Monday, August 31, 2015

Grendel - Country Living - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Brian, a city-slicker turned recent-farmer, is out in his field, working the soil with a hoe.  The field appears to be mostly dirt, with little to no vegetation to be seen.  Brian's at least dressed for the part, although his clothing still looks relatively newish.  It's a hot one and Brian has been working all day - he's one tired guy.  A shadow coming from off-panel hints at an oncoming person.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (1): My Dad always talked about how great it was growing up in the country.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (2): Being out in the fresh air.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (3): Working the land.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (4): The satisfaction of living off your labour.

STACY (off-panel): I told you this was a bad idea.

2 - Brian takes a moment to rest and wipe his brow, perhaps using his hoe for support with the other hand.  Stacy, Brian's wife, comes onto panel, mad as heck.  She's dressed like a city-slicking fashionista - her outfit looks great but is completely inappropriate for the farm.  It's evident she's never done a day of work in her life and isn't about to start.

CAPTION (BRIAN): He failed to mention how back breaking the labour is.

STACY: You said it would be a new start.  A chance to get away from the dirt of the city.

good change of scenery.  A fresh start, away from the city.

3 - Stacy knocks the hoe from Brian's hand to the ground.  She continues to yell at him.  Brian is sad, but perhaps resigned to the outburst.

CAPTION (BRIAN): How stubborn the land can be.

STACY: But it looks to me like we traded one type of dirt for another.  And this one only grows weeds.

4 - Stacy turns to walk away.  Brian leans down to pick up the hoe, his face obscured.

CAPTION (BRIAN): And how air - no matter how fresh - will do nothing to ease the sting of disappointment.

STACY: My mother was right.  You're a bum and following you out here was a mistake.

5 - Stacy continues to walk away.  Brian has picked up the hoe, brandishing it as a weapon, a look of furious anger on his face.

CAPTION (BRIAN): But you know what they say.

STACY: Goodbye, Brian.

6 - Aerial shot.  We're looking down at the farm - classic farmhouse, dirty laneway, probably a barn, maybe a grainery, shed, or what-have-you.  We're far enough out (and perhaps angled) so that we can't see Brian or Stacy.  But we can see the field, which as said, is mostly dirt.  However, the weeds that are growing form a clear pattern of Grendel's mask.

CAPTION (BRIAN): As you reap, so shall you sow.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grendel – THE DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND – Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (5 Panels)

1.1:  Exterior, day, eight year old Christine Spar sitting on a park bench under a maple tree, drawing in an old-school marble notebook.  She holds one pencil and there is another sitting next to her.  Shadows from the tree fall across her.  She is at peace.

Christine (caption):  I feel the red thing before he even opens his mouth.

Bully 1 (off panel):  Hey Spar . . .

Christine (caption):  The red thing that tells me how to make the hurt go away.

1.2:  Three bullies, boys between the ages of eight and ten.  Bully 1, their alpha-male leader, is in the middle, larger than the others.  Bully 2 and Bully 3 stand at each side, subservient.  Bully 3 is pointing at Christine while he laughs.

Bully 1:  You gonna’ visit your crazy mother in the nut-house this weekend?

Bully 2:  Yeah!  Psycho mom!

Bully 3:  HA HA!

Christine (caption):  I laugh at them laughing at me.

1.3:  Christine’s face, smiling slightly.  Her head is downturned, like Private Pyle at the end of the first half of Full Metal Jacket.  There is a line of shadow going vertically across each eye, mimicking the classic Grendel mask.

Christine (caption):  They just can’t hear it yet.
Christine (caption):  They don’t know.

1.4:  Dynamic panel of Christine leaping at her tormentors, almost vertical to the ground, each hand raised over her head and clutching a pencil.  Bully 1 is recoiling in fear while his two minions run off in opposite directions.

Christine (caption):  So I tell them.

1.5:  The grass of the park, the shadow of Christine plunging the pencils into the eyes of Bully 1, blood spurting from the wounds.  On the ground is Christine’s open notebook, small drops of blood on the pages, and we can see what Christine was drawing: a pencil sketch of the Grendel mask, mirroring her face in Panel 1.3.

Christine (caption):  I tell them who my father is.

Why Grendel? - Derek Adnams

 . . . because Grendel by Matt Wagner is how I discovered that there were comic books made by folks other than Marvel and DC – and that they were incredible!

For those unfamiliar with the opus that is Grendel, here’s a 30,000 foot view:

To paraphrase the title’s creator, Grendel is a study of the nature of aggression.  It begins with a single man, Hunter Rose, chronicling his rise to reign over a criminal empire in Devil by the Deed, then goes on to tell the tales of others whose lives were impacted by the force that is Grendel, taking readers through an epic journey ultimately concluding in the 26th century and a world where the nature of aggression has become the nature of man. 

But to me, a kid with aspirations of creating comic books in the late 1980’s, Grendel was so much more.  Wagner’s vision of where a comic could take the reader, and the way he built upon a singular premise, impacted me in a very visceral way.  The scope of the story was something I had never seen before, at least not in “Big Two” comic books, stuck in perpetual second act story telling.  I was reading graphic literature, each arc having a beginning, middle and end, feeding into the larger narrative.


Originally, in Comico Primer #2, (and what a happy day it was when I finally found a copy at a comic shop in who-knows-where), the initial three issue Grendel series and then when he published the art deco gorgeousness of Devil by the Deed as a back-up in Mage, Wagner handled the art for his creation.  When the Grendel regular series debuted from Comico, he was focusing on writing and the art was handled by the Pander Brothers.  The Pander Brothers would be the first of an all-star line-up of artists, including Bernie Mireault, Tim Sale, John K. Snyder III, Jay Geldhof and Wagner himself.  I remember being initially disappointed that Wagner wasn’t drawing the regular series, but that disappointment turned to wonder as I saw how the different art teams brought a personality unique to the story and how Wagner wrote to the artistic strength of each collaborator.  As opposed to a “Grendel house style”, each arc was, and still is, alive with the vision of the artist intertwining with the goal of Wagner’s story, a marriage of words and pictures that epitomizes what true collaboration can create.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Wagner at New York Comic Con a few years ago.  I waited in line, shook his hand, and said “thank you.”

So “Why Grendel?”  Because if Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is the reason I love to write comics, Matt Wagner’s Grendel is the reason I love to write independent comics.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - Sonic vs Sonic - P. A. Nolte

1/ A silhouette of the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor as it fires a beam of energy down at Angel Island.  This is the day the world changed.

Caption (Sonic): The sky above Angel Island turned dark the day Ivo Robotnik completed his grandfather's work and fired the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor.

2/ A group shot of the Freedom Fighters of Knothole.  Bunnie Rabbot, Antoine Depardieu, Sally Acorn, Miles "Tails" Prower, and Sonic the Hedgehog.  Our heroes.  They are geared up for battle, and look like they've already seen some.  This is, in fact, the end of the road.

Caption (Sonic): While the rest of the world experienced an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, the denizens of Knothole fell into never-ending conflict with the man responsible.

Tails: Sonic?  Is he...?

3/ Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik.  He holds aloft the Master Emerald.  The six Chaos Emeralds float around him, glinting with a light all their own.  Robotnik's floating platform is a little worse for wear, but this is a triumphant moment, not one to worry about a little scratched paint and a dented fender.  They are in the heart of the ROCC.

Caption (Sonic): The Eggman.

Robotnik: CHAOS CONTROL!!!

4/ Out of a portal, holding his own Master Emerald, steps Knuckles.  Behind him are Amy Rose and Big the Cat, followed by... Miles "Tails" Prower and Sonic the Hedgehog?  How can there be two of them?

Knuckles: -ulled through, there's no telling what... we might... find...

Robotnik: Oh no...

Caption: Oh yes! Has Robotnik sealed his own fate?  Find out next time in a little story we like to call...

Title: Sonic vs Sonic: Chaos on Parallel Earths! or Two Fast, One Furious!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog – THE PITFALLS OF SUPER-SPEED – Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (6 Panels)

1.1:  Exterior, day, an overgrown swamp in a jungle of mystery.  Sonic is running over a lily-pad covered pond, three alligators sticking their heads out of the water in what appears to be a straight line.  All the reptiles have open menacing mouths, and one of Sonic’s feet is lightly tapping the head of the last alligator.

Sonic (though balloon):  What the heck are these things?

Sonic (thought Balloon):  They look like dinosaurs or something.

1.2:  Sonic running through a slight clearing in the jungle, toward a chasm with a low vine hanging over it.

Sonic (thought balloon):  I wonder if I went too fast this time.

Sonic (thought balloon):  I wonder . . .

1.3:  Sonic swinging on the vine from Panel 1.2, going superfast and gaining velocity, the background a blur.

Sonic (thought balloon):  This is just like those other times, like when I was in that place with castles and coins and the little guy with the mustache.

1.4:  Sonic letting go of the vine, hurling himself through an “end-of-2001: A Space Odyssey” of color.

Sonic (thought balloon):  And all those mushrooms.

1.5:  Interior, the two-dimensional world of the earliest video game, Pong!  Sonic has landed on the near side of the virtual “net”, a rectangle in the foreground preparing to receive a serve from the rectangle in the background.

Sonic:  This just keeps getting worse!!!

1.6:  Sonic running, pursued by a square, the “ball” from Pong!

Silent Panel

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - The Doctor is Dead - Liam Lachance

1: Big The Cat, wearing glasses, holding a pen and pad

BIG THE CAT: What were you just thinking about?

2: Sleep-deprived Sonic lying on a couch.  Thought bubble shows a dozen golden rings.

3: Sonic and Big The Cat in frame.

SONIC: About Miles.

BTC: We’re wasting our time if you spend it lying.

4: Close up of Big The Cat’s squinting eyes.

BTC: The Doctor is dead, Sonic.

SONIC: I’m aware.

BTC: Do you have a theory why you can’t accept his passing?

5: Close-up on Sonic, looking tiredly at ceiling.

BTC: Hello?

6: Sonic sits up.

SONIC: I’m fine with it.

BTC: So you still think the obsession with rings is unrelated to lack of purpose –

SONIC: I don’t care about rings.

7: Thought bubble above tired Sonic shows: Sonic’s father being tied to train tracks by Doctor Robotnik. Dialogue bubble beneath thought, from BTC: “I can tell you’ve been running. We’re wasting our time here.”

8: Close-up of Sonic’s heels shows them burned, black.

BTC: You’re missing the moment with this reliance on rings - on what’s next. You’re valuable to us without them.

SONIC: I know.

BTC: Being present is more important than gold.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog – SonicVerse: Sonic LIVE! – MK Stangeland Jr.

(5 Panels)

Panel 1: ARCHIE!SONIC (ARCHIE COMICS version of SONIC), X!SONIC (SONIC X version of SONIC), X!TAILS, BOOM!SONIC (SONIC BOOM version of SONIC), and BOOM!KNUCKLES are standing on a rocky plateau located out in an area that’s similar to the AMERICAN SOUTHWEST. They’ve just arrived on the world, and are looking about.

X!TAILS is using a pair of high-tech binoculars.

ARCHIE!SONIC: Did we land in the right place?

X!SONIC: Tails said it might not be precise.

X!TAILS: Uh, guys?

Panel 2: View of a toy airplane flying through the sky, painted to look like a ‘real life’ version of the TORNADO. The view of the panel is designed to give X!TAILS’ POV through his binoculars.

X!TAILS: (Off-Panel) I think we found him.

Panel 3: Shift to focus on the airplane – we see that this version of the TORNADO is piloted by a version of TAILS with a version of SONIC riding on the wing. Both of them, however, look very much like ‘real life’ versions of the animals they’re based on, rather than their normal anthropomorphized versions.

LIVE!TAILS looks like a juvenile Fox from Earth, but in TAILS-style orange, with his usual twin tails and wearing a pair of flight goggles.

LIVE!SONIC looks like a regular hedgehog except for his blue coloration, a SONIC-style shoe on each of his four feet, and a pair of cool-looking shades designed to help give him a measure of ‘attitude’.

BOOM!SONIC: (Off-Panel) You have got to be kidding me.

Panel 4: LIVE!SONIC hops off the TORNADO in a SONIC-style spin jump, as stylized to be appropriate for how an actual hedgehog might perform such a move.

SFX: Boing!

SFX: whirrrrrr!

Panel 5: We see what LIVE!SONIC is leaping at – it’s an evil robot built around one of DR. IVO EGGMAN ROBOTNIK’s classic-style flying machines. Piloting the machine is, of course, LIVE!EGGMAN – he is, in fact, a largely unassuming looking egg with an EGGMAN-style mustache and goggles inside a smaller protective robot suit through the miracle of mad robotics. His ‘voice’ – speech bubbles – should give the impression of a mechanical speech tone.

LIVE!EGGMAN (1): SONIC, you infernal nuisance!

LIVE!EGGMAN (2): Scratch! Grounder! STOP HIM!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - Ring of Truth - Grant McLaughlin

Panel 1 and panel 8 are thin and stretch the width of the page, bookending the scene.

1 - A close-up of bottles of beer, regular glasses, and shot glasses.  The actual mix isn't that important.  What matter is that they're all empty.


2 - Sonic and Metal Sonic are standing at a bar talking, the crowd of empty drinks behind them on the bar top.  If it's not inappropriate for characters of this variety, they should both be kind of in the bag.  Metal Sonic is emoting with some force - he's really into what he's saying.

METAL SONIC: I was made to be like you, not better.  It took me a long time to see it, but I am but a pale reflection that cannot live up to your example.

3 - Focus in on Metal Sonic as he builds and concludes his case.

METAL SONIC: I mean, it feels like I'm in a race that I started late.  No matter what I do, no matter how fast I run, I will never catch up.

4 - Focus on Sonic.  He's drunk, but he's looking mad serious.

SONIC (1): Then don't run.

SONIC (2): Find your own path.  Make your own choices.  Because no matter your history, no one controls you but you.

5 - Back to seeing them both.  They're standing at the bar.  Sonic finishes dropping some wisdom.  Metal Sonic is stunned.

SONIC: The scary part is accepting that.


6 - Metal Sonic goes in for a big hug, really feeling what Sonic has said.  Sonic is a little put off, but he's dealing with it.

METAL SONIC: Thank you.

SONIC: Well...

7 - Pull out.  Metal Sonic and Sonic (still hugging) are in the background.  In the foreground, Mario is ripping up the dancefloor, maybe with Peach and Daisy (or perhaps Pauline) in tow.

CAPTION (SONIC): I may be speaking from an experience or two.

8 - Repeat the close-up shot of empty drinks from panel 1.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - ...and now, a word from our sponsor... - R.A. Wonsowski

It's back to school time, and my boys wanted to get in one more page before the work begins, so...

TACO DUDE, by Nikolas and Victor Wonsowski.

1 - GOKU powering up. 
Then ZOOM!
2 - Something passing GOKU has blown his hair forward.
GOKU: Huh?
3 - SUPERMAN and FLASH are ready to race. A REF holds his pistol high.
REF: On your marks. Get set.
Then ZOOM!
4 - SUPERMAN and FLASH are knocked over. SUPERMAN's cape is over his head and he's trying to blow it off him. FLASH reaches up weakly for help.
5 - SONIC hands DEADPOOL his delivery order after a hard day of destruction.
SONIC: Don't get angry, get Taco Dude!
DEADPOOL: es bueno!

And here's the page. Thanks, boys!

Why Sonic the Hedgehog?

Because Sonic is everything in comics I want to pass down to my kids.  And to think it all started as a 16-bit video game...

Sonic's early days go back to 1991. Nintendo was the top dog in the video game world, and their mascot, Mario, with his Super Mario franchise, helped put them there. Their main competition, Sega, was struggling to make an impact, and their spokes-toon, Alex Kidd was not making that big of an impression.  Sega developed a way to move a character along vector curves, and a blue hedgehog was chosen because it was easier to animate than a rabbit.  Sonic and his take-no-guff attitude was an instant hit, leading to sequels and media cross-promotion, including cartoons, toys, and comics.

It's interesting to note that as Sega has risen and fallen, then risen again with mobile platforms, the comic book tie-in, published by Archie Comics, has been the publisher's best-selling book on the stands. While most comics have steered towards more adult-oriented subject matter, Sonic has embraced its kid-friendly nature, and is the longest running tie-in series still being published.  His freedom-fighting sidekick Tails, his dark reflection Shadow, battling the evil Eggman, Dr. Robotnik, and crossovers with fellow blue video game hero Mega Man, have had kids thrilling to his adventures for almost 25 years.  My kids discovered Sonic a couple years ago, thanks to Android apps of his games, cartoon series on Netflix, and a very welcoming local comic shop.

So, to celebrate back-to-school, let's kick it old school. Put on your running shoes, fire up your games and your imaginations, and come up with something fast and funny. If you want to play at home, leave your script in the comments below.


Liam Lachance - Writer-in-Residence

All good things must come to an end, and this week sees the conclusion of Shaun Richens' return guest spot.  Thanks so much for your time, mate.  It's been - and always is - a great pleasure.

While it's always difficult to bid old friends adieu, the blow can happily be softened by the arrival of our next Writer-in-Residence, Liam Lachance.  He is a man who chooses his words with care and concision (as his bio below will demonstrate), so let me simply take a moment to say that he is a talented writer whose work and hustle I have admired for a good while.

I was thrilled when he agreed to join us for a few weeks, particularly because his background is primarily in written prose and not so much in comics.  I greatly look forward to see what he does while experimenting with the medium and so should you!

When asked to describe himself, he offered me the following:

Liam Lachance is a writer at, a magazine that confronts systemic violence with words and colours.

His first novel, Blu Swag, raised controversy in his hometown of Merrickville, Ontario.

Thanks again, Liam. Excited to have you aboard and to dig into your scripts!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Trio of Photos - A Meeting - P. A. Nolte

1/ The exterior of an abandoned cathedral in a small European metropolis.

Caption (Younger): Why must we continue meeting in these... places, uncle?  I do not understand your fascination.

Caption (Elder): Ah, irony is lost on the young.

2/ Inside the decrepit building, standing amidst the remnants of what was once an elaborate chancel but is now a mass of splintered planks and fallen plaster are two men.  The elder is admiring the lone statue of a robed woman, presumably Mary Magdalene, though we cannot see her face.  The younger is pacing nervously.

Elder: The clergyman of this establishment was so very keen to appeal to the masses, he began to misconstrue the messages of his own beliefs so that he might retain his ever tenuous grasp on his congregation, and found it lost regardless.

3/ The elder grins at his disciple, shrugging in a very human fashion.

Elder: Oh, well.

4/ The younger man rolls his eyes.

Younger: You avoid my question, uncle.

5/ The elder has turned to face the younger.  He stretches out his arms wide, gesturing proudly towards the dilapidation surrounding them.

Elder: Do I?

Elder: What lesson have I tried to impart time and time again?

Younger: "The safest road to Hell is the gradual one-- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Elder: Indeed.

Elder: Come.  We shall further your education over a meal.

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Trio of Photos – THE LOOP WITH THREE SIDES – Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (6 Panels)

1.1:  Interior, the shattered brick ruins of a building, day.  There is a crumbling wall on one side of the open air second floor, a staircase going down cuts into the floor against the wall.  Sitting in a metal folding chair at the edge of the staircase, facing down, is Man 1.  He can look however you want him to.  He is you.  He’s all of us.  Standing behind him is Man 2.  Again, his appearance can be interpreted any way you want – he’s the tormentor.  Man 2 is holding an old 1970’s era snub-nosed revolver to Man 1’s head.

Man 1 (caption):  This is the way things are. 

Man 1 (caption):  A purgatory of karmic blood debts being fueled incessantly. 

1.2:  Man 2 shooting Man 1, propelling him forward, out of the chair and toward the down staircase.

Man 1 (caption):  For every action there is an instant and opposite reaction. 

1.3:  Man 1 falling down the staircase, now the center of three stairwells, like escalators at a shopping mall.  Man 1 is falling down the center one, the only person on that track, while the staircases to his right and left are thronged with people going up.

Man 1 (caption):  When one ascends, one descends. 

Man 1 (caption):  Heading to the same outcome, no matter how pure or filthy our souls.    

1.4:  Man 1 landing at the bottom of the staircase, which opens onto the interior of a gothic cathedral, light pouring in through broken stained glass windows, and an enormous, Colossus of Rhodes-scale statue of the Virgin Mark, weeping.

Man 1 (caption):  The beginning and the ending are the same.

Man 1 (caption):  Ashes to ashes, back to dust and back to the way things are.

1.5:  Interior, the shattered brick ruins of a building, day.  Man 1 walking into the exact set-up from Panel 1.1, except the staircase is going up.  In front of the staircase sits a metal folding chair.  Man 2 is standing there, looking through the trigger-guard of his 1970’s era snub-nosed revolver.  He is visibly upset, like he’s been crying and is attempting to “man-up” for what he is about to do again, and again, and again.

Man 2:  Why? 

Man 2:  Why do you keep doing this? 

1.6:  Man 1 sitting down in the chair, prepared for Panel 1.2 and resigned to his infinite fate.  Getting into position behind the chair is Man 2.

Man 1:  Doing what?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Trio of Photos - ...coming soon... - Ray Wonsowski

Working on a future multi-chapter story slash proposal that's been rummaging about in my head...

Have you or your neighbors experienced back door sacrificial body part transplants?
Has your food been possessed by the restless spirits of ancient Mayan priests?

Does your armoire lead to otherworlds and Dark Dimensions?
Does your class or study group use the Darkhold as a textbook?
You need Doctor Strange.

Are your business packages being couriered by a Voodoo delivery service?
Does your husband's severed head keep you awake at night with dreamspeak?
...a NEW Doctor is in...more on this coming soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Trio of Photos – Life Finds a Way – MK Stangeland Jr.

(9 Panels)

Panel 1: A small, quaint village in Europe, in ye olden medieval days. It should appear to be a very recent development, having hardly had an opportunity to really establish itself yet. The SUN and MOON are positioned overhead in a way that lines up with future panels to gives the impression of the passage of a great deal of time.

Panel 2: The same village, having matured into a small town. Included is a stone church building featured at the center, with a city square in front of it. It is a small, but booming community. SUN and MOON overhead line up to show the continued passage of time.

Panel 3: Disaster Strikes! – the town has been hit by the BLACK PLAGUE, and hard. It is a town that is falling apart and on life support, but not quite dead yet.

The SUN and MOON continue to pass overhead as time keeps going.

Panel 4: Years later – the town has stabilized from the PLAGUE, and shows the earliest signs of recovery.

The SUN and MOON continue to pass overhead as time keeps going.

Panel 5: The RENAISSANCE has arrived – the town has not only recovered from the PLAGUE, it has grown well beyond its pre-PLAUGE size, into a small city.

The SUN and MOON, of course, continue to pass overhead.

Panel 6: The near future – the community is now a city of significant size, and shows touches of futuristic elements.

The SUN and MOON continue on their way.

Panel 7: Once again, Disaster Strikes. Off in the distance, we see a mushroom cloud form as the city is hit by a nuclear explosion, unleashing total destruction.

The SUN and MOON pay this no mind, continuing to pass overhead.

Panel 8: The former city, in a post-apocalyptic state. It is a wasteland of devastation, with ruined buildings and no signs of life. By all accounts, the place looks completely dead.

The SUN and MOON keep moving.

Panel 9: A town reborn! A small post-apocalyptic survivor community, on par with the size present in PANEL 1, has set up in the ruins of the old world, though it’s difficult to tell their actual size given the remains that still stand. Signs of new plant and animal life are present as well, but should be minor touches indicating that it’s a very new, very recent development.

The SUN and the MOON continue to move as they have since the beginning.


Monday, August 17, 2015

A Trio of Photos - Best Laid Schemes - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Owen stands at the foot of a bed in a small, dingy apartment / hotel.  He holds his hands to his head in fear / frustration.  An open briefcase sits on the bed.  It's filled with what look to be ledgers, papers, and the like.

CAPTION (OWEN): Jules said the case would be stuffed with cash.

OWEN (quiet): fuck

2 - Now on one knee Owen is rifling through the briefcase's contents in a panic, maybe throwing things out here and there.

CAPTION (OWEN): Instead, it's filled with Mr. B's books.

OWEN: Fuck.

3 - Owen picks up the suitcase and throws it across the room into a wall.  Its contents spill and fly out - books, ledgers, and papers going everywhere.  If desired, an old revolver can also be seen coming out, although it doesn't have to be obvious.

CAPTION (OWEN): Every detail of his operations.  Money spent.  Crimes committed.  Lives ruined.

OWEN (loud): FUCK!

4 - Owen stands surveying the mess he's made.  Books, ledgers, and papers are all over the places.  There's also that aforementioned revolver, which is near the door.

CAPTION (OWEN): It's all here.

Owen (quiet): ...what?

5 - Owen is down on his hands and knees, picking up and examining the revolver.  A knock is visible at the door.

CAPTION (OWEN): And I'm the dumbfuck who took it.


6 - Owen looks up towards the door, holding the gun in front of his face so his mouth is covered and one eye looks through the trigger guard.  While his expression is partially masked, it's clear that he's scared out of his mind (as per the third photo from Shaun's prompt).

OWEN (quiet): fuck

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Trio of Photos - Finch & Ruiz - Shaun Richens


Open on a close up of DETECTIVE FINCH, he’s middle aged, lean, his hair rests in a widows peak - he wears a suit that is functional not fashionable. His face wears the look of disgust.


Cut to. We are looking down an escalator coming up out of a busy tube station. DETECTIVE RUIZ is the focus as she nears the top of the escalator. She holds her phone to her ear. She’s young, but tough looking. She’s hard edged and cynical. She wears a dark grey suit, no tie, her dark hair cut short. Her badge hooked on her belt.

Finch? What is it? I’ve had like twenty missed calls. I was underground.

Reveal shot. Looking over Finch’s shoulder into an abandoned church, he’s still on the phone to Ruiz. Light spills in through the cracked stained glass window. Light pools around a chair in the centre of the room, the corpse of a young boy hangs from the ceiling. A few police officers in uniform are putting police warning tape up around the scene. 

It’s him Ruiz. We’ve got another kid. Same m.o. as the others.

Cut back to Ruiz. She is now on street level, walking through a busy downtown main street in a large urban city.

You sure it’s him? We’ve had copycats before.

Cut to a close up on a photo pinned up to a corkboard. The photo is grainy, but the face of a man can be made out. He is middle aged, short dark hair. He holds a pistol in his hand, the weapon obscures most of his face.

Trust me. It’s him, it’s Preston Bishop. Our goddamn ghost in the wind.

Pull back - we reveal the whole of the cork board. It’s massive. The photo from the last panel sits in the centre. All around it are other photos, gangs of men, weapons, maps with locations circled, a few evidence photos from murder scenes. A few hand written notes (we can’t make out what they say.)

Three years and all we’ve got is a grainy photo of this psycho.

Why A Trio of Photos? - Shaun Richens

The old adage says that a picture's worth a thousand words, well this week I want to see what three pictures can do for our words and what our words can do with them.

Comics is truly unique medium in the way pictures and words are used in combination. We can tell layered narratives interweaving both the visuals and the written word in ways that novels and movies just can’t.

We will be taking inspiration from the three black and white photos gathered here.

We can use them directly as panels for the script, maybe even trying to link all three into one story. Or maybe you’ll decide to focus just on one photo, perhaps as a location for a confrontation? Or the meeting point for a love affair. Maybe your character is on the run from one of these places.

One of the images might inspire a character for you to toy around with. A fully fleshed out person for you to push and pull to get to the heart of what makes them tick.

Your page could be about the person who took the photos, are they for a school project? Maybe they are the only photos on a roll of film found on a murder victim? Do the photos have sentimental value? Do they put someone in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Or maybe you hate the photos? That’s ok too. Go and find a photo that brings a story to life for you. All I ask is that you share it along with your story, so we can see where it takes us.

I want us to explore the hidden stories that live in these still moments in time. I want us to collect all the tales that are conjured up for each and everyone of us.

As always, myself and all the writers at Thoughtballoons would love to have people at home come and share stories with us too.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fantastic Four - The Crash - P. A. Nolte

1/ The moon at night.  A wisp of smoke drifts up from something unseen below the panel's edge.

Caption: "Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all." ~ Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

2/ Where the smoke is coming from.  The crumpled hull of what was once a mighty spacecraft softly reflects the fire that has claimed the more flammable materials within.  Leaning against what appears to be a mostly intact doorframe is the figure of a man on fire.  He seems unconcerned by the fact, like he has yet to grasp that, yes, he is a man on fire.

Johnny: Is-- Is everyone okay?

To his right, a young woman.  Blonde.  She wears a suit similar to his, constructed to resist the vacuum of space, the pressure of the bottom of the ocean, and who knows what else.  As she props herself up on one arm and rubs her temple with her opposite hand, she glimmers in the light, fading in and out of visibility.

Susan: Reed!  Where's Reed?!  Did he--

In the foreground, a pile of rocks in the shape of a man lunges forward.  How two legs can carry such bulk is anyone's guess, but somehow they do.  Piercing the darkness beyond the crash site, from under a heavy brow of stone, two blue eyes.  The hand that has reached out in front of them is heavy.  Made from the same crude stone as the rest of the figure.  There are only three fingers and a thumb, instead of the usual four.

Ben: Over here!  He doesn't look good...

Friday, August 14, 2015


Page 1 – (6 Panels) 

1.1:  Interior, the family / TV room in the Baxter building, the room where you always see Johnny and Ben bickering right before Reed barges in to announce that the world is going to end unless they do something.  It’s evening and Ben Grimm, the Thing, is standing in the middle of the room, yelling to people off-panel.  He’s wearing a turtle neck / sports coat / early 1960’s “cool” sophisticated male outfit.  I picture this as a close-shot of Ben’s profile looking right, but that’s not necessary.

Thing:  C’mon, everybody . . .

Thing (in the usual “It’s Clobberin’ Time” font):  IT’S CHRISTMAS CARD TIME!!!

1.2:  The rest of the First Family, sans Reed, entering the room.  Johnny is flying in, carrying Franklin in arms that aren’t “Flaming on”.  Both are wearing ties.  Sue and Valeria are walking hand-in-hand, Valeria slightly pulling her mother.  Everyone is dressed in the same ‘60’s yuppie attire. 

Franklin:  Sorry Uncle Ben.  I had to help Uncle Johnny with his tie.

Johnny:  Thanks, kid.  I’m never gonna’ live this down.

1.3:  The whole family standing together, posing for the photo.  From left to right the line-up is: Ben, Reed (whose spot is empty), Sue and Johnny.  Sitting in chairs in front of Reed and Sue are Valeria and Franklin.  The empty space next to Sue, where Reed should be, needs to be tremendously obvious.

Sue:  Valeria, do you know where your father is?

Valeria:  He said he’s be right up, but you know how Dad gets.

1.4:  Valeria’s face, looking up at her mother and, by proxy, the reader.

Valeria:  He’s been working on some super-secret project.  All I know is that he calls it “Project Mistletoe”.

1.5:  Interior, Reed’s idea room from the Hickman run of Fantastic Four.  It’s basically a white “dry erase board” room where Reed goes to brainstorm ideas, so the walls are usually covered.  Now, Reed is erasing everything from the walls.  He’s also dressed for the portrait, so that the reader knows he didn’t totally flake-out on his family obligation.

Valeria (caption):  “Today he just needed to finish a few things up.”

1.6:  Reed erasing the final “idea” on the wall – “SOLVE EVERYTHING”.  He’s smiling, finally content within himself. 

Silent Panel

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fantastic Four - Harbinger II - Ray Wonsowski

Going deep into my WABAC machine...for Part I, go here...

Panel 1- JOHNNY STORM, walking through the flaming antechamber in Atillan, emerges from the blaze. However, a Cosmic Control Rod is at his throat, and his jaw has been reshaped, giving him the appearance of Annihilus. In fact, Johnny is possessed by him, his head lolled over to the side, shambling like he is still learning how to work the body. He is dragging the unconscious body of GORGON of the Inhumans.

JOHN-NIHILUS: s-s-simple thisss waszz...we should have thought of thisss s-s-sooner...

Panel 2- from above. The THING, foreground, launches himself up and away in a bound before, background, SUSAN STORM can throw up her force field, which now encircles herself and REED RICHARDS, who is holding his wife in the stretch coils of his arms. The shield is keeping tongues of flame away.

THING: I've had enough of this crumbum...


REED: Ben, stop!!

Panel 3- BEN lands hard in front of JOHN-NIHILUS, raising his fists. JOHN-NIHILUS just stands absently before him, as if the Thing was a curiosity under a microscope.

THING: John. Buddy. This ain't you.

JOHN-NIHILUS: ...s-s-stupid creature...hideousss thing...

Panel 4- zoom in, one of BEN's hands around JOHN-NIHILUS's throat, the other tearing away the Cosmic Control Rod from it.

THING: Shut your cake hole, gimme that!

REED (off-panel): BEN! STOP!!

(In the space between panels, sound fx: FASH!

Panel 5- Foreground, the unconscious form of JOHNNY STORM, no longer the thrall of Annihilus. However, background, silhouetted in the flames, the giant rocky form of BEN GRIMM rages, Cosmic Control Rod glowing brightly in his hand, translucent leathery wings having sprouted violently from his back.

BEN-NIHILUS: ...RRRRRR.... be continued...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Fantastic Four – Remember that Vay-cay of DOOM? – MK Stangeland Jr.

(5 Panels)

Panel 1: The FANTASTICAR lands in CENTRAL PARK next to a flying machine owned by DR. DOOM. Nearby is DR. DOOM, seemingly doing nothing but observing his surroundings. Flanking him on either side are a pair of DOOMBOTS who are dressed up like secret-service type bodyguards with suits and sunglasses, though with green DR. DOOM-style capes added to the outfit.

REED: Stop right there, Victor!

DR. DOOM: Richards…

Panel 2: The FANTASTIC FOUR unload from the FANTASTICAR, looking ready to go to battle mode. DR. DOOM stays where he is, pretending as though the FANTASTIC FOUR are beneath him in true DR. DOOM fashion. The DOOMBOTS turn to look at the FANTASTIC FOUR, but only enough to qualify as acknowledging their existence.

REED: What are you up to?

DR. DOOM (1): Foolish Richards.

DR. DOOM (2): Can a foreign leader truly not simply enjoy a vacation without being assaulted by your baseless accusations?

Panel 3: DR. DOOM and the DOOMBOTS have turned to face the FANTASTIC FOUR. DR. DOOM stands with his arms crossed in front of him in his usual pompous fashion.

BEN: What now?

DR. DOOM (1): DOOM realized that he had never simply visited this city of New York.

DR. DOOM (2): For all it’s inferior qualities, there is a certain quaint charm to it.

Panel 4: DR. DOOM and the DOOMBOTS march off dismissively as the FANTASTIC FOUR watch.

DR. DOOM (1): If you primitive simpletons can find it in yourselves to excuse DOOM, DOOM shall try to enjoy what few pleasures this city might have to offer.

Panel 5: FANTASTIC FOUR watch as DR. DOOM walks off. BEN, SUE, and REED look confused, JOHNNY snaps his fingers as he comes to a realization.

BEN: Anyone know what just happened?

SFX: *snap*

JOHNNY (1): Trolling!

SUE: What?

JOHNNY (2): Dr. Doom is trying to troll us!


Monday, August 10, 2015

Fantastic Four - Family Echoes - Shaun Richens


Close up on REED RICHARDS hand. He holds a whiskey glass, a splash of high class whisky left at the bottom, ice slowly melting around it.

Science was my first love but I’d always vowed that my family mattered most.

Close up on Reed. His head down as he rubs at his temples with his other hand.

Then I lost them, I forced the space mission, I didn’t want to wait.

I was a damn fool.

Cut to deep space. JOHNNY STORM in a sci-fi, high tech space suit. He falls through space towards a distant sun. Wreckage of a damaged spacecraft floats around him.

Poor, brave Johnny. He tried to save us. How did I repay him, I just left him up there to burn.

Cut to. A panel filled with the emptiness of space. A few stars fight against the darkness in a few small areas. More wreckage from the doomed spacecraft litter the scene.

My dear sweet Susan. She, she just vanished without a trace. I had no time to search. The ship was a wreck, breaking apart more with every second.

Cut to. Interior an intensive care ward. We on focusing on a patient lying in bed. His entire body wrapped in bandages. An oxygen tent around him. Amazing, medical tech all connects to him via cables and tubes.

I got Ben home at least. But at what cost? He’ll never be the same. The man I knew as Ben Grimm died in the stars with the others.

Cut back to Reed. Wide panel. Reed stands in his lab, go full kirby with this, but a modern twist. Reed is in full lab gear. His back to us. In front of him is a large circular metal portal, it’s made from copper and gold with tints of silver and black iron. This is a door to another dimension - to all other dimensions. A swirling, flowing blue vortex breaths into life at the heart of the portal - it looks almost like liquid.

Reed’s empty whisky glass rests on a worktop near by.

Somewhere out there my friends, my family. They’re alive.


And I will make us whole again.  

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fantastic Four - Familiar Utterances - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Susan stands in an open space, striking a menacing pose as if preparing to enter a fight while starting to turn invisible.

SUSAN: It's time for some transparency!

JOHNNY (OP): Are you striking fear into the hearts of villains or boring them with political policy?

2 - Susan tries again, striking a different action pose while turning invisible (and wearing a frustrated look on her face).

SUSAN: Beware my veiled threats!

BEN (OP): Better attitude, but a little passive-aggressive.

3 - Susan is even more frustrated.  She tries again, waving her (invisible) hand in front of her face.

SUSAN: You can't see me!

JOHNNY (OP): Simple and to the point, but I feel like John Cena may not appreciate it.

4 - Pull back a bit to show that Susan is in the living room with the rest of the Fantastic Four.  Frustrated, Sue sits down on the couch between Johnny and Ben, crossing her arms angerly (and possibly going invisible at the same time).

SUSAN: This is stupid!

5 - Still on the couch, Johnny and Ben try to provide some comfort.  Reed sits on a sofa off to the side.

JOHNNY (1): It's okay, sis.  This kind of thing can take time.  It's not like "Flame on!" was the first thing that came to my mind.  I worked at that for months!

JOHNNY (2): Besides, we're moving in the right direction.  Just remember that there are no bad ideas at this point in the process.

6 - Ben looks over to Reed asking if he's ready.  Reed gets up, looking pretty pleased with himself.

BEN: Why don't try something else.  What do you got, Stretch-o?

REED (1): Well, I don't mean to brag, but I think I have the perfect thing.

REED (2): *ahem*

7 - Reed gets all stretchy as if he's about to do some tussling. He delivers his potential catchphrase.

REED: I hope you have a Fantastic day!

8 - Johnny, Ben, and Sue all look on, dumbfounded at how terrible that was.

9 - Repeat shot. Johnny and Ben turn their attention back to Sue. She looks somewhat heartened by their suggestion.  Reed sits back down on the sofa glumly, his turn to mope.

BEN: Susie, what about something to do with "out of sight, out of mind"?

Why Fantastic Four?

Ostensibly because there's a movie out.  I guess?

It's weird (and a pretty decent problem to have), but it's been a good long while since a superhero movie has come out to pretty much universal disinterest.  Reviews seem to be lukewarm at best, downright harsh at worst.  Admittedly, I haven't seen the movie and I'm not really intending on checking it out.  It just looks to be all kinds of meh, you know?

So let's forget the movie for a second.

We're running Fantastic Four because, as corny as it may sound, they are Marvel's First Family.

And when so many comics are focused on explosions and cosmic rays (which, don't get me wrong, are admirable goals), it's refreshing to have characters who focus on that idea of family.  The ones who support you, who bug the hell out of you, who will always be there for you, and who you love more than you can fathom.  And the aspect that I dig more and more as I get older is that the Fantastic Four is about the family you're born into and the one you make for yourself.

Johnny and Sue are siblings.  Reed and Ben are childhood friends.  Sue and Reed are married and devoted parents.  Johnny and Ben are major broheims.

What's not the love?

You can also get into their storied history as some of Marvel's earliest superhero characters, their allegorical representation of earth, wind, fire, and water, or their plethora of supporting characters - and those are all excellent reasons - but I think it's the focus on relationships and their incredible importance that makes the Fantastic Four special.

That and the explosions and cosmic rays.


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Metamorpho - Fosis and The Outlanders - Shaun Richens

I may have gone mad with this one - This is my homage to Michel Fiffe’s comic Copra - Which itself is a homage to 80’s Suicide Squad. This is meta as hell and either really fun or terrible - you decide, but either way thanks for reading.

I’ve taken Batman and The Outsiders and given it a Copra style makeover. So let us begin.

Our players for this page -

Dr Fosis is our Metamorpho analogue - shape-shifting, adventurer with a broken heart since the disappearance of his one true love Miss Diamond Deer. Fosis is muscular and athletic, bald and handsome. He looks perfectly human except for the alien Orb embedded in his chest. The orb is slowly killing Fosis but it is also the source of all his power.

Knockout is our Looker - the youngest member of the Outlanders - Knockout is a powerful psychic but has recently developed a taste for blood having been turned into a Vampire by the Outlander villain Duke Icho. Knockout wears the look of a superhero goth. One side of her raven black hair shaved to the skull. Fosis has promised to find Knockout a cure for her vampiric disease.

Brontide is our Black Lightning - The quiet heart of the Outlanders - Brontide rarely speaks outside of missions after the tragic events of his past he only wants to focus on the job at hand. Brontide is capable of reacting at lightning speeds. His mind and eyes can process information at such speeds, that time appears to have slowed down. Brontide FYI he can fly and has the strength of a hundred men. He is the true powerhouse of the Outlanders. Brontide wears a superman like costume, but in black and yellow, instead of a cape he wears a leather jacket. His face is covered by a streak of white face paint over his eyes.

D.E is our Katana - D.E is a member of the Japanese hero team The Shining Suns - she is currently working with The Outlanders at the request of Watchdog (Our version of Batman) She is skilled with all bladed weapons and carries an array of swords, daggers and knifes with her. She is not authorized to use lethal force.

Lady Mindflayer - The leader of the Cult of Psychics. She was raised as an assassin in Japan but at the age of twelve her psychic powers started to develop - she killed her handlers and went on the run, only to return ten years later, the leader of one of Japan's most evil and feared gangs. She now runs the Japanese underworld through sheer force of will.


We open on FOSIS. Fosis had shape shifted his body into that of LADY MINDFLAYER the leader of the CULT OF PSYCHICS, to infiltrate the gang. His disguise has been discovered when KNOCKOUT’s psychic shield over Fosis failed when her vampiric blood lust took hold of her.

Fosis’s face slips half between his own and that of Lady Mindflayer as his mind is bombarded with psychic attacks from his captures. His face is scrunched up in pain.

Purple waves ripple out from around his head (A visual clue to the attack)

Fosis is locked to a chair - restraints around his arms, legs and neck. Lady Mindflayer and a squad of her psychic priests surround him.


I will unlock the secrets you hide in your brain Dr Fosis. It doesn’t matter how much I have to pull your mind apart.

Cut to KNOCKOUT, BRONTIDE and D.E. They are in their laboratory hide out. Go full Kirby in the design of this place.

Knockout clutches at her temples in pain.

I’m so sorry. She, she has Fosis.

I couldn’t hold on.

22.3, 22.4, 22.5 A row of three smallish panels.

Close up on Fosis - he is trying to shift his head into a protective helmet - something like Magneto’s maybe - but the attacks on his mind are still too strong - one side of the mask has turned to a liquid and runs down his body.

Fosis attempts to stretch his neck so he can slide free from the resistant holding his head in place. Instead half of his neck and face have started to bubble as if boiling.

Fosis has forced his powers to much. His head slumps forwards, he is unconscious.

Your mind is mine now fool.

Cut back to the Outlanders Lab - Knockout wipes blood from her lips as she has finished replenishing her strength. D.E wraps a bandage around her hand, blood stains into it. Brontide stands waiting. He needs Knockout back at her A game.

Thanks D.E. The blood lust was setting in, I could barely see straight.

We are a team now. We most looking out for one and other.

Speaking of. Can you get a link back to Fosis? What’s going on?

Close up on Knockout - her fingers to her temples as she focuses. Her eyes wide, pure white. - White lines ripple from her mind as she reaches out to Fosis.

Bronitde. It’s worse than I feared. We need to get to Fosis now.


He’s - he’s gone cold on me. Mindflayer must have broken him. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Metamorpho – MEDICINAL METAMORPHO – Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (6 Panels)

1.1:  Interior, S.T.A.R. Labs.  Metamorpho sitting on an examination table, legs dangling over the edge.  Dr. Silas Stone, Cyborg’s lab-coat clad father, is standing in front of him, an iPad looking medical pad in his hands. 

Metamorpho:  Give it to me straight, Doc.

Dr. Stone:  We’ve done everything we could.  S.T.A.R. Labs has broken this down to the molecular level, and the prognosis is clear . . .

Dr. Stone:  Your DNA can be spliced into anyone using nano-genomics, recode the rogue cells, and eliminate all human disease.

1.2:  Metamorpho’s face, shocked in happy disbelief.

Dr. Stone (caption):  “Metamorpho - you’re going to save billions of lives.”

1.3:  Exterior, day, a beautiful park in Metropolis.  It’s the unveiling of a statue of Metamorpho, arms akimbo, feet spread, the classic super-hero pose.  Below, on a podium, the real Metamorpho is shaking hands with a Mayoral figure; Superman and Wonder Woman are standing off to the side, smiling and clapping.  Dr. Stone and his team from STAR Labs are also on the podium, clapping along with everyone else.  The crowd has their backs to the reader, also cheering.

Metamorpho (caption):  And just like that, the Earth was done getting sick.  Sure, people still died. 

1.4:  Metamorpho shaking hands with Wonder Woman while Superman looks on.

Metamorpho (caption):  Not all of us can be immortal.

1.5:  Metamorpho walking away from the reader, the crowd parting in his wake, some folks patting him on the back as he leaves his own party.

Metamorpho (caption):  Everyone was calling me a “savior”, but they had no idea how many times I’d earned that title before . . .

1.6:  Flashback, exterior, day.  Metamorpho leading the team of old school 1980’s Outsiders, rushing headlong into battle, surrounded by laser beams and explosions.

Metamorpho (caption):  As an outsider.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Metamorpho - Egypt - Ray Wonsowski

Setting: Ancient Egypt, the Khufu Dynasty.

Set-up:  the demonic TRIGON (father of future Titan, Raven) has struck a bargain with the god APEP, "the serpent that never sleeps" for a thousand year reign of terror over the Nile delta. As Trigon's Raptor Daughters rise from the sands and take to the air, the heroes of Egypt witness the rise of a new champion...


Panel 1- an unnamed Hebrew SLAVE stands on the crest of a high dune, holding a near-spherical meteorite above his head with both hands. He is dirty, ragged, and emaciated, but proud, the sun shining as the stone pulses brightly in secondary colors.


Panel 2- Looking up and off panel, expressions ranging from terror to awe, left to right, are BLACK ADAM, the Hawk-helmeted Prince KHUFU (who wields an ornamented short sword) and Princess SHA-IR-A (holding a spiked mace before her), and the wizard NABU, who wears the Helm of Fate, his hands radiating ankh-shaped aura of magicks unknown. In the sky behind them, harpy-like silhouettes circle in the air.

BLACK ADAM: Great gods, wizard, what horror is THAT?
NABU: To the slave, a Seraphim, the terrible angel of their One God. For us, it is the ever-changing left hand of the Sun...

Panel 3- From above, we witness a gigantic gelatinous tumor with human features, a motley of purple, orange, brown, green, and whitish gray. The faces are that of the SLAVE, part anguish from being so twisted and distended, part righteous anger as he swipes at the airborne Daughters of TRIGON with salubrious tentacles.

CAPTION (NABU): a Metamorphae.