June 19, 2016
A bit of a cheat with some captions this week as I’ve been out all day. I wrote this one on the way back, and I think it shows. However, I’ve already thought on elements of this idea some more and a one shot is forming.
PANEL 1: Wide panel, an ocean spread before us. A small island sits on the horizon.
CAPTION: One day the island was just there.
PANEL 2: Wide panel, a shot of the rocky shore of the island. Similar in viewpoint to the picture shown above we see a strange cat shaped statue on the short. On the rocks we see two CORPSES, both wearing orange safety jackets and a discarded small BOAT.
CAPTION: We sent men.
CAPTION: They died.
PANEL 3: Wide panel, we pan further down the shore. We see military patrol ships beached and run aground in disarray like metal fish dying in the sun.
CAPTION: So we sent more.
PANEL 4: Wide panel, panning further down the shore we see the crashed remains of a trio of military FIGHTER JETS. Their fuselages look like the exposed ribcages of animals long since dead.
CAPTION: They died too.
PANEL 5: Wide panel, again panning further down the shore. No more debris. Just a single FIGURE wearing a wetsuit walking up the beach away from the water.
CAPTION: Nothing changed.
PANEL 6: Inset panel on the right of Panel 5, CLOSE UP on TOMASSON, a blonde woman in her late twenties with steel blue eyes and a defiant jaw. She lifts her chin slightly, breathing in the fresh sea air.
CAPTION: Until woman.
June 12, 2016
Panel 1: Wide shot, beautiful, green, rolling farmland. Hills as far as the eye can see. Meadows full of life and a picture perfect farmhouse nestled amongst it all.
BERT (singing): All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small...
Panel 2: CUT TO a CLOSE UP on BERT. He’s somewhere in his late 60s, completely bald, with a gnarled, lined face that makes him look like living oak. He’s wearing a tatty pair of work overalls, and is looking towards us in supreme concentration.
BERT (singing): All things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made --
Panel 3: PAN RIGHT slightly to see HOLLY, a woman in her early 20s just behind Bert’s shoulder. Her hair is cropped short in a haphazard manner. Her clothes, like everything else about her, is homemade and falling apart.
Panel 4: CLOSE UP on a paint brush as it glides across a canvas, painting the scene we saw in the first panel.
Panel 5: On BERT as he looks up from his canvas towards us/the scene before him.
HOLLY (off): Yeah, yeah. I hate to tell you this, old man...
Panel 6: Wide shot, a black and grey flattened landscape. Everything is ash and stone, only the hills remain.
CAP (HOLLY): “...but God had nothing to do with this.”
June 5, 2016
PANEL ONE: AFTERNOON. CLOSE UP on the RAGGEDY FIGURE on a pole above the forest. It’s shrouded in a flea-bitten, musty cloak and has a mechanical, steampunk scarecrow look to its face. It is looking down towards us slightly in permanent judgement.
HAN (OFF): What are you waiting for, kid?
HAN (OFF): It ain’t real.
PANEL TWO: We CUT TO a shot of a fourteen year old boy, PETE, looking up at the figure in fear. He’s wearing a pair of dusty jeans and a raggedy looking flannel shirt. He has dirty brown hair, his handsome features offset by the severe pockmarks down the right side of his face. Behind him we see a figure and the rest of the forest.
PETE: How’d you know that? Looks it to me.
PANEL THREE: CUT TO, a lady in her mid thirties standing behind PETE slightly. This is HAN. She’s got short brown hair and a boyish face. She’s dressed like an old gunslinger, hat and overcoat included. She’s got a slight smirk on her face as she answers PETE.
HAN: Beyond that bunch of sticks is the desert and the fallen. Plenty to be scared about there.
PANEL FOUR: Back on PETE, scowling.
HAN (OFF): You want the truth?
PANEL FIVE: TIGHT on PETE’s foot as he steps forward, crossing an imaginary line.
HAN (OFF): The only way is forward.
May 29, 2016
PANEL 1: Vertical panel running down the left hand side of the page. We see a leafy mountain face running the height of almost the entire panel. The locale looks South American. It’s day, a sweltering sun somewhere above rains down its heat. Barely noticeable, close to reaching the summit is a single human figure scaling the mountain. No ropes, no equipment. Just a backpack.
CAPTION: “Again. Tell me how it felt.”
CAPTION: “Repetition is key.”
PANEL 2: CUT TO a CLOSE UP looking down at the climber as she ascends. She looks up at us, face beaming with joy and excitement. This is ANDERS. She’s olive skinned with black hair pulled back tight into a ponytail. She’s somewhere in her late 20s, wearing a dark green climbing vest and black shorts. She has the physique of a gymnast and her hands are flush with white chalk.
ANDERS: It felt like I could touch the sky.
PANEL 3: CLOSE UP on ANDERS’ hand as she reaches for the next hold.
ANDERS: Like I was untouchable.
PANEL 4: Back to the view looking down at ANDERS as her hand slips free of the hold and she begins to fall backwards, away from the mountain face. Her brain hasn’t registered what’s happening yet. She looks confused.
CAPTION: “And then?”
PANEL 5: ANDERS falls in a black void. No background. She reaches towards the side of her head as she falls, as if she was about to pull off a climbing helmet that isn’t there. ANDERS: Fuck!
PANEL 6: CUT TO: ANDERS pulling a VR style helmet from her head. She looks older here. She’s lost a bit of weight. She sits on a device that sits somewhere in between a designer couch and a CT scan. She’s angry and exasperated. Other than this bit of tech the room looks like any other therapist’s office.
ANDERS: This is bullshit. What do you want me to do?
ANDERS: I fell. I failed. I’m here.
PANEL 7: CUT TO: the other voice we’ve been hearing, sitting across from Anders. This is ISAACSON, Anders’ therapist. She’s a studious looking woman in her late thirties. She has dirty blonde hair, cut short. She’s wearing a simple plain t-shirt and a pair of slacks. ISAACSON doesn’t have the time for frills and flare. She’s all business.
ISAACSON: No, we keep going.
ISAACSON: We will reach the top.
May 22, 2016
Somewhat related to this series of posts is this post by Ryan K Lindsay over at Loser City. Here he talks about the importance of writing shorts, keeping those writing muscles warm and the whole ThoughtBalloons endeavour.
Go check it out. It’s definitely something I’m subcribing too with these shorts. They’re here for two reasons:
- To break down the idea of perfection and just posting something and getting it out there.
- Improving my writing game.
Talking of the second point, I think my weakness is my dialogue. So, from here on in, a lot of these strips will have an emphasis on that aspect of writing. I’ll mix it up from time to time, but I thought I best get some deliberate practice out of this too.
PANEL 1: CLOSE UP on a WOMAN’s face. She’s wearing swimwear and vacantly looking out towards the horizon, her face set in a stony smile. Around her we can see we’re in a cheap-looking department store. Yeah, it’s a mannequin folks.
JO (OFF): She’s a stony one.
CAL (OFF): You mean stoic.
PANEL 2: We CUT TO two GREEN ALIENS looking up at the mannequin. The one on the left is tall and lean, like a mucus covered runner bean with tiny eyes and a mouth. This is CAL. The one on the right is small and rotund - anthropomorphised snot basically. This is JO. CAL, as much as his expressions allow him, looks annoyed.
JO: That’s what I said.
CAL: Ugh. You find them?
JO: FInd what?
PANEL 3: CAL holds a crumpled LEAFLET out towards us/JO. The leaflet shows us various diamond rings, necklaces and brooches as advertised by “HUCKERBYS DEPARTMENT STORE”. The leaflet is advertising a half price sale on jewelry promising “OUT OF THIS WORLD DISCOUNTS”.
CAL: The diamonds, Jo. For the warp --
CAL: Castor’s taint! What is it now?
PANEL 4: We CUT TO outside the department store, looking towards the front of the building. We can see that a POLICE CAR has pulled up and TWO POLICEMAN have got out of the vehicle and are approaching the front doors.
POLICEMAN: Dispatch, we’re at that possible 459 in progress, over.
RADIO: Copy that.
PANEL 5: CUT TO CAL looking down at the new arrivals from the shop windows up high.The lights of the siren reflect off the glass. He’s drawn a LASER PISTOL from somewhere and clutches it tightly.
CAL: Father is not going to like this.
JO (OFF): Don’t worry, Cal.
PANEL 6: CUT TO JO armed with a LASER PISTOL. Under his right arm he is carrying the MANNEQUIN from the first panel. He is incredibly pleased with himself.
JO: We got ourselves a hostage.
May 16, 2016
I wrote this one in a notebook on the train heading to London on Saturday. I didn’t post it up until this morning as I was exhausted from the trip back yesterday. This one takes pieces from an idea/project I’ve had simmering for a while. It’s been around for so long that large elements of the world-building are in place.
PANEL 1: We OPEN on a long vertical panel that runs down the left hand side of the page. The shot is similar to the picture above, with the focus on a FIGURE standing on top of the long pole, a rifle slung across their back whilst they are covered in robes. This is KIRAN. Due to the head wrap/scarf we can’t see much of her, but she’s in her mid twenties, dark-skinned, and built like a gymnast.
CAPTION: I see you.
PANEL 2: We CUT TO a CLOSE UP on KIRAN’s eyes looking back out at us. There’s something odd about them. They’re a strange colour and the pupil itself seems slightly unnatural and inhuman in its shape.
CAPTION: I see everything.
PANEL 3: We CUT TO a shot of a trio of ROBED FIGURES riding CAMELS on the desert dunes on the horizon.
CAPTION: I see the data nomads of Dakar hawking air-gapped machines to drone-proof desert communes.
PANEL 4: We CUT TO a shot of a pair of GUARDS wearing low-tech military garb and modified, but rusty-looking, AK47s. They’re both smoking near the wall of a low slung tin roofed supply warehouse. They both stand in the shade, sheltering from the sweltering desert sun.
CAPTION: I see comrades yet to upgrade, their lungs slowly turning black.
CAPTION: They can replace anything these days.
PANEL 5: CUT back to the horizon. One of the CAMELS from before is on its side, its rider sprawled across the sand. A HUGE BALL OF FLAME explodes into the sky from somewhere just beyond the horizon. Something is coming.
CAPTION: Then I see nothing. The explosion is so intense I have to switch filters.
PANEL 6: CUT back to a CLOSE UP of KIRAN. But this time she has her head wrap pulled down as she peers out at us. We see her eyes changing colour to almost a bright yellow now. We see the grin on her face as she prepares for battle. This is what she was made for.
CAPTION: For the first time since childhood, I cannot see.
CAPTION: But I am ready.