Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Parker – A Simple Ultimatum - MK Stangeland Jr.

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: PARKER is sitting at an outside café table, looking nonchelante. An empty drink glass sits on the table next to him.

SFX: (From PARKER’s phone ringing) beep-beep-beep!

Panel 2: PARKER has answered his phone.

PETERSON (1): (From phone) Mr. Parker. I believe you have something that belongs to me.

PARKER: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

PETERSON (2): (From phone) Then I suppose I don’t know about the poison that was in the drink you just finished.

Panel 3: Beat panel. PARKER looks at the empty glass next to him. He’s showing no external signs of a reaction, but internally he’s thinking ‘$#*^’.

Panel 4: Inside PETERSON’s office. We don’t get a full view of PETERSON himself, but rather it might focus on something else that gives us a picture of him without actually getting a good look at him as PETERSON talks to PARKER – the office is well-lit, no shadowy elements at all, and is located at the top of a skyscraper, giving a great view of the city around him.

PETERSON (1): Here’s the thing, Mr. Parker.

PETERSON (2): I like to think I’m a very law abiding individual. I even like to think that I manage to avoid legal but very morally questionable activities.

Panel 5: Back to PARKER as PETERSON continues to talk.

PETERSON (1): (From phone) Not like you, who feels its their right to take other peoples things because you’re good at it.

PETERSON (2): (From phone) When people like you, who are beyond what the law knows how to handle, decide to take what is rightfully mine, I’m willing to return the favor.

PETERSON (3): (From phone) I’m not interested in revenge, Mr. Parker. That never ends well.

PETERSON (4): (From phone) I just want you to return what’s mine.

Panel 6: PETERSON continues to talk.

PETERSON (1): (Phone) The poison will kill you in 24 hours.

PETERSON (2): (Phone) You have Twenty-One and a half.

PETERSON (3): (Phone) That’s because I need Two and a half to verify it’s real and ensure you can’t pull a fast one.

PETERSON (4): (Phone) You give me back my stuff, I give you the antidote, forgive you for your mistake, and forget this ever happened.

PETERSON (5): (Phone) If you don’t, you die, and then I spend as much money as I need to get it back from your dead, rotting corpse.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Parker - Loose Lips - Grant McLaughlin

Simple layout.  Row one is made up of panel 1 and is the biggest row / panel on the page, establishing the scene.  Row two is made up of panel 2, but it is thin and long.  Row three is made up of the remaining panels, all of equal width.

1 - Wide shot.  Parker is on a cruise ship, leaning on a railing and looking over the water.  He wears some stereotypical cruising stuff - Hawaiian shirt, khakis, etc.  A staff member of the ship walks by (wearing a uniform of some variety).

CAPTION: Losing his inside man complicated things.

2 - Closer in on Parker.  His eyes are narrowed and he tracks the staff member as they head into a doorway on the boat (if you think it's necessary, you can have a partly seen "Staff Only" sign partially visible on the door).

CAPTION: But there was an obvious solution to that problem.

3 - Parker heads into the door after the staff member.

CAPTION: Obvious.

4 - A shot of the closed door.


5 - Parker coming out of the door, wearing the staff member's uniform.

CAPTION: ...but not without its own complications.

Why Parker?

Beginning in 2009, the Parker novels were finally given three things they had never been given before: 1) a series of 2) faithful adaptations where 3) the character was called “Parker.” This was courtesy of award-winning comic-book artist and writer Darwyn Cooke, who received Donald Westlake’s blessing for the project (alas, Westlake did not live to see a completed volume).

The Hunter is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind — to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him!

Initially planning to adapt the first four Parker novels, Cooke changed his mind after the project had begun and instead went for the ones that he thought would make for the best visual adaptations.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Special - What's in Marvel NOW's Stocking? - Travis M. Holyfield

Panel 1: The all new GHOST RIDER holds a Christmas stocking in one hand. In his other hand he is holding a book up to the light so that he can see the title

GHOST RIDER: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”. Sigh.

Panel 2: THE SCARLET WITCH holds her Christmas stocking in one hand and examines a piece of paper she has drawn from it.

THE SCARLET WITCH: A gift subscription to

Panel 3: THE SILVER SURFER holds a Christmas stocking in one hand while staring at a small circular tin he holds in the other.

THE SILVER SURFER: What is “Sex Wax”?

Panel 4: ROCKET RACCOON has his Christmas stocking thrown over one shoulder. He holds up his arms to display a tiny potted BABY GROOT, its arms outstretched in happiness. Rocker is smiling widely.

Panel 5: The All-New Captain America (Sam Wilson) is holding up his stocking. It has been stuffed with a giant, very familiar, disc shape.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: No idea what THIS could be.  

Panel 6: THANOS is holding his Christmas stocking and frowning in disappointment. In his other hand he holds up a pair of mittens.

THANOS: Not quite.  

Christmas Special - The Madding Crowd, Part 15 - Ray Wonsowski

Previously: ECLIPSO, God's former Angel of Wrath, has opened a gate to an elder dimension in an all-out assault against the Almighty and his Creation. The tables have now turned, as time has been bent backwards, and HAWK and DOVE bring the fight to ECLIPSO above the streets of Gotham...

Layout: 3 rows of 2

Foreground is the same in each panel: little kid in his pajamas (in the Quiet) sitting on the sofa, facing us, bathed in the light of an unseen TV.  Behind him is a big window (it looks like he lives in a sixth or seventh floor apartment) where we see the action unfold. The window action is as follows:

Panel 1- DOVE takes a blast of black energy to the gut from above, and is thrust backwards to the ground below.

TV: ".nworB eilrahC, tuoba lla si samtsirhC tahw s'tahT"

Panel 2- As DOVE tumbles, HAWK catches him by the forearm as he zooms upward to meet his foe.

TV: ".nem drawot lliw doog, ecaep htrae no dna, tsehgih eht ni doG ot yrolG, gniyas dna, doG gnisiarp, tsoh ylnevaeh eht fo edutitlum a legna eht htiw saw ereht ylneddus dnA"

Panel 3- HAWK and DOVE right themselves midair as ECLIPSO thrusts himself at the brothers, scimitar in one hand raised above his head, the other hand holding a Black Diamond up to his eye between his fingers, charging up another blast.

TV: ".regnam a ni gniyl, sehtolc gnilddaws ni depparw ebab eht dnif llahs ey: uoy otnu ngis a eb llahs siht dnA"

Panel 4 - HAWK grapples with ECLIPSO's sword arm while DOVE hooks himself through his other arm, pulling the sparking Black Diamond away from his face.

TV:  ".droL eht tsirhC si hcihw, roivaS a yad siht nrob si uoy otnu roF .elpoep lla ot eb llahs hcihw, yoj taerg fo sgnidit doog uoy otnu gnirb I, dloheb rof: ton raeF, meht otnu dias legna eht dnA"

Panel 5- HAWK twists around, landing a right cross across ECLIPSO's face. The Black Diamond is dropped, and DOVE reaches out to catch it.

TV: "diarfa eros erew yeht dna, meht nopu emac droL eht fo legna eht, ol dnA .thgin yb kcolf rieht revo hctaw gnipeek, dleif eht ni gnidiba sdrehpehs yrtnuoc emas eht ni erew ereht dnA"

Panel 6- HAWK and ECLIPSO dive out of view toward the ground, while DOVE smashes the Black Diamond in his palm with his fist, releasing a cloud of black sparking dust.

TV: "...esaelp, sthgiL..." be continued...

(Backwards quotes from Linus Van Pelt's monologue in A Charlie Brown Christmas...and Merry Christmas to Thoughtballooners everywhere!)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Special – Baker & Grodd’s Festive Adventure! – MK Stangeland Jr.

(8 Panels)

Panel 1: The planes from the heart of AFRICA, where ANIMAL MAN and THE FLASH (WALLY WEST) are standing next to GORILLA GRODD’s invisible lair. ANIMAL MAN is dressed with a SANTA BEARD and HAT over his normal costume and carries a standard-design brown bag, while FLASH is wearing one of those silly ELF hats that has faux elf ears attached. ANIMAL MAN looks as pleased as ever, while FLASH looks unusually concerned about the situation – it’s more a concern for ANIMAL MAN than anything.

While the area around the invisible lair looks off, the surest sign that it’s actually there is the doorway that’s standing out in the open that GORILLA GRODD has opened, allowing us to see just a touch of the inside of the lair past the open door. GRODD looks very annoyed by the presence of ANIMAL MAN.




Panel 2: GRODD points at FLASH as he comes just short of shouting in ANIMAL MAN’s face.

GRODD (1): What are you doing here, what is he doing here, and how did you even FIND this place?!

GRODD (2): This is supposed to be a top-secret invisible base!

Panel 3: THE FLASH facepalms as ANIMAL MAN responds to GRODD’s questioning. ANIMAL MAN looks highly pleased with himself.

ANIMAL MAN (1): Magic, Mr. Grodd!

ANIMAL MAN (2): Christmas magic! It is Christmas Eve, after all!

SFX: (From THE FLASH) *Facepalm*

Panel 4: Unamused reaction shot from GRODD.

Panel 5: GRODD slams the door shut as he disappears back into his invisible lair. THE FLASH does another faceplam. ANIMAL MAN holds a generic present box in his hand as his bag hangs in front of him.



ANIMAL MAN (1): The proper term is ‘Bah Humbug!’, Mr. Grodd!

SFX: (From FLASH) *Repeat Facepalm*

ANIMAL MAN (2): And you forgot your present!

Panel 6: GRODD opens the door to his invisible lair again and slaps the box onto the ground out of ANIMAL MAN’s hand. ANIMAL MAN and FLASH both are taken aback at the sudden reaction.

SFX: (From GRODD hitting box) SLAP!

SFX: (From box hitting ground) klump

Panel 7: GRODD slams the door and disappears back into the invisible lair.

GRODD: (From invisible door) BAH HUMBUG!


Panel 8: ANIMAL MAN looks down at the ground where GRODD’s present currently sits. THE FLASH does yet another facepalm.

ANIMAL MAN: (Minimized) That’s, uh…the…spirit?

ANIMAL MAN: (Fading out) Not…uh…really? I think?

SFX: (From FLASH) *Continued Facepalm*


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Special - Faster than a Locomotive - Grant McLaughlin

Classic 3 by 3 layout. All panels are shot from the same perspective: underneath a Christmas tree, looking out into a nice, cozy home. There can be some ornaments and presents bordering the panel, but being able to see the home / room is the important bit. That and the portion of a model railroad track that is at the bottom of the panel. 

1 - The basic panel as described above. No one is visible in the room, so have a view of some furniture and whatever you think belongs in a lived-in home. A model toy locomotive is just coming on panel from a side of the track (let's day going right to left)

VOICE (from off-panel): Is that--?

2 - A huge blur of movement (blue and red) engulfs most of the room as something races to the base of the tree at super speed. You can insert some effects of the speed / wind at your leisure (branches moving, etc). The train advances along the track.


3 - Clark Kent, wearing some fetching blue and red pyjamas, now sits at the base of the tree, overjoyed as he looks down on the train. The train continues on its merry way, filling most of the visible track. 

CLARK: Where did you find a Siegel an Shuster Model Train Set?!

4 - Clark leans in close to get an even better view - he is in literal kid on Christmas morning territory here. The train is starting to wane, heading off the panel. 

CLARK: They haven't made these since --

5 - Clark follows the train's movement (now off-panel) with his eyes. The main change is that Lois' legs are visible in the background as she walks over to finally catch up. 

LOIS (from out of sight): -- Since they discontinued it back in '75 due to the fire hazard. 

6 - Lois has now knelt down to join Clark. He still wears the same big smile as he turns to her to tell her a quick story. Lois smiles back. 

CLARK (1): I still can't believe how fast our tree went up. 

CLARK (2): Or how fast Pa moved to put it out. 

7 - Both watch the (off-panel) train in silence, smiling all the while. 


8 - Clark turns to Lois, a meaningful look on his face. She turns to listen. Also, the train is back in view. 

CLARK: Thank you, Lois. 

9 - Lois grins in a satisfied manner. They share a kiss. The train chugs along. 

LOIS: Merry Christmas, Smallville. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Special - A Christmas Thought Balloons Message - Ben Rosenthal

1.  Ben Rosenthal is looking directly at the reader, addressing them.

Hey there, I'm Ben.  The puppet dictator here at Thought Balloons.

2.  Ben is walking past a collection of items which represent different things to people around Christmas times - religious scenes, presents, a family gathering.

Of course, Christmas means different things to different people.  Coming together with friends and family being one of the most important.

3.  Extreme close up of Ben's face.   He is serious.

Unless you're a writer.

4.  Ben is sitting at his desk hunched over, almost as if he is in pain while he writes.

So spare a though this holiday season for the writers.

We don't choose to writer whenever we can.

We have to.

Why Christmas Special

Some of you may not know, but it is Christmas this week.

Merry Holidays and stuff.

One of those things that goes hand in hand with this time of year is the Christmas Special.  They happen in every form of media - and comics are no exception.

(I don't even know who the guy with the guns in this pic is)

So this week on Thought Balloons we pay tribute to the Christmas Special.

Got time now that you are on holidays to submit a script?  Please do so below!

Have a great new year from all of us here at Thought Balloons.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Avatar - The Madding Crowd, Part 14 - R.A. Wonsowski

All captions are Harry Dresden's.


Panel 1- Long shot, the Milky Way galaxy.

CAPTION: Magic, as Gravel says, isn't an art. It's a science. It's math of the Most High.
CAPTION: It's a rulebook for how the universe works.

Panel 2- AANG, in a stylized Shaolin temple courtyard high in the mountains. He is in a graceful pose in the middle of his tai-chi-like kata, and all four elements - fire, earth, water, and a visible swirl of air - ring him around his waist in a large circle, perfectly balanced about his axis.

CAPTION: You can't, however, break the rules of physics, so we must bend the ones of magic.
CAPTION: The last True Avatar could bend all four cardinal elements...

Panel 3- A SAMURAI duels in the waters of a shallow creek against two dirty THIEVES. The thieves are armed with short swords, but the SAMURAI defeats them, a katana in each hand, one short and one long. Each of the samurai's blades swings it's arc, trailing visible motion in flat black. The air seems to have that bubble-skin shimmering quality, kind of like...

CAPTION: ...but it wasn't until Musashi, the samurai, that the fifth element, the void, could be manipulated. And he'd been the only one...

Panel 4- ..."The Quiet". JON & SUZI under the sheets, making love, POV from above.

CAPTION: Until Jon and Suzi. Through the void, they are the first Timebenders in centuries. Making it stop...

Panel 5- In the Madness Gate, on the back of the master Hellspider, ECLIPSO reels in the Quiet, fumbling his scimitar, confused and angry. Background, and coming in fast, HAWK zooms toward us for the attack, talon-hands extended. DOVE has his back, keeping Hellspider-young at bay.

CAPTION: ...and go backwards.
ECLIPSO: ?!?gnineppah si tahw... be continued...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Avatar - It Always Comes Back - Ben Rosenthal

1.  In the Southern Water Tribe.  Korra is just a child and is being carried away in the foreground by Zaheer.  In the foreground we can only see adult Sokka's head looking on as Korra is carried away.

2.  Reverse angle.  A tight shot severely beaten Sokka from the neck up - he doesn't have much left in him.  He holds in his arm his boomerang, clenched and about to throw it after Zaheer.  In the background to the left Katara and Aang are running towards him/Zaheer.  Katare is screaming and Aang is shocked.

3.  A tight shot on Zaheer as the boomerang hits him in the brow (it is the moment he got the scar on his brow).

4. A shot of the boomerang in mid air, flying back to Sokka.

5.  A wide panel.  The Boomerang has landed in the show at Sokka's feet.  Katara (who has tears streaming down her face of pure rage) and Aang are beginning to bend at Ming-Hua who has impaled Sokka with her water arm tendrils.  He has died.  Sokka was impaled before he threw the boomerang.  His last act was saving Korra.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Avatar – The Comedy of Amon – MK Stangeland Jr.

(As inspired by the “Comedy Amon” meme that I’ve gotten a ton of mileage out of since the concept first popped up during Season 1 of Legend of Korra. I’ve got roughly a hundred of those things to date and I’ve had fun with every one of them.

Plus, Varrick’s always a fun character. Hard to go wrong with Varrick.)

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: A 20’s or 30’s style movie set – the best inspiration would probably be the scenes from SEASON 2 of LEGEND OF KORRA during the NUK TUK filming scenes. VARRICK is in the middle of giving orders as BOLIN approaches.

VARRICK (1): AH! Bolin! Just the man I wanted to see!

VARRICK (2): We need to work out details about this Bolin Saves the World mover!

BOLIN: Varrick, I’m not sure if there’s be a Bolin Saves the World mover.

Panel 2: VARRICK is disappointed in BOLIN’s attitude.

VARRICK: Not with that attitude, there isn’t!

BOLIN: That’s not what I wanted to talk to you about anyway.

Panel 3: BOLIN is suspicious of VARRICK as VARRICK explains himself, looking proud of himself as usual.

BOLIN: What’s this I’m hearing about an Amon movie?

VARRICK: That? That’s my next big mover idea!

Panel 3: VARRICK speaks as he ‘sells’ his idea, complete with his arms out in front of him like he’s picturing a movie title displayed in lights. BOLIN looks less than thrilled about what VARRICK is saying.

VARRICK (1): I call it “The Comedy of Amon!”

VARRICK (2): It’s a fun, slap-stick piece that tells the story of Amon as he fails in his quest to ‘Get That Avatar!’ but has a ton of laughs along the way!

BOLIN: That sounds like a terrible idea.

Panel 4: VARRICK puts an arm around BOLIN’s shoulder as he continues to sell the idea.

VARRICK (1): Trust me, kid! I know exactly what I’m doing!

VARRICK (2): I invented the mover business, remember!

BOLIN: But a mover about Amon?

Panel 5: Continuation of PANEL 4.

VARRICK (1): Look, Bolin, I know all there is to know about movers, and you? Not so much.

VARRICK (2): The trick is to make light of Amon so that nobody takes him seriously!

Panel 6: VARRICK turns aside as he gets ready to move on to another line of thought as BOLIN fails to follow VARRICK’s saying.

BOLIN: I think you lost me.

VARRICK (1): Well, it’ll probably come off better once we’ve got a script together.

VARRICK (2): I’m still throwing ideas up against the wall and seeing what sticks.


Why Avatar?

Fire - Air - Water - Earth
Only one can master all four elements – The Avatar!
Back in 2005, Nickelodeon debuted an animated series created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko called Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was set in a fantastical world where special individuals commonly referred to as Benders had the power to control one of the four classical elements.

One such individual known as the Avatar, who was born with the Avatar Spirit after the last one passed away, was special in that they had not just the power to learn how to control all four elements, but served as go-between for both the human world and the spirit world that it existed just short of right next to. The Avatar was then tasked to use this power to ‘bring balance’ to the world, which often involved serving as some kind of mix between a one-person United Nations (if the United Nations wasn’t an ineffectual mess 99% of the time) and The Pope.

Alternatively, to quote the short-lived abridged series, they’re “Kung-Fu Action Jesus”. Their words, not mine.

It was a pretty great series that picked up a pretty devoted fanbase for a good reason. Aside from having spectacular writing and great characters, the show did a phenomenal job with its world building that was heavily inspired by various Asian culture and mythology. Even the hallmark super-powered elemental kung-fu fighting styles draw directly from real-life martial arts.

The end result was a world with untapped potential the likes of which you don’t find very often.

Except there was a problem – For whatever reason, it’s also a property that Nickelodeon doesn’t seem to know what to do with, which seems to have created a very love-hate relationship. On the one hand, they followed up with a live-action movie, sequel comics to the series, and a full-on sequel series in the form of Legend of Korra. On the other hand, the movie was a mess, Legend of Korra has suffered from all number of mixed signals from Nickelodeon, and who can say what the future holds for the comics?

Which is why, aside from future trade paperbacks, this coming Friday’s series finale for Legend of Korra may be the last major addition we ever see to the Avatar franchise. So it seemed like a good time to put our own stamps on the series before it may well go away for good. With thousands of years worth of history to play in and plenty of characters to work with if you don’t feel like creating your own, it should be no problem finding something to write about.

Including for anyone who’d like to play along at home – just go ahead and put your own one-page script in the comments section below!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

$#x Criminals - The Madding Crowd, Part "G" - R.A. Wonsowski

I dunno...parental advisory at the top? Anyway...this script is Travis's fault, like, 20 times...

Panel 1- Running down the nighttime city streets, among the panicking crowds, JON is running towards us, just about to pass a Starbucks. He's on his cell phone, a look of fear upon his face. In the crimson sky we see the Madness Gate opened in front of the full moon, the Spider-God breaching, surrounded by tiny black dots (the other hellspiders swarming beside).

JON: C'mon Suze pick up....
(Off-Panel): Oy! Jon Johnson!

Panel 2- JON pulls up short at the sound of his name, lowering his phone. Leaning against the Starbucks window (covering the "tarb" of the logo), holding a branded to-go cup with a tea-bag tag hanging out from under the lid and smoking a cigarette, is WILLIAM GRAVEL.

JON: Do I know you?
GRAVEL: No, but I know you, son. And I know what you've been up to.
GRAVEL: More to the point, I know how you do what you been up to.

Panel 3- Same POV as Panel 2. JON looks like he's about to cut and run. GRAVEL sidearms the tea nonchalantly into the face of a passing panicker as he sucks a drag off his smoke.

JON: Oh, jeez, I...
GRAVEL: For Chrissakes, I'm not gonna clap irons on. In fact, I need you to step up your game.

Panel 4- JON tries to get away, looking a little skeeved out, expression of "eww" on his face, but GRAVEL has a firm grip on his arm, preventing him from escaping into the crowd.

JOB: Look, mister...
GRAVEL: Shut it, mate! Listen and learn!
GRAVEL: I know how you stop time. I need you to pull a Chris Reeve and make it go backwards.

Panel 5- GRAVEL has his hand in that Spider-Man "thwip" position, but he's holding it waist high, index and pinky pointing down, and wrist bent back, palm toward JON. GRAVEL is pointing at it with his cig. His expression should be slightly smarmy, a dirty-ol-man grin, while JON should be skeptical, one eyebrow arched.

JON: And how...
GRAVEL: Got the idea from this whole spider-verse-incursion thing. And Sarah Jane. It'll curl your girlie's toes. First you make like this with your fingers, right, then you...

Panel 6- Very squirty, wet, liquid looking panel, suggestion of Suze in an "o" without showing (abstract and fluid). Whole panel translucent transparence except for text.

CAPTION: Later...
SUZE: YES!! be continunitnoc eb ot...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sex Criminals - Out to Brunch - Grant McLaughlin

In Sex Criminals' trademark 4x4 panel layout:
0012 (i.e. two spots for panel 10 and one for 11 and 12)

1 - Jon and Suzie swept up and lost in the sheets in the midst of having sex (with said sheets tastefully placed to maintain everyone's dignity).

CAPTION (SUZIE): In those early days, Jon and I were having sex pretty much constantly.

2 - Suzie and Jon sit at a table in a restaurant.  They're eating brunch (let's say Jon's having some variety of French toast, while Suzie has a classic bacon, toast, and eggs).  Jon is digging into his food, while Suzie sits partially turned on her chair, addressing the reader directly.

SUZIE: But if we ever managed to pull ourselves apart from our advanced face sucking for more than five minutes, we'd get brunch.

3 - Suzie's attention is distracted by a server walking by with a big tray of plates.

SUZIE: I've always loved brunch.

4 - The panel focus follows said tray, displaying a wealth of brunch plates and options.  There's eggs, pancakes, fruit, breakfast burritos, steak frites - really whatever floats your brunch boat.

CAPTION (SUZIE): There's just so many options to choose from.  So many ways to enjoy it and to share it with others.

5 - Back to Suzie and Jon.  Jon has some French toast on his fork and feeds it to Suzie (kind of suddenly).  It's very subtle, but the background starts to look a bit like things do when time stops (colours, faded, etc).

CAPTION (SUZIE): Maybe this sounds weird, but it can be kind of intimate, in its own way.

6 - Jon gives Suzie a winning smile.  Suzie smiles back bashfully.  The time stoppage effects are becoming a bit more obvious.

CAPTION (SUZIE): Well, it can be with the right person.

7 - Suzie reciprocates Jon's action, feeding him some bacon and eggs.  Things are getting close to looking like the time stoppage - the background is fading out almost completely.

CAPTION (SUZIE): And before I met Jon, it was the closest thing to The Quiet that I could share with anyone else.

8 - Get rid of the time stoppage effect completely.  Jon and Suzie are back in the restaurant with nothing amiss.  Their actions are a spiritual repetition of panel 6, with Suzie and Jon once again switching roles.  If they weren't clearly so into each other, it would be sickeningly sweet.

CAPTION (SUZIE): Time would never stop.

9 - Suzie moves to hold Jon's hand.  They smile at each other.

CAPTION (SUZIE): But a good brunch could slow it down a bit.

10 - Repeat panel 9.


11 - Still hand holding, Suzie looks surprised / like she's just thought of something.  She looks back at the reader.

SUZIE (1): Now where was I?

SUZIE (2): Oh, right...

12 - The traditional all caps white text on black background that Sex Criminals uses to switch scenes.


Why Sex Criminals?

Because sometimes we bite off more than we can chew.

I shouldn't be telling you anything when I say that Sex Criminals was one of the best new comics of 2013, and to be honest, has easily remained one of the best books of 2014.

At its most basic, it’s a book about dicks, vaginas, jokes, and jokes about dicks and vaginas.

That and robbing banks.

Oh, and I guess there’s also that whole stopping time thing? That certainly seems to be a crowd pleaser.

But it’s also so much more than all of that. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have seemingly done the impossible

Sex is a big, weird, and confusing topic, but they've created a book that looks at sex, sexuality, and relationships with an earnestness that simply doesn't exist anywhere else in the comic book world at the moment. Frankly, there aren't too many stories in any medium right now that look at these subjects with such nuance and consideration. I am by no means exaggerating when I say that Suzie Dickson and Jon Johnson’s relationship is one of the best realized interactions between two fictional persons that I've seen in ages.

And that’s not even taking into account Sex Criminals’ various meditations on subjects ranging from birth control, depression, mental health – and always with an emphasis on finding solutions that are right for the individual and never the group – to name just a few. This is a book that treats most everything with the proper level of thoughtfulness.

But that’s not to say that there isn't passion behind these words and pictures. While these types of sincere, serious conversations are important to have in our fiction, it wouldn't really matter if that was all they were accomplishing. Thankfully, Fraction and Zdarsky show a keen understanding of this fact, and Sex Criminals oozes passion from every orifice (I'd rework that phrasing, but it seems grossly appropriate). Every character, scene, joke, and plot point is lovingly crafted with a clear goal ahead of it (hell, Robert Rainbow, who only appeared in issue #8 was foreshadowed all the way back in issue #2 ferchrissakes). That is what makes the comic worth reading.

And that is what makes writing our own Sex Criminal pages such a challenge. While we're looking for something sexy, funny, and a little bit dirty, it also has to fit in with all the good stuff that Fraction and Zdarsky have been throwing out there.

A tall order, to be certain.

So, good luck and stuff, brimpers.

And, you know, don’t forget the dick and vagina jokes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spider-Verse - Spider-Man 2099 - Nic J Shaw

                                                               Spider-Man 2099

Panel One
Miguel, in costume, mask in hand, is walking away from Dana, Net Prophet and Xina. He storms towards the reader, battered and bruised with a look of frustration on his face.

Spider-Ma—Miguel! Wait, he’s—

Don’t Dana, we’re done with this.

Megacorps isn’t going to put their plans on hold while we argue what to do, and who should do what.

At least let Net Prophet come—


Panel Two
Miguel rests a hand on the frame of an open window. He’s looking out into the city, his back turned to the group.

No more relationships. No more partners. No more games.

Panel Three
Miguel crouches in the window sill, looking back at Dana, Net Prophet, and Xina.

I do this alone.

Panel Four
Xina looks furiously at Dana. Net Prophet stands around awkwardly.

You know this is all your fault right?


You two were as unstable as the molecules that make up his suit even before I came along!

Net Prophet:
Okay… I’m just going to…

Panel Five
Same as Panel four, though now Net Prophet has teleported, only leaving behind a small puff of matter, a fragment of a sign that he was ever even there. Xina and Dana are staring at the space where Net Prophet was.





Spider-Verse - The Madding Crowd, Part 13 - Ray Wonsowski

Okay, I'm fully aware I'm bending the rules a bit on this one....

Double-page spread:
1111 1111
1111 1111
2233 4455

Panel 1- Foreground: Standing on the back of a giant grand-daddy Hellspider, ECLIPSO rides, holding onto the reins with one hand, brandishing a long ornate scimitar over his head with the other. He is relishing the horror to come. Midground: Countless hellspiders swarming, all following after ECLIPSO's mount through space. Background: The Madness Gate that separates our universe from the spiders' has been breached by the Lovecraftian most-elder Spider-God, P'tah Pk'ha, the Arachnos of a Billion Eyes, its forelegs holding the gate open, mandibles slavering as they tear open its own egg sac, its delicate albino young interspersed in the silk. Three caption boxes on the left page, three on the right.

CAPTION, LEFT 1: When he was one with the I-Am, he was Kezef, the Wrath of God made manifest.
CAPTION, LEFT 2: The Lord thought the Forty Night Flooding of All Creation was way off the reservation, so to speak, and cast Kezef off.
CAPTION, LEFT 3: Banished to the dark side of the moon and his power-essence trapped in the Heart of Darkness on Apokolips.

CAPTION, RIGHT 1: Kezef was bloody furious. He had sided with God in the first Angelic War, obeyed orders, destroyed and killed at God's command, and eternal exile away from His light and presence was to be his great reward?
CAPTION, RIGHT 2: #&@k God, he said.
CAPTION, RIGHT 3: It was then that Kezef became Eclipso.

Panel 2- Night. On the deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Gavyn, HAWK and DOVE are battle-ready and impatient listening as WILLIAM GRAVEL smokes a cigarette and HARRY DRESDEN wipes spiderwebs from his duster coat.

DRESDEN (small lettering): Not that the Spectre was the picture of restraint. That whole first-born thing in Egypt...
HAWK: Get to the point.

Panel 3- Close-up on GRAVEL, gesturing with his cigarette as he explains.

GRAVEL: You two are the Avatars of God's Covenant with Noah after the flood.
GRAVEL: Forty days of sodding rain, Noah sent a raven first, to look for land.
GRAVEL: But the raven turns his back on Noah, so God set the hawk upon it as His vengeance.

Panel 4- Foreground, GRAVEL, back to us, leans against the deck railing, waving his cigarette as he speaks, the smoke spiraling in the air. HAWK is facing him, still in a battle-ready stance. Between them, DOVE stands thoughtfully as he listens, one arm back as if to hold his brother back. The sky has gone starless.

GRAVEL: Noah dispatches the dove then, returns with an olive branch, so on...
GRAVEL: The Lords of Order and Chaos have been allowed to fill those offices to keep humanity's ledgers balanced. The Hawk and the Dove...

Panel 5- Midshot, heads and upper bodies. HAWK has grabbed GRAVEL by his coat, holding him nearly nose to nose. Both men are showing teeth, HAWK in furious grimace, GRAVEL with a $#!t-eating grin biting his cigarette.

HAWK: The point, old man!
GRAVEL: Easy, boy. SAS, I am. And the six pants-pissing scariest words an SAS man can say?
GRAVEL: "I have a plan, old son..." be continued...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Spider-Verse - Son of Nine Spiders - Travis M. Holyfield

Panel 1: Exterior. A Celestial City in flames. Spider-Man leaps into the air, arms outstretched, legs tucked in below him. Facing him, flexed to destroy, is DAEMOS.
SPIDER-MAN (CAPTION): I have rained blows against this monster for hours, and still he does not slow. Still he does not waver.

Panel 2: Close-up of Daemos’ face being struck by multiple kicks. His head snaps from side to side, but his expression remains one of hunger and contempt.  
SPIDER-MAN (CAPTION): I am the last descendent of the nine Spider-Kings of Nepal. I cannot fail.

Panel 3: Spider-Man crouches low to deliver a knife hand strike to Daemos’ solar plexus.
SPIDER-MAN (Caption): I am an Immortal Weapon of the Nine Celestial Cities. I cannot fail.


Panel 4: Spider-Man opens his mouth, vomiting a cloud of tiny spiders to envelope Daemos.
SPIDER-MAN: I am the Son of Nine Spiders. I cannot fail.

Panel 5: Daemos strides through the wall if spiders untouched. His hands find Spider-Man’s neck.  
SPIDER-MAN: And yet I fail.

Panel 6: Close-up as Daemos’ hands snap Spider-Man’s neck.
SPIDER-MAN: I was Danny Rand

SPIDER-MAN: The Immortal Spider-Man.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Spider-Verse – Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Spider-Bot – MK Stangeland Jr.

5 Panels

Panel 1: Opening panel featuring BEN URICH; this is a younger version who has the appearance of a quick-talking play-by-play sportscaster rather than a news reporter. He’s in a broadcasting booth that overlooks a battle arena.

The setup of the panel should give the idea that BEN URICH is looking at the reader, suggesting the idea that URICH is actually talking to them as one of several fans ‘watching’ the page as if rather than reading a comic book, they’re watching a major sporting event on TV. Completing this picture should be a title bar at the bottom of the panel with his name on it.

BEN URICH (1): And we’re back!

BEN URICH (2): I’m Ben Urich, and both myself and the Robot Combat League are glad to have you as we’re just about to kick off tonight’s headlining matchup!

Panel 2: A top-notch looking ‘Vs’ display, the likes of which you’ll often see when showing which two competitors are about to have a showdown in a 1v1 sports matchup.

On one side are pictures of PETER PARKER and SPIDER-BOT. We don’t see a full view of either here, as each is a profile shot designed to give the audience a quick visual reference while still making them look their best. This version of PETER PARKER looks full of self-confidence, even though he still wears glasses. These glasses shouldn’t give off the idea of ‘nerd’, but rather ‘hip’ and ‘cutting edge’.

SPIDER-BOT has an arachnid-like design, but with a single body section topped off by a head and with claws on each of its eight arms. It features the traditional SPIDER-MAN color scheme, and overall should come off as a mix of sleek and cool with a touch of cute – it should be robot you’re able to love, root for, and emphasize with on first sight.

On the other side are pictures of EDDIE BROCK and VENOM. EDDIE BROCK looks like a professional who doesn’t have a grudge with PARKER so much as something to prove. VENOM is a hunched-over biped robot. The overall look should come off as a walking tank by way of stealth bomber.

BEN URICH (1): It’s the “Amazing” Peter Parker and his fan-favorite SPIDER-BOT taking on surprising newcomer Eddie Brock and VENOM!

BEN URICH (2): But what’s most exciting about this showdown isn’t who’s fighting, but why!

Panel 3: Flashback panel showing EDDIE BROCK in the same broadcasting booth that BEN URICH occupies in the present. He’s in the midst of casting an unseen fight, and he’s really into it himself.

BEN URICH: As I’m sure we all remember, it was just last year that Eddie Brock occupied this very seat!

Panel 4: Flashback panel as SPIDER-BOT is in the midst of an exciting fight against OCTOPOD, a robot controlled by an unseen version of OTTO OCTAVIUS.

The area, or what we can see of it, should have a balanced mix of open area and elevated terrain features, at least prior to when a fight begins and the robots have at it.

Aside from being reminiscent of DOCTOR OCTOPUS, the OCTOPOD should consist of two primary sphere body sections connected by a short, thick, central cone. Each sphere has a set of sensors and a pair of heavy, sturdy limbs while the middle section is surrounded by four arms that look similar to the four extra robot arms that DOCTOR OCTOPUS normally wears.


BEN URICH (2): That infamous season where rookie Bot-Jockey Parker beat the odds and defeated reigning champ Otto “Doc Ock” Octavius’ infamous OCTOPOD!

Panel 5: Flashback with another panel of EDDIE BROCK in the broadcast booth.

BEN URICH (1): It was not a victory without controversy, however!

BEN URICH (2): Especially after Eddie Brock challenged the validity of Parker’s victory on air and declared that he himself could trump the Spider-Bot if given the right opportunity!


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Spider-Verse - Universe 34 - Ben Rosenthal

1.  Spider-Man has been captured, and tied up.  He cannot move and is on his knees in a darkened room.  A light shines on him.  His suit has a little more scientific theme going so we can tell it isn't our Peter Parker.  A figure is standing behind him, shoulders up darkened by shadows.  From the colour scheme we can tell it is the Green Goblin.

You're a failure.
All that power, and you waste it swinging around town in your pyjama's playing hero.

2.  A close up of Spidey's mask, with the Goblin's hand on it, pulling it up.

You're Weak.


3.  The mask is off revealing that Spider-Man is Harry Osborn.  He was bitten by the Spider.  The Goblin is still behind him looking at the mask.  His face is still covered in shadows.

Harry, Harry, Harry....

4.  Reveal of the Goblin - It's Peter Parker, driven insane by the Goblin formula and the experiments that Norman Osborn has conducted on him throughout the years.

Didn't your father teach you anything?

Why Spider-Verse?

Every Spider-Man.  Ever.

That one line had me.

A storyline that not only celebrates every incarnation of everyone's favourite wall crawler, but features them in a battle against what is possibly the finest modern day villain to come from the Spider-Man corner of the Marvel U.

For those of you not in the know (shame on you) The Superior Spider-Man (Doc Ock in Peter's body) travelled though time and discovered Spider-Men and women from parallel universes were being eaten (well, their energy at least) but a family of life force draining vampires (of which Morlun is a sibling).

Ock starts to gather and recruit Spiders to form an army to fight - so far we have seen Spider-Ham, Ben Reilly, a young Gwen Stacy in the spider garb, as well as new creations such as Penelope Parker written  by Katie Cook of My Little Pony fame.

It appears with the Secret War looming Marvel editorial has opened up the doors for their creators to come up with their own Spider-Hero.  Something that we could not ignore over at Thought Balloons.

If you have a Spider-Man related hero in you, feel free to post it below in the comments section.