Monday, July 19, 2010

The Penguin – March of The Penguin - Ben Rosenthal

The following is a very simple 3 lined grid, with 2 panel appearing on each line. All panels are of the same size.

1. We see a young Oswald Cobblepot. He is around 15 years old. He is dressed in a karate Gi and is training with a similarly aged young man. There is determination on his face.

2. This panel shows Oswald and his friend looking down on some blueprints. Both boys are a few years older, with Oswald looking slightly chubbier around the face. On the bench in front of the two are miscellaneous parts of an umbrella, as well as some rotator blades and engines. We can see that the blueprints reveal that the two are working on a portable way of flight.

3. We have skipped forward another few years. This panel has a slightly more rotund Oswald running towards us, down an alley. He is dressed in mostly black, with a ski mask rolled up over his face. He has just committed a robbery of the local bank. Oswald is looking over his shoulder with a smirk on his face, carrying a bag close to his chest. To the left of the panel, in the background, two police officers are pointing their guns at Oswald’s friend, who is dressed the same as Oswald.

4. Once again a few years have passed. Oswald’s belly is the size that we see it today. He is dressed in nice clothes, but not the expensive suit we are used to seeing him in. He is looking over the fallen body of a nicely dressed mafia-type boss. The body of the mafia boss is lying on its back at the bottom of the panel, with Oswald standing above it, one foot on its chest. Oswald has a large grin on his face, holding an unopened umbrella in his hand which is still smoking from its tip. Behind Oswald are a group of thugs, looking like Oswald’s army.

5. This panel is taken up entirely by the front page of the Daily Planet. Its headline reads in a large font, “WHO IS THE PENGUIN?” Underneath is the smaller line “The mysterious new Emperor of Crime”.

6. This panel is taken up with Oswald’s face. He has a monocle and cigarillo jutting from the right side of his mouth. We can see the outline of the Daily Planet, which Oswald has obviously just been reading. Oswald looks completely gobsmacked and taken aback.

I’m a penguin?


  1. I'm picturing this one as a parody of Batman Begins, very cool idea.

  2. I'm trying to imagine that the reader just gets the images, not the caption explanations. Is everything clear to them purely through the panel art?

    I like the progression of this page, and the payoff is very cool, but only if the build up makes sense. Not saying it needs dialogue...I think it works well without, but perhaps some small captions, or maybe not...just a thought.

  3. @Ryan - good point and one I was struggling with myself. Iwas hoping that the obvious skips in time (as seen in Oswald's age/size of his gut) would convey that this piece is a piece that takes place over many years. That all his life he has worked towards being the number 1 mobster in town, only to be called a stupid name.

    Perhaps some text boxes may have helped.

  4. Answering Ryan's query, it's hard to tell from a panel description whether all the info will be there - but that's down to the artist, so just make sure you pick a good one, Ben.

    I really liked this as a different take on the "Secret Origin" of the Penguin (though it diverges from canon, where I seem to remember Oswald was taunted with that nickname from a young age).

  5. @Rol - I have to be honest with you...I know nothing about Oswald's backstory. I should have researched it more....although I'm pretty confident I could dance around canon.

    With writing this, I was hoping that the artist would be able to convey the passage of time through the ageing, and girth of Oswald. I think I may have to actually work with an artist in order to learn if this kind of detail in a script would be enough.


  6. I don't think it's necessary to do loads of research. You obviously know enough to write the character well, and I suspect that (as with the majority of DC characters) his origins have been chronicled in all kinds of different ways by different creators over the years.

  7. DC Comics' website has a bunch of origin stories in the format of 2-page comics. They have The Penguin, but I discovered last week that they are missing Aquaman!


Feedback is what every good writer wants and needs, so please provide it in the white box below
If you want to play along at home, feel free to put your scripts under the Why? post for the week.