Comic script: Where There Be Thieves

This is a script I finished a few weeks back. It’s a first draft, so please ignore spelling or grammar issues (if there are any – I think it sorted them all out). It’s called ‘Where There Be Thieves’ and is a superhero/horror comic. It is the first eight pages, plus the cover page. I really enjoyed writing, especially the names of the bad guys. They were a hell of a lot of fun to come up with.

This post is going to be a lengthy. The formatting doesn’t look exactly like it does in Word, but it is pretty close.

WHERE THERE BE THIEVES

By Travis STUNT

Eight page crime/horror comic script.

Date of last revision: 5th January 2015

CHARACTER NOTES:

PAPA FREAK:                     Overall leader of the gang. He is huge, violent looking thug of a man, who                                                                               has been in a thousand fights and won them all. There are knives all around him – in the                                                       chair/throne he is sitting on, in his belt, jacket, everywhere.

BIG KILLA:                           Big, mean motherfucker. Leader of the crime group (which includes the                                                                                   next three).

SHEISTY and

RAGGITY WORM:             Generic thugs. Still look pretty bad-ass though.

DIZZEE BOOTAY:               PAPA FREAK’s right hand man. Looks like a pimp. Distinctive glasses.

THE FORSAKEN:            Could be the spawn of Hell, could be a lunatic dressed up as a demonic                                                                                   creature. Go crazy. No real guidelines needed.

PATROLMAN:                    Typical patrolman.

DETECTIVE:                         Typical, cliqued detective. Grizzled.

ART NOTES:

Occasionally I’ll use camera angles, descriptions of particular shots I have envisioned. Please take these only as a guide. Use whatever works best. If my description sucks, chuck it out. I’m not sensitive like that.

PAGE ONE – SIX PANELS

PANEL ONE

Exterior – night. Three gang members are walking down a dirty alleyway, heading back to their clubhouse. They are large, tough, angry looking people. One is carrying a bag of some description. They all are carrying guns concealed under their clothing. These can be seen – gun grip popping out the top of the belt or poking out from under a shirt. They all seem pretty happy with themselves.

  1. BIG KILLA: We smoked his ass, yo!
  1. RAGGETY WORM: Ya, we did, man!
  1. SHEISTY: And got a fat bag of loot to show for it.

PANEL TWO

All three have arrived at a door leading from the alleyway into a warehouse. There is a closed viewing hole at eye level. BIG KILLA is reaching out to knock.

  1. BIG KILLA: The boss man is gunna love us.

PANEL THREE

BIG KILLA raps his knuckles on the door.

PANEL FOUR

Close up on the view hole. It has slid open. A pair of angry looking eyes are now peering through. The eyes belong to DIZZEE BOOTAY.

  1. DIZZEE BOOTAY: WHAT?!

PANEL FIVE

BIG KILLA is looking closely through the hole at DIZZEE. BIG KILLA looks extra angry.

  1. BIG KILLA: Yo! Open the damn door, you idiot! Tell Papa Freak Big Killa is here.

PANEL SIX

The door is opened and the gang members are moving inside. Above, on the roof of the warehouse, we can catch a glimpse of our anti-hero, THE FORSAKEN

PAGE TWO – THREE PANELS

 PANEL ONE

Large panel. BIG KILLA, RAGGITY WORM and SHEISTY are standing in front of a large gang member and leader of the gang, PAPA FREAK. He is huge, violent looking thug of a man, who has been in a thousand fights and won them all. There are knives all around him – in the chair/throne he is sitting on, in his belt, jacket, everywhere. DIZZEE stands next to him. If room permits, other random gang members can be seen doing gang member stuff.

  1. TITLE: WHERE THERE BE THIEVES
  1. PAPA FREAK: Big Killa, my main man. What have you got for me?
  1. BIG KILLA: Some major cashola, Papa Freak. Knocked over a gas station.

PANEL TWO

Close on PAPA FREAK. He doesn’t look impressed.

  1. PAPA FREAK: A gas station?
  1. PAPA FREAK: A little … small scale for you, isn’t it? Big Killa?
  1. BIG KILLA (OP): Well … I mean we … the cash was good –

PANEL THREE

PAPA FREAK and BIG KILLA look up as they here a crash somewhere in the warehouse.

  1. SFX: CRASH!
  1. PAPA FREAK: What the f –

PAGE THREE – FOUR PANELS

PANEL ONE

PAPA FREAK begins organising his troops to meet the potential threat. DIZZEE BOOTAY and RAGGITY WORM and heading off towards out of the room and towards the noise. Both have handguns drawn.

  1. PAPA FREAK: Dizzee Bootay, Raggity Worm – you two find out what that                                                                          noise was.
  1. DIZZEE BOOTAY: Yes Boss.

PANEL TWO

More commotion from off panel. DIZZEE and RAGGITY WORM stop at the door, hesitating.

  1. SFX (OP): BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!
  1. UNSEEN THUG (OP): ARRGGHH!

PANEL THREE

PAPA FREAK is out of his throne now. He is screaming in anger at DIZZEE BOOTAY and RAGGITY WORM.

  1. PAPA FREAK: MOVE YOU TWO USELESS PIECES OF SHIT!

PANEL FOUR

Closer on the door that DIZZEE and RAGGITY WORM are going through. They move through is guns aimed straight out in front. They look terrified.

 

PAGE FOUR – SIX PANELS

 PANEL ONE

DIZZEE and RAGGITY WORM have moved into a darkened area of the warehouse complex. It is a larger room, with packing crates and boxes stacked high. Shadows are everywhere. DIZZEE has reached out to a light switch on a nearby wall. It doesn’t work.

  1. DIZZEE BOOTAY: Shit!

PANEL TWO

Both men spin towards a noise, guns aimed.

  1. SFX: creek

PANEL THREE

Both men swing around again towards another noise. This time they open fire.

  1. SFX: BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM

PANEL FOUR

They approach the area they just shot up. There is nothing there except destroyed crates and boxes. RAGGITY WORM is standing slightly behind DIZZEE.

  1. DIZZEE BOOTAY: Nothing.

PANEL FIVE

The clawed hand of THE FORSAKEN reaches out from the darkness behind RAGGITY WORM and grabs him by the shoulder. He half turns to see what it is.

  1. RAGGITY WORM: Huh?

PANEL SIX

THE FORSAKEN yanks RAGGITY WORM out of the panel, so that his legs and feet are the only things showing.

  1. RAGGITY WORM: AAIIIEEEE!

PAGE FIVE – SIX PANELS

PANEL ONE

Back in the room with PAPA FREAK, BIG KILLA and SHEISTY. BIG KILLA is holding a small machine gun at hip height. SHEISTY has a hand gun. Both have the guns point off panel towards the noises. PAPA FREAK has several knife blades held in between his fingers, ready to launch them at the killer when he makes his appearance.

  1. BIG KILLA: What the fuck is going on out there?!
  1. PAPA FREAK: Shut the fuck up.

PANEL TWO

Something is thrown through the door and into the room. We see it bounce several times, without really being able to tell what it is (it’s DIZZEE’s head, but don’t tell anyone yet).

  1. SFX: BUMP! Bump bump

PANEL THREE

The item stops, and, sure enough, it is DIZZEE’s head. BIG KILLA and SHEISTY look terrified.

  1. SHEISTY: Oh, fuck me.
  1. SHEISTY: That’s Dizzee’s head, Killa!
  1. BIG KILLA: I can see that, Sheisty, you idiot. I seen heads before.

PANEL FOUR

Darkness. Someone has turned out the lights.

  1. BIG KILLA: Where’d the fuckin’ lights go?
  1. SHEISTY: We gunna die. We gunna die.
  1. SFX: creeek

PANEL FIVE

Gun fire lights up the room. They hit nothing, but we can see another glimpse of THE FORSAKEN. Maybe a leg this time.

  1. SFX: RATATATAT!
  1. SFX: BAM BAM BAM

PANEL SIX

Darkness again as the gun fire stops.

  1. SHEISTY: ARRGGHH!
  1. BIG KILLA: SHEISTY!

PAGE SIX – FIVE PANELS

PANEL ONE

Larger panel. PAPA FREAK has lit a flare which has bathed the room in a red glow. There are still heavy shadows all around. BIG KILLA is looking down at the corpse of SHEISTY, whose head is now backwards. SHEISTY is very dead.

  1. BIG KILLA: fuck me

PANEL TWO

Again, a noise causes a reaction. PAPA FREAK spins around, looking for something behind him. BIG KILLA continues to stare at the corpse of SHEISTY.

  1. SFX: creek
  1. PAPA FREAK: Come out and face me, coward!

PANEL THREE

Close on BIG KILLA and a clawed hand punches through his chest. BIG KILLA’s face is contorted in agony, but no sound comes out. Blood and guts spray everywhere.

PANEL FOUR

PAPA FREAK has turned to face BIG KILLA’s killer. He has blood and gore dripping from him.

  1. THE FORSAKEN (OP): I am your reckoning.

PANEL FIVE

Small inset panel. Extreme close up on PAPA FREAK’s eyes. For the first time, there are showing fear.

  1. PAPA FREAK: Oh sweet Jesus …

PAGE SEVEN – SIX PANELS

PANEL ONE

Large panel. THE FORSAKEN stands in the room, facing PAPA FREAK. PAPA FREAK is still motionless, too terrified to move.

  1. THE FORSAKEN I cast judgement on you, Papa Freak.
  1. THE FORSAKEN And that judgement …
  1. THE FORSAKEN … is DEATH!

PANEL TWO

PAPA FREAK regains his composure and starts flinging his knives at THE FORSAKEN. Multiple knives fly out, seemingly simultaneously.

  1. SFX: FFT FFT FFT

PANEL THREE

THE FORSAKEN puts his forearm in front of his face and the knives slam into it.

PANEL FOUR

Front on shot of THE FORSAKEN. He painlessly pulls a knife out of his arm.

PANEL FIVE

Close up on the chest and face of THE FORSAKEN He looks pissed.

  1. THE FORSAKEN Pathetic.

PANEL SIX

A shot from outside the warehouse, similar to the shots on Page One.

  1. PAPA FREAK: NO NO NO ARRRGGHH!

PAGE EIGHT – FOUR PANELS

 

PANEL ONE

Outside the warehouse. Same shot as panel six page seven, except the sun is coming up. And there are lots of police cars with lights flashing stopped in the area.

PANEL TWO

A grizzled detective steps out of a car. A patrolmen approaches him. The patrolmen looks stressed.

  1. PATROLMAN: Sir! You gotta come see this.

PANEL THREE

The detective is entering the door to the warehouse. The patrolman follows him in, briefing him of the situation.

  1. PATROLMAN: A bum called it in. Said he heard gunfire.
  1. PATROLMAN: I got here a short time ago. Like I said on the radio, I haven’t                                                                       touched nothing.

PANEL FOUR

PAPA FREAK’s throne room. PAPA FREAK has been nailed to the wall with his own knives. He has been gutted, or similar. Whatever you want, really. He needs to look like someone has really done a number on him. On the wall behind him, in blood, has been painted the words ‘THE SINNERS WILL BE PUNISHED’. The detective looks shocked. In all his experience, he has never seen anything like this.

  1. DETECTIVE: Dear god…
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Shafted

Here’s my latest completed work. It was pretty fun to write, but I don’t think it is suitable for submission.

It is a good example of the script formatting I use. I feel it breaks up the pages and panels nicely, and the bolding of the PAGE and Panel titles really assists this. Generally, I am not too detailed in the scene descriptions. I like to leave the artist as free as possible to interpret the work and put it on the page. I’m not an artist, and I’d prefer to allow the artist, who hopefully will see the page visually better than I could, the freedom to improve on what I have put down and really make it zing.

I don’t always leave it entirely to the artist, though. In another recent work, I had a very specific set of visuals I wanted to get across, and so, as a consequence, the panel descriptions tend to have more details and perspective suggestions. I say suggestions, because, as I always try to be, I’m open to differing ideas.

Anyway, hope you enjoy. There’s not much in the way of characterisation in this one, just a little horror. Enjoy.

***EDIT – after having a quick look through, there seems to be a few editing issues (mainly extra lines) that didn’t appear in Google Docs when I wrote it. Sorry about that. Normally, I would only leave one blank line between each section (panel description and dialogue) ****

**** EDIT TWO – I think I fixed most of the formatting issues. I have indented the dialogue/SFX/Captions just to see how it feels to have them that way. I normally don’t, it the whole script did look like one massive wall of text. It looks a little easier to follow now ****

PAGE ONE (five panels)
Panel One:
Outside a mine shaft that has been closed off by timber palings in what seems an excessive amount. A crucifix has been painted over the timbers. Outside the entrance stand six miners. They in are classic mining gear – helmets with lights on top, pickaxes, steel cart – but they don’t look like professional miners. They are led by Gavin Miller. He stands at the front of the group, pointing towards the mines entrance. Two other miners stand nearby with crowbars. Everyone but Miller look apprehensive.

GAVIN MILLER:
There IS no danger. The mine was closed because of an accident. Not because it was unstable.

MINER ONE:
But … we heard –

Panel Two:
Profile shot of Miner One and MILLER. Miller has his arms crossed over his chest. He is listening to something he has heard before and getting sick of hearing again.

MINER ONE:
We heard that the mines was haunted. By – ya know – monsters.

Panel Three:
Closer on MILLER. He is slapping his thighs with laughter. Really over the top laughter.

MILLER:
Ahahahaha! Monsters! You lot kill me!

Panel Four:
Closer again on MILLER. He is lost all laughter from his expression. He now looks serious; and dangerous.

MILLER:
Get this mine open, now.

Panel Five:
On the mine shaft again. The two miners with crowbars are prying off the wooden panels.

 

PAGE TWO (six panels)

Panel One:
The wooden panels on the front of the mine have now been removed. There is only darkness beyond. One miner holds an old fashioned kerosene lamp high and well out in front of him. It doesn’t illuminate much.

MILLER:
Alright, let’s go and get rich, shall we?

Panel Two:
The group of six miners have entered the mine and are slowly making their way down. MILLER leads, using a modern style flashlight. The Kerosene Lamp Miner is closed behind. There is light, but only a small circle around the miners.

MINER ONE:
Mike, why do you even bring that stupid kerosene lamp? It is worse than useless.

MIKE:
It’s a classic. It wouldn’t be mining if there wasn’t a kerosene lamp. Real mining, I mean.

Panel Three:
The last miner in the group, Jeff, stops. He is looking behind, back the way they have just walked.

JEFF:
Did anyone else hear that?

Panel Four:
Jeff has turned around and is peering backwards into the darkness. He can’t see anything.

MIKE: (off panel)
C’mon, there ain’t nothing back there.

Panel Five:
Jeff has turned back towards the group and is following the rest of the gang.

Panel Six: (inset panel)
Looking into the darkness behind the men. A pair of red eyes flash in the darkness. There is something in there.

PAGE THREE: (five panels)

Panel One:
The group have reached a large cavern and have all gathered around Miller, who is reading a map. There are tunnels branching off in a few different directions.

JEFF:
This looks to be where the mining ceased last time. From what I have heard, they had just struck a deep vein of gold prior to the accident.

Panel Two:
Mike is using his kerosene lamp to look into one of the deeper tunnels. It is not doing a particularly good job.

MIKE:
For being so deep underground, the mine shafts still look remarkably stable.

Panel Three:
Mike turns back to the rest of the group. He now has his back to the mine shaft he was just looking in to.

MIKE:
That’s really pretty good considering no-one has been down here for over fifty years –

Panel Four:
Something from the darkness, unseen, is yanking Mike back into the shadows of the tunnel behind him. Whatever it is must be strong as it has ripped him right off his feet.

MIKE:
ARRGGHH!

Panel Five:
The remaining five miners have turned towards the mine shaft where Mike just was. Mike is no longer there. All the miners have shocked expressions on their faces.

PAGE FOUR: (five panels)

Panel One:
Two of the miners approach the tunnel entrance, pickaxes in hand.

MINER TWO:
Mike? You in there, buddy?

Panel Two:
Much to the relief of the other miners, Mike pops his head and chest out from the darkness. But only his head and chest. Mike has no expression on his face. He looks dead.

MINER TWO:
Mike, buddy. You had us worried! Thought something bad had happened to you.

Panel Three:
The top half of Mike’s body is thrown into the cavern. It appears to have been bitten in half and is trailing guts and blood.

Panel Four:
The five remaining miners stand in stunned silence, mouths agape.

Panel Five:
In the all the remaining tunnel mouths, red eyes start glowing. Whatever killed Mike had friends. Many, many friends.

 

 PAGE FIVE: (six panels)

Panel One:
The monsters emerge from the tunnels – demonic looking, fangs and claws dripping with saliva, ready for their feast.

Panel Two:
Jeff and Miller make a dash for the tunnel back to the surface. The other two miners are massacred.

SFX:
ROOWWRR!

Panel Three:
Jeff and Miller are running as fast as they can.

JEFF:
Run!

MILLER:
What do you think I’m doing, dumbass?

Panel Four:
A shot from behind Jeff and Miller. The entrance is in sight.

JEFF:
Nearly there!

MILLER:
If you just shut up, we’d be there by now.

Panel Five:
At the entrance now. Two of the monsters appear at the tunnel entrance. Jeff and Mike have spotted and look resigned to their gruesome fate.

JEFF:
Let’s go into the old, haunted mine, he says. It’ll be fun, he says.

MILLER:
At last, we agree.

Panel Six:
From outside the tunnel. Blood and gore explode from the tunnel as the monsters tear Jeff and Miller apart.

My writing process – part two

I’ve found out two things about my personal writing process recently.

Firstly, when writing in comic book format, I find it a lot easier to write the entire outline and script by hand. The reason, I think, is that when I’m at the computer, I tend to get hung up on silly things like formatting correctly 100% of the time. This tends to slow down my writing and break up the flow of my thoughts from mind to page. Hand writing seems to ease this problem for me. I don’t mind if the formatting isn’t perfect because I know that I can fix any problems when I transfer the story to the computer. It also allows me an easy revision process, so the typing essentially does two jobs in one hit.

In relation to the writing by hand, the idea for this came from Australian author Ryan K Lindsay. It’s been a great change for me and has really assisted me and actually getting some writing done. Ryan has a great blog called ‘Without Fear’. I definitely recommend you take a look.

Secondly, writing short stories by hand does not work. I can’t gather my thoughts, I have trouble reviewing while writing for story/plot/character consistency, and the story tends to burn out quicker than it should.

So, two different mediums of story telling, and two different ways I find it easier to write.

UPDATE: I haven’t heard anything from my 2000 AD submission as yet. I am working towards finishing my first issue of (tentatively titled) ‘Heaven’s Yesterday’ comic book. I have been trying to compose a short story for submission to TOR publishing, but this is on the back burner while I finish other things first.

I do have something in the works with Flux Fiction with a short story expected to be published in 2015. I’m really excited about this as it will be my first published work. I looks like a great publication for new authors. If you’re interested in having a look, go to http://www.fluxfic.com and have a look.

Postscript:
My laptop is giving me a hard time at the moment – the pointer is jumping all over the place while I’m typing and I don’t always realise, so if some sentences seem to end earlier and continue elsewhere, I apologise. Hopefully I’ll pick them up when they happen, but I don’t always notice.

To take a writing course or not to take a writing course …

I am currently considering signing up for an online writing course (Creative Writing Stage One – Australian Writer’s Centre) to improve my writing skills and get a writing qualification under my belt. I have completed a Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies and Ancient History) and a Bachelor of Laws, but I am thinking now I really need a writing course to ‘iron out the bugs’ and improve my writing skills, hopefully to a standard for publication.

The course runs over a four week period an is totally online, which suits me as I have a young family and it would be difficult to travel and stay in a major city for extended periods. The price is reasonable, though, for me, as a single income family of four, a big decision. I’d like, no, I’d love to do a course like this, but, as with all things, money is a major factor and will heavily influence my decision.

I’ve read a lot of feedback and reviews from people who have completed not only this course, but other similar courses offered by similar institutions. They are mostly all positive, and nearly all said the course benefited their writing. The biggest encouragement they received was one on one feedback from the teachers/tutors running the course. I imagine this type of assistance would be invaluable for a person learning the craft of writing.

So, I guess I am left with a decision – do I spend and suffer a financial hit in the short term for a probable long term improvement in my writing, or do I save the money, keep reading ‘How To…’ books and writing, writing and writing? Pretty sure I know the answer (sign up for the course), I’m just not 100% sold on the expenditure yet.

Artist Needed

This seems to be the biggest challenge facing an aspiring comic book writer – locating an artist to illustrate your work who is available, and whose style suits both your tastes and writing/genre. There seems to be a few avenues I’ve located so far (Digital Webbing and PencilJack mainly) where artist and writers can hook up. But a lot of these artists ask for payment before they’ll agree to be part of the creative process. For a new creator like myself, this seems a fairly risky. Basically, I’d be paying for something that, in all likelihood, won’t be published. For me, at the place I am in my writing career, is simply too much give for not enough return.

What, or who, I’d like to meet would be an aspiring artist for was willing to have a look at my material and see what they can make out of it. This way, we both get the practice we need to hopefully go to be published. But the difficulties in finding that one person would be similar to the proverbial needle in a haystack. I’m sure they are out there, it’s just a matter of finding them.