Archived entries for WIP

2 weeks in a row. Still rusty, but producing again is good.

Up at The Great and Secret Thing.

“I know. But that’s why you have to.” He holds her hand and brings her along side of him. David looks her in the eyes for a moment before speaking. “You need to know the value of a thing if you’re going to take it away from some one. Or rather, in this case, three some ones.”

A few years ago I started writing something called THE PINEAPPLE PRIMARY. It was going to be a one and done graphic novella about the most violent election in United States history. There was an artist lined up, my research was done, and I was making great progress. I sent the first 18 pages off to the artist and wrapped up the rest of the book in a week.

It was about this time the artist disappeared into some kind of alternate dimension I’m going to call “New York Theatre”. I think I’ve mentioned my trouble keeping artists. They mainly get eaten by wild boars and I have to shelve whatever project I was working on. *cough* *cough*

But, I guess the stars weren’t right because a dying hard drive took the first complete draft along with it. The sad part is I didn’t even realize it for close to 6 months because I didn’t think about the project. Then, for whatever reason, I went looking for it and realized that it was literally the only thing I didn’t have backed up. Luckily, I had the first 18 pages I’d sent out, plus my script notes for the whole thing, which were essentially all of the words, but without the paneling. I shrugged, left it there and figured that if I ever needed it, I could come back and rewrite it.

Well, that moment of need came around about two weeks ago. I was talking to an artist friend of mine, asked him if he wanted to draw something, he said sure, and I said I’ll send you a script on Tuesday. The girlfriend went with some friends down to NOLA, and I went to work (re)finishing THE PINEAPPLE PRIMARY.

At this point, the script is in what I’m referring to as a “production draft” state. I haven’t gone through with a fine toothed comb and picked out all the typos and confused grammatical bits. I haven’t even gone through and checked my pages to see which is a facing page and which isn’t. The bottom line is that I’ve got something that is good enough for the artist to start working from, but not the finished product.

Here’s where you come in, Internet. A common intermediary step in writing is the workshop. I give something to you, you tell me what you thought of it. The more feedback I get, the better I can edit.

And there’s absolutely no one I trust more than the fervid, raving mass that is the Internet superconsciousness. Which really says a lot about me, doesn’t it?

So, here is the production draft of THE PINEAPPLE PRIMARY, in .rtf form.

Read it, and let me know what you think. You can post your thoughts in the comments, or you can email me at brainreleasevalve [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thanks in advance to anyone who reads it.

You have no idea how good it feels to be back in the saddle.

David turns around to look at Mary. Her eyes are on the far shore of the river – the Magictown docks. She’d changed out of her overalls and tank top, and washed up a bit before they left. Now she wore a leather vest, matching boots, a loose linen blouse and a pair of patched jeans. With the grime gone, and in the first light of morning, David can see bits of the girl he once loved.


The boat banks hard, and the engine cuts out, David has to work to keep from falling out of the boat all together. Before he’s even fully settled, she’s on him. Her hand stops barely an inch from his face. The heat rolls off of it, evaporating the water in David’s eyes, forcing him to blink repeatedly. She curls her outstretched fingers toward his face and he can feel his skin tighten, tanning like leather from the heat.

Oh, lover’s spat. New chapters will be on The Great and Secret Thing, like always. Ok, not always, but now that I’m done moving and have finally settled back in, they should be regular again.

It is Monday, and we’ve got a new chapter of MAGICTOWN over at The Great and Secret Thing.

The sun was languishing in the sky. The strong yellow light was fading into orange and red. Shadows grew longer as the sun’s angle grew sharper. Daylight was fading from the world, as inside a building in Magictown David Candlemass slopped a mop, cleaning up his sick in the back of the bar.

So, I never liked Wonder Woman.

She’s a feminist icon created by an S&M pervert draped in the American flag who flies an invisible jet. There’s not a whole lot to like in that, because none of it has shit to do with who she’s supposed to be. Her back story is that she’s an Amazon queen sent out in the world as an ambassador to solve the problems in a world of men. Which, in and of itself is solid, but it got all mucked up with they started layering on the weird patriotic crap and the overt sexual domination.

Until just recently she’s been written exclusively by men. Which adds another layer of mind-fuck to the character. The corner stone of female comic characters has been written entirely by men who, somewhere in their brain, wanted to diddle her. But, in their defense, they have managed to push her away from the stars-and-stripes corset and panties into a more “believable” armored skirt and bustiere. On the whole, Wonder Woman has had great notes, but has never really had her own, unforgettable song.

A momentary aside here, but, did I mention she can fly? Like, fly without the need of an invisible jet? But, no, she decides to get inside an invisible jet that doesn’t make her invisible. She might as well be flying around on some invisible shitter. We’d never know the difference.


I think about DC’s characters a lot, trying to figure out why exactly I don’t like them. Most of my reasoning revolves around the fact that they are so perfectly iconic, but unable to exist within a shared space. DC’s characters are paragons, and a team full of paragons is just boring. Superman? Pretty much a god. Wonder Woman? Same thing. Green Lantern? Yup. The Flash? Ah, yeah. Martian Manhunter? Even more than Superman. The only one that isn’t a god is Batman, and DC’s done a pretty good job of getting people to believe that Batman could take any and all of them down if he wanted to.

It may seem like a nerd argument of who could beat up who, but compare a team like the Justice League, who’s roster I just listed, to a team like the X-Men. Marvel’s teams, across the board, are much less powerful and much more flawed. Hell, the only thing the X-Men are paragons of is being fucked up and socially isolated. Well, and having the most bizarrely complicated sexual history of any group of characters this side of an Aaron Spelling TV show.


The point is that I try to find ways to work with DC characters that make them human and flawed, less iconic and godlike.

Kneel Before Zod was my attempt at doing this to Superman, and I think this is what I’d do to Wonder Woman.

So, first thing you’d have to do is toss out the visual you have when you think of Wonder Woman. No longer would she be the pretty lady wearing stars and stripes underwear with the gigantic breasts.

My Wonder Woman would be a real Amazon. Muscular, scarred, dirty. Her hair would be caked with mud and matted into dreadlocks. Her right breast would be entirely gone. In its place, a huge, ugly cauterized scar. The left breast would still be there, but it would be strapped down with leather bands and bronze armor. Her remaining breast would be a utility organ, for the feeding of a child, not an object of fantasy or pleasure.

The scar would be a sign of pride for her. For her people, becoming a warrior is something they choose to do after puberty has had its way with their body. They would stand in front of a fire, pull out their sword and lop off their right breast. The breast would go into the fire along with the sword. When hot enough, the sword would be removed and the wound would be cauterized with the red-hot metal. From that point on, the scar would never be covered. It was a sign to the rest of the world that this woman had mutilated her own body in order to be able to kill you easier. This is not something that would be done lightly, and certainly not without intent. If one of her people went through this, then they would become a killer.

She would carry a short gladius sword, a bronze-headed spear and a wooden recurve bow. No silly golden lasso of truth. If she wants the truth out of you, she’ll just torture you. No bullet blocking wrist guards. Her skin is magically as hard as diamond, why would she worry about bullets? No patent leather boots, a huntress always moves silently in her bare feet.

Starting to see where I’m going here?

The book would open on a dark night near the waterfront. The Flash would be doing his normal patrol and she would slip out of the water. He’d stop to confront her, and in the standard Flash moment, he’d end up saying something sexist. And, well, she’s break him. Not just a little bit either. We’re talking about a woman who’s as strong as Superman beating on a guy who’s just a normal guy if you can catch him standing still.

The costumed heroes get all up in arms over this, and they go looking for her, thinking she’s some new villain come to town.

Superman is the one that finds her, or rather, she’s the one that finds him. In the few days between her attacking the Flash and their meeting, she’s been learning about this strange new world. She sees Superman as this world’s greatest warrior, and therefor worthy of her. Her method of expression in this case just happens to be tackling him out of the air while he’s on patrol, pinning him to the ground, and attempting to rip off his costume. They struggle, and eventually he gets out from under her and explains that he’s flattered, but involved with some one else. Our Wonder Woman, in her normal tactful way, demands to know where this woman is so she can challenge her for possession of him. Eventually, Superman tries to bring her in, and she knocks him out by bringing the butt of her sword down on the back of his head. When he comes to, she’s gone and he gives us a little bit about how he’s vulnerable to magic.

Later that day, back at the Daily Planet, Lois and Clark are talking at their desk about this new crazy woman in town. Which is convenient, because she swings in through the window and challenges Lois to ownership of Clark. The moment hangs in the air as the surprise dances between them. Wonder Woman realizes Lois isn’t a warrior at all. In fact, Wonder Woman goes into explicit detail about how a warrior like Superman could stoop so low to be with such a fragile thing that frets about the shape of her udders, wears perfume and couldn’t even give him a proper fuck without dying. Superman’s surprised because no one’s ever figured out his secret identity. Lois is surprised because a feral one-titted woman just crashed through a window and threatened to kill her. I really plan on playing up her perky girl reporter personality in this bit. Disgusted with Superman and his choice in women, Wonder Woman leaves just as suddenly as she arrived. Superman can’t follow because of the whole Clark Kent thing.

That night, Batman finds Wonder Woman sulking in a rooftop. He actually manages to get the drop on her, but he’s no physical match for the Amazon. She’s learned about him, too. He’s a hunter like her, canny and dangerous. The two start to talk, and he asks her why she’s here. She reveals that people came to Themyscira – Paradise Island as the rest of the world knows it – and took something very important to her people. She’s tracked it here, but the trail’s gone cold and this world is full of distractions.

Batman presses on, and finds out that Paradise Island isn’t paradise at all, the Amazons spread that lie to trick sailors into crashing on the reefs. The Amazons would capture the men and use them as slaves or prey to sharpen their skills. Sometimes, a Great Hunt would happen when one of the men was possessed by a demon boar, a spirit of consumption and gluttony. By slaying the monster, the Amazons would ensure continued favor with the Gods. But the world has changed. Ships are made of steel instead of wood, and it has been decades since there was a Great Hunt. Wonder Woman’s people, while nearly immortal, are slowly dwindling in number. One day, a great metal ship appeared and men came ashore on small boats. They had strange equipment, and took samples of the soil and plants. One of the landing party fell ill, something foreign to the men from the boats, but known to the Amazons. The demon had chosen him, the Great Hunt was on. But, before they could take him, the men retreated to the boats and fled the island. As queen, it is her responsibility to ensure the Great Hunt is successful, so she swam across the ocean, following the ship until it stopped here.

Batman agrees to help her find the demon and finish the Great Hunt. She thanks him, and tells him that she would couple with him, but she would shatter his mortal body in the throws of passion. But, she’ll let him be her chief eunuch.

From here, I don’t know exactly where I want to go with it.

I know that it’ll end up being a throw down between the demon and Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman. The demon will have spread out into the world, and will have infected every man in America. Small bits will hint at this along the way. Things like Congress passing the largest spending bill in history, the Flash getting addicted to pain killers from the beating Wonder Woman gave him, and the Green Lantern getting fat from eating too much junk food. (Yeah, I never really liked Hal Jordan. Sue me.)

Batman and Superman are immune to it because they are beyond physical desire.

Superman has Lois, and is honestly completely and totally happy with her. He doesn’t want for anything else. Which Wonder Woman will continually mock him for.

Batman has his mission. Wonder Woman will point out that while Bruce Wayne goes home every night with a different woman, she doesn’t smell a hint of a woman’s musk on him. That’s all a show to keep up appearances. She wonders openly if he’s ever been with a woman, and then reiterates how good of a eunuch he’ll be.

The final symbolism I want to convey is that of the balance that comes from the hunt. Herds must be thinned to sustain the land. Bones of prey must pass into the soil to make nutrients. If the demon doesn’t die, then it will burn through all the resources in the world in a matter of weeks. Balance must be restored, the hunter must hunt.

Oh, God. 1900 words of me rambling about a crazy, blood-thirsty woman with one breast. Four pages of me doing terrible things to Wonder Woman to try and make her an interesting character to me. You are a saint, a drunkard or both if you’ve held on this long.

But, I’ll leave you with one last bit, I want a scene where some kind of monster or villain is rampaging through the city. The heroes seem unable to stop it because they won’t do anything that might kill the bad guy. Wonder Woman is watching this from a few blocks away, gets bored, strings her bow, notches an arrow, and draws a bead on the target. She lets the arrow fly, it goes through four or five buildings like a cruise missile before cutting through the bad guy’s neck and showering the heroes in blood. They’re aghast and what’s just happened. She shrugs and moves on.

They are never going to let me do this even if I sell ten million books a month.

Since I’m going to be serializing MAGICTOWN for The Great and Secret Thing, I figured that I’d toss out a few of my ideas over here to see what resonates and what falls flat. Today’s study? The Sisters of Perpetual Motion.

I’ve been slowly nudging MAGICTOWN into the surrealist realm. It sort of comes as an unintentional side effect of trying to figure out why the hell stuff still works 40-50 years after the whole town slipped out of reality. How do people feed themselves? How do people heat their homes and light their streets? What happens when things break down? So on and so forth…

I’m still working on the first question, but I think I’ve solved the last two pretty well. The town is post WW2, and the Company had a strong manufacturing arm, so when all the men went off to war, the woman ran the workshops. But, unlike other companies, this one encouraged the women to stay on after the men came home. They became the bulk of the Company’s manufacturing force, both abroad and in Magictown.

When the town shifted, it was the women who were left with the technical know-how to make new things and repair what broke down. They were charged with the upkeep of the massive generator that pumps out electricity to the town, a generator that will seemingly never run out of power, even though there hasn’t been a drop of gas in her tanks for decades. That generator powers everything in the city, including the electric cars that the Company included with every home.

Over the years, their loose affiliation was codified into a sisterhood. Their knowledge is power, and it must be guarded and passed down. The women that started as a union for welders, mechanics, and steamfitters have become a society that is one part pseudo-religion, and one part technical manual. They call themselves the Sisterhood of Perpetual Motion, and they lead by the enigmatic Mother of Perpetual Motion.

They don’t have any de jure power, at least not according to the town charter, but they are one of the major de facto players in Magictown. They abhor magic and the practitioners of it, they refuse to acknowledge that magic powers their generator, instead declaring it a miracle from God. Those who seek their services must come as supplicants and over a tithe to the Sisterhood. By withholding their skills from the neighborhoods of Magictown, but actively working to maintain the neighborhoods of Normaltown, the Sisterhood has further divided the two communities. If the Sisterhood has its way, Magictown well become little more than a burnt-out ghetto where people with magical abilities are tossed to keep them away from the good people of Normaltown.

Rough notes for another thing that I’ll never get back around to.

Meet Secundus Dark and Charles Atlas Gideon, the last of the Eschaton Detectives. They are like Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, if Holmes was a black magician, Watson was a professional killer and their cases all revolved around combating a world-wide conspiracy dedicated to the raising Lovecraftian Elder Gods.

America, Saint Louis. 1904. Summer.

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition is going on, along with the 1904 Summer Olympics. It is hot and sticky, as summers are in Saint Louis.

A man in a black suit sits on a park bench, reading a newspaper, a black cane with a silver topper leans against the bench. His bowler hat sits next to him. His long legs, extending out from his equally long and thin body, are crossed, ankle to knee, as he reads. His hair is long for the fashion of the day, and brushed straight back from his face. A shock of white runs through his left eye brown and up into his hair. His face is creased with lines of age and the signs of a hard life. A pair of small wire-framed glasses sit on his nose, an apparently new addition to his wardrobe, as seen by his occasional squinting at the newspaper.  A hand rolled cigarette is held loosely in his lips, burning away, unpuffed.

He finishes with the paper, places it in his lap.

He finishes the cigarette in one inhale, flicking the butt into a group of pigeons, who were fighting over a bit of food left on the ground.

“Bastards,” he mutters under his breath, smoke flowing out from his lips.

A giant wall of a man, wear a dark brown suit and a shaggy beard walks up to the bench. In each hands he holds a bit of ice cream placed on top of a bit of fried pastry. He offers one to the man on the bench.

“What’s that?”

“Not sure. I bought it from a Syrian down the way. He called it an “ice cream cone”.

The man on the bench eyes it warily, for a moment then takes it from his friend and stands up.

“We can’t go home, anymore, Gideon.”

“The war? Has it gotten that bad?,” the large man says.

The man in the dark suit folds the paper back to a specific page and hands it to Gideon. “Read.” He collects his things and starts to walk away.

Gideon looks down at the page, scanning it for a moment before the small article in the bottom corner catches his attention:


He continues reading as the two walk.

“The Lefortovo district…Secundus you don’t think-”

“Yes. Keep reading.”

Gideon turns his attention back down the page, whispering the words as he tries to keep pace with his smaller friend.

He stops walking, his massive frame coming to a jarring stop.

The man in black stops and turns back toward his friend.

Before Gideon can finish reading, Secundus cuts in.

“Tornados in Moscow. The first in the history of a 750 year old city. Two of them. They converge in the district where you and I were raised. Where the Library is. Where Petrov and Lucca and Katarina and Sebastian and the rest are. The place that has always been our refuge, our home.”

“You still don’t know for sure-”

“When the tornados met, there was a light inside of them. A storm with a light. What does that remind you of, Gideon?”

Gideon drops the paper in his hands to his side and his face tightens. “The Solomon Islands.”

“Yes. The storms with the light inside of them. We were together when we found what was under those storms. You held on to me for three days while we floated with that wreckage after they destroyed the boat. We both know that no one survives at the heart of one, let alone two of those of those tempests. Home, all of it, is gone.”

Secundus looks down at the desert melting in his hands. He winces at some old, fleeting memory.

“They’ll be coming for us next, old friend. This move was too grand, too public for them to leave any lose ends. We’re going west. This country is still loose enough the middle that we should be able to hide long enough to figure out the next step.

We’re all that’s left between them and the rest of the world now. They’ve taken everything we’ve ever held dear from us, and I won’t let that go unpunished.

You know me better than anyone else. I’ve always given a damn about the mission. It was the mystery that I went in for. That’s changed now. I still don’t care about the mission. I just want to see these bastards suffer for what they’ve done.”

Gideon, still holding the newspaper in one hand, slowly begins to ball it up. He looks his friend in the eyes and says, “Petrov always said that revenge freezes the heart faster than a Russian winter.”

“Then when finally I go home to find the graves of our family in some pauper’s field, I guess I won’t be needing my coat.”

Secundus drops the melted ice cream cone into a trash bin and walks away.

I’ve had an idea rolling around my head for a few weeks now, and I thought I’d take a few minutes and get some stuff down here.

The crux of the concept is tattoo magic. Patterns etched into the flesh of the wearer with specially created inks. The patterns look like the bastard child of blue prints, alchemical diagrams, chaos magic sigils and the notebook ramblings of a diseased mind. They are made to flow aesthetically around the parts of the body they adorn; they are the world’s most powerful body decoration.

The patterns are skeleton keys into the fabric of the universe. They aren’t magic, but rather science so far removed that one cannot see it as anything but magic. Patterns can do anything, make you fly, shoot fire from your hand, transport you to a far off place, anything the creator has the time to think up and the resources and skill to tattoo. When activated, patterns look like 3-D extrusions of the tattoo, pushing outward from the person’s body. Depending on the pattern, parts can be adjusted, like dials on an amplifier, to get the desired effect. The patterns don’t last forever, they are used up as their power is expended, with their mark fading from the body. Some patterns are meant to be temporary, some last longer, but none are permanent.

Patterens, as they call themselves, spend their lives exploring the world, looking for new materials to mix in their inks and new clues about how to shape their patterns. In most cases, a new patterner is taught by an experienced master. Once the basics are understood, the journeyman is sent out to find their own way in the world.

There are few rules to govern the lose-knit fabric of Patterner society, but the universal one is to keep what they do and what they are secret. Good inks are too hard to come by, and the danger from the world having the same power they do is unthinkable. So theirs is a secret life, hidden away from the world.

The story takes place in a world like ours, but a little in the future with a few minor twists on reality. The main character is an urban courier, a Parkour runner. He is sent on a simple assignment – deliver a small box to a client in a upscale part of town. He arrives just in time to see the client killed in a way that defies everything the character knows. He is spotted by the assassins, and is now on the run. In the package he finds a worn leather note book, traditional tattooing needles and a collection of inks – a patterner’s kit.

His old life is now gone, and he’s swept up in this new world where he doesn’t know who he can trust or where he can turn. But he isn’t totally defenseless, though. Where the Patterners are masters of esoteric arts, the main character is a master of physical ones. He will be hard to track and harder to capture. And God help them all if he ever realizes the true power of what’s in that package.

Just rough story notes, but something I’m going to try to come back to later. If I can ever get done with what I’m currently working on.

Cicero, Illinois. September 20th, 1926. Lunchtime.

The Hawthorne Hotel was Capone’s original stronghold in Cicero, a town just outside of Chicago proper. He had carved out Cicero as his own corner of the world when he moved from New York to Chicago in the early 1920s. This was his safe place, no one would dare touch him here.

But Capone underestimated the bloodlust of his rival Earl “Hymie” Weiss, the man who’s boss and beloved friend Capone had ordered killed two years earlier. Weiss and Capone were a new kind of gangster. Their former mentors were men who believed in negotiation and that blood was bad for business. The new generation was violent, vengeful and braggadocios. And Weiss was about to explain to Capone exactly what it that meant.

The people in the Hawthorne Hotel heard it before they saw it. People in Chicago had grown recognize to that rapid staccato rhythm. In the distance it sounded like the click-clack of a giant typewriter. The restaurant grew quiet as the noise grew louder. Then the dark sedan slid into view, a Thompson machine gun sticking out through the parted curtains.

The patrons dove for cover. The gangsters went for their guns. Capone’s bodyguard, sensing that something wasn’t right, pushed Scarface to the ground and wouldn’t let him up. He probably saved Capone’s life right then.

The first car was just a distraction. There wasn’t a single real bullet in that clip, every round was a blank. It was a trap to draw out Capone’s gunmen. To make them easy targets for the next wave.

A caravan of 10 cars rolled down the street as the lead car sped off. 10 dark sedans rolling down 22nd Avenue in the middle of the day. 10 dark sedans with 5 gunmen in each car. Each gunman holding a Thompson Gun with a 100 round clip. Over the next 10 minutes all 5000 of those bullets would smash into the lobby of the Hawthorne Hotel, in what is still unmatched as the most violent gang skirmish in US history.

Weiss’ attack ended with a triple blast of the horn from the lead car. The police were on their way, but it didn’t matter. These men were untouchable by the local police. The caravan lined back up, and calmly drove back inside the Chicago city limits.

Inside the decimated hotel, the dust began to settle. Not one of those 5000 bullets found a fatal home. There were a few close calls, but no one was dead or even severely injured. Capone himself was enraged, but unhurt. The attack had been for nothing.

All of this happened, not even 100 years ago.

In the third largest city in the country.

And no one was ever arrested or brought to trial.

This is America. This is the Pineapple Primary.


William H McSwiggin

By Christian Schmitt

 Ben is out of town, and I’ve stolen his sketchbook. Here are some preliminary drawings from Cloudburst.

On Aerite Wings - Cloudburst

On Aerite Wings - Cloudburst

The first line from the comic series Derek and I are working on. There’s more done, but I’m just gonna tease you.

Night Shift - Teaser

Click for big.

Ben and Matt will probably hate me for doing this, but I’m doing it anyway.

We got together this weekend and in less than 4 hours went from nothing to this song. We recorded it, albeit poorly, and now I’m subjecting you to it.

The Syphilitic Woods

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(I’m a little unnerved that in less than a week I’ve be involved with two different creative exercises that have used the word “syphilitic”)

A selection from the first script I’ve written for the project that Derek and I are working on. The vampire thing I was talking about here.

The first script is called THE SYPHILITIC, in which a man returns home from the War, only to get drunk a bar and fall victim to a vampire. He then proceeds to use his powers to take advantage of the girl who spurned his advances. The format is 3 panels per line, 7 lines per page, with the narration being done in voice-over style supers.

Panel 13
Interior of Betsy’s bedroom. She’s in her night gown, brushing her hair. Behind her, draped in darkness, the MAN stands. Only his red eyes and red, blood covered teeth are visible. But all of this is hidden to Betsy, she is staring into the mirror.

I went for Betsy.

Panel 14
The MAN, enjoying his kill. His eyes are closed, but Betsy’s eyes are wide, and her mouth wide open. A scream is stuck in her throat.

Panel 15
Continuation of the above action. The MAN’s eyes pop open, twitching at the bad taste. Betsy’s eyes are rolling back in her head, her mouth sliding shut. The MAN just now realizes that something has gone horribly wrong.

And that’s how I got syphilis.

On Aerite Wings Reference shot

Reference image for On Aerite Wings taken from this Flickr photogallery by Kat Bret.

The Ballad of Serenity, the opening credits to the show Firefly. I’m posting this as research material for the Yazoo Shakes, since they are doing the theme song for On Aerite Wings.

Not that I ever avowed it in the first place, but, from here on out, On Aerite Wings is to be considered a work of gas light adventure.


Sally eventually finds herself working with a government agency that’s responsible for keeping control over all the black book projects that didn’t quite work out the way they expected. The idea is sort of a riff on modern superheroes, taking their origins stories and then tweaking their results.

The best example I have right now is the geneticist who makes a genetic growth cocktail. The idea behind his experiments was that he could make a supplement that soldiers could take to become stronger and faster – basically you pop a pill before you go to bed, wake up and it’s like you’ve done a six month stint at boot camp. Of course, something goes wrong and he ends up getting exposed to his work. And he starts growing. He becomes gigantic within a few months and has to be hidden from the public. He becomes the responsibility of this agency. They can’t kill him because he’s still one of the most brilliant geneticists in the world, but they can’t let him go walking down Fifth Avenue, either.

“And then you’ve got Carl. He’s turned himself into a giant – literally. The military can’t do anything with that. What good is an army of giant men going to do them? He eats like a herd of elephants, he’s a giant walking target, and they don’t make guns big enough for him to hold. As impressive as Carl’s results were, they just weren’t…economical. It took me three years of requisition requests to convince the brass to build a touch screen big enough for the guy to work on.”

There are a dozen more stories like this. And they are where I’ll draw out the super-hero style conflicts for Sally.

And, I’m leaning toward calling the agency The Holding

Ever have an idea that you think up offhandedly, probably while drunk, that won’t dislodge itself from your head?

Well, that’s The Curio for me.

It’s a story of a college kid who inherits this building. But it’s wrong, you see. The building is wrong. The inside is way too big to fit in that squat gray building. There’s a ballroom, a whole library and the dozens of bedrooms. It probably doesn’t help that the building was willed to the kid by crazy uncle Franz, who no one had seen in years, and no one could ever remember having the financial where with all to own any sort of property, let alone a freestanding building in a fashionable college part of town.

You see it turns out that mad old Uncle Franz wasn’t so crazy after all. He was an Esoteric. A member of the Community of Esoteric Scientists. Or in layman’s terms – he was a mage. A practitioner of the arts and sciences that the rest of the world chose to forget about. And the Curio was his responsibility to the Community. One that he chose to shirk. And with his death, the Curio has passed on to his chosen heir, our college kid. To the Esoterics, the Curio is place of sanctuary. Here they can gather safely, research their experiments, restock their supplies and rest their heads after a long journey.

So now the main character has had all sorts of bizarre responsibility thrust upon him, in addition to his student work and other relationships. He finds himself straddling two worlds, and the only people who know what’s going on are his girlfriend and football player best friend. Both of whom came with him that first night he visited the Curio.

The thing is a story-based serial with no real ending. The only plot points I have are the football player best friend accidentally opening up a living grimoire and inadvertently becoming a genius because of it. And the slow revelation that the all the Esoterics coming to the Curio are fleeing from something, something none of them will openly talk about. And maybe that mad old Uncle Franz isn’t dead, and that the Community just declared it so they could pass the Curio on to some one who could keep it open. And the eventual conflict when Franz shows back up claiming rights to what is his.

I’ve got a couple thousand words kicking around in a Word document right now that I want to distill into a very tight pitch that I can pass out to an interested artist, but holy crap. The set up is just so big.

And I didn’t even get to the Man in White. Or the dragon roost on the roof. Or why the basement is locked. Or what they are all running from.

And yes, it’s meant to be a comic book.

The end to the first issue of Sally Mass. We find Sally attempting to escape from the armed men who have stormed the research facilities by fleeing deeper into the giant research devices. Ultimately leading her into one of the collider tunnels just as her experiment is reaching its climax.

Sally Mass
Issue #1

Page 21

Panel 1
Sally leaps across the main path of the collider. The shot finds her in mid air, one leg stretched forward, the other back. Her arms extended to help her momentum. This is a jump she knows she has to make, she just doesn’t know if she’s going to make it. The camera is looking up at her, suspended perfectly in the air. This panel is 2/3rds of the page.

Panel 2
From down the collider tunnel we see blue-white light issuing out from the darkness – Sally’s experiment is still going on, and its racing toward her. And she’s about to become part of it. This panel and the next one occupy the remaining third of the page, splitting the space side by side.

Panel 3
Close up on Sally’s face. Her eyes are wide, she knows what’s coming down that tunnel for her.

Page 22

Panel 1
Camera dead on Sally as the experiment hits her. Blue-white light explodes all around her, black lighting her from the camera. The shock from the energy wave has knocked her arms and leg wide. All her limbs are extended in a human X. This panel really needs to crackle with the electricity and energy that is coursing over Sally. Really work up the detail in the crazy energy currents that a rippling through the chamber. Think about the energy as being perfectly contained in a tiny little bubble, and then once it hits Sally, a thousand years of lightning break free. This panel should be the top half of the page.

There’s something you learn when you work with probability.


Panel 2
Close up on Sally’s from the shoulders up. Her mouth is wide, as if she is screaming, but there is no sound coming from her mouth. Blood is coming from the corner of her eyes, out of her ears and from her nose. Not in a gory way, just in a way to show that some of her blood vessels are bursting under this tremendous stress. The blue-white light is creeping into Sally, changing her. This should be most visible around her eyes and with her skin color. This panel should be the next quarter of the page down.

You learn that the results are often quite…


Panel 3
Blue-white out. The energy has blinded the camera. This panel is the last quarter of the page.


Super 2
To Be Continued…

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