Monday, November 5, 2018


I think it's safe to say after a year and a half's worth of inactivity that Thought Balloons, started by the incomparable Ryan K Lindsay, has died.  And it did so just as I was being passed the reigns.  Which is a huge bummer.

For a few months, I reached out to writers I knew.  Nobody was much interested.  I toyed with recreating Thought Balloons as something new, but it isn't mine to manipulate in such a way.

So it's sat.

Every once in a while, I check on it.  See if the domain is still functioning.  If the new logo I put together still works with the new template.

It still does.

And there might still be a future here.  But if there isn't, and this is indeed the final post, I want to apologize for letting something so awesome wither away on my watch, however short that turned out to actually be.

If you're just now finding Thought Balloons, welcome!  There are still plenty of exciting ideas, endearing characters, and more tucked away in our archives.  You just have to dig for them.

- P

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Why Guardians of the Galaxy?

A movie finally came out in the US today.  It's a modestly anticipated sequel to a quiet little picture about a team of lovable archetypes that eventually find each other as more than just friends.  In the end, they're family.  There's also a bunch of stuff about some kind of purple gem, a wrinkly blue guy in a chair, and Glenn Close leads a corps of space pilots who are not all that great at space piloting.

Our prompt this week is, of course, The Fast and the Furious Guardians of the Galaxy.

I've been going back and reading some of the early stories featuring the original incarnation of the team.  There's some really great stuff by Gene Colan, Steve Gerber, and Sal Buscema.  But, if you're more inspired by Star-Lord and Gamora than Vance Astro and Martinex, so be it.

Post your script in the comments.  We'll see you next week.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Legion - Secret Lives - Perry Kent

I don't really know much about Legion, but I thought the prompt of an erratically powered psychic ending up in a mental ward was interesting. Here is my crack at it.

Panel 1

Interior, day. A stark white room with David sitting across a small table from a male psychiatrist. The psychiatrist is dressed in a gray sweater and has a distinctive mole on his face. The psychiatrist writes on a clipboard while staring at David.

1. PSYCHIATRIST: How are you feeling today, David?

Panel 2

Dark, exterior. The panel edges are fuzzy, indicating a vision. The psychiatrist's face is twisted in a grotesque snarl of aggression. He stands over another man in an alleyway, blood dripping from his fist.

2. PSYCHIATRIST: You dare come near my woman?

3. PSYCHIATRIST: You want to fuckin' mess with me? Is that what you want?

Panel 3

Interior, day. Back in the white room, David looks over at the psychiatrist (out of the panel) with wide-eyed fear. This panel and the next should have similar poses.

4. DAVID (quietly): No.


Panel 4

Dark, exterior. The panel edges are fuzzy. A man's pulverized face stares out of the panel in terror as the psychiatrist grabs ahold of his shirt.

6. PSYCHATRIST (op): I'm gonna rip you apart you little bitch. Your face is gonna be hamburger!

Panel 5

Interior, day. David leaps away from the table shouting in fear as he covers his face.

7. DAVID (shouting): Please no! Get away! Get away!

8. PSYCHIATRIST (OP): I need some orderlies in here, now!

- END -

Sunday, February 5, 2017

LEGION-David Press

A black panel. Perhaps there's a way to tease a shadow lurking behind blackness. A tease of...the Shadow King? 

V/O CAPTION: What are you seeing, David? 

We're looking at a car smashed up against a tree. The front window is broken and there's a shadow of a person slumped over the wheel. Let's not make it too gory okay? Let's have the car be a 2009 Ford Crown Victoria. 


We're in the car now and it hasn't crashed into the tree. There are two passengers. One is a woman wearing all white, EMMA FROST, and the other is a young girl--possibly her daughter--in a similar outfit. 


Now a glitch. Same shot, but this time let's have the girl in the passenger turn into DAVID HALLER. The one as designed by Sienkiewicz. His hair is almost touching the top of the car. 


From David's perspective: He's flying through the windshield, shattered glass all around him. 


Still from David's perspective: he's looking at a giant pile of rocks that, presumably, he's about to be dashed across, because he's flown out of the window. 

V/O CAPTION: It's okay. 

1.7 CUT TO:
A hospital room where we see David on a bed and sitting next to him is a PSYCHIATRIST complete with Moleskine notebook and perfectly tailored suit. 

SHRINK: It's just a dream, David.

CAPTION  (V/O): In other news, known Mutant refugee Emma Frost died today in an apparent car accident. 


Why Legion?

Over the last six weeks or so I've been inhaling the work of Noah Hawley. I've read his two most recent novels, The Good Father and Before the Fall, and watched two seasons of Fargo--which were great. 
His latest TV adaptation is the obscure X-Men villain David Haller, or Legion, premiering on FX this Wednesday. It looks refreshingly Kubrickian, so I'm excited to see it. 
Legion is a schizophrenic telepath and telekinetic created by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz and is the son of Professor X. There's more background in this great article by NY Magazine's Abraham Riesman

So the prompt for today is: Imagine you're in a psych ward for multiple personality disorder, but you're not really sick. You have the ability to enter other people's minds, thinking that you're someone else. You're having an "episode". What does it look like? Or whatever you want. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

A Brief Announcement

Welcome to Thought Balloons!  Our Tenured Writers are currently busy behind the scenes preparing for our upcoming seventh anniversary in May.  Until then, updates will be less scheduled than usual.  We will try to ensure at least a weekly prompt gets posted.  Thank you for your patience.

- P

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Page Turn - Alley - P. A. Nolte

1/ Overhead, a shadowy figure moves from rooftop to rooftop. In the alley below, a terrified hoodlum watches in, uh, terror.

2/ The hoodlum has ducked around the corner and flattened himself against the wall.  There's a bronze plaque above his head that reads "Park Row.  1823.  Historic Preservation Society of Gotham" and has seen better days, much like the alley it marks.

3/ In the background, the hoodlum peers around the corner.  In the foreground, Batman is placing two roses on the cold, grimy cement.

4/ The hoodlum has flattened himself against the wall again. This time with a more confused look on his face.

Hood: What's with the...?

5/ Then it dawns on him.  Maybe a little glint of light off the plaque for everyone reading who's only just now catching on.

Hood: Oh.

Hood: Oh!

6/ A devious grin spreads across the hoodlum's face.

Hood: Bruce Wayne is--

Friday, January 20, 2017

Page Turn-"Terminal"-David Press

A wide shot of a man sitting at the airport. Take it from behind his head looking out at the tarmac and various commercial air line buses waiting for passengers. His head is bowed, looking at a phone.
He's looking down at his iPhone screen. It's an Instagram feed. Show a photo of a plate of food or something. 
THE MAN stares up at the television screen just over his shoulder. It's red and blue with intense graphics displaying News Alert. A salivating ANCHOR stares out at the MAN and the empty terminal. 
We bring you urgent news today to say that the President-Elect has been shot
A SECRET SERVICE AGENT is standing over the shoulder of the MAN who is now being identified as MITCHELL WARREN, ESQ.--he's an entertainment lawyer. 
Mr. Mitchell Warren? 
Please come with me. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Page Turns – RVNP: Adventures on Crichton Island – MK Stangeland Jr.

(Another piece featuring my ‘ROBOT VIKING NINJA PIRATES’ concept. This takes place after they’ve discovered they’ve acquired ‘robot scurvy’ – that is, they’ve started rusting. A trip has been taken to an island to try to acquire citrus fruit in order to make a cleaning solution to fix the problem. The trip has not exactly gone smoothly.)

(3 Panels)

Panel 1: The landing team is rushing along a path, with E-DRONES carrying baskets of CITRUS FRUIT. CAPTAIN ODIN is signaling for the robots to keep moving.

ODIN (1): Let’s MOVE, people!

ODIN (2): That thing is close, and I don’t expect it to take it’s sweet time…

Panel 2: Large panel as a female ARACHNOSAURUS REX bursts through the treeline with a roar.



Panel 3: Close up on ODIN as he looks towards the A-REX and begins to draw the swords on his back.

ODIN (1): (Downplayed) …getting here.

ODIN (2): Ah, (‘Censored’ symbols.)


Monday, January 16, 2017

Page Turn - Every Journey - Grant McLaughlin

I may be on something of a theme at the moment.

1 - Interior of a shed that's been converted into a sculptor studio space. However, we're focused on one of its windows, looking out - the day is overcast and rainy, drops hitting the window. We can also see some of the windowsill and interior wall. Little work has gone into making this place habitable - it's all exposed and worn wood, rusted nails, and the like.


2 - Close-up on a well used and worn work table. There are various sculpting tools - hammers, chisels, calipers, etc - spread across it, but we're at a distance where we can't see the whole table surface.


3 - Closer still, looking at one of the hammers. Its handle was painted, but the colour has mostly worn away from the middle due to prolonged use. It's partially covered by a shadow - Serena's (the sculptor) hand above it.


4 - Focused on a block of marble sitting atop a pedestal. It's untouched, rife with possibility. Like previous panels, frame at a distance so that we can't see the entire block.


5 - Close-up of Serena's hand holding a chisel up to the marble block (we can't see the block, or really the end of the chisel, just the handle and part of the metal portion). Have part of the mallet hovering above the chisel, ready to impact down.

SERENA (off-panel): Here we go.