Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Vagrant Vaqueros Script

No new Vagrant page this week - Mark's getting caught up.  But we'll be back soon with new pages and continued adventure.  Until then, I thought I'd post some of the work that went into the creation of Vagrant Vaqueros.  Below is half the first draft of the Vagrant script.

There was no title yet, loads of info on Jack, the jail scene has a completely different internal monologue, the old lady is more long winded, and a small preview of things to come.

The reason only half the script is here is because I really had no clue what the hell I was doing and crammed to many panels per page in.  Immediately after finishing this draft, I sent a shotgun email out to a bunch of people and they very politely informed me what I had written would be hell on any artist.  So I stretched the original 8 page script out to 15.

I know it's a little disappointing not to have a new page this week, but I hope you find this a little interesting and/or entertaining.  Back with more soon.  Onto the script...



Caucasian male, around 25
Twin pistols
Dirty blonde/brown hair, medium length, somewhat scruffy appearance.  Brash, implusive, and lucky.  Raised as a rancher and farmer, herding cattle(?)
Visual reference: Josh Holloway (Sawyer, from Lost) de-aged into his 20s

Double holster references:

[ the rest of the cast has been removed ]
Other characters:

For all demons in this series, use black speech bubbles with white text.  If you can make the "bubbles" non-standard and extra gritty, that would be even better.  Also, their eyes should be a telling sign.  If you could come up with a clever way of showing that (black pupils are pretty standard, but maybe work actual fire or flames into their eyes) that would be cool.
Demon 1 - Should look like a regular human, except for his eyes
Demon 2 - Visually similar clothing to Demon 1, but less human in appearance.  Taller, unnatural skin color, I'm thinking like a brownish red clay color.


Page 1 - Jack killing demon
Page 2 - Jack taking the necklace and getting caught
Page 3 - Jack in jail
Page 4 - Story of the necklace
Page 5 - Bar 1
Page 6 - Bar 2
Page 7 - Jail break
Page 8 - Running back to horses

Page 1

Panel 1 - Long, page-width panel. Two silhouettes face off in the middle distance of the setting sun.

Panel 2 - Demon 1, seen from the waist up:

Bubble 1 - "Jackie-boy, you don't really want to do this."

Bubble 2 - "Especially not without the rest o' yer crew."

Panel 3 - Similar waist up shot of Jack, throwing back his long coat to reveal holstered revolver on his hip, "Let's just get this over with."

Panel 4 - Demon 1's hand now hovering over his own pistol, "All I'm saying is, it don't gotta be this way..."

Panel 5 - Another long panel, similar to Panel 1, the sun a little lower and darker than before.

lots of little zoomed-in panels: one panel each for both men's guns in their holsters, a dust cloud rolling, coat flapping in the wind, one panel each for both men's trigger fingers twitching, the corner of demon 1's mouth curling into a smile, Jack's eye squinting

Panel ? - One panel, split diagonally in two, of each man grabbing his gun

Panel ? - Not a traditional panel, just the sound effect "PA-KLOW"

Page 2

Panel 1 - Demon 1 still standing, small smoking hole in his chest, black ooze spilling out, "*"

Panel 2 - Long shot, from behind Jackie. Demon 1 is seen halfway fallen over, his gun has slipped out of his hand.

Panel 3 - Demon 1, now collapsed onto the ground, gun out of reach, dust cloud raising around him, with a "KLUMP" sound effect. Jackie is walking towards the demon, his gun still drawn.

Panel 4 - Shot from Jack's point of view, looking down his arm and gun, pointed at the demon's face. "Come on then, boy. ...Finish the job." Mess with the lettering here to make it apparent he's struggling to get the words out.

Panel 5 - Now looking up at Jack's determined face, we see the flash of his gun go off, a small spray of blood hit the side of his face. "BLAM" sound effect

Panel 6 - I'll leave the details of this panel up to you, but I'd like to make it apparant Jack shot the demon in the face, without it being too graphic or grotesque (We don't want Zuda censors coming down on us).

Kneeling down beside the dead demon, Jack rips open the demon's shirt, he's still holding his gun in his right hand. Under the shirt is a silver medallion

I'll let you come up with the medallion design, but I've included a few examples below. I'm thinking roughly the diameter of a coffee cup.

http://www.rocklove.com/images/MedallionCrest.jpg - about this thickness
http://www.jonskoolstuff.com/images/AztecGoldCoinMedalion_lg.jpg - on a string like this

Finally, there should be a small speech bubble with small letters (that can still be easily read) "The shots came from over here!"

Panel 7 - With his left hand, Jack rips the medallion from around the demon's neck. There should be some small "KLOP KLOP KLOP" sound effects here

Panel 8 - Three marshalls on horseback, two with their rifles drawn and aimed at Jack. We see Jack still kneeling beside the demon in the distance. Much larger "KLOP KLOP KLOP" sound effects again, around the horses.

Panel 9 - In the distance, the marshalls still have their guns trained on Jack. The lead marshall (no gun out) yells, "Hands in the air!" In the foreground, Jack pockets the talisman out of marshalls' line of sight while raising his right hand and letting go of the gun's grip - it spins slightly to balance the trigger gaurd on his index finger.

Page 3

Panel 1 - Ariel shot of the town mid-morning. It's smallish, all one- or two-story buildings, with a water tower, all the buildings made out made of wood and/or stone.

Panel 2 - Two of the marshalls from the previous page (the two with their guns out) - one is holding a jail cell door open as the other shoves Jack into it. "Listen guys, I'm trying to tell ya..."

(In my head, I was modeling the jail off the one they stick Jack in at the beginning of the first Pirates of the Carribean - stone walls, hay and dirt floor, crisscross metal bars, window to the outside, and more bars between the individual cells, not stone walls)

Panel 3 - The jail cell door slams shut, "CLANG" sound effect, as one of the marshalls cuts Jack off, "Don't want to hear it. The magistrate will sort this all out in a couple of weeks."

Panel 4 - The two marshalls leave the cell area, Jack is holding onto the door of his cell.

Panel 5 - Jack kicks at the ground, forming a small dust cloud, "Damn it!". Text box with, "They say you can tell a guilty man from the innocent by who's able to sleep."

Panel 6 - Jack plops down on the cot in his cell. Text box with, "The innocent are too worried to sleep..."

Panel 7 - Jack getting comfortable and removing his hat. Text box with, "... but the guilty know they've been caught..."

Panel 8 - Jack in a mostly laid back position, hat over his face, arms folding over his chest. Text box with, "... and are able drift right off."

Page 4

Panel 1 - Text box with, "Several days ago"

Same Panel 1 from Page 3, by now it's late evening - the Moon is low, sky is dark, but the lights from the town light the scene fairly well.

Panel 2 - Establishing shot of a upscale home. There's a light on on the main floor, though the curtains are drawn shut.

Panel 3 - Inside the home, Jack sits in a parlor with a well-dressed woman in her mid-50s. Her long white hair is held in a tight bun atop her head. Woman: "I know all about you and gang, 'Jack.' My niece has been kidnapped, and likely killed, by two demons. Along with my niece, they've also stolen an artifact of immense power." On a small end table next to her, stands a picture frame with a woman in it.

Panel 4 - Jack, flippantly, "Demons? Listen lady, I don't know who you think I am, but-"

Woman: "Do not feign innocence with me, boy. Or do I need to prove my knowledge of such things to you by sharing what I know of the events in Culver City?"

Panel 5 - Jack, in stunned silence.

Panel 6 - The woman, passing the framed picture from the table next to her. We now see the old-looking photograph in detail - a young woman in a low-cut dress. Clearly visible around her neck of the woman in the photo is the medallion. "I see I now have your attention. The artifact that was stolen, the necklace pictured here, can be used to open a gateway. That must not be allowed to happen."

Panel 7 - The woman now passes Jack a wanted poster with Demon 1 and Demon 2 on it. "These are the men that captured my niece, demons both. In a week's time they will use the necklace to summon a far greater evil than you've ever confronted before. You must stop them and retrieve the necklace before that happens."

Panel 8 - Jack, looking determined, "I'll do it, you have my word on that, but for a woman who's niece is 'likely' dead you sure don't seem too broken up."

Panel 9 - Woman: "Not everyone turns to anger and self-destruction, as you have, in times of mourning."

Panel 10 - Jack, grinning slightly, "Anger and self-destruction just make me better at what I do."

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Day at the Mall

This is positively ancient, dating back to February 07, 2003.  By way of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I was able to find some my Gabe's and my short stories from back in the day.  Without any editing or updating, I give you:

A Day at the Mall

I'm standing in a mall in Akron Ohio, 3 dozen zombies devouring the last of the mid-week, afternoon shoppers before me.
...And that's just what I can see from having just walked in the door.

My entrance hasn't stirred them from their feast, and they probably won't take notice of me for at least another few minutes, until the scent of flesh that's filling what's left of their nostrils is nearly gone and they catch my scent.

I begin maneuvering around a coffee shop, and out into the main hall of this giant shopping mecca for middle America. For the time first one of these places will actually serve me a purpose, the over-powering smell of coffee in the air will help to mask my scent for a few additional moments before I have a horde of walking dead attempting to lock their teeth on me.

After eventually reaching the corner of the coffee house chain store I peer out and get a glimpse down the main corridor of the mall - there's at least another five dozen undead consuming what remains of the local shopping populace. I'm gonna need more ammunition.

Not knowing the full scope of the situation, I'd only grabbed a handful of shotgun shell boxes as I rushed out of the door - none of which were anywhere near full. I know Frank had sounded frantic on the phone, but I'd never imagined the zombie infestation he was alerting me to was of this magnitude.

Zombies normally hunt in small packs of three to eight, I have no idea what this many are doing in a single place, but big something is going on.

I started slowly moving back around the corner of the coffee house, back the way I'd come, when everything in the mall went silent.

Zombies have a hard time breathing through their noses, if they're lucky enough to keep it for any length of time, and so they typically breath through their mouths. When eating, this makes for an incredibly grotesque sound of open mouth chewing mixed with their loud breathing and audible ripping of flesh and breaking of bone. The sound of the seventy plus zombies doing this at once filled the sizable mall, and every one of them had just fallen silent.

Looking up, I could see their eyes and empty sockets all fixed squarely on me.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Character Names, and How I Choose Them

I thought about writing this on Twitter, but quickly realized there's no way I could cover everything in 140 characters.  Then, I considered typing up something longer on Facebook, before I remembered that I don't actually care about that site.

A significant portion of this past weekend was past creating characters and a world for them to inhabit.  Once I know what kind of character I want, I start thinking about names, and I have three general techniques for how I choose them...

Make 'Em Up
Just string together letters or full syllables until coming up with something that looks and/or sounds cool.  Something like Alania Kastanyonka or Trolav Grundernick.  This usually works best for Fantasy or Sci-Fi stories where the audiences can expect characters to have uncommon names, but the same can be applied to stories set more firmly in reality, especially with last names.

Take From Life
Ever since high school, when I started to consider writing seriously, I've kept a list of names I'd like to use as characters some day.  Some are real names of people I know, others are celebrities, or even characters from other stories.  Toast's android computer/assistant "Madelyn" came from a character in the La Femme Nikita TV series.  I had a girlfriend for one of my character's named "Marlena" from the song 3 Marlenas; she needed a last name, so I used "Bautista".  I keep a list of all the names in a notebook that's always handy, or in a pinch I'll use my cell phone to make myself a note if I find a new one.

Use Baby Name Websites*
If I'm looking to name a character, and have that name mean something, I'll use baby name websites.  This past weekend I did a lot of "India boy name meaning", "South American girl name meaning", "Caribbean boy name meaning", etc. all to varying results.  From there, I checking the meaning of names until I'd found something a) I liked, and b) had a meaning that fit the character.

Ideally, by using these sites, you'll wind up with a list of names and their meanings.  Even if you don't necessarily care about the meaning of a name, they're a good place to start.  Often, you may also come across lists that all begin with a certain letter (Asian names that begin with "N", for instance). I prefer the lists and meanings, since I just want a good name, regardless of what letter it starts with.  You may already know which letter you want the name to start with and can use that as a jumping-off point.  Unfortunately, I don't have a list of good go-to sites for you to use, but if you're reading this right now, I trust you know how to use Google.

*Be mindful of tweeting about the use of baby name sites, since I alarmed at least one friend and received some bizarre DMs from random strangers about pregnancy nutrition and baby advise after doing so.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thoughts on C2E2

Besides the occasional AnimeCentral convention, this past weekend's C2E2 is the first time in years I've been to a convention as a consumer, rather than as someone with a table trying to hawk my wares.

Firstly, it's fantastic to actually be IN Chicago, rather than one of the outlying suburbs. This is great for all of the out-of-towners that always want to see Chicago-proper, but wind up elsewhere (typically Rosemont, for Wizard). Additionally, the McCormick Place is an ideal location, not only for it's skyline views, but for possessing a view at all. Several of the people I spoke to commented on how nice it was to have windows and natural light instead of simply four walls.

The other comment I heard frequently was less-than-expected foot-traffic. I was only able to make it to the convention on Saturday, which is typically the busiest day of any convention. Crowds were light, which was great for moving around and seeing everything, but not so much for the many companies and individuals trying to recoup expenses. I understand the economy is still a major factor, but I'll be interested to see if Reed makes any changes for next year, in an effort to increase attendance.

Immediately upon entering the hall, it was clear this was a much classier convention than Wizard. It's not quite the extreme (or excess) that San Diego is, but it's a level we haven't seen in Chicago since the pre-Wizard days of Chicago Comicon. One layout decision I found striking was how the carpeted area of the floor ended just before Artist Alley. Are they trying to tell us something?

My favorite booth, by far, was the Archaia set-up. Tons of books, creators signing, chairs to sit down in, and books to sample before you buy. Combine that with they Buy-One-Get-One Free Sale, and I walked away with some new hardcovers. Kudos, gentlemen. Oni had a presence, which I'm always glad to see. Top Shelf was there too, but looked somewhat cramped in their space. DC had lots to look at, but really only the Ratchet and Clank toys caught my eye. Marvel was largely wasted space - the stage was mainly used as a poster dump, and the outer edges tried to sell you on some flavor of digital comics. There were signing areas, but the lines wrapped around the booth, only increasing the amount of space Marvel took up.

I'm slightly torn on the decision to include a separate section for Webcomics. While it likely means those walking through are more open to webcomics than others (unless they're just trying to get to the Batmobile, DeLorean, or Iron Man auction pieces), it also means those uninterested in webcomics could safely ignore the entire area, potentially meaning even less people walking by during an already crowd-starved convention.

Artist Alley was packed full of great artists. A higher quality of Artist than Wizard's average, and the lack of porn stars was very welcome. I saw and met people I'd never seen at a Chicago convention before, which both surprised and pleased me to no end. I tend to do my retailer shopping on Friday's and Sunday's at conventions. Friday's for smaller crowds and Sunday's for the best deals. Since I was only at C2E2 the one day, I didn't spend much time browsing the retail section... though I did have a run-in with a fully-painted Pandora woman, asking if I played Magic. When I told her, "No" she replied "bummer" sped off in the opposite direction.

Shout-out to the random dude that asked for my autograph while I was eating lunch - create a character! Get in VOID! And say, "hi" to Mamoru for me.

Assuming they keep the Webcomics section around, I look forward to returning next year and setting up shop there.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Long Way to Go

I was talking with Gabe a few months back about a comic I was writing. I must have seemed serious about this whole writing thing, because he says to me, "I'm going to WonderCon to pitch some stuff to Image, is there anything you want me to pitch for you?" I was surprised by at least three different things in that question, two of which I'll be completely ignoring.

Let me begin by stating that if someone asks if you want to pitch something to Image, the answer is "yes." So naturally, I told him, "no."

I have a laundry list of excuses I can use - long hours at work, wedding plans, VOID, prior obligations, but the real reason is I'm just not that confident in myself yet to attempt something on that scale.

By my watch, I'm a couple of years behind my friends that are now getting paying gigs from major publishers. That's fine - they've spent years honing their craft in various ways and are now ready to venture forth in the realm of big publishing houses, and all that that entails.

I, on the other hand, has spent the better part of a decade honing my web programming skills. Not that I'm complaining, I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and wouldn't change a bit of it. But, I only just decided last year to begin taking writing more seriously, and have since enrolled myself in a whole series of projects to get myself up to speed with my contemporaries as quickly as possible.

I've got at least two Zuda entries in me, and a handful of VOID comics in the pipeline. VOID, I'll be doing for love of the characters and site in general; a limited test bed for experimenting and learning, just like I've always pitched it to others. Win or lose, I'll probably stop with just the two Zuda entries. I secretly hope I don't win, but would obviously love it if I did... it's complicated. After that, I'll re-address my situation and see what comes next.

On Twitter I recently claimed 2010 will be a Year of Writing (hopefully, my first of many). I wish I could tell you about everything I have going on, but I'll keep my mouth shut and let the comics do the talking for me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What's My Age Again?

I've been slowly approaching 30 for awhile now.

My sister likes to bring it to my attention as often as possible, since she's a few years older than I am and she likes to torment me like that. Siblings - gotta love 'em.

I generally don't look forward to my birthdays, because for a long time they were uneventful or not happy occasions. Not true anymore, since Jyoti tends to go over the top with things like scavenger hunts and stunt plane piloting.

Still, 30 is one of those Big Ones everyone always talks about, warning young people of impending doom. What's odd though, is that I haven't actually felt my age for quite some time. There's signs of aging like that I've put on a few unwanted pounds, I now experience hangovers after a night of drinking, and that my body now aches and cracks in places it didn't before. But other than that, I still think of myself as about 24. Maybe it's because most of my friends are younger than me, that I feel this way, but I don't care enough about the answer to dwell on it for too long.

In fact, in many ways, I feel like I'm only just getting started. I'm getting married in a few short months, which will be followed by a whirlwind tour of Europe, I've got a few short comics scripts under my belt, one in the pipeline, three more being written, a new edition of VOID currently under construction, and a brand-new Pulpo I'm just dying to announce. I still only sleep ~6 hours per night, in a vain attempt to fit it all in, which I never do, but I'll keep trying. There's far too much I want to accomplish in life to start slowing down now.

Here's to forever statying young at heart, never acting one's age!

Monday, February 1, 2010

First Stain

Reading Orc Stain was a surreal experience for me. Having known James Stokoe for over eight years now, I've seen him grow into an artistic powerhouse. But in my mind, I have a hard time reconsiling the man that spent a night in a hotel bathtub drawing comics with the one that now possesses his own monthly series from Image Comics. Like I said, it's a bit surreal, but I couldn't be happier or prouder.

With my personal anecdote out of the way, I need to address one more thing before I finally get into the book itself. The last time I bought a single issue of any comic was Casanova, during the first series (the notes from Fraction at the back were too good to miss). I've been a trades-only man for years now, and going back into singles has been rough for me, especially given that I used to comsume James' work as complete. Even in his webcomics days, he'd release new pages on a much more frequent basis than once per month. Not to mention his two complete Wonton Soups that were released as OGNs.

Finally getting around to Orc Stain itself...
The opening pages, are simply madness strewn across the page. Orcs as far as the eye can see, engaged in ever-lasting war. The Orktzar emerges, makes a profound impression on all, and quickly exits. Weeks after reading the issue, the scene still stands out vividly in my mind. Things change abruptly, however, as our main character One Eye is introduced and goes to work cracking an ingeniously designed safe. He seems to be in a bit of a rut, and in a species where everyone only looks out for themselves, One Eye's lone companion isn't any help. It's a fantastic first issue that sets the stage wonderfully, and with Stokoe at the helm, anything is possible.

Carry on, my crazy brother.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cable 22, and the Hope (ha HA!) of a Better One

Not much new in comics, except for Cable 22, but man, I can't wait for this series to be over. Two years of Bishop chasing Cable and Hope through time, everyone spouting off the same crap about killing/protecting month-after-month. The highlight of the entire series is the X-Force crossover, everything else has been pretty lame.

Since early on in this series, I've thought Cable would ultimately die at the end of it. He was an old man to begin with, and has aged another 18 years on top of that throughout the series. My secondary prediction is that once Cable's dead, he'll be replaced within the Marvel Universe by an younger/alternate version of himself.

I know it's popular to make fun of 90s comics, but I was a fan at the time; as were many others, even if they don't want to admit it now. I've always had a soft-spot for ol' Nate, the time-travelling badass trying to prevent his horrific future from happening. It's the sort of thing that hits all the right notes for me - science, time travel, the future, mercenaries, doing the right thing at all costs... throw in a hot chick (he used to have Domino), and I'm all set.

Cable Volume 3: Stranded Premiere HCAfter all this time protecting Hope, Cable's not the same man he used to be. Recently, she's been protecting or saving him as often or more than he is her. He certainly could be re-integrated back into Marvel continuity in his current state, but I can't imagine in what capacity. Besides, comics are a medium where anytime characters stray too far from their roots, they get 'reimagined.' Ordinarily, I'd be all for moving on, keeping the continuity, and not resetting a character, but Cable's the new Wolverine in terms of screwed-up history. A reboot should help him out of the current mess and hopefully he's given to a writer that understands him well enough to see that through.

Back to the comic at-hand - why am I still reading it if it's bad? Sometimes even terrible movies pique the audience's interest enough that you want to know how it ends. With only a few issues left, I'm mostly curious if I'm right.

Side note: I've never really given a damn about Bishop (though he did make my team in X-Men Legends), but hopefully he'll get a reboot after this storyline as well, since he's essentially been destroyed as a character.

P.S.: I'll be sure to post something comics related that I actually enjoy soon. I'm working my way through Rocketo (hat tip to Elio), but haven't formulated my thoughts on that one yet.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Projects and 2010

I typically have a pretty difficult time following through on projects. I'm easily distracted and tend have multiple things going on at all time, jumping between them frequently. I sometimes wonder if I have ADD... or am just lazy, choosing to switch to something new whenever things get difficult. On the up side, switching DOES tend to help, as the temporary distance typically grants a new perspective.

My hope is to be more productive in 2010, so I'm trying to give myself a To Do List in order to keep me on track. Here's some of what I'm up to:

Secret Comics Project I
- My part finished in April, waiting on other(s) to finish their part. Very nearly done at this point, which means I should get back to scripting Part II of this very soon.

Secret Comics Project II
- 2.5 pages left to script. Already missed my self-imposed deadline of "End of 2009" because work became too overbearing. I need to find time to dedicate to finishing this and getting it off to the artist/editors.

Secret non-Comics Project
- Very long process, have a healthy start and no deadline. Anyone that knows me probably figures I'm working on this already, but I haven't made it well known. Actually encompasses many smaller projects, which I may break-out for my own clarity and time-management.

Return Missing Images to VOID
- Slowly chipping away at this. Highly time consuming due to the slow nature of the process. In need of large block of time I can dedicate to this.

Finish VOID Facebook App
- I put a lot of work into this over the weekend, blowing past old blockades, but ran head-long into new impasses. This comes down to research and educating myself more on the Facebook platform before continuing... meaning time and brainpower are needed.

Work on Doombox website
- Mostly wanting on others at this point, but there's a few things I can do to prepare.

Write Toolio comic
- A few weeks back there was talk on Twitter in which I basically volunteered to write a Toolio comic, possibly on-going weekly comic. Thankfully, I have an idea, but need to discuss with Galvo before potentially doing something to his character he doesn't like.

I'd also like to get into the next Pulpo, which hasn't been announced yet, but I think will really excite people.