Saturday, December 20, 2014

Avatar - The Madding Crowd, Part 14 - R.A. Wonsowski

All captions are Harry Dresden's.


Panel 1- Long shot, the Milky Way galaxy.

CAPTION: Magic, as Gravel says, isn't an art. It's a science. It's math of the Most High.
CAPTION: It's a rulebook for how the universe works.

Panel 2- AANG, in a stylized Shaolin temple courtyard high in the mountains. He is in a graceful pose in the middle of his tai-chi-like kata, and all four elements - fire, earth, water, and a visible swirl of air - ring him around his waist in a large circle, perfectly balanced about his axis.

CAPTION: You can't, however, break the rules of physics, so we must bend the ones of magic.
CAPTION: The last True Avatar could bend all four cardinal elements...

Panel 3- A SAMURAI duels in the waters of a shallow creek against two dirty THIEVES. The thieves are armed with short swords, but the SAMURAI defeats them, a katana in each hand, one short and one long. Each of the samurai's blades swings it's arc, trailing visible motion in flat black. The air seems to have that bubble-skin shimmering quality, kind of like...

CAPTION: ...but it wasn't until Musashi, the samurai, that the fifth element, the void, could be manipulated. And he'd been the only one...

Panel 4- ..."The Quiet". JON & SUZI under the sheets, making love, POV from above.

CAPTION: Until Jon and Suzi. Through the void, they are the first Timebenders in centuries. Making it stop...

Panel 5- In the Madness Gate, on the back of the master Hellspider, ECLIPSO reels in the Quiet, fumbling his scimitar, confused and angry. Background, and coming in fast, HAWK zooms toward us for the attack, talon-hands extended. DOVE has his back, keeping Hellspider-young at bay.

CAPTION: ...and go backwards.
ECLIPSO: ?!?gnineppah si tahw... be continued...

Monday, December 15, 2014

Avatar - It Always Comes Back - Ben Rosenthal

1.  In the Southern Water Tribe.  Korra is just a child and is being carried away in the foreground by Zaheer.  In the foreground we can only see adult Sokka's head looking on as Korra is carried away.

2.  Reverse angle.  A tight shot severely beaten Sokka from the neck up - he doesn't have much left in him.  He holds in his arm his boomerang, clenched and about to throw it after Zaheer.  In the background to the left Katara and Aang are running towards him/Zaheer.  Katare is screaming and Aang is shocked.

3.  A tight shot on Zaheer as the boomerang hits him in the brow (it is the moment he got the scar on his brow).

4. A shot of the boomerang in mid air, flying back to Sokka.

5.  A wide panel.  The Boomerang has landed in the show at Sokka's feet.  Katara (who has tears streaming down her face of pure rage) and Aang are beginning to bend at Ming-Hua who has impaled Sokka with her water arm tendrils.  He has died.  Sokka was impaled before he threw the boomerang.  His last act was saving Korra.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Avatar – The Comedy of Amon – MK Stangeland Jr.

(As inspired by the “Comedy Amon” meme that I’ve gotten a ton of mileage out of since the concept first popped up during Season 1 of Legend of Korra. I’ve got roughly a hundred of those things to date and I’ve had fun with every one of them.

Plus, Varrick’s always a fun character. Hard to go wrong with Varrick.)

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: A 20’s or 30’s style movie set – the best inspiration would probably be the scenes from SEASON 2 of LEGEND OF KORRA during the NUK TUK filming scenes. VARRICK is in the middle of giving orders as BOLIN approaches.

VARRICK (1): AH! Bolin! Just the man I wanted to see!

VARRICK (2): We need to work out details about this Bolin Saves the World mover!

BOLIN: Varrick, I’m not sure if there’s be a Bolin Saves the World mover.

Panel 2: VARRICK is disappointed in BOLIN’s attitude.

VARRICK: Not with that attitude, there isn’t!

BOLIN: That’s not what I wanted to talk to you about anyway.

Panel 3: BOLIN is suspicious of VARRICK as VARRICK explains himself, looking proud of himself as usual.

BOLIN: What’s this I’m hearing about an Amon movie?

VARRICK: That? That’s my next big mover idea!

Panel 3: VARRICK speaks as he ‘sells’ his idea, complete with his arms out in front of him like he’s picturing a movie title displayed in lights. BOLIN looks less than thrilled about what VARRICK is saying.

VARRICK (1): I call it “The Comedy of Amon!”

VARRICK (2): It’s a fun, slap-stick piece that tells the story of Amon as he fails in his quest to ‘Get That Avatar!’ but has a ton of laughs along the way!

BOLIN: That sounds like a terrible idea.

Panel 4: VARRICK puts an arm around BOLIN’s shoulder as he continues to sell the idea.

VARRICK (1): Trust me, kid! I know exactly what I’m doing!

VARRICK (2): I invented the mover business, remember!

BOLIN: But a mover about Amon?

Panel 5: Continuation of PANEL 4.

VARRICK (1): Look, Bolin, I know all there is to know about movers, and you? Not so much.

VARRICK (2): The trick is to make light of Amon so that nobody takes him seriously!

Panel 6: VARRICK turns aside as he gets ready to move on to another line of thought as BOLIN fails to follow VARRICK’s saying.

BOLIN: I think you lost me.

VARRICK (1): Well, it’ll probably come off better once we’ve got a script together.

VARRICK (2): I’m still throwing ideas up against the wall and seeing what sticks.


Why Avatar?

Fire - Air - Water - Earth
Only one can master all four elements – The Avatar!
Back in 2005, Nickelodeon debuted an animated series created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko called Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was set in a fantastical world where special individuals commonly referred to as Benders had the power to control one of the four classical elements.

One such individual known as the Avatar, who was born with the Avatar Spirit after the last one passed away, was special in that they had not just the power to learn how to control all four elements, but served as go-between for both the human world and the spirit world that it existed just short of right next to. The Avatar was then tasked to use this power to ‘bring balance’ to the world, which often involved serving as some kind of mix between a one-person United Nations (if the United Nations wasn’t an ineffectual mess 99% of the time) and The Pope.

Alternatively, to quote the short-lived abridged series, they’re “Kung-Fu Action Jesus”. Their words, not mine.

It was a pretty great series that picked up a pretty devoted fanbase for a good reason. Aside from having spectacular writing and great characters, the show did a phenomenal job with its world building that was heavily inspired by various Asian culture and mythology. Even the hallmark super-powered elemental kung-fu fighting styles draw directly from real-life martial arts.

The end result was a world with untapped potential the likes of which you don’t find very often.

Except there was a problem – For whatever reason, it’s also a property that Nickelodeon doesn’t seem to know what to do with, which seems to have created a very love-hate relationship. On the one hand, they followed up with a live-action movie, sequel comics to the series, and a full-on sequel series in the form of Legend of Korra. On the other hand, the movie was a mess, Legend of Korra has suffered from all number of mixed signals from Nickelodeon, and who can say what the future holds for the comics?

Which is why, aside from future trade paperbacks, this coming Friday’s series finale for Legend of Korra may be the last major addition we ever see to the Avatar franchise. So it seemed like a good time to put our own stamps on the series before it may well go away for good. With thousands of years worth of history to play in and plenty of characters to work with if you don’t feel like creating your own, it should be no problem finding something to write about.

Including for anyone who’d like to play along at home – just go ahead and put your own one-page script in the comments section below!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

$#x Criminals - The Madding Crowd, Part "G" - R.A. Wonsowski

I dunno...parental advisory at the top? Anyway...this script is Travis's fault, like, 20 times...

Panel 1- Running down the nighttime city streets, among the panicking crowds, JON is running towards us, just about to pass a Starbucks. He's on his cell phone, a look of fear upon his face. In the crimson sky we see the Madness Gate opened in front of the full moon, the Spider-God breaching, surrounded by tiny black dots (the other hellspiders swarming beside).

JON: C'mon Suze pick up....
(Off-Panel): Oy! Jon Johnson!

Panel 2- JON pulls up short at the sound of his name, lowering his phone. Leaning against the Starbucks window (covering the "tarb" of the logo), holding a branded to-go cup with a tea-bag tag hanging out from under the lid and smoking a cigarette, is WILLIAM GRAVEL.

JON: Do I know you?
GRAVEL: No, but I know you, son. And I know what you've been up to.
GRAVEL: More to the point, I know how you do what you been up to.

Panel 3- Same POV as Panel 2. JON looks like he's about to cut and run. GRAVEL sidearms the tea nonchalantly into the face of a passing panicker as he sucks a drag off his smoke.

JON: Oh, jeez, I...
GRAVEL: For Chrissakes, I'm not gonna clap irons on. In fact, I need you to step up your game.

Panel 4- JON tries to get away, looking a little skeeved out, expression of "eww" on his face, but GRAVEL has a firm grip on his arm, preventing him from escaping into the crowd.

JOB: Look, mister...
GRAVEL: Shut it, mate! Listen and learn!
GRAVEL: I know how you stop time. I need you to pull a Chris Reeve and make it go backwards.

Panel 5- GRAVEL has his hand in that Spider-Man "thwip" position, but he's holding it waist high, index and pinky pointing down, and wrist bent back, palm toward JON. GRAVEL is pointing at it with his cig. His expression should be slightly smarmy, a dirty-ol-man grin, while JON should be skeptical, one eyebrow arched.

JON: And how...
GRAVEL: Got the idea from this whole spider-verse-incursion thing. And Sarah Jane. It'll curl your girlie's toes. First you make like this with your fingers, right, then you...

Panel 6- Very squirty, wet, liquid looking panel, suggestion of Suze in an "o" without showing (abstract and fluid). Whole panel translucent transparence except for text.

CAPTION: Later...
SUZE: YES!! be continunitnoc eb ot...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sex Criminals - Out to Brunch - Grant McLaughlin

In Sex Criminals' trademark 4x4 panel layout:
0012 (i.e. two spots for panel 10 and one for 11 and 12)

1 - Jon and Suzie swept up and lost in the sheets in the midst of having sex (with said sheets tastefully placed to maintain everyone's dignity).

CAPTION (SUZIE): In those early days, Jon and I were having sex pretty much constantly.

2 - Suzie and Jon sit at a table in a restaurant.  They're eating brunch (let's say Jon's having some variety of French toast, while Suzie has a classic bacon, toast, and eggs).  Jon is digging into his food, while Suzie sits partially turned on her chair, addressing the reader directly.

SUZIE: But if we ever managed to pull ourselves apart from our advanced face sucking for more than five minutes, we'd get brunch.

3 - Suzie's attention is distracted by a server walking by with a big tray of plates.

SUZIE: I've always loved brunch.

4 - The panel focus follows said tray, displaying a wealth of brunch plates and options.  There's eggs, pancakes, fruit, breakfast burritos, steak frites - really whatever floats your brunch boat.

CAPTION (SUZIE): There's just so many options to choose from.  So many ways to enjoy it and to share it with others.

5 - Back to Suzie and Jon.  Jon has some French toast on his fork and feeds it to Suzie (kind of suddenly).  It's very subtle, but the background starts to look a bit like things do when time stops (colours, faded, etc).

CAPTION (SUZIE): Maybe this sounds weird, but it can be kind of intimate, in its own way.

6 - Jon gives Suzie a winning smile.  Suzie smiles back bashfully.  The time stoppage effects are becoming a bit more obvious.

CAPTION (SUZIE): Well, it can be with the right person.

7 - Suzie reciprocates Jon's action, feeding him some bacon and eggs.  Things are getting close to looking like the time stoppage - the background is fading out almost completely.

CAPTION (SUZIE): And before I met Jon, it was the closest thing to The Quiet that I could share with anyone else.

8 - Get rid of the time stoppage effect completely.  Jon and Suzie are back in the restaurant with nothing amiss.  Their actions are a spiritual repetition of panel 6, with Suzie and Jon once again switching roles.  If they weren't clearly so into each other, it would be sickeningly sweet.

CAPTION (SUZIE): Time would never stop.

9 - Suzie moves to hold Jon's hand.  They smile at each other.

CAPTION (SUZIE): But a good brunch could slow it down a bit.

10 - Repeat panel 9.


11 - Still hand holding, Suzie looks surprised / like she's just thought of something.  She looks back at the reader.

SUZIE (1): Now where was I?

SUZIE (2): Oh, right...

12 - The traditional all caps white text on black background that Sex Criminals uses to switch scenes.


Why Sex Criminals?

Because sometimes we bite off more than we can chew.

I shouldn't be telling you anything when I say that Sex Criminals was one of the best new comics of 2013, and to be honest, has easily remained one of the best books of 2014.

At its most basic, it’s a book about dicks, vaginas, jokes, and jokes about dicks and vaginas.

That and robbing banks.

Oh, and I guess there’s also that whole stopping time thing? That certainly seems to be a crowd pleaser.

But it’s also so much more than all of that. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have seemingly done the impossible

Sex is a big, weird, and confusing topic, but they've created a book that looks at sex, sexuality, and relationships with an earnestness that simply doesn't exist anywhere else in the comic book world at the moment. Frankly, there aren't too many stories in any medium right now that look at these subjects with such nuance and consideration. I am by no means exaggerating when I say that Suzie Dickson and Jon Johnson’s relationship is one of the best realized interactions between two fictional persons that I've seen in ages.

And that’s not even taking into account Sex Criminals’ various meditations on subjects ranging from birth control, depression, mental health – and always with an emphasis on finding solutions that are right for the individual and never the group – to name just a few. This is a book that treats most everything with the proper level of thoughtfulness.

But that’s not to say that there isn't passion behind these words and pictures. While these types of sincere, serious conversations are important to have in our fiction, it wouldn't really matter if that was all they were accomplishing. Thankfully, Fraction and Zdarsky show a keen understanding of this fact, and Sex Criminals oozes passion from every orifice (I'd rework that phrasing, but it seems grossly appropriate). Every character, scene, joke, and plot point is lovingly crafted with a clear goal ahead of it (hell, Robert Rainbow, who only appeared in issue #8 was foreshadowed all the way back in issue #2 ferchrissakes). That is what makes the comic worth reading.

And that is what makes writing our own Sex Criminal pages such a challenge. While we're looking for something sexy, funny, and a little bit dirty, it also has to fit in with all the good stuff that Fraction and Zdarsky have been throwing out there.

A tall order, to be certain.

So, good luck and stuff, brimpers.

And, you know, don’t forget the dick and vagina jokes.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Spider-Verse - Spider-Man 2099 - Nic J Shaw

                                                               Spider-Man 2099

Panel One
Miguel, in costume, mask in hand, is walking away from Dana, Net Prophet and Xina. He storms towards the reader, battered and bruised with a look of frustration on his face.

Spider-Ma—Miguel! Wait, he’s—

Don’t Dana, we’re done with this.

Megacorps isn’t going to put their plans on hold while we argue what to do, and who should do what.

At least let Net Prophet come—


Panel Two
Miguel rests a hand on the frame of an open window. He’s looking out into the city, his back turned to the group.

No more relationships. No more partners. No more games.

Panel Three
Miguel crouches in the window sill, looking back at Dana, Net Prophet, and Xina.

I do this alone.

Panel Four
Xina looks furiously at Dana. Net Prophet stands around awkwardly.

You know this is all your fault right?


You two were as unstable as the molecules that make up his suit even before I came along!

Net Prophet:
Okay… I’m just going to…

Panel Five
Same as Panel four, though now Net Prophet has teleported, only leaving behind a small puff of matter, a fragment of a sign that he was ever even there. Xina and Dana are staring at the space where Net Prophet was.





Spider-Verse - The Madding Crowd, Part 13 - Ray Wonsowski

Okay, I'm fully aware I'm bending the rules a bit on this one....

Double-page spread:
1111 1111
1111 1111
2233 4455

Panel 1- Foreground: Standing on the back of a giant grand-daddy Hellspider, ECLIPSO rides, holding onto the reins with one hand, brandishing a long ornate scimitar over his head with the other. He is relishing the horror to come. Midground: Countless hellspiders swarming, all following after ECLIPSO's mount through space. Background: The Madness Gate that separates our universe from the spiders' has been breached by the Lovecraftian most-elder Spider-God, P'tah Pk'ha, the Arachnos of a Billion Eyes, its forelegs holding the gate open, mandibles slavering as they tear open its own egg sac, its delicate albino young interspersed in the silk. Three caption boxes on the left page, three on the right.

CAPTION, LEFT 1: When he was one with the I-Am, he was Kezef, the Wrath of God made manifest.
CAPTION, LEFT 2: The Lord thought the Forty Night Flooding of All Creation was way off the reservation, so to speak, and cast Kezef off.
CAPTION, LEFT 3: Banished to the dark side of the moon and his power-essence trapped in the Heart of Darkness on Apokolips.

CAPTION, RIGHT 1: Kezef was bloody furious. He had sided with God in the first Angelic War, obeyed orders, destroyed and killed at God's command, and eternal exile away from His light and presence was to be his great reward?
CAPTION, RIGHT 2: #&@k God, he said.
CAPTION, RIGHT 3: It was then that Kezef became Eclipso.

Panel 2- Night. On the deck of the Coast Guard Cutter Gavyn, HAWK and DOVE are battle-ready and impatient listening as WILLIAM GRAVEL smokes a cigarette and HARRY DRESDEN wipes spiderwebs from his duster coat.

DRESDEN (small lettering): Not that the Spectre was the picture of restraint. That whole first-born thing in Egypt...
HAWK: Get to the point.

Panel 3- Close-up on GRAVEL, gesturing with his cigarette as he explains.

GRAVEL: You two are the Avatars of God's Covenant with Noah after the flood.
GRAVEL: Forty days of sodding rain, Noah sent a raven first, to look for land.
GRAVEL: But the raven turns his back on Noah, so God set the hawk upon it as His vengeance.

Panel 4- Foreground, GRAVEL, back to us, leans against the deck railing, waving his cigarette as he speaks, the smoke spiraling in the air. HAWK is facing him, still in a battle-ready stance. Between them, DOVE stands thoughtfully as he listens, one arm back as if to hold his brother back. The sky has gone starless.

GRAVEL: Noah dispatches the dove then, returns with an olive branch, so on...
GRAVEL: The Lords of Order and Chaos have been allowed to fill those offices to keep humanity's ledgers balanced. The Hawk and the Dove...

Panel 5- Midshot, heads and upper bodies. HAWK has grabbed GRAVEL by his coat, holding him nearly nose to nose. Both men are showing teeth, HAWK in furious grimace, GRAVEL with a $#!t-eating grin biting his cigarette.

HAWK: The point, old man!
GRAVEL: Easy, boy. SAS, I am. And the six pants-pissing scariest words an SAS man can say?
GRAVEL: "I have a plan, old son..." be continued...

Friday, December 5, 2014

Spider-Verse - Son of Nine Spiders - Travis M. Holyfield

Panel 1: Exterior. A Celestial City in flames. Spider-Man leaps into the air, arms outstretched, legs tucked in below him. Facing him, flexed to destroy, is DAEMOS.
SPIDER-MAN (CAPTION): I have rained blows against this monster for hours, and still he does not slow. Still he does not waver.

Panel 2: Close-up of Daemos’ face being struck by multiple kicks. His head snaps from side to side, but his expression remains one of hunger and contempt.  
SPIDER-MAN (CAPTION): I am the last descendent of the nine Spider-Kings of Nepal. I cannot fail.

Panel 3: Spider-Man crouches low to deliver a knife hand strike to Daemos’ solar plexus.
SPIDER-MAN (Caption): I am an Immortal Weapon of the Nine Celestial Cities. I cannot fail.


Panel 4: Spider-Man opens his mouth, vomiting a cloud of tiny spiders to envelope Daemos.
SPIDER-MAN: I am the Son of Nine Spiders. I cannot fail.

Panel 5: Daemos strides through the wall if spiders untouched. His hands find Spider-Man’s neck.  
SPIDER-MAN: And yet I fail.

Panel 6: Close-up as Daemos’ hands snap Spider-Man’s neck.
SPIDER-MAN: I was Danny Rand

SPIDER-MAN: The Immortal Spider-Man.