No respect for the format

I write my scripts for Rapid City and other comics projects using a free script formatting software product called Celtx.It is the free version of the more popular (and more expensive) Final Draft. Celtx handles all of the formatting stuff involved in making a comics script look like a comics script. Side note: If you are one of those writers who scoffs at formatting software and says "I just do it myself in Word"... you haven't tried it. The fact is it save a lot of time and energy. Establishing clear, consistent, and readable script format is not a part of the creative process. It is a tool. But that's not my point here. My point is that I have been raving about Celtx for years. After a very small learning curve, your scripts just cook. It is very intuitive. I bought the pro-pack that has a few extra writing tool and have subscribed to its cloud service in the past. You might be able to detect that I am about to bitch about this great product. You are right. I am.

Ok, Celtx offers a variety of formats. Movie scripts, stage plays, audio-visual, comics, and radio. Maybe some others. Each format has function that generates a "typeset" which is a complete PDF version of your script. It includes your information on a formatted title page. It is a nice, professional-looking, document.

Every format, that is, except comics. Every other format takes the script as it appears in the composition frame, and pretties it up for the PDF by adding page numbers and such. I know almost nothing about coding, but it would seem that taking something from one format and outputting it in a nearly identical format would be a fairly simple. I know that this must be fairly simple because Celtx does it for (almost) all of their formats.

When you use the typeset function in the comics format it outputs some absurd spreadsheet. It is laughable. Or, if you actually used it, humiliating. I feel bad just thinking about the comics writer who just blindly trusts that the coders at Celtx know what they are doing and submits a great script to a publisher in that silly looking format.

Here's a recent script I wrote in Celtx for which I generated a PDF by printing straight form the script. And here is the same script in their silly typeset format.

I should also add that it is an industry near-standard to include page breaks in a comics script at the end of every comic page. Celtx does not allow you to add those breaks.

I have been bringing this issue up with them for, literally, years. I know that sounds crazy, but I have been polite about it. Just asking if those features might be included some day.

They have a support forum when their staff answers the questions that users have. I posted a question about exactly this problem earlier this month. Most other questions posted around then have view counts as high as the mid-30s. My post hit more than a thousand views. It stops counting at a thousand. I have more views than any post I have seen in my cursory scrolling of their forums. And no answer. Still, no answer at all. I searched the post tags for similar questions. I found some.. and still I found no answers.

So... what the hell? It is hard for me to be objective and take this as anything other than an open disrespect for this medium I love so much. I love Celtx, and I love comics, but Celtx seems to hate comics. So, can I still love Cletx?

Ok, so now I have filled a whole blog post bitching about the shortcomings of a free program. That is weak.

So, here is the larger view. Maybe this is a symptom of a wider cultural disrespect for comics... and the writing if comics. Early in my quest to get Celtx to adopt a more universal format, I was assured by one of their people that "there is no standard for comics". Just because there is no SPECIFIC industry standard does not mean that anything goes. I doubt that anyone would take such a cavalier attitude toward a more respected medium.

This is part of a bigger problem.

Josh Dahl