Thursday, June 21, 2018

Way of the Sword

This is from a comic book proposal I developed in 2010. The artist was Dominike Stanton, who has since gone on to work on character design for the hit TV show Archer and several issues of Deadpool over at Marvel Comics.

The premise was to create an epic adventure that very young comics readers could enjoy without the trappings of multi-issue storylines or complex themes. The story follows a young Samurai and his adoptive master as they try to thwart a Mongol invasion of Japan. The concept emphasized simplicity to allow younger readers to digest the material and retain key points. To that end, I aimed for eight-page story arcs. It allowed a three-issue miniseries to fit into a standard 24-page comic. The project was picked up for publication, but Dominike decided to take the job at Archer (I can't blame him!) and so we never made it to press. I'm still proud of what we put together.























Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Marathon

These pages were born from my research into the Battle of Marathon for a non-fiction work. I was so inspired that I created a 240-page graphic novel about Pheidippides' famous run to Sparta and back. As epic as the feat was, it would have made for a pretty dry read to watch a guy run for 300 miles. So I turned it into a giant chase scene. Now we have Pheidippides chased by a Masai warrior, who is honor-bound to his Persian captors to hunt down the messenger and bring back the Greek's head in exchange for his freedom. Pheidippides' journey is as spiritually as it is physically taxing, and in the end we get a much more inspiring reason for why he ran until his heart burst.

No artist credit here as a matter of courtesy. As talented as she was, she didn't have a knack for honoring commitments, and ghosted me without finishing the necessary number of pages to create a submission package.




PAGE ONE (four panels)

Panel 1.  Day, a flowered plain in ancient Greece.  Pheidippides, age 5, runs through the field racing other children.  Pheidippides is running ahead of a group of others chasing him. 

Pheidippides (CAP): 
Ever since I can remember, I've been running.

Panel 2.  Keeping with our beautiful spring day.  View of Pheidippides, age 5, runs across a makeshift finish line along a path.  He looks magnificently triumphant, like he's just taken the gold medal.  There's a crude line of white rocks marking it off.  It looks to have been constructed by children.

P (CAP): 
I loved to race the other children--

Panel 3.  Change the view of Pheidippides, age 5, crossing the finish line such that we can see the area around him.  The other kids are way behind him.

P (CAP):
At first, I loved the thrill of winning. 

Panel 4.  Pheidippides, age 5, turns and watches the other boys cross the line as he gloats.  Two Athenian warriors watch in the background, discussing the boy's prowess.

P (CAP): 
I got everywhere I wanted by running.





PAGE TWO (five panels)
Panel 1.  Day, a small coliseum in Athens.  Pheidippides, age 12, runs in a race against boys older than him.  More Athenian warriors examine Pheidippides and discuss his skill.  A few of them admire him.
P (CAP):
It was easy. 
Panel 2.  Pheidippides crosses the finish line first against the older boys.  A few collapse as they cross the line behind him.  They're totally gassed. 
P (CAP):
Too easy.
P (CAP):
But I kept running.
Panel 3.  Pheidippides, age 19, stands on top of a podium higher than the second and third place winners of a race.  They're in the center of a giant coliseum, and the place is packed. 
P (CAP):
I got everything I wanted by running.
P (CAP):
Fame.  Riches.
Panel 4.  Pheidippides, age 19, gets a laurel crown placed on his head by a beautiful Athenian woman.  Another beautiful woman holds a wine flask up to him, which he's taking. 
P (CAP):
Accolades.

 
Panel 5.  Pheidippides, age 19, beds one of the podium girls. 
P (CAP):
Adoration.




PAGE THREE 
Panel 1.  Pheidippides, age 23, lines up at the starting line for another race.  Beside him are two Spartans.  One of the Spartans is Dienekes.  The Spartans look different from the Athenians; they have darker tans, they're stockier, their muscles are a bit more knotted and their skin more leathery in the face.  They have scars on their backs from the beatings they endure at the agoge.  These guys are badass mountain men billy-goat warriors, not the playgirl poster boys from '300'.  One of the Spartans is removing his red cloak, just to ensure it's obvious what he is.  As Pheidippides prepares to run, he looks disapprovingly at the Spartans like "you've got to be joking me if you think you chumps can keep up."
P (CAP):
Everything but the thrill of winning.
P (CAP):
The Olympics. The greatest contest in the world.
Panel 2.  Focus on the Spartans preparing to run.  Show the crowd and the architecture in the background, but focus on the anatomy.
P (CAP):
The Spartans send soldiers.
P (CAP):
Knotted.  Scarred.  Worn. 


PAGE SIX (four panels)
Panel 1.  The plains of the Kenyan grasslands.  Day, a Masai village.  The African, age 2, takes his first steps as his mother holds his hands up.  He's trying to run.  She smiles at him.  In the background, his father, a Masai warrior, leans on his spear and laughs at his son's attempt to sprint.
AFRICAN (CAP):
Since my first step, I've been a runner.
Panel 2.  The African, age 8, runs through the tall grass after a rabbit.  He's carrying a spear.
AFRICAN (CAP):
Since I could lift a spear, I've been a warrior.
Panel 3.  The grasslands of Africa, night, a full or bright crescent moon (your choice according to how it looks).  The African, age 28, stalks quietly along the tall grass.  He's on the hunt, and he has the look of both predator and prey.  We can see he's careful in his movements, but his steely resolve shows in his eyes. 
AFRICAN (CAP):
But I was born a hunter. 


PAGE SEVEN (four panels)
Panel 1.  A lion slinks through the grass.  It is fearsome and should appear a lustrous gold in the moonlight.

AFRICAN (CAP):
We stalked each other for days without food or sleep. 
AFRICAN (CAP):
But we Masai believe a hunter is only as worthy as his prey.
Panel 2.  The African begins to run, spear high in the air.
AFRICAN (CAP):
Did the lion find me, or did I find it? 
A (CAP):
Is there even a way to know?
Panel 3.  The lion dashes forward.  This is it, the culminating moment of their hunt.
A (CAP):
Magnificent in its golden skin and flaming mane.  I admired it.
A (CAP):
Indiscriminate in its power and fury.  I feared it.


PAGE NINE (four panels)
Panel 1.  The African stands with his bloody spear over the corpse of the fallen lion in the pre-dawn light.  He's tying a newly-made necklace around his neck.  It has the lion's claws on it.
A (CAP): 
Forward unto his teeth. 
A (CAP):
And he as well, unto my spear. 
Panel 2.  The African picks up the lion's corpse and hefts it up on one shoulder.  We've got just a twinge of sunrise on the horizon.  The lion's mane should look like a Spartan's cloak blowing in the wind.
A (CAP):
We could have parted ways. Another man, another beast might have. 
A (CAP):
But we were hunters. And the price of beginning a hunt is to finish it.
Panel 3.  The African carries the lion across his shoulders along the plain in the early hours of morning.  He's suddenly shocked by what he sees in front of him, and we see a shadow moving across the plains and over his face.
A (CAP):
From the moment I watched him pay that price at the end of my spear, I knew--
Panel 4.  The African's village burns.  Clouds rise up through the early dawn sky.


PAGE TEN (four panels)

Panel 1.  From behind, we see the lion's corpse drop to the ground as the African dashes forward toward his village.

A (CAP):
I will always go forward. 

Panel 2.  The African charges forward with his spear and shield past burning huts and dead cattle. 

A (CAP):
Everything I held dear fell apart.  I went forward.

Panel 3.  The African charges into the heart of his village.  A few warriors lay strewn about the ground with arrows in them.  A woman takes an arrow in the back as he goes past. 

A (CAP):
Everyone I loved died.  I went forward.

Panel 4.  The African comes right at us, spear and shield high.  Carnage surrounds him. 

A (CAP):
There was nothing left to fight for, and I went forward.

A (CAP):
If they were to kill me, they would face me to do it.