Sunday, August 31, 2014
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|
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.
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.
Saturday, August 30, 2014
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?
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!
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?
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.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
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
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
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
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.
...to be continued...