Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Department of the Peculiar - Rol Hirst

As well as my ongoing short story anthology book, PJANG (People Just Ain't No Good), I'm currently working on two new comics: Too Much Sex & Violence (still in the planning stages, but it's the biggest comics project I've ever attempted) and Department of the Peculiar (which has sat in my drawer for some years before finally finding an artist brave enough to tackle it - the excellent Rob Wells).

I've chosen to post a page from Department of the Peculiar as that's currently being drawn. The book is a weird superhero title - the premise being that in the UK superpowers are treated as a disease you really need to go see a doctor about. (We must be the most hypochondriac country on the planet... except maybe Sweden.) Department of the Peculiar is the goverment taskforce in charge of finding and curing sick "peculiars". But they're pretty short-staffed, due to spending cuts, so they need to recruit new members.

On the page below, we meet one potential new recruit - Malcolm 'Viral Mal' Drake, a former US superhero now living in the UK. If superheroes really are a disease, Mal has the perfect power set... you get a clue about his special abilities below.


Panel One.

Manchester City Centre. Establishing shot. A tram moves quickly through the streets.

CAP (carried over from previous page - DotP member Karine has had a premonition): Bad, bad, bad – this afternoon - in Manchester.

Panel Two.

Inside the tram. Close-up on a young couple (students), passionately kissing – lots of tongue.

Panel Three.

Across the aisle from the couple, Mal watches the couple kissing. He’s not happy about this going on right in front of his face, so early in the morning. A couple of other commuters are frowning at the display also. (Mal is listening to music on his iPod.)

CAP (Mal): God, it's way too early for love's young dream...

Panel Four.

He stares at his hand, stretching his fingers, considering whether to act.

CAP (Mal): Now I don't want to seem churlish, but..

Panel Five.

He reaches out and flourishes his fingers in the direction of the kissing couple. Some kind of effect from the end of his fingers (not a major effect) as he uses his powers.

CAP (Mal): Hell with it.

CAP (Mal): They brought this on themselves.

Panel Six.

Suddenly, the girl pulls away from the kiss, a look of revulsion on her face… a look that’s echoed in the face of her boyfriend.

Girl: God - your breath stinks!

Boy: My breath--!?

Panel Seven.

As the couple glare at each other, Mal appears satisfied with his work.

Boy: You been eating catmuck or what?

CAP (Mal): Yep. Back to full strength.

CAP (Mal): Look out, world...(!)

And to finish, as a special treat for those of you who don't want to waste time reading my script directions... here's the page as drawn by Rob. Like all great comic artists, he makes it SO much more entertaining than it originally was...

(Click to see it full-size.)


  1. Gret page. Simple, affective, and it looks pretty. Well done Rol. Again.

  2. I still think this feels like the superhero version of Ugly Americans, Rol. I know you said you wouldn't watch it, but you probably should, purely so that you can make sure your's is actually different. I'd hate for you to go through the effort of fleshing this thing out, just to have a publisher pass on it for this very reason. No one wants to be seen as a plagiarist... particularly if they aren't :)

    It seems I definitely am "that guy" on this site. I need to get you guys watching more TV and playing more video games ;)

  3. P.S. I hope you guys understand that I'm not saying these things to crush your dreams or anything. You just need to be aware that a similar idea is out there so you can be 100% sure that your's won't be unintentionally seen as a "rip-off".

  4. @Danial - I think I can speak on behalf ok all of us in saying that any feedback is good feedback. It prevents us from unintentionally putting a lot of effort into something that may already exists, and may get passed purely due to this. Keep it up Danial.

    Oh, I forgot to mention - this seems very similar to No Heroics. Not exactly the same, but the same feel to it. Not a bad thing, by the way.

  5. From what I've read about Ugly Americans since your mentioned it, Danial, I'm not too worried about any comparison (knowing what I know about the rest of my book). Likewise No Heroics, Ben, which I've also never seen but read up on. It's kind of like saying X-Men is a rip-off of Avengers is a rip-off of JLA. Yeah, they're all teams of superheroes, but each (when written correctly) has its own specific purpose and angle. I'm confident that Dept Of The Peculiar is different enough to stand on its own.


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.