Monday, August 31, 2015

Grendel - Country Living - Grant McLaughlin

1 - Brian, a city-slicker turned recent-farmer, is out in his field, working the soil with a hoe.  The field appears to be mostly dirt, with little to no vegetation to be seen.  Brian's at least dressed for the part, although his clothing still looks relatively newish.  It's a hot one and Brian has been working all day - he's one tired guy.  A shadow coming from off-panel hints at an oncoming person.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (1): My Dad always talked about how great it was growing up in the country.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (2): Being out in the fresh air.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (3): Working the land.

CAPTION (BRIAN) (4): The satisfaction of living off your labour.

STACY (off-panel): I told you this was a bad idea.

2 - Brian takes a moment to rest and wipe his brow, perhaps using his hoe for support with the other hand.  Stacy, Brian's wife, comes onto panel, mad as heck.  She's dressed like a city-slicking fashionista - her outfit looks great but is completely inappropriate for the farm.  It's evident she's never done a day of work in her life and isn't about to start.

CAPTION (BRIAN): He failed to mention how back breaking the labour is.

STACY: You said it would be a new start.  A chance to get away from the dirt of the city.

good change of scenery.  A fresh start, away from the city.

3 - Stacy knocks the hoe from Brian's hand to the ground.  She continues to yell at him.  Brian is sad, but perhaps resigned to the outburst.

CAPTION (BRIAN): How stubborn the land can be.

STACY: But it looks to me like we traded one type of dirt for another.  And this one only grows weeds.

4 - Stacy turns to walk away.  Brian leans down to pick up the hoe, his face obscured.

CAPTION (BRIAN): And how air - no matter how fresh - will do nothing to ease the sting of disappointment.

STACY: My mother was right.  You're a bum and following you out here was a mistake.

5 - Stacy continues to walk away.  Brian has picked up the hoe, brandishing it as a weapon, a look of furious anger on his face.

CAPTION (BRIAN): But you know what they say.

STACY: Goodbye, Brian.

6 - Aerial shot.  We're looking down at the farm - classic farmhouse, dirty laneway, probably a barn, maybe a grainery, shed, or what-have-you.  We're far enough out (and perhaps angled) so that we can't see Brian or Stacy.  But we can see the field, which as said, is mostly dirt.  However, the weeds that are growing form a clear pattern of Grendel's mask.

CAPTION (BRIAN): As you reap, so shall you sow.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Grendel – THE DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND – Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (5 Panels)

1.1:  Exterior, day, eight year old Christine Spar sitting on a park bench under a maple tree, drawing in an old-school marble notebook.  She holds one pencil and there is another sitting next to her.  Shadows from the tree fall across her.  She is at peace.

Christine (caption):  I feel the red thing before he even opens his mouth.

Bully 1 (off panel):  Hey Spar . . .

Christine (caption):  The red thing that tells me how to make the hurt go away.

1.2:  Three bullies, boys between the ages of eight and ten.  Bully 1, their alpha-male leader, is in the middle, larger than the others.  Bully 2 and Bully 3 stand at each side, subservient.  Bully 3 is pointing at Christine while he laughs.

Bully 1:  You gonna’ visit your crazy mother in the nut-house this weekend?

Bully 2:  Yeah!  Psycho mom!

Bully 3:  HA HA!

Christine (caption):  I laugh at them laughing at me.

1.3:  Christine’s face, smiling slightly.  Her head is downturned, like Private Pyle at the end of the first half of Full Metal Jacket.  There is a line of shadow going vertically across each eye, mimicking the classic Grendel mask.

Christine (caption):  They just can’t hear it yet.
Christine (caption):  They don’t know.

1.4:  Dynamic panel of Christine leaping at her tormentors, almost vertical to the ground, each hand raised over her head and clutching a pencil.  Bully 1 is recoiling in fear while his two minions run off in opposite directions.

Christine (caption):  So I tell them.

1.5:  The grass of the park, the shadow of Christine plunging the pencils into the eyes of Bully 1, blood spurting from the wounds.  On the ground is Christine’s open notebook, small drops of blood on the pages, and we can see what Christine was drawing: a pencil sketch of the Grendel mask, mirroring her face in Panel 1.3.

Christine (caption):  I tell them who my father is.

Why Grendel? - Derek Adnams

 . . . because Grendel by Matt Wagner is how I discovered that there were comic books made by folks other than Marvel and DC – and that they were incredible!

For those unfamiliar with the opus that is Grendel, here’s a 30,000 foot view:

To paraphrase the title’s creator, Grendel is a study of the nature of aggression.  It begins with a single man, Hunter Rose, chronicling his rise to reign over a criminal empire in Devil by the Deed, then goes on to tell the tales of others whose lives were impacted by the force that is Grendel, taking readers through an epic journey ultimately concluding in the 26th century and a world where the nature of aggression has become the nature of man. 

But to me, a kid with aspirations of creating comic books in the late 1980’s, Grendel was so much more.  Wagner’s vision of where a comic could take the reader, and the way he built upon a singular premise, impacted me in a very visceral way.  The scope of the story was something I had never seen before, at least not in “Big Two” comic books, stuck in perpetual second act story telling.  I was reading graphic literature, each arc having a beginning, middle and end, feeding into the larger narrative.


Originally, in Comico Primer #2, (and what a happy day it was when I finally found a copy at a comic shop in who-knows-where), the initial three issue Grendel series and then when he published the art deco gorgeousness of Devil by the Deed as a back-up in Mage, Wagner handled the art for his creation.  When the Grendel regular series debuted from Comico, he was focusing on writing and the art was handled by the Pander Brothers.  The Pander Brothers would be the first of an all-star line-up of artists, including Bernie Mireault, Tim Sale, John K. Snyder III, Jay Geldhof and Wagner himself.  I remember being initially disappointed that Wagner wasn’t drawing the regular series, but that disappointment turned to wonder as I saw how the different art teams brought a personality unique to the story and how Wagner wrote to the artistic strength of each collaborator.  As opposed to a “Grendel house style”, each arc was, and still is, alive with the vision of the artist intertwining with the goal of Wagner’s story, a marriage of words and pictures that epitomizes what true collaboration can create.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matt Wagner at New York Comic Con a few years ago.  I waited in line, shook his hand, and said “thank you.”

So “Why Grendel?”  Because if Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is the reason I love to write comics, Matt Wagner’s Grendel is the reason I love to write independent comics.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - Sonic vs Sonic - P. A. Nolte

1/ A silhouette of the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor as it fires a beam of energy down at Angel Island.  This is the day the world changed.

Caption (Sonic): The sky above Angel Island turned dark the day Ivo Robotnik completed his grandfather's work and fired the Retro-Orbital Chaos Compressor.

2/ A group shot of the Freedom Fighters of Knothole.  Bunnie Rabbot, Antoine Depardieu, Sally Acorn, Miles "Tails" Prower, and Sonic the Hedgehog.  Our heroes.  They are geared up for battle, and look like they've already seen some.  This is, in fact, the end of the road.

Caption (Sonic): While the rest of the world experienced an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity, the denizens of Knothole fell into never-ending conflict with the man responsible.

Tails: Sonic?  Is he...?

3/ Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik.  He holds aloft the Master Emerald.  The six Chaos Emeralds float around him, glinting with a light all their own.  Robotnik's floating platform is a little worse for wear, but this is a triumphant moment, not one to worry about a little scratched paint and a dented fender.  They are in the heart of the ROCC.

Caption (Sonic): The Eggman.

Robotnik: CHAOS CONTROL!!!

4/ Out of a portal, holding his own Master Emerald, steps Knuckles.  Behind him are Amy Rose and Big the Cat, followed by... Miles "Tails" Prower and Sonic the Hedgehog?  How can there be two of them?

Knuckles: -ulled through, there's no telling what... we might... find...

Robotnik: Oh no...

Caption: Oh yes! Has Robotnik sealed his own fate?  Find out next time in a little story we like to call...

Title: Sonic vs Sonic: Chaos on Parallel Earths! or Two Fast, One Furious!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog – THE PITFALLS OF SUPER-SPEED – Derek Adnams

Page 1 – (6 Panels)

1.1:  Exterior, day, an overgrown swamp in a jungle of mystery.  Sonic is running over a lily-pad covered pond, three alligators sticking their heads out of the water in what appears to be a straight line.  All the reptiles have open menacing mouths, and one of Sonic’s feet is lightly tapping the head of the last alligator.

Sonic (though balloon):  What the heck are these things?

Sonic (thought Balloon):  They look like dinosaurs or something.

1.2:  Sonic running through a slight clearing in the jungle, toward a chasm with a low vine hanging over it.

Sonic (thought balloon):  I wonder if I went too fast this time.

Sonic (thought balloon):  I wonder . . .

1.3:  Sonic swinging on the vine from Panel 1.2, going superfast and gaining velocity, the background a blur.

Sonic (thought balloon):  This is just like those other times, like when I was in that place with castles and coins and the little guy with the mustache.

1.4:  Sonic letting go of the vine, hurling himself through an “end-of-2001: A Space Odyssey” of color.

Sonic (thought balloon):  And all those mushrooms.

1.5:  Interior, the two-dimensional world of the earliest video game, Pong!  Sonic has landed on the near side of the virtual “net”, a rectangle in the foreground preparing to receive a serve from the rectangle in the background.

Sonic:  This just keeps getting worse!!!

1.6:  Sonic running, pursued by a square, the “ball” from Pong!

Silent Panel

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - The Doctor is Dead - Liam Lachance

1: Big The Cat, wearing glasses, holding a pen and pad

BIG THE CAT: What were you just thinking about?

2: Sleep-deprived Sonic lying on a couch.  Thought bubble shows a dozen golden rings.

3: Sonic and Big The Cat in frame.

SONIC: About Miles.

BTC: We’re wasting our time if you spend it lying.

4: Close up of Big The Cat’s squinting eyes.

BTC: The Doctor is dead, Sonic.

SONIC: I’m aware.

BTC: Do you have a theory why you can’t accept his passing?

5: Close-up on Sonic, looking tiredly at ceiling.

BTC: Hello?

6: Sonic sits up.

SONIC: I’m fine with it.

BTC: So you still think the obsession with rings is unrelated to lack of purpose –

SONIC: I don’t care about rings.

7: Thought bubble above tired Sonic shows: Sonic’s father being tied to train tracks by Doctor Robotnik. Dialogue bubble beneath thought, from BTC: “I can tell you’ve been running. We’re wasting our time here.”

8: Close-up of Sonic’s heels shows them burned, black.

BTC: You’re missing the moment with this reliance on rings - on what’s next. You’re valuable to us without them.

SONIC: I know.

BTC: Being present is more important than gold.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog – SonicVerse: Sonic LIVE! – MK Stangeland Jr.

(5 Panels)

Panel 1: ARCHIE!SONIC (ARCHIE COMICS version of SONIC), X!SONIC (SONIC X version of SONIC), X!TAILS, BOOM!SONIC (SONIC BOOM version of SONIC), and BOOM!KNUCKLES are standing on a rocky plateau located out in an area that’s similar to the AMERICAN SOUTHWEST. They’ve just arrived on the world, and are looking about.

X!TAILS is using a pair of high-tech binoculars.

ARCHIE!SONIC: Did we land in the right place?

X!SONIC: Tails said it might not be precise.

X!TAILS: Uh, guys?

Panel 2: View of a toy airplane flying through the sky, painted to look like a ‘real life’ version of the TORNADO. The view of the panel is designed to give X!TAILS’ POV through his binoculars.

X!TAILS: (Off-Panel) I think we found him.

Panel 3: Shift to focus on the airplane – we see that this version of the TORNADO is piloted by a version of TAILS with a version of SONIC riding on the wing. Both of them, however, look very much like ‘real life’ versions of the animals they’re based on, rather than their normal anthropomorphized versions.

LIVE!TAILS looks like a juvenile Fox from Earth, but in TAILS-style orange, with his usual twin tails and wearing a pair of flight goggles.

LIVE!SONIC looks like a regular hedgehog except for his blue coloration, a SONIC-style shoe on each of his four feet, and a pair of cool-looking shades designed to help give him a measure of ‘attitude’.

BOOM!SONIC: (Off-Panel) You have got to be kidding me.

Panel 4: LIVE!SONIC hops off the TORNADO in a SONIC-style spin jump, as stylized to be appropriate for how an actual hedgehog might perform such a move.

SFX: Boing!

SFX: whirrrrrr!

Panel 5: We see what LIVE!SONIC is leaping at – it’s an evil robot built around one of DR. IVO EGGMAN ROBOTNIK’s classic-style flying machines. Piloting the machine is, of course, LIVE!EGGMAN – he is, in fact, a largely unassuming looking egg with an EGGMAN-style mustache and goggles inside a smaller protective robot suit through the miracle of mad robotics. His ‘voice’ – speech bubbles – should give the impression of a mechanical speech tone.

LIVE!EGGMAN (1): SONIC, you infernal nuisance!

LIVE!EGGMAN (2): Scratch! Grounder! STOP HIM!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - Ring of Truth - Grant McLaughlin

Panel 1 and panel 8 are thin and stretch the width of the page, bookending the scene.

1 - A close-up of bottles of beer, regular glasses, and shot glasses.  The actual mix isn't that important.  What matter is that they're all empty.


2 - Sonic and Metal Sonic are standing at a bar talking, the crowd of empty drinks behind them on the bar top.  If it's not inappropriate for characters of this variety, they should both be kind of in the bag.  Metal Sonic is emoting with some force - he's really into what he's saying.

METAL SONIC: I was made to be like you, not better.  It took me a long time to see it, but I am but a pale reflection that cannot live up to your example.

3 - Focus in on Metal Sonic as he builds and concludes his case.

METAL SONIC: I mean, it feels like I'm in a race that I started late.  No matter what I do, no matter how fast I run, I will never catch up.

4 - Focus on Sonic.  He's drunk, but he's looking mad serious.

SONIC (1): Then don't run.

SONIC (2): Find your own path.  Make your own choices.  Because no matter your history, no one controls you but you.

5 - Back to seeing them both.  They're standing at the bar.  Sonic finishes dropping some wisdom.  Metal Sonic is stunned.

SONIC: The scary part is accepting that.


6 - Metal Sonic goes in for a big hug, really feeling what Sonic has said.  Sonic is a little put off, but he's dealing with it.

METAL SONIC: Thank you.

SONIC: Well...

7 - Pull out.  Metal Sonic and Sonic (still hugging) are in the background.  In the foreground, Mario is ripping up the dancefloor, maybe with Peach and Daisy (or perhaps Pauline) in tow.

CAPTION (SONIC): I may be speaking from an experience or two.

8 - Repeat the close-up shot of empty drinks from panel 1.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog - ...and now, a word from our sponsor... - R.A. Wonsowski

It's back to school time, and my boys wanted to get in one more page before the work begins, so...

TACO DUDE, by Nikolas and Victor Wonsowski.

1 - GOKU powering up. 
Then ZOOM!
2 - Something passing GOKU has blown his hair forward.
GOKU: Huh?
3 - SUPERMAN and FLASH are ready to race. A REF holds his pistol high.
REF: On your marks. Get set.
Then ZOOM!
4 - SUPERMAN and FLASH are knocked over. SUPERMAN's cape is over his head and he's trying to blow it off him. FLASH reaches up weakly for help.
5 - SONIC hands DEADPOOL his delivery order after a hard day of destruction.
SONIC: Don't get angry, get Taco Dude!
DEADPOOL: es bueno!

And here's the page. Thanks, boys!

Why Sonic the Hedgehog?

Because Sonic is everything in comics I want to pass down to my kids.  And to think it all started as a 16-bit video game...

Sonic's early days go back to 1991. Nintendo was the top dog in the video game world, and their mascot, Mario, with his Super Mario franchise, helped put them there. Their main competition, Sega, was struggling to make an impact, and their spokes-toon, Alex Kidd was not making that big of an impression.  Sega developed a way to move a character along vector curves, and a blue hedgehog was chosen because it was easier to animate than a rabbit.  Sonic and his take-no-guff attitude was an instant hit, leading to sequels and media cross-promotion, including cartoons, toys, and comics.

It's interesting to note that as Sega has risen and fallen, then risen again with mobile platforms, the comic book tie-in, published by Archie Comics, has been the publisher's best-selling book on the stands. While most comics have steered towards more adult-oriented subject matter, Sonic has embraced its kid-friendly nature, and is the longest running tie-in series still being published.  His freedom-fighting sidekick Tails, his dark reflection Shadow, battling the evil Eggman, Dr. Robotnik, and crossovers with fellow blue video game hero Mega Man, have had kids thrilling to his adventures for almost 25 years.  My kids discovered Sonic a couple years ago, thanks to Android apps of his games, cartoon series on Netflix, and a very welcoming local comic shop.

So, to celebrate back-to-school, let's kick it old school. Put on your running shoes, fire up your games and your imaginations, and come up with something fast and funny. If you want to play at home, leave your script in the comments below.