Monday, May 30, 2016

Reboot - Hero for Hire - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Batroc the Leaper stands on a rooftop surrounded by Daredevil, Moon Knight, Captain America, Spider-Man, and maybe one or two other masked heroes.  Batroc has a satchel across his shoulder branded with Sigma Corp's logo (a technology company new for this storyline).  Batroc stands with his hands on his hips, a look of annoyance on his face.

BATROC: Well, this hardly seems fair.

DAREDEVIL: All we want is the data you stole from Sigma Corp.

CAPTION: You know that old saying?

2 - Close on Batroc as he cold-cocks Daredevil.  Daredevil not only drops unconscious, but a second Daredevil appears right next to the first, also in the midst of falling unconscious.

BATROC: Oh, I'm not giving up without--

SFX: smak!


CAPTION: That two heads are better than one?

3 - Batroc stands over two unconscious Daredevils, a look of extreme confusion on his face.  The masked heroes around him look equally ill at ease, as if they've all paused in the midst of trying to stop Batroc.

BATROC: ...a fight?

CAPTION: Well, I've never been entirely convinced.

4 - The heroes snap out of their stupor and all converge to beat down Batroc.


CAPTION: Because you can never know what's going through someone else's head.  Never know whether you're really on the same page.

5 - Batroc lies unconscious on the ground.  Spider-Man crouches down to help one of the Daredevils up to a sitting position.  That Daredevil reaches up to hold his head / take off mask.  Moon Knight crouches over the other still unconscious Daredevil.

DAREDEVIL: That's embarrassing.

SPIDER-MAN: You gotta keep ahold of yourself.

DAREDEVIL: I know...

CAPTION: When it comes down to it, there's only one person you can rely on.

6 - Spider-Man helps up the conscious Daredevil, who has removed his mask to reveal that he is Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man.  Meanwhile, Moon Knight is reabsorbing the extra Daredevil, as he is also a copy of Jamie Madrox.  

DAREDEVIL MADROX: Don't want to ruin this for the rest of us.

CAPTION: ...Yourself.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reboot - Animorphs - P. A. Nolte

1/ A group shot of our terrified protagonists hiding behind a concrete tube and other abandoned remnants of the construction site they shouldn't have taken a short cut through.  Light spills over the top of the tube, making what they're hiding from difficult to see.

Jake is our everyman, brown hair and eyes.  To his left is Marco, kind of handsome, mostly obnoxious.  To Jake's right is Rachel, his cousin, a blonde teen model type.  Then Cassie, Rachel's best friend and opposite, and Tobias, a scruffy-looking kid with sandy blonde hair.

Elfangor:  <Do not be frightened, children...>

2/ An alien ship has crashed in the middle of the construction site.  In the distance is a mall, but everything else beyond is anonymous residential.  The ship itself is built somewhat like a tiny USS Enterprise, with a larger pod towards the front and stubby wings tipped with long, tubular engines.  The primary difference is the large beam weapon jutting out of the back, between the wings, that curves back up and into a point like the tail of a scorpion.  Out of a crescent-shaped door, a walkway has extended, and collapsed on the walkway is Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul.  An Andalite.

At first glance, he looks mostly like a blue centaur, but his body is more lean, like a deer, there are too many fingers on his hands, and his tail, though long and flexible, has a frighteningly sharp blade on it.  Eerily reminiscent of the tail on his ship.  His face has almond-shaped eyes, but no mouth, and two stalks sprout from his forehead with an extra eye at the end of each stalk.  They would be wildly scanning the area around him if Elfangor weren't so focused on the problem at hand.  He is about to die.

In front of him, several feet down the walkway, is a blue cube. Each side is about six inches long, and the whole thing pulses with a soft light.  Elfangor must have dropped it as he made his way out of the ship.

Only Tobias has hesitantly stood up and started to step out from behind the detritus.

Tobias: We aren't.

Marco: Speak for yourself.

3/ Tobias is at Elfangor's side.  He's put one arm around his shoulder, trying to help the wounded alien to his feet.  It's a heartfelt but meaningless gesture.  Cassie has moved a little closer, but the others are still firmly planted where they were.

Elfangor: <You are... young.  You have no power with which to resist the Yeerks, but-->

Tobias: Yeerks?

4/ Elfangor reaches out for the blue cube, but his injuries prevent him from moving even an inch closer to it, and he winces in pain.

Elfangor: <The Escafil Device...>

5/ A human hand grabs the cube.

6/ From Elfangor's point of view, Jake holds out the Escafil Device.  The other three stand behind him with various worried expressions.  Tobias has backed away from Elfangor a little, just enough to be out of Jake's way and  in frame with the others.

Caption: My name is Jake.

Why Reboot?

Amidst Disney's current string of live-action adaptations of their back catalogue, the upcoming murder mystery version of Archie, and the new Ghostbusters movie with all of its drama before even being released, the time has come for those of us here at Thought Balloons to step up and give our adoring public what they clearly want:

If we're going to reboot all these franchises--  If we're going to make, for instance, Transformers movies until the end of time, and I think it's safe to say that's the plan, can we at least make them good?  That is, can we do the original idea justice, as silly as it might be?  Craft the resulting product well?

This week, we're certainly going to try.

I have a few favorite intellectual properties that I think could be major blockbusters, or hit TV series, or successful comics, if just a little heart went into them before the inevitable product placement contracts.  You probably do too.  So, before someone else gets to them first, and with our cynical little tongues planted firmly in our cynical little cheeks, let's reboot them!

Welcome to Thought Balloons (2016).  Join us, shall you?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Home - Duel - P. A. Nolte


1/ July 21, 1865.  Springfield, MO

2/ With his back turned, Wild Bill Hickock holsters his gun.  A Colt 1851 Navy.  Running the other direction, towards the steps of the courthouse, is Davis Tutt.  He holds his bleeding left side as his men swarm to him.

Tutt: Boys, I'm killed!

3/ July 24, 1865.  Springfield, MO

4/ At a bar, nursing a whiskey, is Wild Bill.  On the bar in front of him is a gold pocket watch.   It's the Waltham repeater that started this nasty business.  Through the doors of the bar come two officers of the law.

Officer: Haycocke?

Hickock: Yeah.

5/ The officer, resolute but still a little timid.

Officer: Your presence has been requested at the courthouse for questioning as regards the manslaughter of one Davis Tutt.

6/ At the bar, Wild Bill's face is partially reflected in the glass of the watch.

Hickock (OP): Reckon so.

Friday, May 27, 2016

HOME: "Nowhere"--David Press.

Just for clarity purposes, I kinda went nuts with this one because the idea of "home" is something I've always struggled with so I wrote a longgggg script on the various places that have been called "home" over the years. This one starts when we moved to Connecticut.


8.1: A wide panel of a big HOUSE and a large yard: A three-story house. A moving truck is parked in the driveway and things are being moved into the garage.
Lettering note: Captions are my narration; I’ll indicate them, but locations and years will be un-enclosed (“Display Lett” in Warren Ellis’s style for that sort of thing), and just sit on the bottom of the panel.

1.CAPTION (me):        You could say I’m a yuppie, a New Yorker, a prep school snob, but the truth is I’m a mutt.
2.CAPTION (me):        Home is all over the tri-state area.
3.CAPTION:           …So we moved to Connecticut in 1992.

8.2: A wide shot of a hallway.
            It’s the first day of sixth grade in Weston Middle School and I’m wearing a Flash trucker hat and I’m walking through a sea of kids with popped collars and skirts and dresses; barely a ripped jean or t-shirt in sight. Quite different from my New Jersey upbringing. It’s like I’ve gone to private school, but in Weston, Connecticut a public school is a private school anywhere else.
            Everyone is staring at me and what I’m wearing.

2.DISPLAY LETT:      Weston Middle School.

8.3: We’re in a gym, and I’m surrounded by a bunch of kids. I’m still wearing my Flash baseball hat. The dangling balloons can be the insults being flung in my direction.

3.KID 1 [unattached]:     Are you supposed to be the Flash?
4.KID 2:             Yeah, why are you wearing that?
5.KID 3:             Is it to protect against your receding hairline?

8.4: The Gym teacher spreads the kids apart from ridiculing me, I’ve taken off my hat and my hair is matted down from my hat showing my large forehead. The kids are all laughing.

6.KIDS:              Hahahaha!
7.GYM TEACHER:       That’s enough.

8.5: I’m in a bathroom stall, reading Generation X, with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a juicebox off to the left of the toilet.

8.CAPTION:             To say the least, Connecticut was never for me.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Home - Unceremonious Return - Perry Kent

Panel 1
Exterior, night, outside a bar. Howard, a man in his thirties, stands outside on the sidewalk. He watches the commotion in the bar through one of the windows. The building is made of aged wood, like it's been standing for the better part of the last century. The sources of light are what's coming from the windows and the lights on a faded sign which reads “Minerva's”.

1. HOWARD (caption): It's been nearly five years. You'd think time would make it easier to return to a place you stormed out of.

2. HOWARD (caption): It doesn't.

Panel 2
Interior, bar. Howard enters the bar. The interior is utter chaos. There are groups of people milling around, holding beer. People are laughing, enjoying their time. Behind the bar is a woman about two decades older than Howard. There are a few empty spots at the bar.

Panel 3
Howard stands awkwardly in front of the door. Cindy, a gruff looking woman in her forties, approaches Howard. She is carrying a tray of empty mugs.

3. CINDY: Hey, ain't you Minerva's boy? Howie or something?

4. HOWARD: Uh...Yeah. Howard, actually.

Panel 4
Cindy walks away from Howard as she shouts over her shoulder at him.

5. CINDY: Well, Howie, quit blockin' the door. Either grab a stool or a broom.

Panel 5
Howard sits down at the bar, a small little smile on his face.

6. HOWARD (caption): But some parts are easier than others.


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Home - Home – MK Stangeland, Jr.

(1 Panel)

Panel 1: A single artistically arranged image showing a number of ship captains and closely associated crew alongside their vessels as they push forward, including CAPTAIN JACK SPARROW and the BLACK PEARL, HAN SOLO and CHEWBACCA with the MILLENIUM FALCON (Original Trilogy era appearance), CAPTAIN KIRK and SCOTTY with the ENTERPRISE, CAPTAIN PICARD with the ENTERPRISE-D, one or more versions of DOCTOR WHO with the TARDIS, as well as perhaps a few other captain/crew and ship combinations that would be appropriate and fit.

TEXT (1): For all the burdens that come with it, there is one key to happiness that the great Captains can all call upon…

TEXT (2): …if home is where the heart is, then neither are ever far away.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Home - Interlude - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Night time.  Focus on a deep puddle in the sidewalk, raining pelting down on it.

DAVID (tailless): Sorry...

2 - David and Kendra stand under an awning on said sidewalk.  Both are completely drenched.  They stand close to each other, but are not touching or looking at each other.  David looks down towards the puddle from the previous panel, looking sad and embarassed.  Kendra mostly looks uncomfortable that David is so put out, unsure what to do about it.

DAVID: I thought we were closer.

3 - Kendra reaches out and touches David's arm, a small smile on her face.  David starts to look over towards her.


4 - Kendra leans over and lays a peck on David's cheek.  Both blush.

SFX: smek!

5 - Kendra grabs David's arm and pulls him out from under the awning and back into the rain.  She wears a big smile; he's warming to the situation.

KENDRA: Come on...

6 - Kendra and David run down the middle of the street in the rain, hand in hand.  They smile and laugh as they race through the downpour.

KENDRA (tailless): A little rain never hurt anyone.

Six Years of Thought Balloons

Six years, eh?

Six years is a long time, and with one page of comic script from our various writers, it makes for a lot of words.  I thought about trying to count them all up, but in considering the best approaches for such a course of action, I deemed it enough to recognize the total as a lot.

Because while the sheer volume of work we've produced here is something worth celebrating, I think it's worth remembering that Thought Balloons is more than the sum of its parts.  We have a dedicate group of tenures throwing down quality scripts week in and week out.  We have some absolutely amazing alumni doing all kinds of exciting things, both in comics and without.  And a combination of both groups are working on a pretty exciting project that we can't wait to tell you all about once it's a little further along.

It's all come from this little website.  Ryan's hope to have a place to script and level-up has continued to grow and blossom, chugging away six years after the fact.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I love Thought Balloons.  This place means the world to me, and with the amount of time I've spent writing, commenting, and thinking about it, I hope you'll understand when I say that this place is a digital home for me.

Like any good home, it's a place to learn and to grow.  Everyone's welcome, and it'll take you places and show you things you'd never expect.  And when you're really lucky (and I think we have been), you'll meet some of the most excellent people around.

So to help celebrate our sixth anniversary, we're going to be writing about Home and what that means to each and every one of us.  It might be where we were born, where we live, where our hearts are, or any other interpretation that may tickle our fancy.  As always, we'd love to see your take in the comments below.  Like any good home, there's always room for more here, you know?

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Tick - The Tick '66 - P. A. Nolte


1/ The Tick holding up a confusing pile of clues.  There are so many, from a scroll with mysterious writing and a tiki mask to a paddle-ball paddle and bowling pins.  It's all junk.

Caption: Our hero confounded!

The Tick: Are writing desks black?!  Have I solved it?!

2/ Arthur is strapped to an operating table, but The Tick's moth-themed chum looks more puzzled than endangered.  A shadowy figure is reaching out to him, its evil fingers of evil flexed for the purposes of committing evil no doubt.

Caption: His sidekick bounded!

The Villain (Mostly OP): Now we'll see who you really are under that mask, Arthur.

Arthur: Um...

3/ The Tick shamefully handing over a set of keys with a novelty keychain shaped like his own head to a police officer.  Behind them is a large vehicle in the same vein as the Spider-Buggy.  An unnecessary and cumbersome accessory in The Tick's crimefighting arsenal.

Caption: The Tickmobile impounded!

Officer: Sorry, Blue Yonder, but you're in no condition to drive.

The Tick: No, officer.  You're only doing your job.


4/ The door to the room has swung open, and in the doorway is The Tick.  Tall, blue, heroic, and easily distracted.  In the foreground, Arthur is indeed strapped to a metal table in a standard dingy-looking villainous lair.  Standing over him is The Villain, a real Snidely Whiplash type, who has already pulled back Arthur's mask, revealing the face of... Arthur.  I mean... Duh?

The Tick: Unhand her, Dan Backslide!

The Villain: ...what?

The Tick: I said: Let this anonymous man go and tell me where you're keeping my little buddy, you fiend!

5/ Arthur rolls his eyes, a gesture we can actually see thanks to his mask being removed.

Arthur: Um... Tick?

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Tick: "Origin Story"--David Press.

I thought about starting my script from The Tick's origin story, because we never really get into  where he came from--except that he escaped from an insane asylum. Here, he meets his creator. 


3.1 CUT TO: A small apartment where we can see BEN EDLUND slaving over his drawing board. He looks like he’s sweating and concentrating very hard on the page; his right hand is shaped in all kinds of weird contortions.


3.2: The TICK kicks down the door to his apartment. Edlund turns away from us at the invasive super-hero.

1.TICK:                   Edlund! I’ve made it!
2.EDLUND:            What the--?

3.3: The Tick slaps him on the back while he looks down at the drawing board.

3.TICK:              That looks amazing, Edlund! Nice work rendering me.

3.4: The Tick looks down at Edlund, whose face looks like it has just been hit by a mack truck.

4.EDLUND:            How. How…are you here?

3.5: Up on the Tick’s smiling face, from Edlund's perspective.

5.TICK:              You freed me! Don’t you know that you comics can do anything? You can do anything with words and pictures, Ben!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Tick - A Crime of Physics - Perry Kent

I'll admit to being fairly ignorant of The Tick, so hopefully this works.

Panel 1
Exterior, day, top of a building. A crook, dressed in a black turtleneck and ski mask with a large money sack, jumps off the edge of the building. The Tick runs across the building top towards where the crook is jumping. The building has a sign that says “Totekatze Trampolines”, though it is not prominent in the panel.

1. CROOK: You won't catch me!

2. TICK: Halt your descent!

Panel 2
The crook bounces off a trampoline that is at the base of the building. If Tick can be seen he looks astounded. The area around the building has lots of trampolines, as the building houses a trampoline business.

3. CROOK: An escape for the history books!

Panel 3
Tick jumps off the building toward the trampoline. He looks determined.


Panel 4
In a tragic turn events, Tick punches right through the trampoline and into the ground. Dust flies up from the impression he has made on the ground.


Panel 5
Arthur helps Tick from a hole in the ground under the Trampoline. Tick looks wildly dazed from the situation.

6. ARTHUR: What happened?

7. TICK: The elasticity of the trampoline succumbed to the stress of my super human mass, resulting in a true test of my nigh invulnerability.

8. ARTHUR: And the crook?

9. TICK: I'll need to check a history book.


Monday, May 16, 2016

The Tick - R&R - Grant McLaughlin

1 - The Tick sits on the couch in full relaxation mode.  His legs are wrapped in a warm blanket, he has snacks and hot chocolate on the coffee table in front of him, he carelessly holds a book in one hand, and pretty much any number of other vacation / resting ideas (pile of DVDs to watch, a "What to do in The City?" guidebook, etc).  Arthur looks on, perplexed.
LETTERING NOTE: "Staycation" should be written in a bigger style of some sort to emphasize its novelty.

TICK (1): Arthur, prepare yourself for modern life's most ancient and noble tradition of all.

TICK (2): Staycation!

TICK (3): We will rest!

TICK (4): Relax!

TICK (5): Potentially read!

TICK (6): And any number of supplementary activities - some potentially also beginning with "r"!

2 - On Arthur, looking with an expression of surprise / concern over the wealth of staycation material.

ARTHUR (1): ...

ARTHUR (2): Wouldn't you rather be out protecting The City?

3 - The Tick stands up on the couch, striking a thoughtful / oratorical pose.  Perhaps he uses the book as a prop to emphasize his point.

TICK (1): Arthur, to protect The City, we must know what its people love.

TICK (2): What they hold dear.

TICK (3): Only then can we truly understand what it is we protect.

TICK (4): And why it matters that it be protected.

4 - Arthur glumly pages through the "What to do in The City?" guidebook.

ARTHUR: Is there any way I can respond that doesn't result in staycationing?

5 - The Tick swoops in and gives Arthur a great big bear hug of enthusiasm (possibly around Arthur's neck).

TICK: I very much doubt it!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Tick – The Tick vs. The Bliss of Ignorance – MK Stangeland, Jr.

(THE TICK has become super-intelligent through a turn of events.

Or has he?)

(7 Panels)

Panel 1: THE TICK is sitting in a pose imitating that of the famous THINKER statue, but he’s not actually sitting on anything and his face looks forward with a blank, wide-eyed look of horrible realization. His head has been enlarged in a typical ‘super smart guy’ fashion. ARTHUR stands next to him, worried.

ARTHUR (1): Tick?

ARTHUR (2): Tick, buddy?

ARTHUR (3): Please be alright?

Panel 2: THE TICK turns his upper body to face ARTHUR, grasping him by the shoulders.


TICK (1): Don’t you SEE, ARTHUR!?

TICK (2): My lighthouse of truth has suddenly gone dark, leaving me lost in a fog of moral grays that I am unable to navigate, and jagged iceburgs lurk on all sides!

Panel 3: THE TICK philosophizes about his predicament as only THE TICK can.

TICK (1): Once simple concept like ‘good’ and ‘evil’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ have suddenly become unsolvable puzzles, complete with those missing pieces you don’t learn about until the puzzle has almost been solved!

TICK (2): How can I truly fight for justice when I can’t even be sure what true justice is anymore?!

Panel 4: ARTHUR tries to get through to TICK.

ARTHUR: Tick! You’re over-thinking things!

TICK: Am I?!

Panel 5: Close up on THE TICK as he thinks really, really hard. You can visibly see that he’s trying to think as hard as he possibly can, so much so that it might even be physically hurting him, if that were even possible. This includes his fingers up against the side of his head in a meaningless gesture of visible thinking.

TICK: Or am I not over-thinking things enough?!

SFX: grrrrrrrr...!


Panel 6: ARTHUR tries to snap TICK out of his funk by slapping him. His hand only goes so far as TICK’s face and stops right there, as TICK doesn’t move at all in reaction.

ARTHUR: Snap out of it, Tick!

SFX: Sla-…

Panel 7: Small inset panel of ARTHUR, who’s holding his hand and looking down at it after hurting it just a little from slapping TICK.