Thursday, June 30, 2016

Warm-Up Sketches - One Confusing Step - Perry Kent

Panel 1
Exterior, dark, alien planet. An astronaut in a bulky space suit steps out of a shuttle-like craft that has landed in the dirt of the alien world. A large light shines from the top of his helmet out into the darkness of the world. The planet is dirt and rock.

1. ASTRONAUT: Surface contact established. Sending readings now.

2. RADIO (op): Confirmed.

Panel 2
The astronaut walks away from the shuttle, preceded by the beam of his head lamp.

3. ASTRONAUT: Initiating immediate environmental recon.

4. RADIO (op): Confirmed. Looks like a pretty barren world.

Panel 3
The astronaut climbs a slope of rock and dirt.

5. ASTRONAUT: I'm not sure we'll find much besides single cell life.

6. RADIO (op): Too bad.

7. RADIO (op): How's it feel to be the first man on this moon?

Panel 4
The astronaut stands at the top of the slope, looking down at the ground. His helmet light illuminates an unseen patch of ground.

8. ASTRONAUT: Worrisome.

9. RADIO (op): What? Why?

Panel 5
The astronaut stands next to a set of human bones, his helmet light fully circling and illuminating the remains.

10. ASTRONAUT: Looks like I'm not the first.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Warm-Up Sketches – Distraction – MK Stangeland, Jr.

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: DRONE stands in front of a skeleton, an image very similar to that of the PROMPT IMAGE.

Panel 2: DRONE looks around for something. It looks suspicious.

HANK: (Off panel) Did it work?

HENRY (Off panel) Shhh…You’re going to give us away.

Panel 3: DRONE looks down at the skeleton. Words of some kind comes from it in an inhuman language.

DRONE (1): (Inhuman gibberish)

DRONE (2): (More inhuman gibberish)

DRONE (3): (Yet more inhuman gibberish)

HANK (Off panel) What is it doing?

HENRY (Off panel) I said shush!

Panel 4: Reveal of HANK and HENRY – two soldiers in futuristic sci-fi gear - hiding on the other side of a ridge near the DRONE, which can still be seen in the background looking in HANK and HENRY’s general direction. HENRY is holding something up that peeks just above the ridge which allows him to see what’s on the other side.

DRONE: (Continuing inhuman gibberish)

HANK: Excuse me if I’m antsy about the creep.

HENRY: Excuse me if I’m panicking on the inside about you leading it to us.

Panel 5: The DRONE walks off. HENRY is noticeably relieved.

HENRY: *whew*

HANK: That mean it’s gone?

Panel 6: HENRY stays close to the ground as he begins to make an escape from the ridge. HANK looks about to follow.

HENRY (1): Shutup, ya idiot.

HENRY (2): We got to get this back to base ASAP.

HANK: Hey look! Something we can agree on.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Warm-Up Sketches - "The Incident" - Grant McLaughlin

1 - A psychologist's office.  We're close on the pen and clipboard of said psychologist.  Their body / torso can be visible behind, but their face should not be on-panel.


2 - On war-torn streets in a nondescript city.  Two robots, IL5A and IL5P (not dissimilar to André Lima Araújo's sketch - perhaps they have written markings somewhere to identify which is which) have their weapons out and are firing, with unseen forces firing back.  Plasma pulses fly throughout the scene.
LETTERING NOTE: There should likely be some type of difference from the regular in the robot font / balloon choice.

IL5A: Fall back!  I will cover you!

3 - Back in the psychologist office.  The psychologist sits to one side, pen and clipboard ready (but face still off-panel), while IL5P sits on a couch across from the psychologist.  IL5P sits with slumped body-language.

PSYCHOLOGIST: there anything you want to talk about?

4 - Back on the war-torn streets.  A plasma pulse blasts apart IL5A's side, with a huge hole opening up where before there was torso and arms.  IL5P looks over in surprise, reaching out uselessly.

IL5P: Elsa!

5 - Psychologist office.  On IL5P.  Its hands are clasped, hanging between its legs.  It looks down, not making eye contact.


6 - War-torn streets.  IL5P kneels next to IL5A, cradling what little is left of its disintegrated chassis. While the scene is obviously on the streets, maybe we could do without the background to emphasize the moment.


7 - Psychologist office.  On IL5P.  Maybe pull away a bit from IL5P, but the robot holds the same position as in panel 5.

IL5P: (small): no

Why Warm-Up Sketches?

I often wish I had taken the time to learn to draw.

There are a plethora of reasons for this, some of which you can surely guess at, but one of the main reasons is warm-up sketches.

These things are pure magic.  The idea that artists sit down with a blank sheet of paper, throw down some quick marks, and suddenly have a beautiful image, a thrilling story, is stupefying.  Of course I recognize that there's a lot more work to it than that and that warm-up sketches can be lead just as often as they can be gold (perhaps more so, even), but that doesn't lessen my admiration.

One such golden sketch is that which you see below, courtesy of André Lima Araújo.

It was accompanied by the following text:

This was bad. Very bad. He had finally found the scout, but his crumbling bones were not going to talk much. He sighed heavily, thinking of the best way to bring the news to the boss. He was not going to be happy.

Araújo threw this up on his Twitter and Tumblr with no fuss or fanfare almost a year back, and it's been sticking at the back of my mind ever since.  As I said, pure magic.  That figure and those bones say so much that the din is deafening.  And I love it.

There's so many stories to be picked from this image that it's dizzying.  I know what I've found.  How about you?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Movie Adaptation - TAoBBAt8D: Watermelon - P. A. Nolte

1/ Reno and New Jersey enter a lab.  Reno's left arm is in a sling. They wield pistols as if someone or something might pop out at them from any angle at any moment.

The lab itself is fairly standard, looking like any number of other generic science labs, except for a large apparatus that is mostly out of view.

Perfect Tommy (CAP): Cowboy!

New Jersey (CAP): What?

Perfect Tommy (CAP): Hold the gun in front of you, man.

New Jersey (CAP): Oh, yeah... it's... okay.

2/ Partially obscured by a vintage countertop produce scale, a watermelon is being squeezed between two metal plates.  One set of pistons comes from the ceiling, one from the floor.  Tubes and wires run from the plates, sending nigh-unreadable information to a number of nearby computer monitors.

New Jersey: Why is there a watermelon there?

3/ Reno, gun at the ready, exits the lab through a door on the other side.

Reno (OP): I'll tell you later.

4/ New Jersey gives the watermelon experiment, whatever it is, one last concerned glance.

5/ New Jersey follows Reno out the lab.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Movie Adaptation - Hot Fuzz - Perry Kent

This is from one of my favorite movies, Hot Fuzz. It is a scene that I feel ties together the motivation of the killer (though we don't learn the reason until later), the comedy of the movie, and the suspense of “whodunnit". It is also a really simple physical comedy routine that I enjoy.

Danny and Nicholas have just spent the evening out at the pub getting drunk and have been asked to escort a rich drunk fellow home.

Panel 1
Exterior, night. A wide, pulled back shot. Danny and Nicholas, the drunk rich man between them, stagger up to the garish mansion. Danny is hunched and Nicholas is supporting the drunk rich man that is between him and Danny.

1. NICHOLAS: Not really in keeping with the aesthetic of the area, eh?

Panel 2
The drunk rich man, with his back to the door, hands Danny money in the form of a single bill. The rich man looks half-unconscious. Danny looks hunched with half-lidded eyes. Nicholas is the most sober and his eyes are still have closed.

2. DRUNK: Ah-

3. DRUNK: Here you go.

Panel 3
Nicholas snatches the bill from Danny.

Panel 4
Nicholas hands the bill back to the drunk rich man.

4. NICHOLAS: And your change.

5. DRUNK: God bless.

Panel 5
Danny and Nicholas stumble away from the mansion as the door swings shut behind them.

6. SFX (door): Clunk.

Panel 6
Interior, night, dim. The rich man stumbles away from his closed front door. Behind the door stands a tall figure in a black robe with an obscured face. The rich man has taken no notice of the intruder. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Movie Adaptation - Galaxy Quest – MK Stangeland Jr.

(I ultimately decided to go with the selection from my favorite movies that I figured was probably least likely to have already been adapted for real.

RIP Alan Rickman)

(9 Panels)

Panel 1: JASON NESMITH and GWEN DeMARCO have just pushed the blue button to stop the PROTECTOR II from blowing up, but the countdown hasn’t stopped.

The two hug as they await their imminent demise.


Panel 2: Two part panel, showing the computer countdown at ’00:03:307’ on the left and JASON and GWEN still awaiting their death on the right.


Panel 3: Two part panel, showing the computer countdown at ’00:02:593’ on the left and JASON and GWEN still awaiting their death on the right.


Panel 4: Two part panel, showing the computer countdown at ’00:01:720’ on the left and JASON and GWEN still awaiting their death on the right.


Panel 5: Two part panel, showing the computer countdown at ’00:01:00’ on the left and JASON and GWEN still awaiting their death on the right.

Panel 6: Two part panel – The left panel shows the computer countdown still stuck at ’00:01:00’. On the right, JASON and GWEN are still hugging, but both now look confused at the fact that the PROTECTOR II hasn’t blown up yet.

Panel 7: JASON and GWEN start to pull apart and turn their attention to look at the computer screen.

Panel 8: JASON and GWEN are mostly out of their hug, but still touching, there’s a mild look of confusion on JASON’s face while GWEN has a relieved look of realization.

GWEN: It always stops at ‘1’ on the show!

Panel 9: JASON has started out of the room, having picked up his weapon and laughing to himself. GWEN is just starting to follow.

JASON: Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh!

GWEN: Um…what were you saying…?


Monday, June 20, 2016

Movie Adaptation - A Simple Plan: I'm so tired, Hank - Grant McLaughlin

As the title indicates, I'm adapting the Sam Raimi-directed, Scott Smith-written 1998 gem that is A Simple Plan.  If you haven't seen this film yet, stop reading and go watch it, because it's amazing and I'm spoiling one of the final scenes here.

If you're familiar with the film, I'm doing the tail-end of this scene, a beautifully acted moment between Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton.  Everything has hit the fan and Hank is so close to the finish line, but Jacob doesn't know that he can make it across with him...

1 - In the clearing next to the plane and bodies.  Jacob hands Hank the gun.  Hank looks confused, not understanding what's happening.

JACOB: Make it look like the bad guy did it.

HANK: What?

JACOB: I can't do it, so you're going to have to do it.

2 - Jacob turns around and looks away from Hank.  Jacob is calm, decisive.  Hank is horrified, realizing what Jacob is suggesting.

JACOB (1): It's okay with me.  I won't look at you.

JACOB (2): It's perfect.


JACOB: If you love me, you'll do it.

3 - Close on Hank, looking at the gun, still mortified.  He's sobbing, tears streaming down his face.

JACOB (off-panel): I don't wanna be here.

4 - Establishing shot of the edge of the forest.  Lots of tall, lifeless tress rising up in the cold winter.  A lone figure, still small at this distance, walks across the snow-covered field between the forest's edge and the road.  It's Hank.


Movie Adaptation: "The Usual Suspects"--David Press.

PAGE TWO: Three wide panels, because lots of dialogue. Here’s a the clip I’m adapting from what is my favorite film.

2.1: We’re in a room with a table. TWO COPS circle MCMANIS who is the focus here. McManis wears a black turtleneck and is smoking a cigarette. He’s being interviewed. We can only see the white button down shirts and ties the cops are wearing as they ask questions. This shot should be the setup of all of them for this page. The captions are Verbal Kint’s narration.

1.CAPTION:           They went after McManis first. Top- notch entry man.
2.COP 1:                  Where's the truck.
3.MCMANIS:          What truck?
4.COP 2:                  The truck with the guns, fuck-o.
5.MCMANIS:          Fuck-o? Brrrrr.
6.COP 1:                  You want to know what your buddy Fenster told us?

2.2: Now on FENSTER: the stuffed shirt cops circle him once again.  Played by Benicio Del Toro, he’s wearing a red shirt and black blazer.

7.FENSTER:           Say who?
8.COP 1:                  McManis. He told us a different story all together
9.FENSTER:           Oh! is dat the one about the hooka with dizentary?

2.3: Fenster has his arms over the top of his head. COP 1 is off panel, but COP 2 stands right behind Fenster.

10.CAPTION:         Fenster always worked with McManis. He was a real tight ass. But when it came to the job, he was right on. A smart man.
11.COP 2:               What are you saying?
12.FENSTER:         Ah said, “He’ll flip ya.” Flip ya fa real.
13.COP 1 [Off]:      Yeah I’m shakin’. C’mon.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Why Movie Adaptation?

Archie Goodwin by Walter Simonson.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Archie Goodwin. He was perhaps best known for writing and editing Detective Comics in the 1970s. With Walter Simonson they crafted back-up stories centered around Manhunter, Paul Kirk. Goodwin would later go on to found Epic Comics at Marvel years before Vertigo Comics did essentially the same thing. With the Epic line, Goodwin brought Katsuhiro Otomo, Moebius, and a whole plethora of independent and European comics talent to American comics. Perhaps the second biggest achievement Goodwin established was his movie adaptations. Working with Goodwin was Walter Simonson on Alien, Al Williamson on Blade Runner, and Carmine Infantino—most famously—on Star Wars.

A couple years ago a friend found me the Alien adaptation and I frequently go back to it. Now that is an adaptation that is probably as good as the movie.

We do a lot of movie-related posts here at Thought Balloons—usually when there is a new superhero movie out, but none of these movies are our personal favorite films. For this week, I’d like us to adapt one page from our favorite movie if we were to bring that movie to the comic form. As always, feel free to leave a comment on your thoughts. Have fun! 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Crossover Event - Rabbit! Duck! Rabbit! - P. A. Nolte

1/ Bucky O'Hare and Darkwing Duck.  Nose to beak.  Furious.

Bucky: Duck season!

Darkwing: Rabbit season!

Bucky: Duck season!

Darkwing: Rabbit season!

2/ Bucky draws his gun.

Bucky: Duck season!

3/ Darkwing draws his.

Darkwing: Rabbit season!

4/ BOOM!  An effect fills the panel with the sound of gunshot.

5/ Bucky and Darkwing smolder from the blast they just took, reduced to charred black silhouettes save their large, white, terrified eyes.  They look directly out of the page, towards the reader, in that signature fourth wall-breaking Chuck Jones style. Behind them, visible for the first and only time, the background also reflects the picturesque watercolors of those old shorts.  In this case, a forest.

6/ Lobo kicks back on his bike.  Smoke drifts lazily upward from the barrel of his ridiculously oversized gun, intermingling with the smoke from his cigar.

Lobo: Hunting season.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Crossover Event: “Green Hornet vs J. Jonah Jameson”--David Press

1.1: J. JONAH JAMESON chomps on his cigar, spittle erupting from his mouth. This is the good old-fashioned version of Jameson—back at his job as EiC of The Daily Bugle—with lots of papers on his desk. How about a medium wide shot of Jameson and his desk? He’s talking to someone off picture.

1.JAMESON:           There’s a new lunatic in town! As if we need one…
1B:                            I want to know who this nutcase is!

1.2 CUT TO: GREEN HORNET and KATO fighting off some hoodlums in a back alley.

2.CAPTION [Jameson]: “Who seriously calls themselves The Green Hornet?

1.3: THE BLACK BEAUTY lights a ramshackle apartment building on fire with a flamethrower that’s extended out of its headlights. CRACK ADDICTS run out of the abandoned building.

3.CAPTION:           “I mean: what kind of nut job goes around torching abandoned tenement houses?

1.4: Green Hornet and Kato shake hands with DAREDEVIL and SPIDER-MAN as the SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN lay knocked out in the middle of the street.

4.CAPTION:           “They’re allied with public nuisances Spider-Man and Daredevil!”

1.5: Back to the first panel, but this time JAMESON is standing up behind the desk. His complexion is bright red and there’s ash falling on papers on his desk. He might light up his office.

5.JAMESON:           Who are these clowns?

1.6: Now for the big reveal: Jameson is talking to REED and Kato—the new owners of the Daily Bugle.

6.REED:                   Jeez, I dunno Jonah.