Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Dashiell Bad Horse?

Have you read Scalped?

If you have, you already know the answer to that question. Dashiell Bad Horse is the lead character in Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera’s Vertigo title ‘Scalped’. He’s an angry young Indian who made it off the reservation but then found himself back as an undercover FBI agent. He’s a volatile and dangerous man who is handy with a forceful way and is one of the most flawed characters you’ll find in the four colour medium.

Dash isn’t a standard hero, he’s not going to ride into view on the horizon and save the day. I guess he is an Indian because he certainly isn’t a cowboy. Is it wrong to say that? If you’ve read the title you’ll know it’s not. Scalped throws out more racist invective and unpleasant wordplay than most people are used to in their day to day lives. Yet it never actually comes across as racist, it’s honest. There’s so much truth in this title and it’s usually in the form of gritty, brutal, or downright harsh.

The important thing to remember about Dash is that he’s deeply flawed. He’s got more cracks than a sun-damaged face and he tells more history. It’s not that he can’t do the right thing, he sometimes does, but it’s more that he’s human. There are occasions where things don’t work out for Dash and yet he moves on. He survives. He doesn’t posture, he doesn’t lecture, he does. He is the constant motion of living in action.

The strength of Scalped, and its lead character, is that it’s extremely well written. This week gives us all a lot to live up to, but, like a goldfish, you only grow to the size of your bowl. This character offers a bowl extremely massive and so we’ll all have to puff up and deliver the goods, but if we don’t maybe we’re just as flawed as Dash. And hopefully we’ll all find some forgiveness.

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  1. One of my favorite characters from my favorite series on the first week where I don't have to worry about schoolwork? Is it Christmas?

    I hope we see Red Crow sometime in the future.

  2. Uh boy. This is going to be a toughie. <__<

  3. I might throw up something else later this week. I had another idea that I couldn't quite hammer out into a page that I want to work on.

    All Roads Always Led Here

    Panel 1: DASH hurls himself away from the door, scrambling into his house. He’s terrified, and even though SHUNKA can’t see it, we get to see DASH’s face in exquisite, fearful detail. His eyes are red from lack of sleep, and he has a scraggly, unkempt beard—the result of neglect rather than the desire to grow one. He’s been waiting for a call. An important one. SHUNKA stands in the doorway in his tracksuit, silhouetted, surprised at DASH’s reaction but not taken aback.

    SHUNKA: Bad Horse!

    Panel 2: DASH is over by his bed, reaching under his pillow, panic in his eyes. Around his bed are scattered objects—lots of cigarettes, ashtrays, chewing gum wrappers, and, importantly, his cell phone. He’s avoided relapsing, but just barely. He’s at the end of his rope.

    SHUNKA: Saddle up. Boss has a job for you.

    Panel 3: SHUNKA steps forward, kicking DASH in the chin, sending him reeling over onto the bed. In one of DASH’s hands, we see the gun he was pulling out from under the pillow. The kick is tight, efficient, but SHUNKA’s face betrays the satisfaction that he gets from it.

    SHUNKA: You deaf all of a sudden?

    Panel 4: Level shot of DASH on the bed. Shunka presses over him, holding him down and pinning his gun hand down

    SHUNKA: The fuck exactly is wrong with you?

    Panel 5: Close-up of the phone. The caller ID says LORD OF ALL BASTARDS. It's Nitz.

    No Dialogue.

    Panel 6: Close-up on DASH’s gun hand. His knuckles are white and his thumb is on the safety. In the background, we see SHUNKA holding the phone, reading the ID.

    SHUNKA: And who the fuck is this?

  4. So presumably, this is the moment when Dash is exposed and all hell breaks loose. It took me a couple of reads to get what was going on here, but that's probably because I'm not hugely familiar with the characters having only read volume 1 so far. There was definitely a powerful sense of things about to go badly wrong in this script though. From a reader's pov, has the caller ID for Nitz previously been established... if not, I wonder how the reader would know who the LORD OF ALL BASTARDS was. You tell us in the description but there's nothing to suggest a reveal to the reader.

  5. @Rol: It has, in volume 2. The issue titled Way of the Intercepting Fist, if I'm not mistaken.

  6. @Aryeh - I like it. A really good look at how things might go down if Dash's cover were blown. Some really effective and evocative panels, just the right amount of dialogue, and some excellent descriptions. Seems to me that you did a great job of capturing the spirit of the series.

  7. Nice one, Aryeh. Picking up on those little details is always good for creating new stories.

  8. Aryeh - a very cool script but I want to know when the phone started ringing? Is it on silent?

    Otherwise, I very tight page.

  9. The phone rings in panel five. The screen on the front of the phone lights up with the caller ID and it either vibrates or rings. I think if you saw the page it'd be evident--panel five is the only one without dialogue, making it seem like the phone is interrupting the flow of the scene.


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