SlushPile Challenge

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Challenge: Wonder Woman

Challenge: Batman has Killing Joke, Dark Night Returns, and a score of other definitive stories. Superman has A Man For All Seasons, Whatever Happned to the Man of Tomorrow. To date nobody has created the great Wonder Woman story. The Challenge? Create the definitive Wonder Woman graphic novel.

Mike's Pitch: Wonder Woman: Deeds, and Words.

What’s the simplest explanation of the character? How do you describe her to someone who’s not familiar with the character?

Superman is the last son of Krypton. Faster than a speeding bullet, he leaps tall building in a single bound.

Batman, the dark knight detective. Young Bruce Wayne witnesses his parents murder and now uses his vast fortune and indomitable will to fight crime.

Wonder Woman shows us there’s strength in compassion. Princess Diana is a champion for those without might, an example that there’s a better way.

wonder, n. One that arouses awe, astonishment, surprise or admiration; a marvel.

My Wonder Woman doesn’t carry a sword or snap necks. Her weapons are defensive. Like Captain America with his shield, Princess Diana wields the Lasso of Truth and Gauntlets of Victory in battle. She’s super strong and incredibly fast. Why does she need a sword? You don’t have to put a sword in her hand to make her strong.

She’s beautiful because she’s confidant, strong, intelligent and compassionate. The art in this project should reflect this. Diana’s bearing and posture, her attitude on the page, should convey intelligence and a dry wit. These are the things that make her beautiful and sexy. No cheesecake. She’s above the cheesecake and sexier for it. I don't have a specific name in mind but I'd opt for a painted art style, instead of the normal inked lines. It'd have a more timeless feel, and if there was a woman willing to paint my Wonder Woman story, all the better.

The costume is iconic and should remain so. Play up the red and gold, regal aspect of the costume. The double W logo. The boots and the tiara. Give her a tunic that partially covers her. Visually the tunic will draw the reader’s attention away from the tits and panties and towards the things that matter; the bracelets, the lasso, and her face, framed by the hair and tiara.

Bondage and the Invisible Jet. Accept everything that’s come before and acknowledge it. But do it without snickering. Like Diana the jet can be a force of nature, represented by sound and wind and light. Diana uses her power, and the lasso, to get villains to submit because there’s a better way than Batman inflicting excess pain or Superman’s ridiculous strength that never hurts anyone. Cops use handcuffs. The lasso is faster and a better visual.

Paradise Island. Wonder Woman sacrifices a life in paradise because she sees tragedy in the real world and cannot abide it. She is a Champion and the price she pays is that she cannot go home until the job is done. Clear cut motivation. Done.

I'd also downplay the focus on the Greek Gods. They're there and we know they're there, but the story's not about them. I think she appeals to a wider audience if they don't have to spend too much time thinking about Greek mythology.

Wonder Woman faces a series of challenges (parallel Heracles 12 tests); ramping up the threat level each time. As the action unfolds she faces down Doctor Psycho, The Cheetah and Felix Faust, among others. It's not until after she bests the first couple of challenges that the reader, with Diana, finds out that they're interconnected.

Diana's Rogues Gallery has learned that another female champion is due to rise up to fight alongside Wonder Woman. Fed up with the years of losing to her already, they're working together to make sure this new champion doesn't survive long enough to take her place in the pantheon of heroes. Even if it means killing all the first born girls in Greece.

Hell yeah moments, and a couple sentimental moments. Iconic moments, Mother, Protector, Champion.

Sample:

PAGE 1, SPLASH. WE'RE IN A OFFICE BUILDING, A SKYSCRAPER AT NIGHT. THE LARGE OPEN ROOM IS OCCUPIED BY ROWS AND ROWS OF DESKS. FLOOR TO CEILING WINDOWS ARE COVERED WITH HORIZONTAL BLINDS. FAINT MOONLIGHT SEEPS BETWEEN THE BLINDS. A DOZEN GUNMEN, ARMED WITH AUTOMATIC WEAPON, ARE IN THE ROOM ALONG WITH A YOUNG GIRL, WHO'S TIED UP ON THE FLOOR.

CAPTION: BEAUTIFUL AS APHRODITE, WISE AS ATHENA, STRONG AS HERCULES AND SWIFTER THAT MERCURY. SHE IS WONDER WOMAN.

PAGE 2, PANEL 1. ANGLE ON GUNMAN #1, LOOKING AT HIS WATCH.

GUNMAN #1: DOC PSYCHO SAID HE'D BEEN HERE TO MEET US.

GUNMAN #2: IF WE GOTTA WAIT AROUND ANY LONGER I SAY WE JUST ICE THE KID AND COLLECT HALF THE FEE. THIS IS TOO HIGH PROFILE AS IT IS.

PANEL 2. THE OFFICE IS SHAKING. WINDOWS. DESKS. EVERYTHING IS SHAKING LIKE THE BUILDING IS BEING UPROOTED. THE GUNMEN REACT, GRABBING ON TO DESKS. ONE FALLS TO HIS KNEES.

SFX: ROAR.

PANEL 3. MATCHING. BLINDING WHITE LIGHT FLOODS THE ROOM, COMING THROUGH THE BLIND COVERED WINDOWS.

GUNMAN #1: WHAT THA--?

PANEL 4. ANGLE BEHIND THE GUNMEN, THEIR ATTENTION DRAWN TO THE WINDOW. STANDING THERE IS WONDER WOMAN IN HER CLASSIC COSTUME. SHE'S TALL, REGAL AND DETERMINED.

CAPTION: MEN, THEY'RE SO EASILY DISTRACTED. THAT'S ONE REASON I KEEP THE JET AROUND.

PAGE 3, PANEL 1. ONE OF THE GUNMEN HAS SPOTTED HER, IS POINTING.

GUNMAN #3: LOOK OUT!

PANEL 2. THE GUNMEN BRING THEIR WEAPONS TO BEAR, FIRING WILDLY.

PANEL 3. WONDER WOMAN CHARGING ACROSS THE FLOOR. NONE OF THE BULLETS COME NEAR HER.

PANEL 4. PRINCESS DIANA, LAYING THE SMACK DOWN. SHE'S A FORCE OF NATURE. WIDE ANGLE, SO THE READER CAN SEE SHE'S TAKING THEM DOWN TWO AND THREE AT A TIME.

PAGE 4, PANEL 1. ONLY TWO ARE LEFT STANDING, WONDER WOMAN AND GUNMAN #1. THEY'RE ABOUT FIFTEEN FEET APART. THE KIDNAPPED GIRL IS AT THE GUNMAN'S FEET. IT'S A STAND OFF.

PANEL 2. WONDER WOMAN RUNNING TOWARDS THE LAST GUNMAN, DEFLECTING HIS BULLETS WITH HER BRACELETS.


PANEL 3. SHE SLAPS THE WEAPON OUT OF HIS HANDS.

PANEL 4. DESPERATION TIME, HE PUNCHES HER. CONNECTING RIGHT ON THE CHIN.

PANEL 5. ANGLE ON WONDER WOMAN, GRINNING AS SHE RUBS HIS PUNCH OFF HER CHIN WITH THE BACK OF HER HAND.

WONDER WOMAN: DIDN'T ANYONE EVER TEACH YOU NOT TO HIT GIRLS?

PAGE 5, PANEL 1. SHE PUNCHES HIM OUT.

PANEL 2. THE LITTLE GIRL STARES UP AT PRINCESS DIANA, WONDER IN HER EYES.

PANEL 3. WONDER WOMAN, GIVING THE GIRL A WINK AND A SMILE.

And, because this is already crazy long and I just can't stop, a scene from the climactic battle...

NEXT PAGE, PANEL 1. DIANA STANDS ALONE ATOP THE WALL. SHELTERED IN THE CITY BEHIND HER ARE THE COLLECTIVE FIRST BORN DAUGHTERS OF GREECE. DRESSED IN THE CLASSIC COSTUME, COVERED IN HER TUNIC, SHE'S ARAGON AT THE BATTLE OF HELM'S DEEP. PULLED TAUGHT BETWEEN HER FISTS, SHE'S HOLDING A COILED END OF THE LASSO IN EACH HAND.

PANEL 2. THE CLASSIC GUNFIGHTER'S SHOT, FROM BEHIND WONDER WOMAN'S RIGHT HIP, WITH ENOUGH OF THE COILED LASSO VISIBLE IN PLACE OF THE GUN AND HOLSTER. IN THE BACKGROUND WE GET A FIRST GLIMPSE OF THE HORDES ASSEMBLED AGAINST HER.

PANEL 3. WIDESCREEN SHOT. IT'S FELIX FAUST'S ASSEMBLED ARMY OF MYSTICAL CHEETAH PEOPLE, CHARGING AS ONE TO STORM THE GATES.

WONDER WOMAN (SPEAKING GREEK): ΔΕΝ ΘΑ ΠΑΡΕΤΕ ΑΛΛΕΣ ΠΡΟΕΙΔΟΠΟΙΗΣΕΙΣ! ΠΛΑΤΗ ΣΤΡΟΦΗΣ, ΤΩΡΑ!

CAPTION: YOU'LL GET NO MORE WARNINGS! TURN BACK, NOW!

PANEL 4. CLOSE ON WONDER WOMAN. HER EYES SQUINT AGAINST THE WIND. PRINCESS DIANA, CHAMPION, STEPS OFF THE WALL TO MEET HER FOES HEAD ON.


Bob's Pitch: Who is Wonder Woman?

OPENING PANEL PANEL. WE SEE AN OFFICE IN MONTGOMERY BURNS STYLE WITH GIGANTIC WINDOWS AND A LARGE MAHOGANY DESK. THE POV IS FROM THE PERSON SITTING IN THE DESK. WE DON'T SEE THIS PERSON. THEY'RE HIDDEN IN SHADOW. A YOUNG WOMAN IN HER TWENTIES IS APPROACHING THE DESK. THE WOMAN'S NAME IS LINDSEY.

LINDSEY: YOU WANTED TO SEE ME BOSS?

STILL KEEPING THE POV OF LINDSEY'S BOSS, WE SEE WONDER WOMAN MERCHANDISE LAYING ON HER DESK. USE AS REFERENCE ANYTHING SOLD OVER THE PAST SIXTY YEARS, FROM CAKE TINS TO UNDEROOS.

BOSS: I THINK WE SHOULD DO A STORY ON WONDER WOMAN. WHO WAS SHE? WHERE DID SHE GO? DOES SHE STILL MEAN ANYTHING IN THIS WORLD?

Story is told like Citizen Kane. The story arc develops through different people and the interpretation of Wonder Woman. In this world WW is iconic in the same way that Betty Page is. She's everywhere, and yet nobody knows who she really is. Lindsey interviews the people who knew WW only to realize that nobody truly knew her.

Steve Trevor: WW2 action. He's an old man being interviewed at the blackjack table to a casino. He has smokers cough and is dying. He sees WW as a fighting force, kicking Nazi ass. His story is one of bright colors, Nazi robots and bizarre all out action. To him, she represents the Warrior Queen she's sometimes portrayed.

Etta Candy: Dying of diabetes and still fat, she sees WW as a teacher. This is WW as Teacher...even if some of the lessons are a bit odd to modern ears. I'll be using some of the more bizarre bondage lessons in this one.

Diggs McMarston: A magazine publisher and former owner of Global Publishing, who is basically a thinly veiled William Marston. Diggs published a series of pin up magazines with WW that became famous. When Diggs was caught in a scandal involving his two wives, the taint of scandal impacted WW as well. This is WW as sexual fantasy.

Dr. Midnight: WW as secretary. Story he tells has her take the place a bystander, ready to serve coffee.

Superman: WW as leader. In some ways a very modern take where, like cartoons you see today, the female character is always the strongest and bravest.

Cheetah: Released from prison decades ago, Cheetah still has hard feelings of course, but her take is WW as mother figure. She's from a time period that feels a great deal like the Superfriends, where WW is almost like a nagging mother figure to the boys.

Lisa Ford: Actress who played Wonder Woman on a television series based on her life in the 1970's. To Lisa, wonder woman is the embodiment of the seventies woman's liberation movement. This chapter is Wonder Woman as icon.

This brings us back around to Lindsey returning to her boss. Does she understand WW any better? She's a stand in for the reader. She gets the point.

LINDSEY: YOU WANT TO KNOW WHO WONDER WOMAN IS? SHE'S WHOEVER I WANT HER TO BE. SHE'S WHOEVER THE WOMAN ON THE STREET WANTS HER TO BE. HELL, BOSS, SHE'S WHOEVER *YOU* WANT HER TO BE.

PANEL NOW SWITCHES TO POV OF LINDSEY. WE SEE THE LARGE DESK AND THE NAME ON THE DESK. THE NAME SAYS DIANA PRINCE: PUBLISHER AND CEO OF GLOBAL PUBLICATIONS.

PANEL CLOSE UP OF DIANA. SHE'S REMOVING HER GLASSES AND SMILES.

DIANA: WHOEVER I WANT HER TO BE? THAT'S QUITE AN IDEA.

SPLASH PAGE OF DIANA FLYING AS WONDER WOMAN, SUN BEHIND HER.

THE END

The Winner: Bob by a technicality.

Bob's thoughts: I win by a technicality. The idea was a graphic novel. Mike's pitch is more like a great ongoing run of the series. Granted, it's one of the better runs ever with the character, but my pitch was a little more in the spirit of the challenge.

This was a tough one. In my mind, Wonder Woman is not a defined character but instead she represents the desires and wishes of those who adopt her as an icon.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Challenge: Hail Hydra


Challenge: Bob, Agent of Hydra. Create an ongoing series feature with everyones favorite secret orginization, HYDRA.

Bob's pitch:

In the Marvel universe, there are hundreds of abandoned lairs of high-tech marvels. Sleeper robots from WW2 lie beneath the cities of Europe. Police impounds hold thousands of exotic weapons and devices. The dumpster of the Baxter Building holds pieces of garbage that in the right hands can transform the world.

One company has taken the lead in harnessing this bounty. Abandonware is a company that hires historians, policemen and explorers to travel to exotic locations and gather abandoned technology, and resell it to the highest bidder. They search newspaper archives, hunt for forgotten super villains, and launch expeditions to remote locations. HYDRA has taken notice.

BOB FRANKLIN is a HYDRA agent. In college, while others joined anti-war groups, Young Republicans, animal liberation groups, or other causes, BOB found a recruiter for HYDRA. For years he trained in the arts of combat, information technology and most important of all, infiltration. After an attack on a HYDRA base by Captain America, Bob realized that being a front line soldier was not for him. Now he's been given a new assignment. He's to make himself a part of Abandonware by posing as a student to PROFESSOR BOB KEANE.

PROFESSOR KEANE is a historian hired by Abandonware to follow leads based on recently declassified SHIELD material. Between classes he mounts expeditions in the spirit of a modern Indiana Jones. His class consists of his favorite student, BOB FRANKLIN , his wife VICTORIA KEANE a stunning bombshell out of 40's pulp classics, BECKY GOODNIGHT, a student and rival of BOB.

BOB must keep his identity of a HYDRA agent secret, changing into costume to foil the very expeditions he attends.

BOB can call in a strike team, and must answer to his immediate supervisor COL. BONES, A vicious petty man who hates BOB with a passion.

As an ongoing series we see the development of a HYDRA agent. We have mixed feelings as he goes against his friends. It can be sustained as a series because you have a set up allowing for all kinds of stories. You also have BOB not being a that bad a guy, despite working for a fascist organization. BOB isn't committing acts of genocide or evil. In many ways, his mission is little more than capture the flag. Enough moral ambiguity to be interesting, not enough to make you hate the lead character.

The plot arc will actually be about BOB separating himself from HYDRA and what happens when he tries to rejoin the "real" world.

Mike's Pitch:

Bob Lerna is a decent enough guy who loves his wife and kids, he just happens to also be a mid-level HYDRA agent. Fun Fact: Lake Lerna is the dwelling place of the Hydra in Greek mythology.

1st arc: "Performance Review" we meet Bob, who's a reasonable guy. He's evil, but not Evil. $100k in school loans and a Masters in electrical engineering. Why'd he join HYDRA, an evil terrorist organization bent on world domination? His uncle Ben convinced him it'd be a good idea, Ben Lerna. Be a sleeper agent, kid. Pay off your school, sock a little away for a rainy day, get a nice house in the 'burbs. One weekend a month, two weeks a year. They never mentioned the dislocated shoulder thanks to an uru hammer or the trick knee that locks up every time it rains, courtesy of a Wakandan king in black tights.

2nd story arc: "The Secret Origin of Bob!" Early days of Bob, what he was like as a kid. We see Bob in college, an undergrad at ESU, living in the dorms. He's constantly woken up in the middle of the night, or being interrupted when he's trying to study, by the party dude across the hall, Johnny Storm. Witnessing the Avengers in a classic battle. Rescued by Starfox as a building's about to fall on him. " Wow, he's pretty hot. Wait. What? He's a dude!" Little Bob, admiring his Uncle's HYDRA uniform, all green and cool. Arc ends with Bob signing his papers. Induction ceremony ends with Bob wearing "the greens" and standing in the classic formation. "Hail HYDRA? What was I thinking?"

3rd arc: "Promotion, Deadly!" Bob's up for a promotion, two of them. The 9-5 job likes his work and is willing to move him into the corner office. The weekend job has an "unexpected vacancy" it needs to fill in its upstate NY LMD design facility, thanks to some cape and tights jerk wearing Quantum bands. The wife doesn't want to move, she likes it where they are, but can Bob say "no" when Baron Von Stucker sends you a "request"?

The series is narrated by Bob through 1st person caption boxes.

Bob's a regular schlub, not a cartoon villain, so he makes mistakes and gets in over his head. He progressively gets eviler (more evil?) at the series advances and he gets deeper into the organization. At first the things he'd tasked to do by HYDRA seem harmless enough. No one he knows is getting hurt and, like Uncle Ben often reminds him, "Hey, HYDRA's working to change the world, kid." After Bob sees first hand the Evil of HYDRA the scales fall from his eyes and he has the "My God, what have I been doing?" moment.

At this point the series really takes off. Bob's in deep and personally responsible for multiple atrocities. There's no leaving HYDRA, not alive anyway. This is when the series will shift in tone and we'll follow Bob as he tries to sabotage HYDRA from within while maintaining appearances and keeping up with all the right paperwork. We're a couple of trades in and now Bob's using HYDRA's tech and resources to actually do some of the world changing he imagined and make amends without attracting attention from the management.

Man vs. Environment. It's a regular guy who's in over his head, seeking redemption and trying to balance his home life, his work and the evil he has to keep doing (and undo) to stay alive.

The LMD Facility Bob gets transferred to is an amalgam of the Globex Corporation and an evil Project Pegasus.

Series regulars:

Uncle Ben Lerna, bad advice incarnate. He's the polar opposite of Ben Parker.

Janet Lerna, Bob's wife and source of consternation. She loves the extra money from Bob's "weekend job" but how's she going to react when she finds out what he does to get it?

Rick Lerna, Bob's son. A regular kid and the reason Bob gets out of bed in the morning.

Victor, Agent of HYDRA. Bob's foil at work. Victor's bought into the HYDRA philosophy completely. He embodies the typical HYDRA soldier and loves wearing "the greens" around the office. His business cards actually say "Victor, Agent of HYDRA" on them.

Along the way we'll also have run ins with more notable HYDRA personalities and some "famous faces" of the Marvel Universe.

ISSUE ONE, PAGE 1, SPLASH. BOB LERNA, MIDDLE AGED REGULAR GUY WITH A BIT OF A PAUNCH IS SITTING ON THE TABLE IN A DOCTOR'S EXAM ROOM.

CAPTION: HI. MY NAME'S BOB. BOB LERNA.

CAPTION: I'M SURE YOU'VE SEEN THESE GUYS ON THE NEWS IN THE GREEN AND YELLOW JUMPSUITS. HYDRA SOLDIERS. USUALLY THEY'RE GETTING THE CRAP KICKED OUT OF THEM BY CAPTAIN AMERICA OR THE AVENGERS.

CAPTION: ME? I'M ONE OF THOSE GUYS.

PAGE 2, PANEL 1. A DOCTOR IN A WHITE LAB COAT HAS ENTERED THE ROOM. HE'S HOLDING A MEDICAL CHART.

CAPTION: EVERY YEAR I HAVE TO GO IN FOR A PHYSICAL. PART OF THE JOB.

DOCTOR: MR. LERNA?

PANEL 2. TWO SHOT OF BOB AND THE DOCTOR.

CAPTION: AND EVERY YEAR IT GETS WORSE

BOB: THAT'S ME, DOC.

BOB: WHAT'S THE PROGNOSIS?

PANEL 3. ANGLE THE DOCTOR.

DOCTOR: WELL, YOUR KNEE'S NOT GOTTEN BETTER SINCE THE LAST TIME YOU WERE IN. I'M AFRAID ITS GOING TO KEEP GIVING YOU PROBLEMS, ESPECIALLY IN BAD WEATHER.

PANEL 4. BOB, FROWNING.

CAPTION: THANKS YOU WAKANDAN JACKASS. SO MUCH FOR RUNNING AROUND WITH MY KID.

PANEL 5. TWO SHOT AGAIN. THE DOCTOR'S READING OFF THE CHART.

DOCTOR: AS FOR THE SHOULDER, THE MRI'S NOT GOOD. WE CAN REPAIR THE TISSUE DAMAGE WITH SURGERY EXCEPT...

DOCTOR: LET'S SEE...

DOCTOR: YOU WROTE DOWN HERE "URU HAMMER" AS THE CAUSE.

PANEL 6. MATCHING FROM PREVIOUS. BOB'S SUNK LOWER ON THE TABLE, ABSORBING THE BAD NEWS.

DOCTOR: UNFORTUNATELY, YOUR HMO DOESN'T COVER ACTS OF GOD.

DOCTOR: YOU'D HAVE TO PAY FOR ANY SURGERY OUT OF POCKET.

PAGE 3, PANEL 1.

CAPTION: ONE WEEKEND A MONTH, TWO WEEKS A YEAR. I EVER SEE MY RECRUITER AGAIN, I'M GONNA DUMP HIM IN THE NEGATIVE ZONE.

BOB: WONDERFUL.

The Winner: Mike

Bob's thoughts: Well, Mike takes the lead 3-2. In fairness, many of the coolest beats were ones we went over during a BBQ a couple weeks back. The real success was with what he did with the rest. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 09, 2007

Challenge: Country Western Ho Down


The Challenge: Take a country and Western Song and make it into a comic book.

Mike's Pitch: Merle Haggard meets Captain Cold

"The Coldest Time Of Winter"

It's a one-shot Christmas tale starring Captain Cold.

Merle Haggard's "If We Make It Through December"

If we make it through December
Everythings gonna be all right I know
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shivver when I see the fallin snow

If we make it through December
I got plans of bein in a warmer town come summer time
Maybe even California
If we make it through December we'll be fine

I got laid off down at the factory
And there timings not the greatest in the world
Heaven knows I been workin' hard
I wanted Christmas to be right for daddy's girl
Now I don't mean to hate December
It's meant to be the happy time of year
And why my little girl don't understand
Why daddy can't afford no Christmas here

If we make it through December
Everythings gonna be alright I know
It's the coldest time of winter
And I shivver when I see the fallin' snow

If we make it through December
I got plans of bein' in a warmer town come summer time
Maybe even California
If we make it through December we'll be fine

Leonard Snart is Captain Cold, blue collar career criminal and longtime member of the Flash's Rogues Gallery. The story opens with Captain Cold walking alone across the Arctic tundra at night (think Jack Londron's "To Build A Fire"). He's stranded there with no transportation and nothing but his cold gun.

Inside the framing story of him trying to get to civilization, we get a series of flashback which reveal the main story. Cold's stranded after a heist gone wrong, a job he tried to pull that was too dangerous, too risky. A job he never would attempt normally. But why?

Cold's past has caught up with him. He has an illegitimate daughter, the product of a drunken one night stand. He pulled the job so he can give the girl enough money to get out of the abusive foster home she's stuck in. Cold's a villain, but his heart's made of stone not ice. Family's important to him, even family he didn't know existed (see past history re: Golden Glider).

So, we've got Captain Cold trying to survive in the cold (get it?) and the little girl and the heist gone wrong. The flashbacks end where the main story starts, with Cold getting stranded, and the main story ends with the hanging question of does he make it though December? It's a sad, sad Christmas tale.

24 lines in the song. Each page of the comic begins with a caption box of the song's next lyric.

PAGE 14, PANEL 1. COLD'S POV LOOKING DOWN AT HIS FEET. THE SNOW IS ALMOST UP TO HIS KNEES. VISIBLE IN THE PANEL ARE COLD'S HANDS, FINGERS CURLED UP AND NUMB. LYING HALF BURIED WHERE HE DROPPED IT, IS THE COLD GUN.

CAPTION: "IT'S MEANT TO BE THE HAPPY TIME OF YEAR..."

PANEL 2. COLD'S DROPPED TO HIS KNEES AND IS REACHING FOR THE GUN WITH NUMB FINGERS.

PANEL 3. MATCH SHOT OF A LITTLE GIRL, KNEELING IN THE SAME POSITION. SHE'S IS A SPARSE, MOONLIT BEDROOM, KNEELING AT THE BED AND SAYING HER PRAYERS.

GIRL: "AND IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE..."

PANEL 4. MATCH SHOT AGAIN, THIS TIME IT'S CAPTAIN COLD ON HIS KNEES FIRING HIS COLD GUN AT A PAIR OF SECURITY GUARDS, FREEZING THEM WHERE THEY STAND. BEHIND COLD, REACHING IN FROM OFF PANEL TO GRAB HIM ARE A PAIR OF HANDS WEARING FAMILIAR RED GLOVES WITH A YELLOW LIGHTNING BOLT DESIGN.

COLD: "YOU'LL NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE! DON'T YOU KNOW I'M COLD!"

Rob's Pitch: Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life

"Make me, Oh make me, Lord, more than I am
Make me a part of your master game plan
Free of the earthly temptations below
I've got the will, Lord, if you've got the toe."

JESSE CRISTOS is a high school Quarterback in Bethlehem, PA...but could he also be the future father of the messiah? DKJTGL is the story of JESSE and his protector, RABBI BEN JONES, the cowboy Rabbi, appointed by god to keep JESSE free from temptation and safe from the legions of hell set to stop him.

DKJTGL is an action story filled with Mesopotamian chaos-monsters, a secret army of Zionist zealots posing as cheerleaders, the time traveling ninja hordes of the anti-pope, Judaic mysticism, an evil Santa Claus and high school football. It's H.P. Lovecraft meets Friday Night Lights Meets Hellboy with all of them getting their ass kicked by Clint Eastwood firing his gun and quoting the Talmud.

Main Characters:

RABBI BEN JONES is a hard bitten cattle rancher and former Vietnam vet who converted to Judaism after god saved his life as he laid dying in a rice patty. Scholar and warrior, cowboy and priest, he spent years battling the forces of darkness. Retiring to his ranch he watched as one of his cattle gave birth to the Red Heifer who fulfilled the ancient prophecy of the coming messiah. Armed with the Sefer Yetzirah (Jewish "book of creation" that creates Golems, can rewrite life, etc) and a trusty Smith and Wesson, the RABBI must prepare JESSE to face his destiny.

JESSE is the son of a Honduran immigrant, and all around all-American. JESSE does not know that his father was a direct descendant of ABRAHAM, and that his blood carriers in it the fulfillment of 6 thousand years of prophecy. JESSE's son is due to lead the tribes of Judah and liberate Israel from bondage.

Other Characters:

PETER IV THE TIME TRAVELING ANTI-POPE: Pope of he second Babylonian Captivity (the first was when the Papacy moved from Rome and we had the reign of the "anti-popes". Also known as the Avignon Papacy in the 14th century.) from the year 2027 where great wars have ravaged Europe and JESSE's son now leads an army. PETER and his Cyborg legion has vowed to put a stop to JESSE by the power of their Time Engines.

AHASUERUS the WANDERING JEW: A roman centurion "cursed" by Jesus to walk the Earth until the coming of the messiah. Over the centuries he decided that he quite liked being immortal and was in no rush for his "curse" to be over. Now JESSE stands in the way. To stop him, AHASUERUS has taken the job of JESSE's football coach. Can the RABBI foil him while still letting the team make the state finals?

MIRIAM BITTER: Girlfriend of JESSE and distrustful of the RABBI ("How can he believe in god if he's not even a Christian!?") MIRIAM is believed by JESSE to be the mother of the Messiah. The RABBI suspects she's holding a terrible secret.

KRAMPUS: Germanic precursor to Santa Claus, KRAMPUS holds the staff of Odin and Odin's flying horse Sleipnir. Only the RABBI can see the true form of the KRAMPUS. To the people of Bethlehem, KRAMPUS is the kindly bearded man, NICK. KRAMPUS wishes a return of the old Norse Gods so he can lay down the burden of Odin's staff.

The story is that of accepting your destiny, even if acceptance means shooting a whole bunch of people.

It's pickup trucks, exploding temporal bombs hidden as footballs, bibles, sacred cows, super intelligent Jewish dinosaurs, and allot of spent ammunition...all told to the soundtrack of a country and western song.

HALF PAGE SPLASH PANEL. WE SEE THE FUTURE RABBI BEN JONES LYING IN A RACE PATTY. HE LOOKS LIKE A YOUNG CLINT EASTWOOD. HE'S BEEN SHOT NUMEROUS TIMES. A DEAD DONKEY LIES BESIDES HIM.

RABBI BEN CAPTION: I WAS LYING DEAD WHEN I TURNED AND SAW THE BURNING RICE PATTY.

PANEL OF RICE PLANT ON FIRE

RABBI BEN CAPTION: GOD DIDN'T SPEAK TO ME IN WORDS BUT I KNEW WHO HE WAS AND WHAT MY MISSION WAS GOING TO BE. HE HEALED ME OF MY WOUNDS AND SET ME FORTH

PANEL OF RABBI'S HAND PULING FREE THE JAW BONE OF THE DONKEY

RABBI BEN CAPTION: JAW BONE OF AN ASS. GOD HAS A GOOD SENSE OF HUMOR. IT WAS TIME TO GO OLD TESTAMENT ON SOME VC

PANEL OF RABBI BEN'S BACK HOLDING THE BLOODY JAWBONE HEADING TOWARD THE UNSUSPECTING VC SOLDIER. HIS BACK IS IN SHADOW, BUT YOU CAN TELL THAT WHAT COMES NEXT IS GOING TO BE BLOODY AND VIOLENT.

"Bring on the brothers who've gone on before
Bring on the sisters who've knocked on your door.
Bring on those sainted relations of mine
And put them up front in the offensive line."

Winner: Bob (disputed)

Bob's Thoughts: We don't have agreement on this one. Personally, I think that as great as Mike's story might be, mine has enough pure crazy to send it over the finish line. I love my story, and I may even finish it. The winner will be settled by a third party later this week.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

That Seventies Challenge


Challenge: Your comic company aquired the rights to a 1970's sitcom. You've been given the assignment to transform this show into a super-hero comic.

Bob's Pitch: The Super Heroic Adventures of Sanford and Son.

The Concept: Lamont and Fred are forced to sell their junkyard in Watts and make the move to New York City where they collect the junk that the Marvel universe leaves behind. If Damage Control cleans up the mess, it's the Sanfords who have to keep the junk. Set in the 1970's, he story taps into the rich legacy of the 1970's Marvel Universe

LAMONT: Look, you know I never wanted to work in a Junkyard. Joining SHIELD is my chance for a job that could really lead to great things!

FRED: Junkyard? This is an emporium! It's the family legacy! 'Sides, ain't no place in the superhero community for a black man. You think they ever gonna let Luke Cage in the Fantastic Four or Avengers? You're place is here.

LAMONT: Pop, you got to stop living in the past. It's the 70's, man. Even Aunt Esther says I can move up working for SHIELD.

FRED: That gorilla? She so ugly the skrulls won't take her. I'm going to lose my business! [PAUSES DRAMATICALLY]. Oh! My heart! 'Lizabeth, I'm comin' for you honey, I'm comin' for you!

LAMONT: [sighs] You haven't had a heart attack since you found that scrapped Iron Man chest plate. Knock it off.

FRED: Stay with me, Lamont! We can start our own SHIELD! No honkeys! All brothers. Tell 'em, Grady. Tell 'im we'll use the scrap parts to build our own helicarrier.

GRADY: No way, man. Remember when we tried fixing up that flying car? It's still on my roof. If I still had a roof. Man, trying to use that rebuilt Ronin to get it down was a mistake.



Mike's Pitch: "Kiss my grits, Lobo!"

Aspiring country singer Alice Hyatt was accompanying her trucker husband on a cross country haul when fate cruelly intervened. An errant Zeta Beam struck the highway in front of their semi, causing it to leap the concrete divide and crash head-on into oncoming traffic. Don Hyatt was killed instantly in the wreck, but Alice was trapped in the Zeta Beam's pull and whisked across the galaxy. One moment Alice's life is flashing before her eyes, a split second from death, and the next she's shaking in the fetal position on the floor of Mel's Diner, orbiting the planet Rann.

Mel Sharples, retired Khund mercenary is a veteran of the Invasion of Earth. Taking his back pay and pension he owns Mel's Diner, a restaurant and interstellar shipping rest stop orbiting the planet Rann. Mel's a grizzled old fry cook who hides the fact that he's a soft touch with a grim exterior. After his time on Earth during the war he grew to like humans... on the bone, with a brown sauce.

Mel's soft touch is reflected in the collection of cast-offs and misfits under his employ. The head waitress, who's also the head waiter (depending on who she's sleeping with at the time), is Flo Castleberry, a sassy, sex-hungry Durlan shape shifter.

Ver Go-man is a neurotic, scatterbrained Psion exile. Ver's trapped in the characteristic Psion loop of self denial, but lacks the typical Psion talent for science, hence a life of slinging Thanagarian hash at Mel's.

Rounding out the cast is an aquatic Gil'dishpan dishwasher and Mel's line cook, a snarling cyborg, one-armed Okaaran who served with Mel during the war.

Recurring characters will include Adam Strange and his wife Alanna, and Lobo, intergalactic '90s stereotype.

NEXT PAGE, NEXT PANEL. WIDE ANGLE OF A DINER. IT'S A TYPICAL GREASY SPOON BY WAY OF THE MOS EISLEY CANTINA. OUTSIDE THE WINDOWS IS THE BLACKNESS OF SPACE. CURLED UP ON THE FLOOR IN THE FOREGROUND IS ALICE. SHE'S DISORIENTED AND TERRIFIED. SURROUNDING HER IS THE ZETA BEAM'S FADING GLOW. STANDING OVER HER, DRESSED IN THE OUTERSPACE VERSION OF A 1950'S WAITRESS UNIFORM, IS THE REDHEADED DURLAN FLO, BALANCING A TRAY OF STEAMING PLATES.

FLO: TABLE FOR ONE, SUGAR?



The Winner: Mike



Bob's thoughts: The pitch has everything. Sanford and Son seems downright mundane compared to pure unflitered crazy of Mike's idea. The guy has everything in it. Aliens, set up for zany adventures, you name it. Mike is now in the lead 2-1. I did, however, really love the visual of Fred Sanford wearing an Iron Man chest plate under his shirt.

Challenge: Image


The Challenge: Take an Image title from the ninties and make it a readable comic. Fear the ninties overkill!

Mike's Pitch: Bloodpool: Yellowknife

The year is 2107 and Korea's borders reach from the western tip of the Great Wall in what was once China to the egde of Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories. Abandoning nuclear power and turning it's collective might to the field of genetic engineering, Korea owned the second half of the 21st century, single handedly forcing Rand-McNally to redraw the globe. Seoul is the largest city on earth, with a population edging towards 45 million.

In the border city of Yellowknife, Canada, five teenagers are doing everything they can to live "off the grid", eschueing cell phones, GPS, and RFID tags, avoiding all technology. Genetically engineered refuse, Jack, Sally, Kim, Johnny and Li were grown in Seoul's Bloodpool to be soliders in the Korean army but tossed out with the rest of the garbage when they failed quality control testing. Superpowers that were supposed to develop on their 13th birthdays never manifested.

On one side is a Korean Empire seeking to bury any evidence that it's clone army is imperfect. On the other is a collective United Nations that would like nothing more than to dissect these anomolies and find out what kept their powers from kicking in.

No powers. No technology. Just 5 teenagers trying to make a home and doing whatever it takes to avoid attracting attention.

ISSUE 1, PAGE 1, SPLASH. EXTERIOR, CITY STREET. WALKING OUT OF A COFFEE HOUSE ARE JOHNNY AND KIM, BOTH 16. THEY'RE BUNDLED UP FOR THE WEATHER IN WINTER COATS AND MIRRORED SUNGLASSES. KIM HAS MAORI-STYLE FACIAL TATTOOS AND SHE'S TALLER THAN JOHNNY BY ALMOST A HEAD, BUT RAIL THIN. JOHNNY CARRIES HIMSELF WITH A SWAGGER.

KIM: SALLY WANTED A PIZZA.

JOHNNY: SHE ALWAYS WANTS A PIZZA. TELL YOU WHAT, IF SHE MANAGED TO CLEAN THE LOFT AND DRAG HERSELF OUT OF THE HOUSE AND FIND REPLACEMENT DUMMY RFID TAGS THAT ARE CODED TO LAST LONGER THAN A MONTH... IF SHE DID THAT THEN I'LL BUY HER A PIZZA. I'M SICK OF BEING THE ONLY ONE WITH A JOB.



Bob's Pitch: Cyberforce



For years the world had thought Cyberforce to be the not-so secret group of mutants with cybernetic enhancements who fight the evil of mega-corps. Now meet the true men and women of Cyberforce, and learn what drives the nations most dedicated band of special ops soldiers. The people with the robot arms are just the front for the true organization. Gripping. Real. Cyberforce.

Pitch: We start off with a meeting of the last group of characters from Cyberforce. Typical Image type characters. Robot arms. Oversized guns. Bad attitudes. In front of them is a giant screen like you see in any comic book, bad movie or episode of the superfriends. We see a General, face obscured in shadows, telling Cyberforce that their enemies in the Cyberdata corporation are raiding components for a new generation of soldiers. With plenty of posing the Cyberforce team is in action.

Cut to the General. He's in front of a camera. We're in a metal trailer, just like any used on construction sites or in the field for our troops. Maps and office supplies litter the place. He throws off General hat coat and puts on the hat of a Lt. Col. His Real name is COL. MURPHY KANE. In the trailer is SGT. GIBSON, African American and member of the Marines.

SGT. GIBSON: Think they bought it?

COL. KANE: They always do.

we pull back to see COL. KANE briefing his team on the operation. No big guns. No sci-fi. These are real soldiers, in the real world, with the toughest damn job in the world. They're the elite force under command of SOCOM tasked with reigning in people with special abilities. The world has changed a great deal in 15 years. People with unusual abilities have been discovered. The mutation is caused by an a series of genes known as the "adaptive gene". This genetic line allows people to survive new environmental factors, by changing their genetic code. The mutations have a down side. They create a chemical imbalance inside the brain, leaving those affected as extremely powerful but with serious mental problems. 15 years ago an executive order was signed creating Cyberforce, charged with the task of reigning in these individuals through deception, incarceration or, if necessary, termination.

The concept: It's GI Joe meets "Punisher kills the Marvel universe" without the toy tie in. No Ninjas. No hot redheads with crossbows. Real soldiers in a destructive deconstructionist romp through the Image universe, with the ultimate message that everything Image published was probably not what really happened.

Issue 1: We meet the real Cyberforce team and watch them in operation as they evacuate an abandoned warehouse and sic two teams of Image characters against each other. We learn that as long as they fight each other in a comic book like fashion, it keeps them from being a destabilizing force in society. We also see what happens when one of the Image characters "walks off the reservation" and Cyberforce has no choice but to terminate them.

Issue 2: Cyberforce learns that "advanced" arms (oversized guns, etc etc) that normally are less effective than conventional firearms are suddenly increasing in functionality. The homebrew guns seem to be originating from a factory in Africa. Cyberforce seems in special forces units to shut down the factory. This introduces the first group of bad guys, a company called "Executive Decision" (based on Executive Outcomes, the company that supplies African nations with mercenaries in exchange for mining rights). Executive Decision has started to hire powered individuals, and wants to put a stop to American interference. Cyberforce discovers that Zimbabwe is hiring Executive Decision to force landowners off their farms.

Issue 3: Showdown in Zimbabwe. A member of the Cyberforce team is captured by Zimbabwe forces. Can Cyberforce rescue their teamember without causing an international incident?

The series will have a bit of Tom Clancy, a bit of Larry Hama, a bit of Garth Ennis. It switches in tones from stories about special forces, to stories about killing Image characters that represent the worst of the nineties. We see how silly some of the weapons Image characters carry really are, and how the military could really handle people with odd powers.



Winner: Bob



Bob's thoughts: This was hard since neither of us had ever read an issue of these comics and we had to work off Wiki entries. Still, it wouldn't be a challenge without some obstacles. I win this because of two reasons. First, I acknowledge that the previous continuity happned, it just wasn't what people thought. Next, I capture some of the spirit of the comic, while still mocking the excess. Mike's comic would still be pretty damn cool to read.

Challenge: Save a bad character


The Challenge: Take the dumbest character ever created. Reinvent him or her for a new era.

Bob's Pitch: Vibe: Good Vibrations.

Vibe. Former member of the Justice League. Break-dancer. Urban Stereotype. A hero who died a death unmourned.

After the events of Crisis, Vibe returned from the dead like many heroes and villains. Unlike others, such as Jason Todd, nobody really noticed. During the crisis, Vibe attempted to find his place in the hero community without success. Gypsy and Vixen were happy to see him, but as a big time hero his days were over.

The series takes place a year later. With no prospects, and his family scattered, Vibe needed a fresh start. He moves to San Antonio where his cousin lives, and tries to find a job in the normal world. Not an easy task when your resume only includes dressing in primary colors and hanging out with the Martian Manhunter. Taking a low level office job, it's not too long before he feels the draw of adventuring...a task made harder when you're trying to hold down a steady job.

Vibe is immediately drawn into a side of the DC universe seldom seen. He finds himself involved in Chicano gangs, corrupt border officials, and a community that isn't looking for a hero.

What could be cool about it: There aren't many heroes of color out there, and vibe (because he was such a bad stereotype) would be great to set a new standard for diversity. His character motivation is classic...a man back from the dead who wants to do good because he's been given a second chance. His problems are relatable to the reader. He has trouble paying rent. His boss knows he used to be a super hero, but can't let his employee run off every day that a giant robot attacks.

Sample scene:

INTERIOR: JOB RECRUITERS OFFICE

RECRUITER: So on your resume it says you were a....super hero?

VIBE: Yes. I was a member of the Justice League for a year.

RECRUITER: I notice you don't have a letter of recommendation from Superman on here.

VIBE: He wasn't there at the time. Aquaman was our leader.

RECRUITER: Ah. The fish man. Is there a number I can call to verify your employment?

VIBE: Well, they moved. I was with them in Detroit. Then they went to a base on the moon. I think that got bowed up. I don't know where they are now.

You got your light moments of a guy whose early career was a joke, and something poignant in the story of someone fighting for a second chance. Classic American tale.

No breakdancing.



Mike's Pitch: Anthony Ludgate, Doc Druid



"Sometimes it's best to be forgotten."

The heroes of the Marvel universe are being organized into an army for the 21st century. Forgotten though are the nightmares of the previous age. Hidden evil sleeps under the earth, inside the hearts of men and beyond the far side of the moon. The demons and aliens of the Silver Age, long thought vanquished, are slowly returning. As their power grows so does their influence.

Anthony Ludgate, former Avenger, has been forgotten by this new century. Once a powerful telepath and magician, his powers have faded, grown unreliable. But only he can sense the trouble that's rising. Only he can see the invisible monsters around us. Ludgate has only his creaky magics and the scavenged technology of a forgotten era with which to battle this growing danger.

The series follows Doctor Druid as he wanders the earth combating Marvel's crazy Silver Age monsters, starting with the ones from pre-Spider-Man "Amazing Fantasy". Think Kolchak vs. The Badoon.

Sample:

NEXT PAGE, SINGLE PANEL SPLASH. A SUBURBAN SUPERMARKET PARKING LOT. SHOPPERS HEAD TO THEIR CARS OR INTO THE STORE, THE PICTURE OF NORMALCY. EXCEPT FOR IN THE FOREGROUND WHERE DOC DRUID STANDS IN STREET CLOTHES, WAVING HIS ARMS WILDLY. DOMINATING THE PANEL IS THE FORTY FOOT MENACE OF TIM BOO BA. NOTE: TIM BOO BA (AMAZING FANTASY #9) SHOULD BE DRAWN ONLY AS AN OUTLINED COLOR EFFECT, SO THAT THE READER CAN INFER THAT ONLY THE DOC CAN SEE HIM.

DOC DRUID: "EVERYONE! GET OUT OF THE WAY!"

NEXT PAGE, PANEL 1. MOTHER PUSHING HER SON IN A CART.

SON: "MOMMY, WHAT THAT MAN YELLING ABOUT?"

MOM: "DON'T LOOK AT HIM SON."

PANEL 2. CLOSE ON TIM BOO BA'S LAUGHING VISAGE.

TIM BOO BA: "ONLY YOU CAN SEE ME, DOCTOR. THE CATTLE WILL NEVER REALIZE THAT IT WAS I, TIM BOO BA, WHO SENT THEM TO THEIR MAKERS!"

PANEL 3. THE DOC'S HANDS ARE RAISED, DRAWING ARCANE SIGILS IN THE AIR.

DOC DRUID: "NOT WHILE I STAND, DEVIL!"

PANEL 4. CLOSE ON TIM BOO BA AGAIN.

TIM BOO BA: "HA! HA! HA! YOUR MAGICKS HAVE NO POWER, OLD FOOL."

NEXT PAGE, PANEL 1. DOC HOLDS UP A GAS CAN. HIS OTHER HAND IS HOLDING A ZIPPO.

DOC DRUID: "BURN."

PANEL 2. HE SPARKS THE LIGHTER.

PANEL 3. CLOSE ON THE LIGHTER AS IT SOARS THOUGH THE AIR.

PANEL 4. DOC DRUID WALKING AWAY FROM THE BURNING INVISIBLE MONSTER.



The winner: Mike



Bob's thoughts: If reading Mike's pitch you don't want to run out and buy that comic, then perhaps reading comics isn't something you should be doing. I want to read that series in a bad way. My take was too common. Simple deconstruction without adding anything new to the vocabulary.


What is the Slush Pile Challenge?

It started, as so many bad ideas do, in the middle of an e-mail exchange. While at work Mike, from Slective Continuity, and I decided to launch a daily challenge. Each day we would pick a topic and we would have to make a pitch for a comic book idea. A winner each day would be determined based upon difficulty of the challenge, the ability to capture the spirit of the theme, and if we could come up with an idea for a comic that we would actually want to read.

What does the winner get? Well, besides generating a 40 idea slush pile each month, we get bragging rights and the winner of the best idea for each month will be forced to write a full script of the comic at the end.

How is that a prize? Damned if I know, but there it is.

But here's where it gets good. We want you, the readers, at the end of each week to take one of our challenges and run with it yourself. We will award the winner at the end of the weekend.