Sunday, January 31, 2016

The USSR - Red Square - Ray Wonsowski

Panel 1- establishing shot, Saint Basil's Cathedral in Red Square, night. It's lit by klieg lights and police cars in one corner.

CAPTION: 1965.

CAPTION (Ursa Major): She is the third in the last year.

Panel 2- Zoom in, the entrance to the Cathedral, barricaded by police cars and military. Towering over them is the hulking form of the original Crimson Dynamo, standing guard.

CAPTION (Ursa Major): Nadia Toralova, 19 years of age. Her father herds sheep in the Ural Mountains.

Panel 3- inside the entrance to the Cathedral, lies the covered body of the young woman. The sheet is bloodied. RED GUARDIAN examines the scene on his haunches, while URSA MAJOR reads a report from his clipboard.

URSA MAJOR: Multiple stab wounds to the lower abdomen. Discovered naked from waist down, she still seems...intact.


Panel 4- POV from behind URSA MAJOR, over his shoulder, facing a furious RED GUARDIAN, the body visible behind him on the floor. We see URSA MAJOR passing him the clipboard in his paw.

RED GUARDIAN: Why would someone do this to a shepherd's daughter?

URSA MAJOR: My apologies, comrade. I had thought you were informed...

Panel 5- reverse POV, URSA MAJOR looking down at us as we see the top page of a classified document on the clipboard, red ink Cyrillic stating top secret KGB covert operational details within.

URSA MAJOR: She is the third Red Room operative to be murdered by an unknown person with knowledge of the programme.

URSA MAJOR: Someone is hunting Black Widows.

Sorry to leave on a cliffhanger, folks. I hope to be back someday and tie up all my loose ends...Spasibo.

Why the USSR?

Because everything eventually must fade out...

For almost 70 years, the Soviet Union was a grand political and economic experiment gone horribly wrong, and a Cold War military superpower that fed our American fears of nuclear Armageddon. For those of us that lived on our side of the Iron Curtain, they were the embodiment of Aldous Huxley's "Player on the Other Side". In reality, they were our closest neighbor in a slow decline.

They had their share of heroes, to be sure. Yuri Gagarin, first man in space. Author Boris Pasternak. Composer Sergei Prokoviev. They had their villains and boogeymen as well. Stalin. Kruschev. The KGB and Spetznaz. Good and evil, just like us.

I remember when the Berlin Wall came down. A lot of Americans cheered that day, like we won some long game of Risk. It was my first peek at our ideological opposites, and I couldn't find a reason to hate anyone who was so eager to embrace us.

Fiction has done a great job giving us Soviets to fear. James Bond fighting SMERSH. Batman fought both the NKVDemon and the KGBeast. But there was that Russian honor and pride in characters like Teen Titan Red Star and the Avenger, Black Widow. Even Captain America found his opposite in Red Guardian.

But it had its time, and Gorbachev knew when it was time to let it all go. And in much the same way, it's time for me to do so as well. I'll be walking away from the site for now, but I know Grant, MK, and the rest will have something up their sleeves to get the band back together soon.

Thank you, Thoughtballoons, for the most unique writing experience I've ever been part of. You are all blessed beyond words. Za zdorov'ya.

New Tenured Writer - Perry Kent

The year of transitions continues as your friend and mine, R.A. Wonsowski, is stepping away from our merry band to focus on other things.

Ray, you've been an unwavering member of Thought Balloons for a good, long while, and I know I speak for everyone when I say that things simply will not be the same without you.  Your thoughtful feedback, excellent scripts, and warm demeanour will be greatly missed.  It's been a true pleasure having you aboard for so long and we wish you every success in your upcoming endeavours.  Don't be a stranger, my friend.

Of course, as this post title indicates, we are also welcoming a new writer to the family, the one and only Perry Kent.  Attentive readers will remember his stay with us back in October and we're thrilled to have him come on in a more permanent capacity.  At the time, he described himself thusly:

Perry Kent is a writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest. He has been making up stories his whole life and has been putting pen to paper since the first time he fell in love with a book. After recently discovering that people actually want to read some of his stories, he has been earnestly clacking away at his keyboard. Still fresh to the cutthroat, swashbuckling world of serious storytelling, he hopes to be putting his work out into the world any day now. When he makes brief forays onto the internet he can be found on Twitter (@TheOtherPerry) stalking other writers and comic creators.

Ray, it's been a slice.  Perry, welcome aboard.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Sudden Change in Outlook--"6"--David Press


1.1: We’re going to open on a crowded sidewalk in a city that doesn’t really matter, but it’s surrounded with various sorts of people of all sorts of race, dress, etc. This city’s sidewalk could be in Saratoga Springs or Los Angeles—it doesn’t matter. But in this case I’d like to highlight a few people: there is a CLUTZ, a punk rockfish BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND, two FRAT BOYS, and a LAWYER—in a suit, talking on his phone.


1.2: THE BOYFRIEND & GIRLFRIEND walk arm in arm. TWO FRAT BOYS pass them going in the other direction. The shot should be wide enough that we can see the FRAT BOY closest to the GIRLFRIEND, passes something into her purse.

1. BOYFRIEND:        That fucking jerk.
2. GIRLFRIEND:       Let it go honey.

1.3: They see THE CLUTZ dancing in the street, waving his iPod around. He’s on the street side of the sidewalk. In front of them, about to walk into the Clutz is THE LAWYER—on his phone.

3. CLUTZ [singing]: Midnight in the ciiiitttty!
3B.CLUTZ:            Keep calm, Stanley. She’s just a work colleague.
4. BOYFRIEND:        HA! Look at this dude.

1.4: THE LAWYER, on his cell-phone, collides with the CLUTZ.

5. LAWYER:           Watch it, jackass!

1.5: THE CLUTZ’s IPOD flies into the air.


1.6: The iPOD smashes against the wall next to the BOYFRIEND.


1.7: He picks it up and shows the dashed pieces to his girlfriend.

6. GIRL:             Who’d’ve thought that there were so many pieces?

1.8: It electrocutes them. Their faces light up with blue electricity pulsing through their veins.  


1.9: The boyfriend and girlfriend explode in a giant orb of blue light, taking the LAWYER, the CLUTZ, and the FRAT BOYS with them.



Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sudden Change of Outlook (a tale of Redemption Road) - Ray Wonsowski

Setup: if you're a long-timer at Thoughtballoons, you might remember that one of my earliest ideas was of a reformed Electro, (Max Dillon) raising a baby daughter and working as a supervillain skiptracer. You can find previous entries here, here, and here...This night, while trying to round up his next bounty, he stumbles upon a shipping container owned by Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin...


Panel 1- doors are swung wide on the shipping container, we are looking inside. There are about a dozen or so boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 11, dressed in Sunday clothehandss. The children and their clothes are a bit smudged with grime, but not too much, after all, this is Fisk's "merchandise" being exported. They are all, however, terrified, some crying,  others defiantly angry, but all scared. In the background is a stained bucket they've been using as a toilet. 


Panel 2- Medium two-shot. Foreground, MAX, dressed in a leather jacket and a green turtleneck, his face reading shock at the sight. Background,  FISK behind him, ever the poised businessman,  hands in his pockets.

FISK: Really, Max, this shouldn't be surprising. 

FISK: Considering all the enterprises under my purview...

Panel 3- same as panel 2, but MAX is failing to hold back his rage,  tears starting to well in his eyes.

MAX: They're kids, Wilson. 

FISK: They're a commodity. One cannot afford to be thinking of them as children. 

Panel 4- close-up, MAX's sparking fist.

MAX: Actually, I'm thinking of my daughter, you sonuvabitch...

Panel 5- MAX turns, furiously unloading a full charge into FISK's face.

MAX: She saved ME!!!

Panel 6- Close-up two-shot, MAX, teeth bared, holding FISK's barely conscious head in his sparking hands, his face smoldering from the burns, skin already blistering.

FISK: ...wub...

MAX: And now I'm returning the favor....

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Sudden Change in Outlook – All Fall Down – MK Stangeland Jr.

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: A magnificent fortress of villainy, parked behind a magnificent, seemingly unbreakable wall. A military commander stands in a tower, flanked by soldiers.

TEXT (1): A familiar story -

TEXT (2): A powerful force of evil thinks itself invincible.

Panel 2: Outside the villainous wall, a clearly heroic army marches forward, led by a warrior who practically bleeds and aura of holiness or goodness.

TEXT: And then comes along an opponent that thinks otherwise.

Panel 3: The lead warrior lifts his sword into the air, blade pointed downward.

Panel 4: The lead warrior stabs his sword into the ground in an epic fashion.


Panel 5: The villainous wall falls apart.


Panel 6: The villainous military commander watches in shock as the wall continues to fall apart.

TEXT: And then suddenly the force of evil stops feeling quite so powerful.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Sudden Change in Outlook - Title Fight - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Establishing shot of a big, top-card boxing match.  We're talking huge arena, large crowd, flashbulbs going off - all that jazz.  Two boxers, one in red trunks and one in blue, stand facing each other in the ring.  We're far out, but it's still clear that Blue is a much bigger fighter.

CAPTION (RED): Everyone knew it was going to be a bloodbath.

2 - The fighters are touching gloves, but we're focused on Red.  As before, he's noticeably smaller and he looks pretty miserable.

CAPTION (RED): Even me.

3 - We're into the fight.  Blue takes a big haymaker swing; Red barely manages to get out of the way.

CAPTION (RED): But when the fight started.

4 - Blue takes another massive swing.  Red dodges again, manging to evade with more grace this time around.

CAPTION (RED): I couldn't help wondering.

5 - Red lunges forward and lands a punch right in Blue's face.


6 - On Blue, his nose bleeding.  Going cross-eyed to look at it, he looks somewhat ridiculous.  But he also look furious.


7 - On Red.  He wears a look of determination on his face, his gloves up to protect himself / attack again.  I imagine this panel long and thin, crossing the bottom of the page - a cinematic pose.

CAPTION (RED): What if?

Why A Sudden Change in Outlook? - Nicholas O'Gorman

Greetings everyone,

So my choice for the week was prompted by an experience I had a couple of weeks ago. When raking my brain searching for the topic, it continually popped up as a possibility, and one that, given the general internal nature of the topic, would be an interesting exercise in storytelling.

I have been known to be unabashedly opinionated on a great many things; many may describe this as a detriment. Others may call me passionate. Either way, a lot of the opinions I hold have been cemented and I view them as fairly monolithic and unchanging. Not merely inflexible in the sense that I am stuck in my ways, but unchanging as they had been exhaustively prodded, picked at and tempered through research, discussion and reflection.

A couple of months ago, one of the monoliths plummeted to earth, and shattered. It was so sudden I couldn’t tell you where the disaster started, if there were cracks on the outside or a weakness at its base: I can only say that in one instant the monolith was standing among dozens of it’s brethren, and the next, it was not. At either side of this phenomena, I remain physically unchanged, but the difference between the me post and prior to the temporal instant may as well be different people, or species. I had had a sudden change in outlook.
As always, if you'd like to contribute your own scripts, please feel free to do so in the comments below.  We promise we won't change our minds on that policy.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Mirror Universe--"The Worst Writer Ever"--David Press.

In which two different parallel versions of me take on different literary lives. This takes place after a the school psychiatrist has told me that a "learning disability" will never make me a good writer and attributes it to something completely stupid. 

7.1: On the left side is MU DAVE [Mirror Universe Dave], who stays and listens to the COUNSELOR in sixth grade.

1. COUNSELOR [O.P.]: If only you would stop focusing on comics you could get better as a student. 

7.2: And on the right side is EARTH-1 DAVE [real me] who is standing up and leaving the panel. He’s walking out of the room, refusing to listen to the counselor.

2. COUNSELOR [O.P.]: Dave? Where are you going?

7.3: Again, on the left side, we see HIGH SCHOOL MU DAVID as he writes for the school paper. The caption is what he’s writing.

3. CAPTION:          … Ms. Blanco was not convicted for murdering her husband, but administration doesn’t buy it.

7.4: On the right side, EARTH 1 DAVE sits in the computer lab with a bunch of grungy kids wearing Pantera and Slipknot t-shirts reading Watchmen and the Dark Knight Returns.

4. KID 1:           Man, Frank Miller or what, dude?
5. ME:               Yeah, you gotta read Ronin, Jeff.

7.5: Back to the left side: MU DAVE sits at a plywood desk with several other people typing furiously into Macbooks. Above all of their heads is the rainbow colored logo of GAWKER, and a big screen television display numbers that mean unique hit counts.


7.6: E1 DAVE delivering a pitch to JIM VALENTINO at a convention floor.

6. E1 DAVE:          The comic is called WORTHY’S CAUSE, and I hope you like it, Mr. Valentino.

7. VALENTINO:        Thanks, I’ll take a look at it.

7.7: Back to the left side and MU DAVE is holding up a letter with the SIMON AND SCHUSTER logo in the corner of it. He’s shouting off-panel.

8. MU DAVE:          NIKKI! Simon and Schuster gave me a three-book deal!

7.8: Back to the right side and E1 DAVE is holding up a rejection letter from IMAGE: SHADOWLINE. We can see a little bit of the FORM LETTER.

9. DISPLAY:          Dear Mr. Press, I regret to inform you that   WORTHY’S CAUSE does not conform to our current needs.