist to draw opens with a big and busy party scene, which I wrote with the comfortable knowledge that I wouldn't have to draw it myself. :) I then asked him to zoom in for a little character introduction, allowing the crowd to get pushed to the sides and background, then after one more crowd panel, sent the two main characters into another room, where the remainder of the story takes place. In the first panel description I'm pretty sure I included a note to the artist (unknown at the time) reassuring him that the crowd scene was just for establishing the setting, so he could have fun with it instead of worrying about having to draw it over and over.
  • The toughest bit of storytelling I ever pulled off was a party scene. (Actually, a wake.) Choreographing the way the camera moves through the room, while the different groups of people move through the three planes... we worked our asses off to get that right. 

    It's not a flashy piece of work but I'm still proud of that scene. 

    Never saw print. I think I broke the artist with it. (Although he did pencil a further 10 pages before quitting.)
  • Thank you Jasons Quest and Franks, this is very good to consider.  I had the foresight not to dwell on the parade itself and mostly use an establishing shot before the zombie bedlam.  It is my philosophy that people who want a zombie story want to see the zombies very quickly.  Show the outbreak first, then jump back and show the characters getting there before it happens.  @JasonAQuest, I like the note about assuring the artist they can have fun and not worry about having to reproduce the placement for a 1 time visual.  I had done something similar, but did not think to reassure them that they would not have to duplicate the crowd later.

    @JasonFranks, I hadn't thought about how that type of continuity would be such a challenge.  Not so much the challenge of continuity itself, but the difficulty in arranging complex movements for various individuals and visualizing what that would mean in future views.  It must be different to have, say, 10 people in a group who all share the same goal vs. a splintered setting with groups interacting independently and causing such a headache.  Also, when you say "camera", were you working with a physcal camera or is this just how you identify with the view of each panel?  I only ask because I myself am self conscious about calling a view of something a "shot" or to use too much TV or movie lingo in the CB script, even though I know a lot of the same concepts are shared between each medium.  I just found that interesting.
  • edited June 2012
    When I say 'camera' in the script I usually mean the viewpoint of a given panel. Any time you ask the artist to move that viewpoint through a space in a cinematic way you are upping the complexity of the task for them, because obviously there is no motion on a comic page and there are a lot of other design considerations that they will have to factor in that a cinematographer does not--there are multiple images on a comics page and the shape of the whole page is often more important than the composition of a single panel.

    Usually, if I ask for this kind of continuity I have fewer panels on a page and I'll try to make them uniform-sized tier panels. Simple zooms work fine for smaller panels but any time you want a dolly shot or a pan you are usually going to need width (or, less often, height.)

    Comics are not movies and they don't have to pretend that they are--but there's still plenty of useful stuff in the filmmaker's toolkit that you can use. Main thing is to be sure that you're not asking for the impossible and that you're aware of the difficulty level and the proclivities of the artist. 

    Some artists thrive on this stuff, but most artists don't like it.

  • Comics and photography were born around the same time, and comics and cinema grew up as mass media together.  The terminology of film is part of our language, and comics scripters are just as entitled to use it as everyone else. :)

    For the second shot of the crowd scene I mentioned earlier, I asked the artist to show it from the same angle, both to make it less of a hassle to recreate (though perhaps less interesting than a new shot would've been), but also to show that a new character had arrived on the scene.
  • Finished draft of Issue 3 script.  Found myself temperarily sidetracked with illustrating a personalized childrens book for my son at the request of my wife, but excited to return to this.  Having to modify my outline to accomodate changes.  Hoping to end the story by 5th issue.  Also hoping to find a group/colleague to workshop what I have so far as this is still a new process for me.

    Beginning to talk to artists, but not necessarily for this project.  Made some promising connections within my network with some very talented folks who have a passion for the medium but have not been published and may be closer to my level.  Not sure what it means yet, and not holding my breath, but would like to begin collaborating on something very soon.  Also looking at artists for hire and just beginning to get an idea of what range to expect.  May divert my attention to an 8 page short story to build my body of work.


  • This is place is called "sequential workshop", so whatever you're comfortable sharing is welcome.

    I think that working a short piece or several to completion is a good idea.  It's less time invested, and the things you figure out in the process of writing an 8-page story may help improve the longer one.  A shorter story does put some additional demands on the writer, to not waste space with things that don't advance the story, but it can be less demand (time) on a potential collaborator.
  • @JasonAQuest - Ha.  I didn't really think to share the full scripts here.  I suppose I will put them up in case anyone cares to add any much welcomed input.  Thanks for the suggestion.
  • A link to the script would probably be better than posting the text itself (due to size limits, formatting, etc).
  • Of course.  I have a dropbox link I've been using.
  • Here is a link to my public dropbox.  I have put up my first 3 scripts for the story.  My plan is to wrap it up after issue 5.  I am open to all criticism or advise.  I wouldn't expect most people to want to read all of it, but whatever little feedback received is more than welcome.


  • Have I mentioned that its a gripping tale of suspense and peril with a social commentary payoff of the very topical hot button of homophobia in modern culture?
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