Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Profile - Visualise - Max Barnard

The Premise: So... The Profile... The visualisation of his powers is pretty similar to Amadeus Cho's, yes? I want to do something with that. For the setting, set your mind back to Dark Reign, when The Profile was used to help hunt Moon Knight. Except now he's giving information to Osborn about some other particular nuisances in his side.


Page 1 - 6 Panels

1-- The Profile is sitting in an interrogation room (plain walls, small table and two chairs at opposite ends, that sort of dealio.). Norman Osborn is entering the room via a small door directly behind him.

SPEECH BUBBLE/NORMAN OSBORN - So, "Profile", I understand that you have a particular talent for understanding individuals, yes?

SPEECH BUBBLE/THE PROFILE - So I'm told. I'm also told that you require my services to deal with some nuisance.

2-- Norman is now beside The Profile, placing some files open on the desk in front of him. The Profile is looking up at Norman's face. Around Norman's head are Profile's visualisations, saying things such as "HATES BEING CALLED GOBBIE", "SUPERIORITY COMPLEX", "FEARS GOING BALD" and "EROTIC SPIDER-MAN FIXATION", dependant on how much you can fit in.


SPEECH BUBBLE/NORMAN OSBORN - Correct. These two, the 'god' Hercules and his sidekick brat Mr. Cho have been causing me no end of minor grievances, and I want you to tell me how to best return the favour with, shall we say, minimal effort.

3-- The Profile is looking down at the files photos on the desk as Osborn looks on.

SPEECH BUBBLE/THE PROFILE - Well Hercules is a cinch. Just exploit his feelings of masculinity, maybe take pokes at him for the young boy sidekick, the whole caped crusader angle. As for Cho... Well... Um...


4-- The Profile has gotten up and is throwing the files off the side of the table in a huff, with only the Amadeus Cho file photo remaining (whether this is evident or not really isn't that important, our readers will figure it out, they're smart people). Norman Osborn I leaning slightly away, sneering in a combination of mild shock and disgust, as is his way.


5-- The Profile has left the room, slamming the door behind him. Norman Osborn is leaning over the desk and looking at the picture of Cho left on the desk.


6-- We now show what The Profile was seeing when he was looking at Cho's picture on the desk earlier (tint the panel red to make it clear that it's being viewed through his sunglasses). Around Cho's mugshot are TONS of his trademark equations (which as we know are usually invisible to the naked eye) and a single line of text in The Profile's powers' style, saying "FAIL. RETRY/ABORT?"

CAPTION/NORMAN OSBORN - ... Just what did he see to make him do *that*.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Profile - 3.5, 10, 3.5 - Ben Rosenthal

I'd like to dedicate this script to Rol.

. A young man stands at a cash register in a small coffee house. He is wearing a short that is obviously too small for even his skeletal frame, with a picture of Che Guevara on it. His matted, unkempt hair is only slightly visible from underneath a beret. The coffee shop itself is a hip, funky place, trying its hardest to be cool. Surrounding the man at the cash register are the words “Plays World of Warcraft”, “never been kissed”.

Ok, one latte – 3.20. Head down to Brittney on the machine and she’ll make it for you right now.

2. We now see Brittney standing behind the coffee machine. Brittney is an extremely attractive girl, wearing a simple black top with a somewhat low plunging neckline. Surrounding her are the words “likes being single”, “hates underwear”.

Off to work, hun? What do you do?

3. The Profile has a sleazy look on his face. He is obviously thinking one thing.

I guess you could call me a Profiler.

4. A side panel, showing Brittney behind the coffee machine, with The Profile on the other side peering over the machine, obviously trying to look down her top. The words “open to new experiences” circles Brittney.

Oh, like on those TV shows where they catch criminals?

Something like that.

Well, I’m somewhat of a Profiler myself!

4. Same as panel 2. Brittney is still smiling. The speech bubble is taking up most of the panel – somewhat like a Kevin Smith panel.

You see, most espressos are purpose blended for an overall flavor. To brew these, roasters call out a brew temp, assume the machine is set to 9 bars of pump pressure, and suggest a time factor for extraction, usually around 25 seconds. However, what roasters and baristas are finding is that even existing blends have totally new horizons of possibility that we didn’t know existed before, when pressure becomes variable. It is fun to discover these, and is not hard to imagine that someday blends could be created purposefully to utilize a certain coffee machine’s flavor amplification potential. Delicate single origins also play well under these conditions too.

5. The Profile is staring blankly. His sleazy smile is gone, replaced but a dumbfounded look of annoyance. Brittney continues her explanation off panel.


I've been identifying my brew parameters like this - 3.5 bars -16 seconds, 9 bars -7 seconds, 3.5 bars – 4 seconds, off. Then 2.5 bars – 10 seconds, 10 bars-18 seconds, off. This format represents an initial brew pressure and time, a full pressure brew and time and a return pressure and time, which includes a tailing off of pressure. The shots pulled on certain coffee machines tend to be longer than the prescribed 18-23 second range. I'm finding results in the 30-35 second range on this machine.

6. Back to the panel of Brittney, who is still all smiles. The words surrounding her now are “coffee”, “coffee”, “coffee”.

The two profile samples produce significantly different results from the same coffee. Yet either espresso would be considered excellent, though one has a more chocolatey, full body, while the other has more flower essences, and a lemon finish.

7. A side panel showing Brittney behind the coffee machine and the Profile on the other side, similar to panel 4. They are looking directly at each other. The only words surrounding Brittney are “likes girls”.

So by profiling our shots, we get a more interesting cup. One that fully explores the...

Just give me my damn coffee.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Profile - Tell - Danial Carroll

PANEL 1. Close-up of The Profile, holding a hand of cards close to his face.

So this is how I make an income.

PANEL 2. We see the rest of the poker-table's players with various descriptive writing surrounding them. It doesn’t matter what it says, as long as the closest and most pronounced of each, mention their poker status--words such as "bluffing", "two pair", and "one card off a straight" etc.

No surprise really.

With a gift such like mine, it's easy money.

PANEL 3. The Profile is being thrown out a back door into a dark alleyway.

However, I learned early on in my career--

PANEL 4. Close-up of The Profile being punched in the face by a large, suit-cuffed fist. His trademark red glasses are cracked from the blow.

--that to avoid taking one to the face--

PANEL 5. From The Profile's POV we see that he has a royal flush.

--you sometimes have to take one on the chin.

I fold.

Why The Profile?

Being a newcomer to the world of comics, I felt it only fitting that I should choose a fairly new character as my Thoughtballoons debut. Enter, The Profile...

The Profile was introduced in the 2006 Moon Knight run, and having only recently read that, he quickly became a favourite of mine. To begin with, David Finch drew him looking like Sam Rockwell--which was just awesome--but also, I just thought he was a really unique character; one that I’d never seen before anyway.

The Profile’s “super” ability, as his name implies, is that he can profile people at a glance. In other words, he can tell every single trait, habit, and behaviour, just by looking at someone. What I particularly like--at least in Finch’s work--is the way this is shown to the reader:

In Vengeance of the Moon Knight, they took the lazier route of just having words snake around the character’s outline, but it still got the point across, and it was particularly amusing when Norman Osborn’s included, “Drowns kittens.”

If anyone is unfortunate-enough to have never read Moon Knight, don't be too alarmed, The Profile is actually a very simple character--basically just a sleazebag; a card-shark. The fun in writing him, I believe, will be more in the descriptions than the dialogue. So I hope you can all have fun with this, and I look forward to seeing the weird and whacky “profiling” that ensues :)

P.S. Here’s a few visual aides if you need them...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Rick Grimes - Grocery Shopping - Brandon Whaley

All panels are seen from the point of view of Rick Grimes.


We see a deserted street. In the foreground of the panel is a battered road sign. It reads PEACHTREE INDUSTRIAL BLVD.


We see a deserted bank. In the background is what appears to have once been a Kroger grocery store. The entire place looks like a huge fight went down.


We see the parking lot of the Kroger and the front of the store. The doors have been busted and a few walkers are wondering around, but not much else is there.


We see the inside of the grocery store. Lights are still on, suggesting a generator running somewhere. Up ahead to the right and left are a couple of people with guns, walking with them at the ready. They are checking the shelves for anything edible.


The team advances on the stockroom. A few walkers pop out but are easily dispatched with a few bullets. Groans come from deeper in the stockroom.


The team goes deeper into the storeroom. A group of about 15 or so walkers are banging on the door to the meat cooler. The group takes a few shots at them and draws their attention.


The group runs forward, taking out walkers as they go. Basically just a big gunfight.


The last walker falls, but the looks on the faces of the two people with Rick are that of panic. They know the ruckus will attract more.


One guy grabs a buggy to load up on food. We see, from Rick's point of view, Rick step to the cooler door and open it.


Inside the cooler is a young girl, perhaps 14 or 15. She's wearing a tank top and jean shorts. On her face is a pair of shades. Her skin is pasty and her lips are blue, suggesting she's been hiding in the cold for a while. Adding to the evidence are the various food wrappers and empty cans littered about.


Rick reaches down and picks up the frail girl. She looks uncertain, but somewhat relieved. She has a bag of potato chips in each hand, her knuckles white with her death grip.


Close up on the girl's face. She has begun to smile, her face beaming with the realization that she's no longer alone. In the reflection of her shades we see the same smile on Rick's face.

CAPTION: Let's go.

Getting to know Brandon Whaley

Who is your favourite comic character?

I'm calling a tie here.

First up, you have my old standby, the Silver Surfer. He soars the spaceways making the galaxy safe. He's humble and noble, but wants to be understood. He's selfless as well. Plus, he just looks dang cool. It says a lot about the character that a naked silver man on a surfboard could be so likeable, but what can you do? He's just plain awesome. Not to mention he starred in the first comic I ever purchased, Silver Surfer #60.

Secondly we have relative newcomer Atomic Robo. He's the creation of Tesla, a scientist at heart. However, Robo doesn't balk from adventure either. In fact, his organization, Tesladyne, has a team of Action Scientists to get the job done, whatever it may require. Part snarky robot, part millionaire playboy, Robo entranced me from day one and hasn't let go yet. Expect to see him pop up here one of these days.

What is your favourite comic?

If we're going by series, its easily Atomic Robo again. This book is better with every issue. Plus they printed one of my fan letters, so it must be good. Its a bit of pulp, a bit of noir, and a bit or gritty war action all rolled up into one great little package.

Who is your favourite comic writer?

Oh geez. Without appearing to be a broken record, I'll start by saying Brian Clevinger (writer of Atomic Robo) but I will branch out as well. I love Jason Aaron's work that I've read, and am currently in the process of devouring anything of his I can get my hands on. Grant Morrison is pure genius, and even though I don't like everything he's done, the majority of it is insane fun. Jonathan Hickman is currently rising to that Morrison level with me as well. I'd be remiss not to mention Fred van Lente and Greg Pak, who are stellar writers as a pair or alone. And finally, we have Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, who have provided me with much amusement for the past few years.

Who has been the most fun to write so far in 26 weeks of thoughtballoons?

I've not be able to participate with every character that I've wanted to, but of the ones I have written, Mephisto has been the most fun by far. Writing someone that deliciously evil is way out of my comfort zone, which is probably what lead me to have him in his current state in my script.

Which character do you most dread having to write?

Pretty much anything indie or non-superhero. I'm not a fan of those kinds of comics for the most part, so its a lot harder for me to get into the character's head. Why I chose Rick Grimes this week is beyond me.

Also, I gotta say I too am not looking forward to writing Green Lantern. I've already decided I'm writing Denny O'neil-era Hal Jordan if he's chosen.

Which non-comics character would you most like to write?

Link, from The Legend of Zelda. I'd like to try to keep it true to the games and not have him say a word, which would be fun and challenging. I'd also like to try my hand at Eddie Drood of the Secret History novels by Simon R. Green. He's like a supernatural James Bond, and it would be a fun noir-esque tale.

Which script do you think has been your best so far?

Not a lot to pick from here, but I'd have to say my Mephisto script is the one I'm most proud of. Other than that, my Silver Surfer script with the Daredevil cameo was fun, and I thought it turned out pretty well.

Which script in total do you think has been the best on the site?

As far behind as I am on writing, I'm further behind on my reading. That said, my absolute favorite that I have read has been Max's Noir as Heck. Just read it again, and its tons of fun. Plus, I like the use of the word DAYUM.

Rick Grimes - Zombies: A Field Guide - Danial Carroll

The Premise: Rick and Glenn are out scavenging for supplies when they stumble across a large, fenced area, filled with Walkers. They enter an adjacent multistorey building and meet a scientist on the top floor…

PAGE XX (seven panels)

PANEL 1. The scientist is looking out a window with a pair of binoculars as Rick looks over his shoulder.

What is this place?

A field laboratory… or sorts.

PANEL 2. From the POV of the scientist, we see a group of Walkers, down on the field, swarming a deer. The deer has managed to gore several of them with its antlers, but many others are pulling it down from behind.

I study the Walkers--see what makes them tick.

PANEL 3. The scientist has turned around to face Rick and Glenn.

Are you… looking for a cure?

A cure? No, no, no.

They’re dead. There is no cure.

PANEL 4. All three are facing each other in discussion.

Then why?

Call it, scientific interest.

GLENN (whisper):
More like morbid curiosity.


PANEL 5. The scientist is facing out the window again.

I currently have my assistant sourcing some fresh lab rats, if you’d care to stick around.

PANEL 6. Rick and Glenn are looking confused.


PANEL 7. Both Rick and Glenn have been shot in the neck with tranquiliser darts.




Oh, no…

From here, Rick and Glenn would wake up on separate platforms out in the fenced area somewhere, and somehow have to find a way to escape, much to the disappointment of the scientist.

Getting To Know Danial Carroll

Who is your favourite comic character?

I've only been reading comics since mid-year, and it was Hulk who was the first to grab my attention. However, I soon discovered a guy named Moon Knight, who quickly took his place. Sure, he’s similar to Batman, with his cave and themed weaponry, but then he’s so much more. Constantly taunted by the Egyptian moon-god, Khonshu, who resurrected him, years ago, he is never quite sure of his own sanity, which, to me, makes him a very exciting character.

What is your favourite comic?

The series that introduced me to Moon Knight was his solo title of 2006. It was drawn by the master, David Finch, and written by Charlie Huston, and gets right into the head of the less-than-perfect hero after a rather literal fall from grace. Though the series drifted downhill towards the end, I consider the very first arc, The Bottom, to be the best thing I’ve read in my short comic-reading career.

Who is your favourite comic writer?

Being fairly new to comics, I don’t have a very large base for comparison, but so far, I’d say, Greg Pak, primarily for his recent work on the Hulk series’. Planet Hulk, World War Hulk, through to the recent storylines, he managed to make Hulk interesting again, which many people will agree, is quite a feat.

Who has been the most fun to write so far in 26 weeks of Thoughtballoons?

Though I’ve only recently joined the ranks of the tenured writers, I have been a “play at home” writer since Spider-Man, so I’ve seen my share of characters. The one who was the most fun for me, which took me by surprise, was Lara Croft. I have never been a fan of her games, or films, and I’ve never read any of her comics, but I found Lara fun to write because of her similarity to various characters of my favourite author, H.P. Lovecraft.

Which character do you most dread having to write?

Any non-Marvel character really. As I’ve said, I’m only fairly new to comics, and I’ve mostly stuck to Marvel, which means that writing someone like Scott Pilgrim absolutely terrifies me, as I know nothing about them… at all. I have a vague knowledge of DC characters, due to the various films and cartoons, so am able to pull something together for them, but the others, not so much…

Which non-comics character would you most like to write?

I’ve been a casual gamer my entire life, so there are many game characters I would love to write. Having recently been playing their games, Rockstar Games’ Niko Bellic and John Marston come to mind as great characters with huge potential.

Which script do you think has been your best so far?

Like most people, I’m my own worst critic, so this is a tough question to answer. However, if I have to pick, I’d say my Lara Croft script. Because I enjoyed writing it, I think it shows.

Which script in total do you think has been the best on the site?

It seems nigh impossible to choose just one, but some of my favourites have been Matt’s recent Ash script, Curriculum Vitae; Rol’s Domestic Violence featuring Superboy and his “parents”; and reaching a bit further back, Ben’s Aquaman entry, Problems.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rick Grimes - Family Man - Matt Duarte

Rick Grimes in "Family Man" by Matt Duarte

This page is to be laid out in four panels, all of them in the same size, wide and short, across the page.

Panel 1

Description: Seen from the back seat of a police car. Rick and his friend Shane are sitting in the driver and in the passenger's seat respectively. They both have their heads turned toasted each other, and they are talking.

RICK: When I came home last night, I found the little guy crying. I had to ask Lori what was wrong with him, 'cause he wouldn't talk to me. She said he was mad at me.

SHANE: How so?

Panel 2

Description: Same as before, only this time Rick is raising his hands in frustration.

RICK: Apparently it's "Bring Your Parent to School" day or some other deal like that. Her mother tried to explain to him that I couldn't make it with my scheduled patrols, and he was having none of it!

SHANE: Alright, I see where you're going with this. That thing at the school, it’s today?

Panel 3

Description: Same as before, except now Rick has calmed down and Shane has his hand on his shoulder.

RICK: Yeah, later today...

SHANE: Well, don't you worry about a thing, Rick. Uncle Shane will cover your ass with the guys at HQ, and you can take the afternoon off to spend it with your boy.

RICK: Really? You would? Thanks, man.

RADIO SPEAKER: Attention all officers in the surrounding area...

Panel 4

Description: Both Rick and Shane have stood up on their seats, getting ready to answer the call.

RICK: Shit, sounds important.

SHANE: Don't worry, we'll take care of this quickly. Wouldn't want to disappoint little Carl, now would we?

RADIO SPEAKER: Possibly armed suspect, heading eastbound on US 62...

The Beginning

Getting to know Matt Duarte

Who is your favourite comic character?

I was going to say Spider-Man, but it seems that everyone else beat me to the punch on that one, hasn’t it? I do love me some Spidey.

Aside from that, I think one character that I feel is my favorite is Kurt Wagner, A.K.A. Nightcrawler. I was a big X-Men reader when younger, and I always liked that Nightcrawler is a man of contradictions, one who doesn’t appear what he is, despite all signs to the contrary (and I’m not just talking about his physical appearance). When he’s used right, he can be one of the most interesting characters in comic-dom.

What is your favourite comic?

This question is far easier, just one word:


Ok, that might have been more than one word. NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. is the perfect distillation of what comics can, have, and should be in one neat package. Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Stuart Immonen, it stars five D-lister characters on a mission to take down a huge terrorist organization. Immensely fun doesn't even begin to describe it. It is both a love letter and a flaming bag of turds in the medium and industry’s door step. If you think that doesn’t make any sense, then you haven’t read NextWave, and I hate you for it.

Who is your favourite comic writer?

Jason Aaron. I’ve read pretty much everything that the man has written, and I haven’t been let down so far. Whether it’s the slice of life drama pieces in his creator owned work in The Other Side and Scalped, or the great handle he has in characters like Ghost Rider and Wolverine, he provides fun and entertaining rides all the way to the finish line. And on top of that, he’s only been writing comic for like five years! There is so much more that we can expect from him.

Aaron is also an inspirational figure for me: he’s a down-to-earth character, a normal guy that showed that through hard work and perseverance, no matter at what stage of your life you are in, you can pursue your dreams and achieve. Man, that’s sappy, isn’t it?

Who has been the most fun to write so far in 26 weeks of thoughtballoons?

I generally like cheery and funny characters, so basically any character that is not constantly moping and wallowing in self tragedy has been pretty fun to write. Araña, Jubilee, The Thing, and Scott Pilgrim all come to mind as some of the most fun I’ve had writing here for thoughtballoons.

Which is not to say I don’t enjoy writing melodrama either. I’ve written some pretty heavy pieces that I enjoyed quite lot, like Daredevil, Constantine and Silver Surfer to name a few.

If I had to choose, it would probably be Machine Man. Ironically, in my script, he only had one single line of dialogue, but the writing the set up to deliver that line was loads of fun.

Which character do you most dread having to write?


Alright, that sounds pretty vain, but let me explain. Every character has a handle, the really difficult thing is finding that handle and carrying it comfortably within your hands. Finding it may be a matter of time and perspective, but it is always there, and once you find it, you’ll realize it was always there, you just couldn’t see it. The thing I dread the most is not having enough time to find the right perspective on any given character. I think I’ve done pretty good with characters that I had no idea what to do originally, and I honestly I could handle anything thrown my way.

Alright, alright, enough with the reach around answers, here’s a character that I dread: Wonder Woman. Too much history, too many conflicting views and takes, and too much expectation from readers.

Which non-comics character would you most like to write?

I think writing Harry Potter would be loads of fun, mostly because it would be a challenge.

Which script do you think has been your best so far?

Based on critical reaction, I think my Iron Man was the most well received. I really do like what I did on that one, and I still think it was a clever idea, which is surprising as it was my first script for the site. My Spider-Man script also seemed to be quite liked, and considering it's everyone's favorite character, I think I did alright.

I’m really proud of the idea that I came up with Casanova Quinn, though perhaps not in the execution. I really would have liked to expand it further, and I think it would have fared better with more space to stretch it’s legs.

The one that I surprised myself with the most is my Superman script. It’s one of those characters that a lot of people struggle with, and I found the voice and scene easy enough.

Which script in total do you think has been the best on the site?

Everyone has done good work, and I could spend a whole other paragraph detailing everyone’s best pieces, but I’ve written enough as it is. If I had to choose a favorite (and it’s a bit of a left-field choice) but Rol’s Molecule Man script was just the perfect mix of humor, pathos, and character work. Just a scene that worked on every level.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rick Grimes - The United Front - Sime McDonald

As the author is not entirely up to speed with The Walking Dead - shamefully he is only up to Volume 9 - certain details have been left purposefully hazy. The author has named characters 'scientist' and 'priest' to avoid confusion. If he was working with a longer script, he'd have introduced them properly. As it is, this is all you get.

1. Tight on Rick yelling, spittle flying.

You're going to let this happen?!

2. Rick is standing in the middle of a field. Carl's nowhere to be seen - but the rest of Rick's entourage (whoever remains in current continuity) have been cut down, prey of the zombies that are streaming towards Rick and the two men standing before him, a priest and a scientist dressed in a putrid laboratory coat.

This is the way the Lord wants it.

This is evolution.

(Priest & Scientist)

3. The pack of zombies is nearing. Rick's eyes are wide, almost popping out of their sockets.

This isn't fate!
This is a mistake!
We can beat this!
We can outlive this!

4. Despite their impending danger and Rick's ravings, the priest and scientist remain passive and calm.

The undead have become the driving force of evolution.

They are disciples sent from our lord.

5. The zombies swarm over Rick. The scientist and the priest will be next. But they don't care.

(Priest & Scientist)
They will not be denied.

Getting to know Sime McDonald

Who is your favourite comic character?
Superman is unquestionably my favourite comic book character. But know that, when I say ‘Superman’, I am referring to the real Superman, not the one currently sauntering around America in a lame attempt to get ‘back in touch’ with the people. Superman has never struggled to identify with humanity – because, first and foremost, he is Clark Kent, son of Jonathan and Martha, who taught him about truth and justice, and instilled within him the realisation that, with his powers, he should be a force for good, a beacon, an inspiration. My Superman is the one who existed in the mid-90’s to early-2000’s; punctuated by great tales from Dan Jurgens, Joe Kelly, Jeph Loeb and Joe Casey. He was Clark Kent first, Superman second. Clark Kent’s who he was; Superman was who he could be – a quote I’ve stolen from Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Superman. Not to have his powers – although yes, that would be awesome – I just wanted to be good, like him. I wanted to possess ability to do the right thing, no matter what. I’ve faltered in regards to that. But that okay. I’m human, after all. It’s just such a shame the book has faltered so recently too. Bring back Geoff Johns!

What is your favourite comic?
I have a few choices, but ultimately it's got to go to Action Comics 775. Seriously, if you don't like Superman, if you've never read Superman, find this, read this. It cements Joe Kelly as one of the finest Superman writers of the decade.

Who is your favourite comic writer?
A tough question. My opinion frequently varies on a monthly, possibly weekly basis. I’ve loved work by Brubaker, Fraction, Bendis, Loeb, Joe Kelly,  Geoff Johns, Joe Casey ... but ultimately, the man who never lets me down is Grant Morrison. I was first introduced to his talent towards the end of his run on JLA, which was in the late nineties I want to say, maybe early 2000’s? I quickly went back and collected his entire run, and I’ve picked up his work since. His Batman run has been incredible. I can’t wait for the day when I can just chill out and read everything in a couple of sittings.

Who has been the most fun to write so far in 26 weeks of thoughtballoons?
I really enjoyed Aquaman. I think, jokes aside, there is room for an Aquaman comic on our comic book store shelves. And I think we all – Ryan in particular – did a wonderful job in showcasing potential storytelling routes. Machine Man was great, too. I knew nothing about the character – had never heard of him. And I’m not sure whether, in current continuity, he would do what I was suggesting he could – engaging in the practice of neuromarketing – but I’d sure as hell like to write about the corporations that exist in the Marvel Universe. It wouldn’t last long, but I reckon I could write a killer three issues before it was cancelled.

Which character do you most dread having to write?
I think we’ve already covered two of my most dreaded characters: Casanova Quinn and Scott Pilgrim. Not because I dislike those characters; far from it. They are just so out there – far outside my wheelhouse, my comfort zone – that I struggled to come up with suitable concepts for a single paged script. I didn’t attempt Scott Pilgrim, and I wasn’t at all happy with my Casanova effort. I’m similarly afraid of any character from Marvel’s ‘cosmic universe.’ Nova and the Guardians of the Galaxy, etc – I’d have no idea what to do with them. Saying that, I love being pushed to come up with something; I mean, I had no idea who Machine Man was but I think I came up with a fairly original premise.

Which non-comics character would you most like to write?
I’d love to see Lee Child’s protagonist Jack Reacher star in his own comic series. I think you could adapt the novels that already exist or go nuts and create your own stories within the character’s continuity. He has so much untapped history as a military cop, and the fact he’s a drifter means stories could based in a variety of locations. Reacher really is like a modern day Macgyver / Batman; put him in any situation and he will escape from it, maybe bloodied, maybe wounded, but still ready to kick your arse.

Which script do you think has been your best so far?
I really like my Punisher script. I like the way it divided opinions. Not regarding its quality, thank God – rather, whether the final panel should have included a gun in Frank Castle’s hand. think the gunshould be there – others disagreed. Ultimately, as a writer, that’s the kind of ‘debate’ you want to instigate with your work; not one that’s based on the quality of the work. The one script I wish I could return to and make additions would be my Iron Man script. I love that whole concept of the Armoury and I’d really love to be able to expand on it. 

Which script in total do you think has been the best on the site?
Damn. Not easy to answer. I think all of our writers have talent. We all bring something different to Thought-Balloons. I can’t name a ‘best’ script,’ but I have a top three; scripts that've stuck with me.

And two of them are mine.


All three are.

Seriously - - - 

1) To Be a Hero, starring The Thing, by Ben Rosenthal.
2) The Duality of Duality, starring Aquaman, by Ryan K. Lindsay
3) Face Off, starring The Question, by Rol Hirst.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rick Grimes - You’ll Have To Wait For The Title – Rol Hirst

Panel One.

A Midwest Sheriff in uniform and hat talks straight to camera. His face looks tired and drawn.

Sheriff: We finally got him cornered in a gas station outside Lincoln. Called in every available officer, state and local – National Guard too. They all wanted a piece of him…

Sheriff: ...for every god-awful thing he did while wearing that badge.

Panel Two.

The state coroner stands in a morgue, talking to camera. He’s a man in his 50s who’s seen a lot of terrible things in his time… but this might just be the one that breaks him. His eyes are tearing up.

Coroner: My granddaddy worked this office when Charles Starkweather hisself blew through town. Eleven dead, an' that was a nationwide scandal. Sickened him to his core.

Coroner: I’m just glad he ain’t around to see this bullpucky…

Panel Three.

A hard-faced defence attorney stands on the courtroom steps and addresses a crowd of reporters. She is indignant in the face of an unwinnable case.

Attorney: …a grave miscarriage of justice. After what happened to his wife and son, my client was clearly unfit to stand trial. In disallowing the insanity plea, the judge buckled under public pressure…

Panel Four.

Rick Grimes sits on his bunk in a prison cell, head down, the bars casting shadows over his face.

CAP (Rick): They tell me I did terrible things.

CAP (Rick): They tell me there were no zombies.

CAP (Rick): They tell me it was all in my mind.

Panel Five.

Rick is led out of his cell by a warden, guards and the prison chaplain. They’re taking him to his execution.

CAP (Rick): I can only prey they’re telling the truth.

CAP (Rick): Because if this is all just a nightmare, I don’t wanna wake up…

Guard (Shouting The Title): “Dead Man Walking!”

Getting To Know Rol Hirst

My turn already? Sheeeeeeeeeeit.

Who is your favourite comic character?

Peter Parker, the spectacular, amazing, sensational Spider-Man. I explained why when I chose him as my first Thoughtballoons pick. The only problem is I don't get to pick him again...

What is your favourite comic?

That would have to be Amazing Spider-Man too. I've been a Marvel junkie for over 30 years and have a lot of time for all the classic Lee / Kirby / Ditko creations, when handled correctly. I've dallied with DC - favourites being the Giffen DeMatteis JLI and Grant Morrison's Animal Man and Doom Patrol - though the only DC character I've stuck with through thick and thin is John Constantine, Hellblazer. Favourite comics outside the mainstream have included Cerebus (before Dave Sim went bonkers), Phonogram and anything by Adrian Tomine.

Hey, I'd have just give you a 3 word answer, but that's not everybody else is doing, now is it?

Who is your favourite comic writer?

Grant Morrison, JM DeMatteis, Peter David, Brian K Vaughan, Mark Waid, Ed Brubaker, Roger Stern, Warren Ellis and Peter Milligan have all distinguished themselves in my eyes, among many others. Not forgetting Stan Lee, of course, without whom this world would be a much poorer place.

Who has been the most fun to write so far in 26 weeks of thoughtballoons?

The obvious answer is Spidey, but the pressure was on for that and I ended up feeling a little self-conscious. My other two choices were John Constantine and Ben Grimm, and I had loads of fun with both... though having gotten my Holy Trinity of Comics Characters out of the way, I'm having a devil of a time deciding who to pick next time it's my shout.

Other than those, the most fun were Machine Man, Gamora and Ash. Although I had got Gamora completely mixed up with Nebula. I'm not sure anybody noticed.

Which character do you most dread having to write?

Loath though I am to fall in line with my peers, I have a real problem with Green Lantern too. I'm not good with intergalactic characters and the whole "green ring that can do absolutely anything unless there's yellow involved" has always seemed like one of those dopey concepts that would have been best left in the Silver Age. Plus, despite reading GL for a number of years in my younger days, I never liked Hal Jordan. I could just about squeeze out a Guy Gardener script... or G'Nort. G'Nort would be fun. I bet he's dead now, isn't he?

Which non-comics character would you most like to write?

My favourite fictional character who's not been bitten by a radioactive spider is Detective Andy Sipowicz from NYPD Blue. A complex, multi-layered, extremely tragic hero with any number of achilles heels... who just happens to hate most of the people he meets on a daily basis... but still tries to do well by them. And if Andy was taken, I'd choose Gregory House MD for many of the same reasons.

Which script do you think has been your best so far?

I was pleased to fit an entire locked room mystery into one (admittedly crowded) page in my Blonde Phantom story. Max Allan Collins would have done it better though. And I had loads of fun pitching Mr. Mxyzptlk against Zatanna. But the one I'm most proud of so far would be my John Constantine yarn. It was hard as hell capturing everything I love about that bastard mage on just one page, but I gave it my best shot.

Worst by far was my Daredevil offering, for which I won't even provide a link. Such a great character, and I threw away my chance on a dumb fat bloke gag. What an idiot!

Which script in total do you think has been the best on the site?

Let's see...

Ryan's Mephisto page sticks in my mind as a really clever concept and I'd have loved to see where his Daredevil story went next.

Ben's Spider-Man script really came from the heart and his Rick Grimes tale was a simple idea, perfectly executed.

Matt's John Constantine page was ripe for development and I only just discovered his Thing story (somehow I missed it first time round) and it's bloody marvellous.

Max consistently wins the prize for most inspired story titles. Noir As Heck and Boys Are Stupid, Throw Grappling Hooks At Them are just two that somehow live up to their seemingly impossible promise.

Simon's John Constantine script played like the teaser for a TV series I'd have sold my soul to watch and he writes a mean Damien Wayne too (albeit in Renee Montoya's script).

Brandon hasn't been around half as much as I'd have liked given the quality of his Mephisto page (among others).

And finally, Danial dazzled us so much from the comment box trenches he was an obvious call when a frontline vacancy came up. I look forward to reading more from him, especially if they're as strong as his Casanova Quinn offering.

What - I was only supposed to pick one? Says who?

OK, is that everything? Thank you. Now go read my Rick Grimes script. You know you want to...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rick Grimes - Just A Small Town Police Officer - Max Barnard

The Premise: You'll get the gist of it over this page, but this is towards the end of a small story where Rick seems to just be a police officer again. I've only read like 1 volume and a bit of the Walking Dead (because, let's be honest, it just does nothing for me), so I don't know if anything like this has happened in the comic or if I'm even REALLY in character. So... Ya know... Suspend your disbelief.


Page 22 - 5 Panels

1-- Rick Grimes (in uniform) is standing in the centre of a lush, beautiful field outside of Cynthiana, Kentucky. Everything is colourful as heck, with flowers, green leaves blowing by, and the town in front of him looking bright and cheerful.

SPEECH BUBBLE/RICK GRIMES - A'yup, life sure is pretty good around here nowadays.

2-- We're now viewing Rick from the front, gripping his chest in pain.


3-- Rick's now on his knees, double over in pain. Colour is starting to wash out of the panel.


4-- Rick is looking at the hand he'd used to grip his chest, which is now covered in blood. The colour has washed out so much now that there's only a little bit of colour left in the panel, save for the blood, which is completely dark red.

SPEECH BUBBLE/RICK GRIMES - Blood? But... I'm not...

5-- Everything's now in black and white. Rick is lying on the floor of a desolate city, with a hole ripped in his chest, blood pouring out. His face is blank as he remembers the reality of his situation.

SPEECH BUBBLE/RICK GRIMES - Ah... Life's still awful.


Getting To Know Max Barnard

No, you don't want to do that.... Oh go on, then.(please)

Who is your favourite comic character?
-Chamber (Jono Starsmore), of Generation X fame. Say what you like about your supermen and wolverines, Chamber is where it's at. Man's a sullen english youth, jaded with the world because HE HAS AN EXPLOSION OF ENERGY FOR ORGANS... And his jaw. He's been in some great stories and had a unique look that sticks with you (and even now as a descendant of Apocalypse his look is pretty damn interesting). And that's all we can really ask for, isn't it?

If you've never given the character a chance, or haven't even heard of him before I implore you all to pay attention to new trades in your local comic shop in the next few weeks, where Generation X Classic vol. 1 (UK) should be hitting shelves at some point. You need it.

What is your favourite comic?
-Currently or all-time? Because at the moment it's undoubtedly Peter David's X-Factor, a woefully underrated series that blends comedy and tragedy in ways that other books can only dream of. All-time though... That's a doozy. It's a toss-up between Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big In Japan by Zeb Wells and Seth Fish, or the Chamber miniseries from a few years back by BKV and Lee Ferguson. Go get a coin, decide for yourselves!

Who is your favourite comic writer?
-Again, Peter David rears his lovely head again here for pretty much the same reasons I love his X-Factor, but have to give this to Zeb Wells, who just *gets* every character he writes. Not just that, but Wells gets to write stories beyond anything you'd expect with a distinct scripting style that manages to represent his scripting ability whilst also catering to whichever FANTASTIC artist he's managed to get his jammy hands on. In fact I think I can say that he's not only my favourite writer but also totally who I aspire to be like in my own writing. No idea if that's showing in my stuff around here yet.

Who has been the most fun to write so far in 26 weeks of thoughtballoons?
-It's a cliché to say Doctor Doom, but I'd be a liar if I said anyone else. There's just something magical and captivating about this thoroughly insane yet regal presence (or at least he likes to ACT like he's regal), capable of doing just about anything better than anyone else. Not just that, but a line that I'd have to dismiss from a script for being hammy when writing any other character? Never happens with Doom. Man's the very SPIRIT of ham. He is, in fact, the Ham Supreme. True Story. And all that from a guy who debuted blackmailing four heroes into stealing Blackbeard's treasure. SO fun.

I have to give a shout-out to Renee Montoya here as well, whom I enjoyed so much that I'd been writing further pages starring her (the first few of which can be found HERE, with the rest to appear in 2011). However I have to disqualify her on the basis that I changed her characteristics a fair bit for the sake of my elseworlds-style tale.

Which character do you most dread having to write?
-I generally have a good time with any character I'm writing. I mean I'm not a hater, any character has potential, doesn't it? But there ARE character's I find so uninteresting I honestly don't think I'd have anything to say with them. Most of them come from independant comics, where there's far less room to move away from how a creator has defined the character. Also any character from a sodding zombie comic. I'm entirely sick of zombies by this point in time. Especially anyone from that godforsaken series The Walking Dead, overrated comic series that it is.... Oh... Wait.

Oh, and I honestly don't think I could do anything interesting with Hal Jordan or Barry Allen. There's just nothing to them. Completely lacking in personality, the both of them.

Which non-comics character would you most like to write?
-Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn from Dan Abnett's brilliant trilogy of Warhammer 40k novels, Xenos, Malleus and Hereticus. He's such a well-defined character with so much more depth than you initially see. Not just that but he's a character with a lot of undefined history from his earlier days. Seriously, writing up some short tales of a younger Eisenhorn would be a dream come true for me.

Which script do you think has been your best so far?
-My Mephisto script, "Ambrose Burnside". It's what I perceive as me at my writing best, telling a story that uses the existing character in a new way alongside something very real, which in this case was historical figure Ambrose Burnside, the man responsible for sideburns. I researched, retooled and put in some real time into making a script that really displayed where my strengths were. And now I have to spend the rest of my time on the site trying to top it.

And of course again I have to mention Renee Montoya - Noir As Heck, because that was so very unlike anything I've ever written and completely just 'pops' for me.

Which script in total do you think has been the best on the site?
-Sime McDonald's The Thing script, "Man of the People". I'm not one for thinking in all that much great detail about current events, but what Sime managed here showed that not only can someone use the current state of the real world as a great spring-board for stories, but also that you can do it whilst keeping everything in-character and incredibly well-scripted and paced, something that certain professional creators would do well to observe. I doubt I could ever do a script like that myself, and it pleases me to see Simon reach such a grand level of quality. And considering he tops himself every week, that's REALLY saying something.

Great, now it seems like I'm downplaying everyone else. DON'T HATE ME, I LOVE (almost) ALL OF YOU!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rick Grimes - A Moment - Ben Rosenthal

The following contains a minor spoiler. It is not essential to the plot, but does spoil a transpiring nonetheless.

1. We are looking down on a table. A football sits on the table amongst some wrapping paper. It has been well worn, but is still in reasonably good shape. The wrapping spread underneath it is obviously supposed to wrap the ball. A homemade card can be seen poking out from underneath the wrapping paper.

2. The football is half in shot, an we can now see more of the table. Bits of discarded paper and sticky tape are sprawled across it. Someone has obviously had a hard time trying to wrap the ball.

3. Rick Grimes sits at the table. His head is bowed, hand on his forehead. Although we cannot see his eyes, we can tell he is looking at the stump on the end of his arm. In front of him is the ball he was trying to wrap. He looks deflated, defeated.

4. A close up of Rick’s face. Most of it is shadowed, his good hand blocking the light. Tears have welled in his eyes, with fresh trails staining each of his cheeks.


I’m sorry.

I'm not sure that I convey it clearly enough, but I wanted to show Rick at a point where he breaks down. Something as simple as wrapping present for his son is made extremely difficult due to the loss of his hand. The "I'm sorry" does not refer to his inability to wrap the gift, but rather a reflection on the limitations that have been put on him. Not only from losing his hand, but from being in the world which they now inhabit.