Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dex Parios - Interlude - Grant McLaughlin

This page would occur in the midst of a particularly heavy workload for Dex.  She's been burning the candle at so many ends it feels like she's added on a few extra so she can go through it faster.  This also means she hasn't seen much of her brother Ansel (who, for those who may not know, has Down's Syndrome).  Missing her and concerned for her, he's made her promise to spend some time with him, insisting they go to the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland's Old Town Chinatown (an exceedingly beautiful place).

Page layout would have four rows.  Panel 1 would be alone on the top row, panels 2 and 3 would be the second row, panels 4 through 6 would be the third row, and panel 7 would be the last row.

I've included a number of image references that capture the setting better than my words could.  Feel free to look at or ignore them at your leisure.

1 - Establishing shot.  An exterior shot of Lan Su Garden.  We see the garden's outer walls and some hints of the pavilions and buildings within, but the area is surrounded by the city itself as well - cars drive by in front, building reach skyward beside and behind the garden.  It's a mixture of the chaos without and the calm within.  Maybe have two figures walking towards the garden's entrance, one leading the other by the hand  (there's no good image reference for this - but some kind of 3/4 shot could be aces).

DEX (tailless): Is this really necessary?

2 - Move closer to see Ansel leading Dex by the hand towards the garden's entrance.  Dex wears a blindfold and is toying at it with her free hand.  Ansel looks back, a plaintive expression on his face (image reference).

ANSEL: B-but you you promised!

DEX: Sorry.

3 - Ansel leads Dex through the front door of the garden, their backs to the reader (image reference).

DEX: You're right.  Lead on, little brother.

4 - Looking directly at Dex.  She still has the blindfold on, although Ansel is in the process of taking it off.  A little pavilion is behind them, but its details are not important.

ANSEL: I k-know you're busy.

5 - Repeat shot, but the blindfold is off.  Dex looks out with a tired, exhausted look on her face.  Ansel can be beside her, either looking expectantly towards the sight before them or at Dex herself.

ANSEL: But I thought you might like this.

6 - Repeat shot, but Dex now wears a wide smile on her face, the exhaustion melted away.

DEX: Oh, Ansel...

7 - Switch angel to behind Dex and Ansel.  They're sitting side by side on a seat looking out across the pond, plants and pavilions of the garden.  Dex has her arm around Ansel and puts her head down on his lovingly (perhaps something like this or this).

DEX: I love it.

Why Dex Parios?

In a sense, it's all about Portland.

About a year and a half ago, I went down to Emerald City Comic Con on a near whim.  I was going to be flying to the West Coast for the first time in my life and figured if I was already out there, I may as well extend the trip somewhat to go check out a nearby city I'd been hearing a lot of good things about: Portland.

I fell in love.

Portland was something of a revelation.  It's a beautiful city that has an amazing vibe to it. I might be romanticizing just a little bit, but one thing that I found particularly irresistible and amazing is the city's seemingly intrinsic appreciation for the arts.  It's hard to explain, but everywhere you go you can't help but notice it - it's almost like there's something in the air.

I know I might be overstating things a bit, but there are few places where I've found myself happier than Portland, Oregon.

So what does this surprisingly long tangent have to do with Stumptown?  In one sense, not a heck of a lot.  But in another, quite a bit.

A heck of a city
Stumptown, originally published in 2009, was one of the first comic book series that I actively sought out based solely on the creator behind the book instead of because of the characters on the cover.  Simply put, Greg Rucka's name is what got my foot in the door.  And am I ever glad it did.

I met Dexedrine Callisto Parios, a hard-headed private investigator who is loyal to a fault and gets the job done - no matter the consequences.  These are only some of her many qualities, but one thing she definitely isn't is boring.  Stumptown may not necessarily be quite as flashy as some of the other stories or properties that Rucka has lent his prodigious talents to, but it is easily one of my favourites.  I devoured that initial miniseries and was thrilled when a second (equally enjoyable) volume hit shelves in 2012.

In the back matter to one of the issues, Greg Rucka writes about the importance of place to literary PIs.  As he puts it, where the character is based is just as important as who that character is.  And Dex Parios has Portland.  I understood this on an intellectual level when I initially read it, but actually visiting Portland let me understand it on an emotional level, too.

Union Station!
Coming back to the series after my trip to Portland, I found myself experiencing it in a completely different way.  I'd always enjoyed Stumptown, but re-reading was like looking on it with new eyes.  It suddenly mattered a lot to me that Dex's office was at Union Station, that she goes to Timbers games, and that she was shot beneath St. Johns Bridge - to name but a few examples.  All these things that were minor details were now integral elements to the characters and to their world.

I love Portland.  I know I'm still something of a tourist in that town, but every time I go I feel a little bit more at home.  Unfortunately, as someone who lives much closer to the East Coast of North America than the West Coast, actually visiting Portland occurs much less frequently than I would like.  Happily, spending time with Dex and her strangely familiar adventures enable me to spend a bit more time

So I hope you'll join me this week to explore the city and the comic book series that I love so much.

Also: comics!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

(Evil) Ryu - Cowardice - Arby Moay

Panel 1
External. We are in a Japanese-style garden. It is daylight, but it is dark because of a heavy rain. We look at Evil Ryu walking towards us. He is talking, angry. His eyes and aura glow red. His purple gi is torn and we can see some scorch marks on it.

Evil Ryu: You have the gall to call me a coward?

Panel 2
Zoom closer to Evil Ryu so we see only half of his body. He is still angrily talking to us (readers). The red glow in his eyes is now a darker red but more radiant, same as his fiery aura which now seems to also be burning the tiny little raindrops.

Evil Ryu: Look into my eyes and proclaim me a villain?
Evil Ryu: See where it got you!

Panel 3
Reveal Ken Masters as the person Evil Ryu was addressing. Ken is lying dead on the ground and very bloody. His gi is gone, save for the pants. He has scorch marks all over him, even burning out some of his hair. If possible, there should also be nearby lightning in the background.

Evil Ryu: Is not death the most cowardly state?


Ryu - Blazing Surge Fist- Travis M. Holyfield

Panel 1: Ryu stands in classic "Hadouken" pose, leaning forward, both fists thrust towards the audience.

CAPTION: Force: 3200 psi.

Panel 2: Close up on a shimmering blue energy sphere of pure Ki  as it erupts from Ryu's hands.

CAPTION: Velocity: 200 mph.

Panel 3: Ryu is a blur in the background as the blue energy sphere bursts into flames, creating wavering heat haze around it.

CAPTION: Combustion point: 1200 degrees Celsius.

Panel 4: Bison, hit squarely by the fireball, writhes in pain, surrounded by a field of flame.

CAPTION Hadouken.

(Dark) Ryu - The Madding Crowd, Part 3 (an interlude) - R.A. Wonsowski

Previously: JACK RYDER has been separated from his alter ego, the CREEPER, by a crazed SHADE the Changing Man. However, the minds are in the wrong bodies. After a frantic rooftop chase, JACK (in the Creeper's body) is stopped by vampire ANDREW BENNETT, who tells him that two doctors from Jack's past may be behind it all...


Panel 1- A dark room, illuminated only by the large plasma TV on the wall in the background. Projected on the screen is what looks like a fluorescent green alchemical circle on a dark screen. Upon the screen is bright blue writing that appears to be part Aramaic, part angelic glyph. To the left and right are pairs of computer monitors, one atop another, that seem to be running programming code. The screens illuminate two profiles from behind, silhouetting them. The one on the left, DR. SKOLOS, has thinning hair swept back and an exaggerated van dyke, the other, DR. YATZ, is bald. Both have visible rictuses in the backlight.

CAPTION: MetaPharma. Sub-level 6.
SKOLOS: Our agent's work proceeds apace.
YATZ: Nonsense! Shade is completely out of control! He is mad with grief over the George woman...

Panel 2- DR. SKOLOS points a thumb over his shoulder to a video feed behind him. He should be lit on his left by the plasma, now off screen. Again the rictus expression, but there is a sickly hint to him, like a freshly dug corpse. The monitor behind him shows JACK RYDER (who is bouncing around like the Creeper) followed by SHADE the Changing Man.

SKOLOS: Which makes him malleable. See? He is returning to us with his charge...
Off-Panel: Meaning what?

Panel 3- SKOLOS gestures angrily at another video monitor, his teeth gleaming in the dark. He is pointing at a security feed showing RYU, barefoot in his tattered and soiled karate outfit, catatonic and sitting crosslegged on the floor, a thin line of drool from the corner of his mouth.

Off-Panel: Dr. Wizor has grave doubt's regarding your course of action.
SKOLOS: Do you? You see our success with you, separating your animus from your anima. Your useless desires now empty...

Panel 4- Reveal of DARK RYU, in tailored slacks with a buckled leather belt and barechested, revealing a near-circular large gaping hole straight through his torso. Strings of rotted flesh dangle from its edges. DARK RYU's clenched fists, however, glow and smoke like hot coals. His expression is hard and disdainful.

SKOLOS: (off-panel) Leaving you, a walking surge of murderous intent.
DARK RYU: Just get on with it...

Panel 5- Foreground, DARK RYU's fist, now opened, hot with power. Background, SKOLOS and YATZ duck as the video screens explode in a shower of sparks.

DARK RYU: (off-panel) And get it done...

Panel 6- DARK RYU stalks toward us, away from the burning screens, leaving SKOLOS and YATZ behind, their anger smoldering, the tension palpable between the three.

DARK RYU: Or you may find yourself on the receiving end of my intent. be continued...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ryu – Street Fighter VS Mortal Kombat – MK Stangeland Jr.

(Feel free to kick up the MORTAL KOMBAT theme if you’d like before reading this script.)

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: Location – a wooded arena, though we don’t see much of it here since RYU’s head and upper body take up most the panel.

RYU has his head lowered and his eyes closed as he concentrates in preparation for a fight. His hands are in front of him, with one hand clenched into a fist, which is pressed against the other palm of his other hand which is extended flat vertically.

RYU: (Text Box) I didn’t choose this fight.

Panel 2: RYU has twisted his body and stepped to the side to avoid getting hit by SCORPION’s infamous chain grab attack. He looks fully in control of the situation and maintains the same sense of calm he had in PANEL 1. The spike of SCORPION’s chain just narrowly misses him and flies by his chest.


Panel 3: RYU reaches out to grab a segment of SCORPION’s chain as it continues to fly by him, this panel happening almost immediately after PANEL 2 – a lot of blurred motions surrounding RYU’s movements might be in order here to show just how fast things are moving.

Panel 4: RYU pulls on SCORPION’s chain to pull himself towards SCORPION – there is a look of sudden surprise from SCORPION on account of him failing to anticipate anyone actually attempting what RYU is about to pull off.

Panel 5: RYU hits SCORPION with a SHORYUKEN – ideally, the panel should have an ‘iconic’ feel to it.


Panel 6: RYU hits the ground and lands in an action pose, readying himself for his next move. SCORPION, in the foreground, is mid-recovery – he certainly felt RYU’s opening blow, but he’s about to regain his footing and composure before things really get going.

RYU: (TEXT BOX) I fear what might happen if I’m forced to finish it.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Ryu - Brothers - Grant McLaughlin

If Saboten hadn't beaten me to it years ago, I'd like to think I'd have written something like this.  However, since that's already been done, you'll have to settle for the following instead.

1 - Ken Masters meditates in a traditional Japanese garden, his eyes closed.  No one else seems to be around.  It is winter, with a fresh snowfall blanketing the world around him.  Ken sits beneath a majestic tree (also snow covered), with various aspects of Japanes gardens visible throughout the panel (perhaps part of a pond in the foreground and sideground, a bridge crossing the pond, a stone lantern or two, a little building in the background, etc).

KEN: You know, Ryu...

2 - Repeat panel.

KEN: I think I'm finally starting to understand where you're coming from.

3 - Ken (eyes still closed) looks over his shoulder, presumably to where he believes Ryu is.  Unfortunately for Ken, Ryu (who has been and remains off-panel) has thrown a snowball at Ken from the direction he is looking towards, which hits him straight on in the face.

KEN: When I'm not acting out and causing distractions, this is actually really relax--

SFX (snowball): paff!

4 - Ken sits in the same position, but his face is covered in snow, which drips off comically.  Perhaps have his angry open eyes visible through the mask of snow.

RYU (off-panel): You know, Ken...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ryu - The Kun - Ben Rosenthal

1. The final tournament in Street Fighter 1.  A shot of Ryu's head snapping towards the reader as Sagat lands a blow with his knee to Ryu's cheek.

CAPTION:  Jinkaku kansei ni tsutomuru koto

CAPTION: Seek perfection of character.

2.  Ryu is picking himself up from the ground, bruised and looking worse for wear.  Sagat is winning this fight.

CAPTION:  Makoto no michi o mamoru koto

CAPTION:  Be Sincere.

3a.  A series of small, quick panels showing Ryu getting beaten.  This should go across the page. The caption should run across the top and bottom of these smaller panels to it looks like a flurry of attacks.  The first panel shows Sagat's fist connecting with Ryu's face.

CAPTION:  Reigi o omonzuru koto

3b.  This panel shows a knee connecting with Ryu's solar plexus.  

3c.  An elbow of Sagat is coming down hard on the base of the back of Ryu's neck.

CAPTION: Respect others.

4.  Sagat's hand is lifting Ryu's head up.  His hand all but covers the top of Ryu's head.  We can see Ryu's eye's have a red tinge to them.

CAPTION:   Doryoku no seishin o yashinau koto

CAPTION:  Put maximum effort into everything you do.

5.  Ryu is performing a devastation Dragon Uppercut on Sagat.  It is delivered with such force that it has ripped open Sagat's chest.  This is how Sagat got his scar.  


6.  Sagat lies on the ground, bleeding from the wound on his chest.  Ryu stands above him - eyes glowing red and face looking darker.  This is the first time he has tapped into the dark hadou - his face looks darker and distorted with anger.

CAPTIONKekki no yuu o imashimuru koto

CAPTION: Develop self control.

Why Ryu?

Uh, because he is all kinds of awesome.

Ryu, easily the main and most recognisable character from the Street Fighter video game series has been around for over 25 years.  From his first appearance in the original Street Fighter video game, Ryu has undergone many changes in these years - mostly built on in the comic series by Udon Entertainment.

Originally the victor of the first Street Fighter tournament (according to the video game) Ryu not only took the title but left a scar on rival Sagat's chest.  His only desire was to seek out stronger opponents and support his training partner and best friend Ken Maters.

However as the series grew in popularity Ryu's motivation and history has been expanded.  Through the prequels Street Fighter Zero series it is revealed that his Sensei Gouken, whom we originally were told was killed by Street Fighter II boss M Bison, was in actuality killed by his brother Akuma - a man who had been seduced by the darker aspects of the hadou (the mystical force that allows Ryu and Ken to throw fireballs and such).

Ryu's mission was to find Akuma and avenge his Sensei's death.  Later, this mythology was further expanded upon with Ryu at constant battle with the dark hadou.  He was constantly at war with it, fighting within himself as well as physical opponents.  It was explained that Ryu scarring Sagat in their bout for the Street Fighter final was a result of him giving in to this dark hadou.  Somehting he vowed never to give in to.  Akuma however has other plans.  Akuma wants to see Ryu succumb to this evil power so that they may  battle to realise who is the true master of their craft.

Recently (as in Street Fighter IV) players have the option of playing two Ryu characters - normal Ryu and an Evil Ryu.  This incarnation has Ryu consumed by the dark hadou, a hole in his chest and a thirst for blood and murder that cannot be fulfilled.

With a character who is constantly being fleshed out, the tenured writer's of Thought Balloons have a lot of wriggle room this week.  And don't forget - if you have a one page comic script about Ryu please feel free to post it below.  We even will provide feedback, cos we're nice like that,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Andrew Bennett - The Madding Crowd, Part 2 - R.A. Wonsowski

Previously, reporter JACK RYDER was given a lead on a conspiracy surrounding a new pharmaceutical company, chaired by two doctors who had hands in creating the CREEPER, and thought to be dead until now. RYDER's research is cut short when a deranged SHADE, THE CHANGING MAN, possibly sensing the reporter's own split sanity, separates the CREEPER from JACK, with the wrong mind in the wrong body.

Set-up: JACK, with the CREEPER's mind inside, chases SHADE up a fire escape and over Gotham's rooftops. The CREEPER, however, now inhabited by JACK's sane mind, balks at the first tenement ledge. He's considering going back down when a voice behind him tells him to stop, and that he is needed...



Panel 1- We are looking over the CREEPER's shoulder at ANDREW BENNETT, who is standing on a rooftop steam pipe, the steam billowing about his feet. He is dressed in a duster coat, t-shirt, and jeans, hands in his jeans pockets and barefoot. He has a pair of military grade night-vision binoculars slung around his neck. Gotham's skyline is in view, the crescent moon has risen on a starless night and frames BENNETT's head like a broken halo.

BENNETT: My name is Andrew. I've been following the Changing Man, for far too long.

CREEPER: You mean the wacko in the technicolor dreamcoat? What's his story? Who's Kathy?

Panel 2- Profile, BENNETT looks through the binoculars into the distance, considering his quarry.

BENNETT: His "story" is that Shade is an interdimensional poet who can physically manifest madness through a vest he stole from another world.

BENNETT: Kathy is the woman he loves.

Panel 3- BENNETT steps down from the steam pipe to the roof, reaching into an inside pocket of his coat. The CREEPER stands arms folded as his skeptic-journalist self would, listening.

BENNETT: He believes that certain parties can help him access certain energies in the M-Zone to bring her back.

CREEPER: From where? Jersey?

BENNETT: The dead.

Panel 4- BENNETT holds the photos of Dr. Yatz and Dr. Skolos in front of his face. They are recognizable, bit the bits about the eyes and mouths are warped.

BENNETT: I'm not sure what these two are, really. But I've heard them called "necrologists". Supposedly they have mastered the clockwork of death and rebirth.

CREEPER (off-panel): And you know this how?

Panel 5- BENNETT smiles wide, his fangs bared, his eyes open, blank,  and glassy. We see the nervous face of the CREEPER reflected in his eyes, as JACK realizes he's over his head...

BENNETT: Because I've been dead. And reborn.

BENNETT: And I myself have been torn in two directions too often to count. be continued...