Monday, June 29, 2015

B'wana Beast - Weak Are Meat, Strong Will Eat - Grant McLaughlin

Splash page (panel 2) with three inset panels (1, 3, and 4).  1 is towards the top of the page, while 3 and 4 are at the bottom.

1 - B'wana Beast looks at the sight before him in shock and horror.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (1): The strong will always prey on the weak to survive.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (2): But this...

2 - Pull back to reveal that B'wana Beast is standing in something of a clearing that is littered with the desecrated corpses of African animals of all type and variety.  It is a scene of death and destruction.  Perhaps the animals are arranged in something of a circle of death.  But perhaps the true depravity of the scene is not visible, either due to panel layout or shadow.  Up to you to decide how much to show / hide.  That said, B'wana is overwhelmed by it all, horrified by it.  The final touch should be "WEAK ARE MEAT, STRONG WILL EAT" written over and over again in blood throughout the scene.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (1): This has nothing to do with survival.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (2): This is slaughter for slaughter's sake.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (3): A message written in the guts and viscera of stolen lives.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (4): I can't yet grasp its meaning.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST) (5): But the intent is clear.

3 - Close-up of B'wana Beast's face again.  He looks down, saddened at the sight before him.  His exact expression could (should?) be covered in shadow.

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST): A darkness has descended on this land.

4 - Close-up of B'wana Beast's fist clenched in determination.  This could also be shadowed (if not fully silhouetted).

CAPTION (B'WANA BEAST): And it must be stopped.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

B'wana Beast - Another Wednesday In The Jungle - P. A. Nolte

1/ Over the heads of four grubby mercenaries, all dressed like low rent Indiana Jones(es), a figure of solid muscle in a hood and a leopard skin loincloth leans playfully against the trunk of a very large tree, balancing expertly on a low, thick branch. The leader of the mercenaries below holds a small jade idol in the shape of a parrot.

B'wana Beast: I'm afraid that doesn't belong to you. 

2/ The leader nearly foams at the mouth with rage. His pistol is already drawn and discharged. If only his men would back him up. 

Leader: It's THE BEAST! FIRE!!! 

3/ B'wana Beast is between the three stooges, firing their weapons blindly up into the air as they are attacked. One gets a punch to the face while another gets kicked in the stomach, sending him flying back into the third stooge, but not knocking him over. 

B'wana Beast: That's B'WANA BEAST to you jokers. LORD of the JUNGLE! KING of CHIMERA! 

4/ B'wana Beast has landed skillfully, but the gun barrels of both men still standing are aimed at his head. Still, he grins. This is a fun game. 

B'wana Beast: HERO of the D-- 

SFX: KLIK Leader: That's enough. Any other last words before Eddie and I perforate your skull?

B'wana Beast: Just one... 

5/ Suddenly, a large blue monkey/warthog hybrid with powerful arms and dangerous tusks has crashed through into the clearing where his master fights the mercenaries. The leader and the last stooge are trampled, but B'wana Beast has jumped out of the way. 


6/ The hybrid nuzzles at B'wana Beast, who scratches under its chin affectionately, though his gaze never diverts from the incapacitated mercenaries on the ground. In his other hand, he holds the idol. 

B'wana Beast: Ha ha! GOOD boy! Er... BOYS. 

B'wana Beast: NOW. Let's get this LITTLE BIRDY back to KEN. I have a feeling the ZAMBESI will be glad to see it RETURNED.

Why B'wana Beast? - P. A. Nolte

In college, Mike Maxwell made friends with Rupert Kenboya, son of Chief Kilo of the Zambesi. When Rupert returned to Africa to serve as a Police Commissioner, Maxwell joined him, accepting a job as a game warden. But, their plane went down on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and while Ken tried to revive Maxwell with some water from a cave, they were beset upon by a large, purple gorilla. Maxwell sprang to action, stronger and faster than before, and after defeating Djuba, the gorilla, he was given a mask that lets him communicate with and command animals, as well as combine them into more powerful hybrids.

A creation of Bob Haney, also known for co-creating the Teen Titans and Metamorpho, and Mike Sekowsky, the premiere artist on Justice League of America, B'wana Beast's adventure fighting the possibly-immortal Hamid Ali and his giant, orange, crocodile-shaped tank from DC Showcase #66-67 (1967) somehow failed to resonate with readers, and he was doomed to the back-issue bin for almost twenty years. When Grant Morrison re-introduced him in the late 80's, Maxwell teamed up with Animal Man to save Djuba from wayward research scientists, ultimately retiring and passing on his mantle, only to re-emerge some time later as the evil Shining Man. When he was promptly killed. 

And that's pretty much it. 

According to there was supposed to be a third DC Showcase issue, but Sekowsky found the concepts to be racist, left the project, and was never replaced. He was probably justified. And, while the jungle tropes used were outdated by a few decades when the story was first printed nearly 50 years ago, B'wana Beast is still just so darn cool. Well, ... maybe not "cool." 

With less than a dozen issues under his loincloth, Mike Maxwell's defining characteristics are still up in the air. His comic origin plays like a greatest hits mashup of unlikely circumstances just begging to be streamlined, and his powers are essentially Aquaman's but on land, except Aquaman never merged a seahorse and a hammerhead shark together to attack a submarine. In his appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, he wasn't even a game warden, but a wrestler who was splashed with radioactive waste. 

So, in the spirit of exploration, you have a cumbersome (and potentially offensive) name, a bizarre set of powers, an exotic locale, the unusual battle cry of "KI KI KI KIUIIIIIII!", and ultimate free reign in tone and canonicity. 

What more could you ask for?

Writer-in-Residence - P. A. Nolte

We've had a most excellent time hosting Derek Adnams, but this week sees a new writer joining us: P. A. Nolte!

Another talented writer I came across through Nic Shaw's The Prompt, P.A. wowed me with his scripts and ideas (and also his lettering, something that the man has down on lock).  Looking more into his work, I thought he'd be a fine fit with our motley crew and he thankfully agreed.  You may remember him from various play-at-home postings in the weeks leading up to his residency, but enough from me.  Let's hear what he has to say:

Who Are You?
P. A. Nolte. I cover art with words.  
Why Comics?
I love the collaboration. And the exploratory nature. And the rules. Which sounds stupid, but is totally true. If you're going to go exploring, it helps to know the constellations so you can orient yourself. If you're going to make comics, it helps to know the 180° rule so you can orient your readers. But, once you know what plants to leave alone, or how to use a page-turn effectively, there's no wrong way to go. And, if you're lucky, you get to do it with someone who shares that same passion for exploration as you do.  
Where Can One Find You?
I'm on Twitter (@PANolte) and Facebook (/PANolte and /InkspotComics), I pop up over at David Brown's Fifth Dimension Comics from time to time, I just finished letters on Eric Palicki's Red Angel Dragnet, and I hope to have a new project or two of my own see release by the end of the year.

Wicked.  Welcome aboard, my friend.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Snake Plissken - Escape from Snake Plissken - Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (6 Panels)

1.1:  Exterior, sunset, Snake Plissken’s face illuminated by the sun’s rays.  He is high above the Earth, meditating on top of the World Trade Center.  His eye is closed.

Snake (caption):  What is the sound of one eye closing?

1.2:  Exterior, Snake standing inside the vaudeville theater from Escape from New York.  The stage is visible, the curtains drawn, some homeless prisoners acting out a pantomime onstage.

Snake (caption):  Is it the same as the air rushing past your face when the curtain’s pulled back to reveal the mask beneath the mask.

1.3:  Exterior, Snake walking up the steps of the NY Public library, on his way to meet Brain.

Snake (caption):  What is the sound of one eye closing, that inward search for meaning that is always just beyond the grasp of our rational minds?

1.4:  Snake walking through the main concourse of Grand Central Station, surrounded by the Duke’s men.

Snake (caption):  Is it the destination we arrive at easily, with no journey to build character and test our resolve?

1.5:  Snake fighting Slag, the tail-end of the fight when Snake gets the upper hand.

Snake (caption):  Every battle we wage is just an exterior reflection of an interior truth.

Snake (caption):  Never an opponent.

Snake (caption):  Always a teacher.

1.6:  Exterior, sunset, Snake, eye open, floating in lotus posture above the roof of the World Trade Center.  He has achieved Nirvana, bathed in a blue halo of enlightenment.

Snake (caption):  I am the sound of one eye closing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Snake Plissken – Cheat Code – MK Stangeland Jr.

(1 Panel)

Panel 1: The streets of NEW YORK, where an upside down box travels through the city. It’s large enough to hide two or three full-grown adults. There are a number of criminals about, but none of them seem to notice the box.

SNAKE PLISSKEN: (Thought Balloon) Wish someone had told me about this trick years ago.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Snake Plissken - Maybe a Peninsula - Grant McLaughlin

Three rows of panels.  First row is long and thin, made up of panel 1; second row is panels 2 through 4, all equal sized; and third row is the final two panels, with more focus on the last one.

1 - A plane flies through a dark night.  A single, silhouetted figure is visible jumping from its tail.

CAPTION (WATTERS): "From the beginning, I knew the mission was going to be different."

2 - Still night time.  A forest.  The figure (Captain Adam Watters) walks away from a tree where his parachute rig has caught.  He's spec ops, decked in out all manner of equipment and tech to get him through the wilderness.

CAPTION (WATTERS): "As if its very existence would change everything."

3 - Dawn is creeping over the horizon.  Captain Watters fords a river, his equipment over his head and the forest at his back.

CAPTION (WATTERS): "And it did."

4 - We're well into the afternoon, early evening.  Captain Watters is climbing a mountain.  It's not easy going, but mountain climbing so rarely is.

CAPTION (WATTERS) (1): "It was only a gut feeling back then.

CAPTION (WATTERS) (2): "But it was right."

5 - Getting towards night.  Long shot.  Captain Watters trudges through snow towards a lonely cabin in the distance.  Both the man and the building are small, isolated - the only things visible in the shot.

CAPTION (WATTERS): "Knowing what I know now, I still believe that no man is an island"

6 - Captain Watters has arrived at the cabin.  We're well into night at this juncture.  Snake Plissken sits on the porch, smoking and disinterested in this new arrival.

WATTERS: Mr. Plissken, the world needs--

PLISSKEN (interrupting): Not interested.

CAPTION (WATTERS): But Snake Plissken is as close as you're going to get.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Snake Plissken - The Leningrad Ruse - Ray Wonsowski


Panel 1- the skyline of wartorn Leningrad, night. Blue gas explosions dot the buildings and black sky.

CAPTION: Captain Berrigan called it "the Ruse". Dragoon choppers would loudly attack the west end fortifications of Leningrad...

Panel 2- SNAKE PLISSKEN fighting the controls in a Gullfire ultralight cockpit, the glider plane on fire around him. He's wearing flare goggles, but he's removed the air mask from his lower face, his teeth grit from the effort.

CAPTION: ...while Black Light squadron glided in silently and carpet-bombed the Russian premier's bunker.
CAPTION: Bullshit.

Panel 3- the Gullfire crashes down the middle of a gas-strewn street, anti-American graffiti in Cyrillic marking the walls. The gas is a toxic pea-soup green fog.

CAPTION: Plane controls jammed on all of us when we tried to release our payloads. We were expected to kamikaze to complete the mission...

Panel 4- SNAKE retreats down an alley, Desert Eagle .50 caliber pistols in his hands as he steps over the dead homeless. We can see the goggle glass over his left eye is shattered.

CAPTION: Brass didn't expect any of us to stumble back behind our lines. They tried to polish the turd best they could...

Panel 5- SNAKE looks at his reflection in a cracked bathroom mirror. His left eye has lost all color, and is a sickly milky grey. His shirt is off, and we can see that he has hastily taped his ribs.

CAPTION: ...gave me a Purple Heart and the Medal of Valor. After the ceremony, dropped'em in the White House urinal.

Panel 6- close-up, the eyes of SNAKE PLISSKEN. The left is covered by the infamous black eye patch, but the right burns with rage.

CAPTION: Government wants to play by prison rules, fine.
CAPTION: But I'm making'em my bitch first.

Why Snake Plissken?

...I thought he was dead...
"Call me Snake"
Actually, I'm dedicating this week to my Dad. I was 12, maybe 13, when he brought home our first VCR. He never could set the clock, blinking correctly only at noon and midnight. But the local video rental shop had a great collection of science fiction, suspense, and horror. The videotape machine was my first exposure to The Exorcist and the Omen (Gregory Peck!), Deathstalker and Conan the Barbarian, Blade Runner (my all-time favorite film!!)...and John Carpenter's Escape from New York.
Yeah, you remember it....
John Carpenter is just pure entertainment to me. Halloween. Assault on Precinct 13. The Thing. Big Trouble in Little China. Ghosts of Mars. In the Mouth of Madness. But Escape from New York, I cannot even come close to describing how this movie affected my young mind. The synth-simple title theme music, Lee-#&$%ing-van Cleef, who bridged the gap between Kurt Russell and Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name, the ruined wreckage of New York City, the Big Apple rotten at the core, Adrienne Barbeau, Isaac Hayes as the Big Boss Man, President Donald Pleaance and Ernest Borgnine...too...much...awesome...
Almost forgot Harry Dean "Don't call me Harold" Stanton.
But Kurt, his portrayal of Snake Plissken, Special Forces hero turned haunted war vet, turned criminal, turned traitor. Captured prisoner offered a pardon in exchange for a suicide mission: Air Force One has crashed in the middle of Manhattan Island, now an uber-maximum security prison colony, and the President, holding time-critical information, has to be rescued in less than 24 hours.
He even escaped from New Jersey.

But that's all just window dressing. What strikes me is that Snake is a fictional version of the things Dad tried to tell me when I was a kid. Don't give in to bullies and thugs. Live with honor. Don't give up, only the difficult things are worth anything. Stand by your friends. Trust, but verify. Do what's right, even when it's hard. Especially when it's hard. Morals trump ethics every time (because ethics help us live with others, but morals help us live with ourselves). Authority only has the power we allow it. And most importantly, that freedom is never given, only earned.
Oh, yeah, and don't smoke, it's bad.
So, Happy Father's Day, Dads everywhere. Oh, and by the way, Boom Studios has been doing a killer Escape from New York comic that bears checking out. See you all soon, off to have breakfast with Dad....
Thanks, Dad.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Monster Magnet - Prog 6 - Ray Wonsowski

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends...

Continuing the prog-rock-fueled adventures of the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna, from last week's Prog, when the mad conqueror of Warworld, Mongul, had defeated Superman. The Twins, however, have rallied the Super Friends to challenge him and defend Metropolis...

This week's episode is based on Monster Magnet's "Space Lord"...

Panel 1 - MONGUL tosses an unconscious SUPERMAN from his levitating platform in victory, but something has caught his attention below.

MONGUL: Now give me the strength to split the world in two!
JAYNA (off-panel): Yeah?

Panel 2 - in an intersection, traffic light knocked over, a giant Cerberus stalks amidst the wounded alien fighters. The middle head has the face and winning grin of JAYNA, the other two heads have unconscious alien bodies clamped painfully in their jaws. JAYNA is looking straight up at us, as if taunting Mongul.

JAYNA: I ate all the I've gotta eat you...

Panel 3 - ZAN has leapt up to MONGUL's platform, his fist glows purple with power. MONGUL, furiously surprised, turns to face his challenge. In the deep background, BLACK VULCAN and SAMURAI can be seen tearing into MONGUL's alien warship.

ZAN: I lost my soul when I fell to Earth. My planets called me to the void of my birth...

Panel 4 - ZAN's arm has become a long, violet icy lance, impaling MONGUL through the middle and lifting him off the platform. ZAN's expression should be of righteous anger, while MONGUL is truly shocked.

ZAN: The time has come for me to kill this game! Now open wide and say my name!

Panel 5 - close-up of ZAN, teeth gnashing, staring up into the dying eyes of MONGUL, sweating in his dying breath.

ZAN: - -!! be continued...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Monster Magnet – Monster Mash – MK Stangeland Jr.

(4 Panels)

Panel 1: A band which looks like MONSTER MAGNET is on stage, performing. In the audience is an array of monsters, rocking out and enjoying the music.

Panel 2: In-Between songs – the LEAD SINGER steps forwards to the mic.

LEAD SINGER: Glad you’re all here and settled in!

Panel 3: LEAD SINGER pulls off their mask and flips open the front of their guitar. This reveals that the performer is actually ELSA BLOODSTONE, and her guitar contains her monster-hunting weapons. The look on her face is of smug glee.

ELSA: It means our trap worked.

Panel 4: The monsters in the crowd begin running, screaming, and panicking as they try to run and flee from the stage. ELSA leaps out into the air over the former mosh pit, action scene pose style. Behind her, the other three performers shed their own costumes as they move into action, they are reveled to be BLADE, ADAM THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER, and SPITFIRE.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Monster Magnet - Self-Titled - Grant McLaughlin

A loose interpretation of the week's prompt, but I hope you'll forgive that.  Panel 4 should be the focus of the page.

1 - A big room that's a mixture between a scientist's lab and mission control at NASA.  Lots of beakers and blackboards, with plenty of consoles and control stations spread about as well.  A head scientist stands at a central console, calling out to their workers.  Many look up from their work in response, one speaks out to answer.

HEAD SCIENTIST (1): This thing is getting out of hand, people.

HEAD SCIENTIST (2): What do we have?

SCIENTIST 1: The calculations say it should work, but we need to run more tests to be sure.

2 - A group of scientists gathers around that central console to discuss their options.  The rest of the team has kind of stopped what they're doing to see what's going on.

HEAD SCIENTIST: No time.  This spreads too far, nothing will be able to stop it.  We have to act now.

SCIENTIST 2: With all due respect, if something goes wrong, we could all die.

3 - Cut to a close-up of the console the head scientist has been standing in front of.  A big ACTIVATION button sits on the panel, going green as the head scientist presses it.

HEAD SCIENTIST (off-panel): Considering what we've unleashed on the world...

4 - Cut to outside.  A big, concrete building stands in the midst of a partially destroyed city.  Monsters of various shapes and sizes roam about, knocking over things and stomping on others.  It's pretty chaotic and awful.  That said, on top of the concrete building is an enormous stereotypical horseshoe magnet crackling with energy and electricity as it powers up.  A monster in the foreground of the panel might be drawing its attention to this sudden change.

CAPTION (HEAD SCIENTIST): Maybe that's what we deserve.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Monster Magnet - Power Trip - Derek Adnams

Lyrics by Dave Wyndorf and Monster Magnet, “Power Trip” from the album by the same name.

Page 1 - (6 Panels)

1.1:  Interior, a cubicle maze in an office setting, early evening in winter as the sun sets at a sharp angle through the windows.  Our Protagonist, an unnamed office drone in his late 30’s, thinning hair, clean shaven, wearing the tie he puts on in Panel 1.2, is staring at his computer monitor.  He has just sent his resignation to his boss via e-mail and is smiling broadly, proud of what he has accomplished.  He’s smiling here and will also smile in the last “Dream” panel.  Other than these two panels he looks dead.

Caption:  Who’s gonna teach you how to dance?

Caption:  Who’s gonna teach you how to fly?

1.2:  Interior, a brightly lit sterile corporate bathroom.  We’ve moved backwards through time, viewing Our Protagonist earlier in his workday.  He is putting on his tie, the one we saw him wearing in Panel 1.1.  There are round bright bulbs above the mirror, hot alien suns.  He can see his reflection, and is disgusted at what he’s doing.  If there’s enough room in the panel, have another guy either walking into a stall or exiting through a door.  No faces visible besides the Protagonist and his reflection.

Caption:  When you get tired of all the crap baby move over here and maybe buy some of mine.

1.3:  Exterior, morning earlier still, the front entrance into the suburban office building Our Protagonist calls his “work”.  He’s entering the building along with a host of other worker bees.  He is not wearing his tie, but otherwise has on a suit and is carrying a brief case.

Caption:  I’m never gonna work another day in my life.

1.4:  Interior, Our Protagonist’s bathroom, dawn.  He is standing before his sink, a paunchy guy in his late 30’s in his underwear, looking into a mirror, his stubble faced sad reflection looking back at him.  There is a razor sitting on the sink.

Caption:  The gods told me to relax.

Caption:  They said I’m gonna be fixed up right.

1.5:  Interior, the apartment bedroom of our Protagonist, morning but so early it’s still dark.  He is in bed, waking up.  The alarm clock is going off and he’s reaching out to hit it.  The time on the alarm clock is 5:06 AM.

Caption:  I’m never gonna work another day in my life.

Caption:  I’m way too busy powertripping.

1.6:  Dream – the dream he was having before the alarm clock awoke him from this brief slice of Nirvana.  Our Protagonist is flying, a 1960’s Marvel superhero traversing a universe of Kirby Crackle and gravity wells, twin Earth’s and Mars Gods, a temple of your dreams.  Our Protagonist is smiling – finally home before his day can even begin.

Caption:  But I’m gonna shed you some light.

Why Monster Magnet? - Derek Adnams

...because it’s 10:42 PM and I’m listening to “Brainstorm” off of Superjudge and remembering being ten years old and going to Fantasy Zone in Red Bank, New Jersey, the first comic book shop I ever frequented.

It was managed by a long haired man who asked me what books I was into.  At the time I was a fan of John Byrne, especially his Fantastic Four run.

“Well – if you like ‘writer-artists’, you should check this out.”

And he led me to the long-box for a book called Daredevil by a man called Frank Miller.

Then I knew I wanted to make comics.

Years later, after I was already a fan of their music, I would discover that the man who worked at Fantasy Zone in Red Bank, New Jersey, was Dave Wyndorf, leader of the band Monster Magnet.

With lyrics such as “I was thinking how the world should have cried, on the day Jack Kirby died” (“Melt”, God Says No), and "So what would MODOK do, if his memory got too full?” (“Baby Götterdämerung”, Powertrip), the hours Dave spent absorbing the cosmic sagas of 1960’s and 1970’s Marvel “Pop-Art” space gods found a rebirth through ten albums of lo-fi acid fueled 70’s inspired metal.

Then there’s the art...

Displaying monstermagnetmilkingcd.jpg

A singularity of influence occurred when Grant Morrison gave “Special Thanks” to Dave Wyndorf and Monster Magnet in the final issue of Multiversity, titled “Superjudge”.

This is also Monster Magnet’s best album.

Listen to Monster Magnet and be the Bull God.

Writer-in-Residence - Derek Adnams

Today we say farewell to Hansel Moreno's stay with us and welcome with open arms Derek Adnams to take his place.

I first encountered Derek Adnams' writings through Nic Shaw's The Prompt and was intrigued by his work.  He threw interesting ideas and concepts down on his pages, which drew me in, and he was always on deadline, which kept me wanting more.

When I was looking for people to come join us here at Thought Balloons for our new residency stays, I knew that Derek was someone I wanted to have on board.  Thankfully, he was keen on the idea and took me up on it right away, even going so far as to play-at-home in the weeks leading up to his stay.

But who is Derek Adnams?  Why don't we let him tell us in his own words:

My name is Derek Adnams.  I write pictures.

The first thing I remember seeing is Aamazing Spider-Man number one hundred and eight-eight.  That was in nineteen seventy-nine.  Since then, I've kept stories locked inside my head for a long time.  They're escaping.

If you want to talk William Faulkner, lasagna recipes or collaborating on a project, I can be reached at or on Twitter.

Keep making art! 

Thanks, Derek.  We look forward to your stay.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Transitions - Prog 5 - Ray Wonsowski

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends...

Continuing the prog-rock-fueled adventures of the Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna...Having escaped a Thanagarian warship, the Twins crashland in WWII Norway.  Accompanied by the Haunted Tank, they discover a Nazi death camp's mass grave, overseen by the Red Skull....

Note: Zan and Jayna should look 16 or 17 throughout, as Exorians have incredibly long lifespans. This week's page inspired by "Goodbye, Blue Sky", by Pink Floyd.

Panel 1 - Foreground, a scared, ragtag bunch of Nazi soldiers point their rifles at a strange bunch of allies coming over the top of a snow-covered bunker: ZAN, JAYNA, BUCKY BARNES (wielding a machine gun), NAMOR the Sub-Mariner, and the ghost of Gen. STUART (waving his saber).

CAPTION: Norway, 1945

CAPTION: Did you see the frightened ones?  Did you hear the falling bombs?

Panel 2 - NAMOR, ZAN, and JAYNA, their heads above the sea water, shielding their eyes with their hands or arms from the atomic bomb explosion over the distant horizon.

CAPTION: Bikini Atoll, 1957

CAPTION: Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter...

Panel 3 - JAYNA, wearing a tie-dye purple and white tank top and bell bottom jeans, and ZAN, wearing a purple Nehru jacket and small sunglasses, can be seen in a crowd of protesters marching on a beautiful sunny day, all shouting. Signs read such slogans as "Stop the Killing" "Out of Vietnam" and "End the 'Nam".

CAPTION, Washington D.C., 1968

CAPTION:  ...When the promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue sky...

Panel 4 - A humongous flying saucer hangs in the sky over Metropolis. MONGUL stands on a levitating platform, holding an unconscious SUPERMAN by the throat, but something on the ground has caught his eye.

CAPTION: Metropolis, 1979

CAPTION: Goodbye, blue sky...

Panel 5 - Standing in front of the Hall of Justice, in their classic outfits, looking up defiantly, are BLACK VULCAN, ZAN, JAYNA, and SAMURAI, and behind them, standing 50 feet tall, APACHE CHIEF, all ready to take the challenge to Mongul.

CAPTION: ...goodbye... be continued...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Transitions – Telephone of DOOM! – MK Stangeland Jr.

(5 Panels)


RICHARDS (1): Victor may be a terrible person, but he has my pity.

RICHARDS (2): It truly is sad that he’s so devoted his mind to such selfish pursuits.

Panel 2: SPIDER-MAN and DEADPOOL – SPIDER-MAN is sitting on top of a light pole eating a hot dog, while DEADPOOL is hanging from a web wedgie.

SPIDER-MAN (1): I’m not sure what to think.

SPIDER-MAN (2): We all know what kind of guy Dr. Doom is, but here’s Reed talking about how he pities the man and how sad it all is.

DEADPOOL: (Yellow Text Box) I think I’m starting to ride up here.

DEADPOOL (2): (Yellow Text Box) Well, more ride up.

Panel 3: DEADPOOL and LOKI – LOKI has a miniaturized DEADPOOL trapped inside a snow globe. DEADPOOL is dressed up to look like LOKI.

DEADPOOL (1): So then, he tells me how sad Mr. Fantastic thinks Dr. Doom is and how pitiful the whole situation is.

DEADPOOL (2): (Yellow Text Box) Did I get that backwards?

DEADPOOL (3): (Yellow Text Box) I think I got that backwards.

Panel 4: DR. DOOM in front of a large computer array, the likes of which you classically find inside of mad scientist and evil villain lairs. LOKI appears on the largest screen.


DR. DOOM (2): And how did you get this number?!

LOKI (1): Hello, Victor.

LOKI (2): I thought you might like to hear that Reed Richards has been talking smack about how sad and pitiful you are.

LOKI (3): Though I think we both knew that already.

Panel 5: Close up on DR. DOOM, in a classic ‘hands up in the air as he shouts in anger’ pose.



Monday, June 8, 2015

Transitions - Long Live the King - Grant McLaughlin

1 - A balcony on a sumptuous, Middle Eastern-esque palace.  A king (or sultan, I suppose) and his son stand on the balcony, looking out over a beautiful, amazing city (think a richer Disney Alladin's Agrabah).  Both king and prince wear mourning black.  The King looks pensive, the son looks impatient / sour.  The pair would be on the left third or so of the panel, with the city they're looking over taking up the lion's share of the space (and the majority of the word balloons floating above them).

KING (1): I've ruled this kingdom a long time.

KING (2): With your brothers' recent passing, you are now next in line for the throne.

KING (3): One day soon, all this will be yours.


2 - Close-up on the prince's sword as he slides it out of his sheath.

PRINCE (off-panel): Perhaps even sooner than you think.

3 - The prince has his sword drawn, advancing; the king stands with his back to the balcony railing, a saddened look on his face.


4 - A far shot of the balcony.  The two figures are in silhouette.  One stands on the balcony, looking over the edge; the other has gone over the balcony's side and is falling to his death.

CAPTION: "You proud fool."

5 - The King sits in his throne room, doing some kingly business.  Perhaps he is listening to the supplicants of citizenry or speaking with foreign diplomats.  Perhaps he wears a new scar on his face.  Either way, the King wears an expression that is a mixture of tired and sad.

CAPTION: "Your brothers at least had the good sense to combine their efforts."

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Transitions - There It Is! - Hansel Moreno

One of my favorite Spider-Man villains is The Spot. His powers are ridiculous, his costume equally so. Below is a simple grid layout that I send to artist that reflects my script. This is always open to artists’ notes.

Panel One: The Spot, with a gloveless hand, paces in his current hideout. A shabby motel room with a rabbit eared tv, a dingy bed and a bathroom with a missing door
Panel Two: The Spot pauses his pacing and scratches his head.
Panel Three: The Spot turns his back to the readers and points his Portal Box/Gun to the nearest wall and projects a portal.
Panel Four: The next panel shows a Police station evidence locker enclosed by a large metal cage. The cage is filled with hand guns, knives, and several odds and ends from various crimes. The Spot pops his head in and with a quick swivel surveys the area.
Panel Five: The Spot and his portal disappear in the next panel as a cop walks by the cage.
Panel Six: The portal reopens and the hand swipes something quickly from an unorganized pile near the floor.
Panel Seven: The Spot is back in his run down hotel room holding his missing glove. He breathes a sigh of relief.

Why Transitions? - Hansel Moreno

“Why this transition?” is something I find myself asking often when reading a comic. I was a casual reader until about nine years ago. I would pick up a trade from a library or a second hand store now and then but comics weren’t staples in my life.

When I started reading comics weekly they became more than entertainment. They became charts and maps to be studied. I saw how different artists and writers crafted their stories and guided us (the audience) to the ending they envisioned. Page and panel layouts, color schemes, font choices, every little detail added so much to the book.

I’ve been writing for about two years and as much as I enjoy reading scripts, examining thumbnails and fawning over the finished art I am still getting accustomed to having others interested in my scripts. When I was invited by Grant to contribute to Thought Balloons I was beyond excited. It was difficult to narrow down my theme for the week but I looked back over my notes on the scripts I’m currently mulling over and picked out what was troubling me.

“Why this transition?”

In writing my scripts I aim for short, compact stories. I cut down my scripts to the shortest page count possible without sacrificing story quality. This is mostly out of necessity as I do not have the budget to tell a sprawling epic story. Often transitions in comics are at the page turn. Get to the end of the current page spread, turn the page and new chapter, new setting. Transitions are useful when switching between characters or locations. They can be subtle, jarring, a pause in the story or a jump into the middle of the action. Once in a while there is a chase scene or montage that requires multiple settings in one page. When these scene jumps are executed well it creates a fast pace in the story that could otherwise meander.

I hope we can show the effectiveness of transitions in these next few scripts.

Thanks to Grant and the crew for letting me explore this current obsession.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sound Effects - Whatever Happened To Onomatopoeia? - Ray Wonsowski

Panel 1- KEVIN SMITH is sitting in his comic shop, a Green Arrow poster and a Daredevil poster on the wall behind him, reading a trade paperback of Batman: The Widening Gyre, smiling as he turns the page.

WORD BALLOON (from behind Kevin's chair): Flip.

Panel 2- Same as Panel 1, but KEVIN looks straight at us, a confused look on his face. ONOMATOPOEIA has risen up behind him unseen.

KEVIN: "Flip"?
KEVIN: "Whud"?

Panel 3- ONOMATOPOEIA is pummeling the crap out of KEVIN, who is off panel on the floor.


Panel 4- Outside Jay and Bob's Secret Stash, ONOMATOPOEIA walks across the street, writing in a pocket notebook. An inset panel shows crossed off item 1 on his to-do list, "Smith, Batman Gyre".Item 2 reads "Liefeld, Nu52 Hawkman".


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sound Effects - One Shot - J.D. Coughlan

Jonah Hex, old west bounty hunter and rogue, hides behind the bar in a saloon, cornered by bandits. He's down to his last bullet.


Panel 1: Looking over the bar from behind it. Hex carefully aims his pistol off-panel. In the background, three bandits taunt him.

BANDIT 1: Come out with yer hands over yer ass-ugly face, Hex!

Panel 2: Close-up of Hex's gun as he fires.


Panel 3: The bullet ricochets off a brass light fixture, travelling from bottom right to bottom left.

SFX: ting

Panel 4: The bullet ricochets off the spitoon on the floor, travelling from top right to top left.

SFX: pling

Panel 5: The bullet, travelling from bottom right, cuts through the cord holding the large lighting fixture (like a cheaper, wooden chandelier, I dunno what you call it) to the ceiling.

SFX: snik

Panel 6: The light fixture crashes down on the bandits.


BANDIT 1: Ooft!

BANDIT 2: Argh!

BANDIT 3: Gah!


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Sound Effects - Buzzing - Hansel Moreno

Panel One: Constantine rifles through his latest mark/client to be’s  desk, a slight buzzing noise fills his ears.

SFX: bzzzzzzzzzzzzz, zzzzzzzzzzzz, bzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Panel Two: Constantine pauses his search to pinch the bridge of his nose and lean over the desk.

Constantine: How can anyone properly burgle with all this bloody noise?

Panel Three:  The buzzing resumes and Constantine cringes and resumes his search.


Panel Four: The buzzing intensifies. Constantine doubles over, clearly in pain. The room begins to lose touch with reality, the gravity lessens sending papers and furniture into the air.


Panel Five:  The buzzing reaches its peak, a flash of dark smoke engulfs Constantine.


Constantine: Oh for Christ's sa--

Panel Six: The room clears, the buzzing stops, there is a flaming pentagram on the floor, the smell of sulfur in the air and no sign of Constantine.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Sound Effects - These Go to Eleven - Grant McLaughlin

Very loosely inspired by the last panel of this comic, which has stuck with me for years for whatever reason.

Every single sound effect save for the last one would be in that simple and small handwritten style - preferably black.  Would probably be best if panels 1 through 7 are spread among 3 more or less evenly sized rows of panels and panel 8 can be its own thing along the bottom of the page.

1 - A hip, rocker-esque dude stands in an empty panel.  He holds a badass electric guitar and strums a single note.

SFX: plink!

2 - An older man comes into the panel and grabs the young rocker by his shirt, shaking him desperately.  It looks like they're on some kind of stage.  The older man is dressed in classic 1950s Rock and Roll stylings.  Who knows, maybe he's even Elvis...

OLDER MAN: Acoustic?  Are you serious?!

3 - Switch to a view of the open space in front of the stage.  It is filled with zombies dressed in Disco-regalia.  They hobble (and dance) towards the stage in great, mindless numbers.

OLDER MAN (OP): That will never be enough to stop the Disco Fever!

4 - The older man plugs in the rocker's guitar.

OLDER MAN: We need pure Rock and Roll.

SFX: plug!

5 - The older man pulls a sheet, revealing a bazillion speakers ready and waiting.  The rocker looks somewhat incredulous / overwhelmed.

OLDER MAN: The louder the better.

SFX: pull!

ROCKER: (quietly): Are all those speakers really necessary?

6 - The older man is being dragged away by the Disco Horde, panic in his eyes.  He yells to the rocker to act.

OLDER MAN: There's no time to answer your question!  Play!  Play and save the world!

7 - Close-up of the guitar.  The pick is just barely touching / starting to strum one of the strings.

SFX: pl-

8 - An entire panel that says nothing but DOOM! (ala classic Walt Simonson).