Sunday, August 31, 2014
In a sense, it's all about Portland.
About a year and a half ago, I went down to Emerald City Comic Con on a near whim. I was going to be flying to the West Coast for the first time in my life and figured if I was already out there, I may as well extend the trip somewhat to go check out a nearby city I'd been hearing a lot of good things about: Portland.
I fell in love.
Portland was something of a revelation. It's a beautiful city that has an amazing vibe to it. I might be romanticizing just a little bit, but one thing that I found particularly irresistible and amazing is the city's seemingly intrinsic appreciation for the arts. It's hard to explain, but everywhere you go you can't help but notice it - it's almost like there's something in the air.
I know I might be overstating things a bit, but there are few places where I've found myself happier than Portland, Oregon.
So what does this surprisingly long tangent have to do with Stumptown? In one sense, not a heck of a lot. But in another, quite a bit.
|A heck of a city|
I met Dexedrine Callisto Parios, a hard-headed private investigator who is loyal to a fault and gets the job done - no matter the consequences. These are only some of her many qualities, but one thing she definitely isn't is boring. Stumptown may not necessarily be quite as flashy as some of the other stories or properties that Rucka has lent his prodigious talents to, but it is easily one of my favourites. I devoured that initial miniseries and was thrilled when a second (equally enjoyable) volume hit shelves in 2012.
In the back matter to one of the issues, Greg Rucka writes about the importance of place to literary PIs. As he puts it, where the character is based is just as important as who that character is. And Dex Parios has Portland. I understood this on an intellectual level when I initially read it, but actually visiting Portland let me understand it on an emotional level, too.
I love Portland. I know I'm still something of a tourist in that town, but every time I go I feel a little bit more at home. Unfortunately, as someone who lives much closer to the East Coast of North America than the West Coast, actually visiting Portland occurs much less frequently than I would like. Happily, spending time with Dex and her strangely familiar adventures enable me to spend a bit more time
So I hope you'll join me this week to explore the city and the comic book series that I love so much.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
External. We are in a Japanese-style garden. It is daylight, but it is dark because of a heavy rain. We look at Evil Ryu walking towards us. He is talking, angry. His eyes and aura glow red. His purple gi is torn and we can see some scorch marks on it.
Evil Ryu: You have the gall to call me a coward?
Zoom closer to Evil Ryu so we see only half of his body. He is still angrily talking to us (readers). The red glow in his eyes is now a darker red but more radiant, same as his fiery aura which now seems to also be burning the tiny little raindrops.
Evil Ryu: Look into my eyes and proclaim me a villain?
Evil Ryu: See where it got you!
Reveal Ken Masters as the person Evil Ryu was addressing. Ken is lying dead on the ground and very bloody. His gi is gone, save for the pants. He has scorch marks all over him, even burning out some of his hair. If possible, there should also be nearby lightning in the background.
Evil Ryu: Is not death the most cowardly state?
Panel 1: Ryu stands in classic "Hadouken" pose, leaning forward, both fists thrust towards the audience.
CAPTION: Force: 3200 psi.
Panel 2: Close up on a shimmering blue energy sphere of pure Ki as it erupts from Ryu's hands.
CAPTION: Velocity: 200 mph.
Panel 3: Ryu is a blur in the background as the blue energy sphere bursts into flames, creating wavering heat haze around it.
CAPTION: Combustion point: 1200 degrees Celsius.
Panel 4: Bison, hit squarely by the fireball, writhes in pain, surrounded by a field of flame.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
1 - Ken Masters meditates in a traditional Japanese garden, his eyes closed. No one else seems to be around. It is winter, with a fresh snowfall blanketing the world around him. Ken sits beneath a majestic tree (also snow covered), with various aspects of Japanes gardens visible throughout the panel (perhaps part of a pond in the foreground and sideground, a bridge crossing the pond, a stone lantern or two, a little building in the background, etc).
KEN: You know, Ryu...
2 - Repeat panel.
KEN: I think I'm finally starting to understand where you're coming from.
3 - Ken (eyes still closed) looks over his shoulder, presumably to where he believes Ryu is. Unfortunately for Ken, Ryu (who has been and remains off-panel) has thrown a snowball at Ken from the direction he is looking towards, which hits him straight on in the face.
KEN: When I'm not acting out and causing distractions, this is actually really relax--
SFX (snowball): paff!
4 - Ken sits in the same position, but his face is covered in snow, which drips off comically. Perhaps have his angry open eyes visible through the mask of snow.
RYU (off-panel): You know, Ken...
Sunday, August 24, 2014
1. The final tournament in Street Fighter 1. A shot of Ryu's head snapping towards the reader as Sagat lands a blow with his knee to Ryu's cheek.
CAPTION: Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto
Uh, because he is all kinds of awesome.
Ryu, easily the main and most recognisable character from the Street Fighter video game series has been around for over 25 years. From his first appearance in the original Street Fighter video game, Ryu has undergone many changes in these years - mostly built on in the comic series by Udon Entertainment.
Originally the victor of the first Street Fighter tournament (according to the video game) Ryu not only took the title but left a scar on rival Sagat's chest. His only desire was to seek out stronger opponents and support his training partner and best friend Ken Maters.
However as the series grew in popularity Ryu's motivation and history has been expanded. Through the prequels Street Fighter Zero series it is revealed that his Sensei Gouken, whom we originally were told was killed by Street Fighter II boss M Bison, was in actuality killed by his brother Akuma - a man who had been seduced by the darker aspects of the hadou (the mystical force that allows Ryu and Ken to throw fireballs and such).
Ryu's mission was to find Akuma and avenge his Sensei's death. Later, this mythology was further expanded upon with Ryu at constant battle with the dark hadou. He was constantly at war with it, fighting within himself as well as physical opponents. It was explained that Ryu scarring Sagat in their bout for the Street Fighter final was a result of him giving in to this dark hadou. Somehting he vowed never to give in to. Akuma however has other plans. Akuma wants to see Ryu succumb to this evil power so that they may battle to realise who is the true master of their craft.
Recently (as in Street Fighter IV) players have the option of playing two Ryu characters - normal Ryu and an Evil Ryu. This incarnation has Ryu consumed by the dark hadou, a hole in his chest and a thirst for blood and murder that cannot be fulfilled.
With a character who is constantly being fleshed out, the tenured writer's of Thought Balloons have a lot of wriggle room this week. And don't forget - if you have a one page comic script about Ryu please feel free to post it below. We even will provide feedback, cos we're nice like that,
Friday, August 22, 2014
Previously, reporter JACK RYDER was given a lead on a conspiracy surrounding a new pharmaceutical company, chaired by two doctors who had hands in creating the CREEPER, and thought to be dead until now. RYDER's research is cut short when a deranged SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN, possibly sensing the reporter's own split sanity, separates the CREEPER from JACK, with the wrong mind in the wrong body.
Set-up: JACK, with the CREEPER's mind inside, chases SHADE up a fire escape and over Gotham's rooftops. The CREEPER, however, now inhabited by JACK's sane mind, balks at the first tenement ledge. He's considering going back down when a voice behind him tells him to stop, and that he is needed...
Panel 1- We are looking over the CREEPER's shoulder at ANDREW BENNETT, who is standing on a rooftop steam pipe, the steam billowing about his feet. He is dressed in a duster coat, t-shirt, and jeans, hands in his jeans pockets and barefoot. He has a pair of military grade night-vision binoculars slung around his neck. Gotham's skyline is in view, the crescent moon has risen on a starless night and frames BENNETT's head like a broken halo.
BENNETT: My name is Andrew. I've been following the Changing Man, for far too long.
CREEPER: You mean the wacko in the technicolor dreamcoat? What's his story? Who's Kathy?
Panel 2- Profile, BENNETT looks through the binoculars into the distance, considering his quarry.
BENNETT: His "story" is that Shade is an interdimensional poet who can physically manifest madness through a vest he stole from another world.
BENNETT: Kathy is the woman he loves.
Panel 3- BENNETT steps down from the steam pipe to the roof, reaching into an inside pocket of his coat. The CREEPER stands arms folded as his skeptic-journalist self would, listening.
BENNETT: He believes that certain parties can help him access certain energies in the M-Zone to bring her back.
CREEPER: From where? Jersey?
BENNETT: The dead.
Panel 4- BENNETT holds the photos of Dr. Yatz and Dr. Skolos in front of his face. They are recognizable, bit the bits about the eyes and mouths are warped.
BENNETT: I'm not sure what these two are, really. But I've heard them called "necrologists". Supposedly they have mastered the clockwork of death and rebirth.
CREEPER (off-panel): And you know this how?
Panel 5- BENNETT smiles wide, his fangs bared, his eyes open, blank, and glassy. We see the nervous face of the CREEPER reflected in his eyes, as JACK realizes he's over his head...
BENNETT: Because I've been dead. And reborn.
BENNETT: And I myself have been torn in two directions too often to count.
...to be continued...
Panel 1: A forest in winter. Andrew Bennett surveys a scene of carnage. A body lies before him, twisted and broken, discarded carelessly. There is blood, bright against the snow. Bennett is wearing an overcoat, the collar turned up.
Panel 2: Bennett's POV. Two sets of human (vampire, anyway) footprints lead away from the body, into the darkness of the forest, and the swirling snow.
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): Two of them. The snow is starting to fill in their tracks. That means a good head start.
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): I'll never catch them on foot.
Panel 3: Bennett shrugs his overcoat off. He is bare-chested underneath. (For the ladies. And some of the fellas.)
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): Not on two feet, anyway.
Panel 4: Bennett crouches down on all fours, his form beginning to blur and shift.
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): Changing shape is painless. There's no rending or twisting. No tortured gnashing of bones reknitting.
Panel 5: The blurring form resolves itself as a huge wolf. The markings on the wolf's fur match the colors of Bennett's hair.
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): It's like having a word on the tip of your tongue and the sweet relief of recalling it.
Panel 6: Wolf-Bennett runs off into the forest, pursuing his prey.
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): You aren't a man becoming a wolf.
ANDREW BENNETT (Caption): You're a wolf remembering that it isn't a man.
END OF PAGE
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Panel 1: A dark bedroom. It is night outside the open window, with the curtains flowing in the breeze. There is a body in the bed, under the sheets. In the dark corner, a face is half-illuminated. It is Skinner Sweet (from American Vampire). His eyes are cruel and he bares his fangs in a grin.
SWEET: (small) Never smile at a crocodile...
Panel 2: Skinner walks out of the dark corner, towards the bed, still grinning wickedly.
SWEET: (small) Don't be taken in by his welcome grin...
Panel 3: Over Skinner's shoulder as he looms over the bed, reaching out a hand to the sheet. We cannot see who is in the bed in the darkness.
SWEET: (small) He's imagining you inside his skin...
SWEET: (small) No, you nev...er...
Panel 4: The sheet thrown back to reveal Andrew Bennett. He grins and points a revolver (loaded with gold bullets, of course) at Skinner.
END OF PAGE
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Monday, August 18, 2014
1. A vast ocean. There is no land in sight. in the middle of it is a small raft. It has been pieced together by wreckage. It has a sail erected, but it is joined to the main raft area - it is acting as shade, not as a sail.
This is why we don't travel.
2. A reveal of the person on the raft - it is Andrew Bennett looking gaunt. Scorch marks can be seen on his face and naked torso from where the sun has pierced through the sail during the heat of the day.
When I was young, I remember playing a game of 'Would you ever' with classmates.
"Would you ever kiss a teacher? Would you ever drink your own pee?" Stuff like that.
3. Andrew is looking at his hand. He is weakened.
4. Andrew is biting his ring finger off.
5. A wide panel, with Andrew drinking his own blood from his severed finger.
...I'd kiss Mrs 'Moleface' Maquire.
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Day. We are in a forest. While the trees and grass are still green, there are now signs of rot in some places. We look over the entrance of a big cave, dark on the inside. Andrew Bennett is walking towards the cave with a dead rat in his hands. No other animal should be seen anywhere else.
CAPTION: Before all this...
Inside the cave, Andrew Bennett drops the rat and sits down, half of his body consumed in the shadow of the cave. He looks solemn, and a little gaunt.
CAPTION: The world's most heinous criminals, outside of Gotham and Metropolis, sentenced with the capital punishment often get to request what their last meal is.
Andrew Bennett picks up the dead rat and dangles it in front of himself. He shows his fangs, ready to eat.
CAPTION: I murdered the entire planet, including the masks and aliens that run and fly around it.
Close tight on Andrew Bennett's mouth as he bites the rat's head of.
CAPTION: And this is all I get before I starve to death...
Created by J.M. DeMatteis and Tom Sutton, Andrew Bennett is a 400 year-old vampire who hunts down his own kind. He is also unique in his ability to resist the urge to feed on human blood. Most of his vampiric life is dedicated to hunting down Mary, the Queen of Blood, who, sadly, also happens to be his ex-lover. And still kinda is. Tragic.
2011 was a bad time for the vampire genre, what with a certain "saga" running its rounds and making it synonymous to romance novels. And that "saga" was also actually pretty successful, money-making-wise, and so DC, being a business that wants to make money, tried to bank on that. When the New 52 came around, I, Vampire was relaunched with Andrew and Mary being younger, and more... naked. Fortunately, they hired Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino to write and art the book, and they made the book look good. They gave us blood and lots of it and they gave us a well-written, and beutifully rendered romantic and tragic story. Did I cry while reading the thing? Well, I can neither confirm nor deny that.
So what is up with Andrew Bennett?
Well, he's a vampire who hunts down vampires, but only the bad kind of vampires. The ones that can't be saved. The ones who are unable to resist the urge to feed on human blood, unlike himself. Thing is, he's the only one who can resist. He met another dude who he thought could, but that was a mistake. Oh, have I mentioned that his ex-lover, Mary Queen of Blood, is the "mother" of all the bad vampires? Yeah, there's that.
What can he do?
He can do whatever vampires can do.
He is immortal, so long as he continues to consume blood, animal blood or bottled human blood in his case,
He is invulnerable to most forms of injury, and if he does get injured, he can regenerate through drinking blood.
He has superhuman strength and stamina.
He possesses the ability to transform into a bat, a wolf, and even into mist.
He also has some form of psychokinesis, which kinda allows him to influence people into doing what he wants them to do.
He can also turn people into vampires.
He's also good with the sword, the wooden stake, and the axe.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
1 - Jack Ryder stands in his bathroom, standing at the sink and looking into the mirror. As the reader, we have an over the shoulder shot, seeing Ryder's back and his reflection in the mirror. He looks terrible. He's clearly exhausted, his face bears evidence of various injuries (black eye, cuts, bruises, etc), and so forth. While he's looking at the mirror, it's clear he's really looking at nothing. He wears a dress shirt with a tie, but the whole outfit is kind of unkempt. His hair is a mess, his tie askew, sweat stains at the armpits of his shirt - that kind of thing. The bathroom is dark but for a single light above and it's impossible to tell what time of day it is, whether he's coming home from or headed off to work.
CAPTION (JACK): When you have insomnia, you're never really asleep and you're never really awake.
2 - Jack walks away from the bathroom mirror (which is no longer visible), still in the midst of his zombie-esque exhaustion.
CAPTION (JACK): With insomnia, nothing is real.
UNSEEN FIGURE (an uneven bubble, with the outer black surrounded by a gaudy yellow): Hey!
3 - Jack turns to look over his shoulder. While he's responding to what he sees, his body hasn't really registered it and that zombie-state remains.
CAPTION (JACK): Everything is far away.
4 - Straight on shot of Jack, who is once again standing in front of the mirror. Although we still can't see what he sees, he now looks to be wide awake (and more than a little on edge), holding his hands on his head, unable to fathom what he sees.
CAPTION (JACK): Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy
JACK: No, no, no!
5 - Switch to a straight on shot of the reflection. As you may have gathered, the Creeper is the figure looking back at Jack. He holds the same pose, except he smiles crazily. Maybe go for something in the vein of this classic.
THE CREEPER (same uneven bubble style): Yes, yes, yes!
CAPTION (THE CREEPER) (caption coloured to reflect his colour scheme): I know this because Jack Ryder knows this.
Sunday, August 10, 2014
|Ditko in his studio, 1959.|
|Bear with me here...|
|His big yellow debut...|
|I also used to be a French woman. Oh those crazy Vertigo people...|
|So...what are YOU doing after the Why?|
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Monday, August 4, 2014
SHREDDER: The Foot Clan was once a family.
2 - Shredder kneels by a fallen member of the Foot Clan, holding his arm to take his pulse. While near Splinter, his attention is on the prostate figure whose arm he holds.
SHREDDER: Like you and your turtles, I once cared for every man and woman who joined the Foot, watching with pride as they matured and developed into true warriors.
3 - Shredder lets the arm fall to the floor, directing his attention to Splinter.
SHREDDER: But with time, I grew bored of their personal trials and tribulations. All I cared for was that they accomplish what was asked of them.
4 - Shredder now stands above Splinter, a group of Foot soldiers stands around them. They are in silhouette, standing just outside the reach of the room's light, but the Foot logo on their foreheads stands out, a bright crimson in the darkness.
SHREDDER: Unfortunately, your family has proven itself more than equal to the pathetic failures that I once called my own.
5 - Repeat panel, except the shadowy Foot soldiers have stepped forward to reveal themselves as Foot soldier robots. Their skull-like robot faces glare menacingly towards Splinter. The crimson Foot Clan logos are joined by the bright, evil red of the robots' eyes.
SHREDDER: Happily, I've found a better one to take its place.
1. A close up of Shredder's leg, strapping on his spiked leg guard.
That was my name.
2. A close up of Shredder's arm as puts on the glove with spikes.
I no longer need it.
Nor the feelings and emotions that go with it.
3. From behind, Shredder is putting on his helmet with both hands.
I have a new name. A name to put terror into the hearts of all.
4. Cut to a different area/time. The Shredder has just revealed himself to the Turtles for the first time. We see from behind the four Ninja Turtles. They are looking up at an imposing Shredder, looking threatening.
5. A close up of the four turtles. They aren't scared nor intimidated.
A kitchen utensil?
Sunday, August 3, 2014
|Oh, God, burn it with fire!|
|I have the po...oh, sorry, wrong cartoon...|
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Tight on a green-skinned cyclopean alien. He just got his brains blasted by one of Rocket's guns.
Rocket (OP): Blam! --
Quill (OP): --don't say it.
We are in a hallway, inside a ship. Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon are hiding behind some rubble while two other green-skinned cyclops fire on them with blasters.
Rocket: What? Why?
Quill: It's kinda bad.
Rocket: "Bad"? Quill, it's a great catch phrase!
Quill: Debatable. But what I mean is that it kinda implies that we're here to murder these guys--
Rocket: --I am here to murder these guys!
Same. Gamora has just dropped behind the aliens.
Quill: --instead of saving the Draekkarian dignitaries.
Rocket: What's the difference?
Quill: Well, one implies that we're heroes, the other implies that we're criminals.
Same. Gamora beheads the two aliens with one swoop of a sword.
Rocket: Quill, I am a criminal! --
Rocket: --and so are you!
Quill: No, I'm--Well, yeah we are. But that's not--
Quill: It's not--
Same. Gamora stands before Quill and Rocket. Quill looks up at her.
Quill: Alright. We'll continue our discussion on the next hallway full of baddies.