Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Couple of (Not so) Shocking Rejections

As I have done in the past, I like to post rejected material here so it can still be read. Below are two short story scripts for a British publication. 

The first, which is titled "Parallel Intersections" from last year, suffered from too many ideas getting crammed into a four page plot. I had two ideas with the same basic idea but could not decide on the twist ending, so I decided (ill advisedly) to put them together and let the two narratives play off of each other. I often wonder if I went with one story if it would have had more impact and if so, which one?

The other, titled "Boy Meets Girl...," is from earlier this year.  In fact I had no idea until I started putting together this blog that they were written exactly one year apart. This second tale takes the romantic structure of "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back" but puts it in a darker more dangerous scenario. This one was probably not sci-fi enough for the publication. If you strip out the SF elements it could have taken place today. Or heck, even 100 years ago. Either way, I feel like it is probably the stronger of the two scripts.

I hope you enjoy them (or if you are an aspiring writer, learn from my mistakes).



ORIGINAL SCRIPT: "Parallel Intersections"
Short Story Script by Brett Harris
4 pages, Final Draft: 18th February 2017



PAGE ONE

Note: The page is divided horizontally across the center with a thick black line to separate the narratives. Three panels above the line and three below. The TOP narrative is very retro sci-fi hard edges with buttons and dials, futuristic but with a vague feeling of analogue instead of digital. The BOTTOM narrative is just the opposite. Sleek and streamlined with smooth touch screen panels.

1/ We see a soldier/astronaut.  She is a black woman in a suspended animation tube (kind of like the ones from Aliens). Through the clear hatch, we can see her face and her eyes are closed.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER) 1: As I start to rouse from
     hyper sleep, the mission parameters come rushing back
     to me.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER) 2: We were going to end the
     war with our new prototype weapon that would stop their 
     machines.

2/ The same basic panel but now her eyes are open and she looks worried.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER) 1: The ship was going to
     glide in orbit powered down, then power up and deliver
     the pay load.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER) 2: The fact that I'm awake
     tells me something went wrong. I was a last resort.

3/ The soldier is out of the tube in front of a closed door putting on a space suit. It's something flexible but with a domed helmet and air supply.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): The sensors tell me large
     parts of the ship have been compromised. I decide it's
     safer to suit up. I have to succeed.

4/ We are now on another ship, with a different soldier. This time, a white male. There is an open tube near him. He is dressing in simple fatigues.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): Their ship tried to glide
     in and sneak past our sensors. Luckily our sleeper
     defense ship was already in orbit.

5/ The second soldier is exiting the room.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): If I've been activated it
     means there must have been a battle and the ship has
     taken damage --

6/ A close up of the second soldier's inscrutable face.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): -- and my job just got a          
     little harder.



PAGE TWO

Note: The page, like the previous page, is divided horizontally across the center with a thick black line to separate the narratives. Three panels above the line and three below.

1/ Close up on the first soldier, a look of horror on her face.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): This is why Mars uses     
     androids for most of their combat. Some think there     
      are no humans left on their side.

2/ We reverse angle to an over the shoulder angle to reveal three dead bodies floating in zero g. One is an Asian male with the flag of Japan on his sleeve. Another is a white female and we can see the U.K. flag patch on her shoulder. The third is a black man with a Nigerian flag on his uniform. In the background we can see three doors. There is scorching on the walls to indicate damage.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): I don't have time to mourn    
     my ship mates. I'm the last chance to win the war and    
     I have to keep going.

3/ The first soldier is now working some switches at the opposite end center door.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): The door to the bridge is      
     not operational. I have to over-ride to get through --

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): -- and I have to get      
     through if I'm going to save the Earth.

4/ A high shot of the second soldier, a broken bridge that stretches over a huge machine that is sparking with electrical energy. It would have connected the door he just exited to another door at the other end. A trio broken and smashed android bodies can be seen. They should look kind of like the endoskeleton of the Terminator.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): The engineering droids have
     been smashed, as well as the only way to the     
     command center. I have to get there to defend my world.

5/ The second soldier leaping across the gap in the bridge.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): Luckily the gravity seems         
     twenty-five percent of normal. Low enough to make the leap.

6/ The second soldier is using his hand print on a panel next to the door.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): Almost there. The Earth       
     will learn that the new regime on Mars will be free        
     and safe from their attacks.


PAGE THREE

Note: The page, like the previous pages, is divided horizontally across the center with a thick black line to separate the narratives. Three panels above the line and three below. The three panels are two half page panels each with an inset in the top left and bottom right of the panel.

1/ Is inset in the top left corner of panel 2. It is a close-up of the shocked face of the first soldier.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): Oh, God!

2/ Reverse angle to reveal the first soldier being sucked toward a big gaping hole in the forward section of the bridge. It has clearly been hulled in combat. Empty space lies beyond.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): The decompression is      
     pulling me out!

3/ The inset in the bottom left corner of panel 2. We can see her gloved hand just missing the edge of twisted metal at edge of the hole.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): No! I have to complete 
     the mission!

4/ Is inset in the top left corner of panel 2. It is a close-up of face of the second soldier. His eyes are wide both otherwise inscrutable.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): Sensors were wrong.

5/ Reverse angle to reveal the second soldier also being sucked toward a big gaping hole in the forward section of the command center. It has also clearly been hulled in combat. Again empty space lies beyond.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): I have to destroy the    
     Earthlings!

6/ The inset in the bottom left corner of panel 2. We can see his face hitting edge of twisted metal at edge of the hole.

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): No!


PAGE FOUR

1/ A single panel page of the two soldiers battling in the vacuum of space. They are a twisted knot of limbs grabbing and punching at each other. The second soldier's human face as been ripped off to reveal a robot face underneath. In the background we can see the two ships in the distance. They are both battered and in ruins.

     FIRST SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): I'll have to destroy this
     machine before I run out of air! For Earth and
     humanity!

     SECOND SOLDIER (VOICE OVER): I have to destroy the   
     human before I run out of power! For Mars and machine
     independence!

CAPTION: FIN.


__________________________________

ORIGINAL SCRIPT: "Boy Meets Girl..."
Short Story Script by Brett Harris

4 pages, Final Draft: 19th February 2018

PAGE ONE

This is a five panel page (including the first panel which is a solid black panel with white reverse text running across the top of the page).

1/ A solid black horizontal panel across the whole page with reverse white letters that say: "BOY MEETS GIRL...". No other text.

2/ Establishing shot of a modern/futuristic business building in downtown London. To help sell a future vibe we can see a flying yellow taxi cab in the sky or perhaps a flying red bus.

     OLIVIA (FROM BUILDING) 1: Amelia! Welcome back!

3/ Inside the business office. A typical set up of cubical work spaces. Olivia is hugging Amelia. Both are attractive young women with the look of business professionals. Olivia is black, while Amelia is a blonde Caucasian. People in the backgrounds are working on computers with holographic monitors and are a mix of male/female and ethnic backgrounds.

     AMELIA: I wish I could say I'm glad to be back.

     OLIVIA: We acquired some great new additions while
     you were on holiday.

4/ Olivia gesturing toward three workers. They are at Jackson's cubical. He's nebbish looking, middle aged, and balding, with spectacles. He has a look of "future middle manager." His holographic monitor has a newspaper article with a headline that reads "Body found on east end." In smaller type: "Laser blade believed to be murder weapon." Isabella is next, she is a young Asian lady holding two cups of coffee. She has the look of an over worked executive secretary. Last is Ava, another professional looking lady, she is the oldest with dark hair with some dignified gray or silver highlights. She is holding a tennis ball size box that is projecting a small holographic pie chart.

     OLIVIA 1: This is Jackson our new assistant to Human
     Resources.

     OLIVIA 2: That is Isabella, the boss's new assistant.

     OLIVIA 3: And last is Ava a statistician we stole from     
     Yamaguchi Corporation.

5/ Amelia looking friendly and exited.

     AMELIA 1: Oh, it is a pleasure! I'm Olivia's partner
     in the Marketing Department.

     AMELIA 2: We absolutely must go out this evening after
     work so I can get to know you.


PAGE TWO

This is a four panel page.

1/ Amelia in the foreground dancing with Charlie, a handsome but oily gentleman. He looks like he has over done his spray tan to create the illusion of Latino or Sicilian. Hair slicked back. Pencil thin mustache. Tacky but not unattractive. In the background at a table: Isabella looks annoyed. Olivia is having a drink. Jackson looks jealous and Ava looks disinterested reading a holographic bar graph from her stat box.

     ISABELLA: "We absolutely must go out this evening
     after work so I can get to know you." Pfffth!

     OLIVIA: Oh, when you go out with Amelia, she will find
     fun, but not much in the way of meaningful conversation.


2/ Amelia, taking a shot of whiskey, Charlie, smiling and looking friendly, is carefully trying to balance three more. They are at the table with Amelia's office mates.

     CHARLIE: Another shot, Love. I'll call a cab to fly us     
     home.

3/ Charlie, anxious to leave, is now pulling Amelia by the arm toward the door. She looks pretty drunk.

     CHARLIE: Come on, Love. Can't be higher than the taxi
     can we?

4/ The quartet of office workers at the table. Olivia looks heavy lidded. She's had too much to drink. Isabella looks worried. Jackson looks angry and (again) Ava still looks disinterested looking at her holographic display from her stat box.

     ISABELLA: Amelia, do you think it's a good idea to    
     leave?

     AVA: No. Wait. Stop.

     ISABELLA: Too late. She's out the door.


PAGE THREE
 
This is a six panel page (including the second panel which is a solid black panel with white reverse text running across the page).

1/ Outside the club. The neighborhood does not look as upscale as their office or even the inside of the club would allow you to believe. Not much in the way of foot traffic or vehicles. The quartet are at the door. Isabella is holding Olivia up. Charlie and Amelia are already a good distance away in the background.

     ISABELLA: You should stay with us, Amelia!

     OLIVIA: Amelia, shoo be wif ussss.

2/ A solid black horizontal panel across the whole page with reverse white letters that say: "... BOY LOSES GIRL...". No other text.

3/ Charlie, not looking as friendly as before, is pulling a drunk Amelia by the arm.

     AMELIA: Whesh, tha cab, Baby?

     CHARLIE: This way. It's a short cut.

4/ Charlie and Amelia in a dark alley. If possible it's even more creepy than the main street was. Amelia is pushing away from a sinister looking Charlie.

     AMELIA: No! Thish, ishn't right.

5/ Amelia falling as she tries to get away from Charlie, who now has a knife in his hand.

     AMELIA: No!

     CHARLIE: Get back here!

6/ Looking up from Amelia's angle (but not necessarily her POV) Charlie looks big and scary wielding the blade and total darkness all around and behind him.

     CHARLIE: They'll be reading about my work tomorrow on
     the webs.


PAGE FOUR

This is a six panel page (including the last panel which is a solid black panel with white reverse text running across the page).

1/ Same as last panel on previous page but now Charlie has a confused look on his face, perhaps with a trickle of blood coming down the corner of his mouth.

     CHARLIE: Urk!?

2/ Similar as the last two panels. Charlie, eyes rolled back in his head, is sinking out of frame to reveal kindly nebbish Jackson.

3/ Amelia hugging Jackson.

     AMELIA: Oh, thank you, Johnson.

     JACKSON: It's Jackson actually.

4/ Amelia looking at Jackson appreciatively.

     AMELIA: What a creep, Jack. Can I buy you a drink to       
     thank you?

     JACKSON: I should thank you. I can't stand copy cats.

5/ Amelia's POV Jackson looking downright evil as he holds up a glowing green laser knife.

6/ A solid black horizontal panel across the bottom of the page with reverse white letters that say: "... BOY GETS GIRL BACK". No other text. End.

_____________________________________________
 

If you are glutton for punishment and would like to read the short stories that were rejected for the MillarWorld Annuals in 2016 and 2017 you can read them here and here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

New We Talk Comics Episodes Drop and RobCon Almost Here!

Back in March of last year Chris Beck of We Talk Comics Podcasts contacted me about joining him and We Talk's founder Mo Kristiansen to do an episode focusing on Pre-Marvel Universe comic book movies. I first appeared on the We Talk Comic Podcast way back in the summer of 2015 promoting "Adventures in Pulp" and it was an absolute blast. Chris and Keith Callbeck hosted that episode and talking to them was like hanging out with my friends at the local comic shop. Keith has since moved on and regular host Brett Monro was ill, so Chris invited me to fill in at the 11th hour (proving one Brett is most definitely NOT as good as another). The show was a lot of fun. It was a different vibe contributing to an ongoing conversation as opposed to a straight up interview so I felt a little shaky. My fear was that I spent a little too much time saying "I agree" or "I really liked this or hated that" without going into specifics. I guess I got lucky because some technical issues cropped up and the whole show had to be scrapped. After almost a year of scheduling conflicts I finally got to join Chris and Mo for a re-recording along with Brett and even Keith who returned as a special guest. Again, it was an absolute blast and we managed to get two episodes out of it! The first episode focuses of the "Best Comic Book Movies Before the Marvel Universe" and you can hear it here and the second episode focuses of the "Worst Comic Book Movies Before the Marvel Universe" and you can hear it here. Since then I even did my first review for their "WeView" reviews. I selected the comic book prequel to the cult classic short story and film: Bubba Ho-Tep. You can read it here. You can also check out my first appearance here and I highly recommend trying some of their other past episodes.  They are pretty great.

I'm not sure if I will be a guest at RobCon again this summer. However my partner on the upcoming comic "The Outer Worlds," Ivan Castillo of Conquest Art Designs, will have some fantastic stuff available and even a few pages to preview of our sci-fi comic book mini-series. If the stars really align we *might* even have a printed copy of the book itself.

If I make it, it will be my sixith time around for the ever growing convention and appears it will be the best yet. If you are in Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia July 27 through 29, I highly recommend stopping in. Robert Pilk of Mountain Empire Comics has really been stepping it up the last couple of years. It's a fantastic show, with panels, costume contests, writers, artists, and lots of vendors. The last couple of years have been an absolute blast and it looks like this year will be even better in its new venue of MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport, TN.

Just a reminder, my story story "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes" featuring the character Stingray from Darby Pop's "Indestructible" closes out the "Women of Darby Pop" anthology and you can still get it and my four "Adventures In Pulp" short stories as downloads at Comixology here.  "Adventures in Pulp" was named "Digital Comic of the Year" by Pipedream comics for 2015 and all digital profits for go to the artist.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Facts Matter: Disecting a Fact Free Post



Facts matter. I know we live in an "alt fact" word. But there should be a point where a fact should be a fact. Period. I have a dog named Sisko. He's a male, you can call him a female all you want, but he's male. I have never written a blog relating to politics because I don't want to get "Dixie Chick-ed."  In my private life I am very political and the wars on science and facts are starting to make me crazy. I can understand and respect a difference of opinion, but the refusal to listen to or accept provable and verifiable facts is a new phenomenon.  If you say something that is not true that means one of two things. Either you are ignorant on the topic and have made an error or you have willfully said something untrue.  Now I could site example after example of the stuff I am talking about but I have decided to simply take one single post that have I have seen several times and use it as a sole example. People I know, people I like are sharing (some more than once) this COMPLETELY fact free post below and it boggles my mind. Have I misjudged these people's character or their intelligence or both?

The first time I saw this post on the right my initial thought was "Wow, there is so much factually wrong with this. I don't know quite where to begin."  Well, how about I start with the fact that the initial writer (and those who liked it enough to share it on social medial) appear to favor the positions of North Korea, Afghanistan and Iran over America. Ranging from fascist and totalitarian to theocratic, those countries seem to be the antithesis to what America stands for, but if that's their opinion, I will respectfully disagree. I'm not going to hurl insults because we disagree. Like I said above, I can respect a difference of opinion and they are entitled to their opinion here in America (although, ironically, not always in North Korea or Iran, but I digress).  No, I'm not going to challenge their un-American opinion. I would rather respond to the FACTUAL ERRORS, because while you are entitled to your own opinion you are not entitled to your own facts.

 The general position seems to be that undocumented immigrants are responsible for our nation's debt. Many economic scholars have pointed to "trickledown economics" as the real culprit of our debt, massive tax cuts (predominantly on the wealthy) while increasing spending has put is in a hole, but that's really a separate debate. Let's focus on the issues specifically ascribed to undocumented immigrants.

First, "you cross the border illegally and you get a job." Well, they only get a job if an American company illegally hires them or they commit fraud to get hired. In the former case, this is a private sector issue and does not support the debt issue except that employers are defrauding the government out of tax dollars that would have been otherwise taken out on citizens or legal immigrants here on work visas and not the undocumented immigrant who is more often than not being taken advantage of. On the latter issue of fraud, well, I will cover that further on down.

Moving on.

 "You cross the border illegally and you get... a driver's license." This actually varies from state to state.  Some states with large undocumented immigrant populations have seen insurance premiums go DOWN once they started  issuing drivers licenses as did cases of hit-and-run. This SAVED both private market money (insurance premiums) and tax money at local levels (investigating hit and runs).

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... food stamps." No, undocumented immigrants, do NOT qualify for food stamps. If you frequent a website that say they do, it LIES. In addition to NOT qualifying for food stamps, undocumented immigrants also do NOT qualify for welfare, Medicaid, and most other public benefits. Most of these programs REQUIRE proof of legal immigration status and under the 1996 Welfare Law, even LEGAL immigrants CANNOT receive these benefits until they have been in the United States for more than FIVE years.

"You cross the border illegally and you get... a place to live." Well, if you can pay the rent, I guess most property owners will rent to you. Again, this has nothing to do with national debt unless you are implying that undocumented immigrants are getting government housing assistance. If you are, then again, like with food stamps, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for government housing or housing subsidies.  

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... health care." Hospitals are required to give aid to anyone in this country who has a medical emergency. It does not matter if they are insured, uninsured, legal resident, illegal resident or legally visiting. Do you really want to live in a country where you have to show your papers before first responders will take you to a hospital after an accident? Now, I suspect this is not the "health care" that was being referred to. I suspect, it is the completely false idea that many put out over the last decade that undocumented immigrants qualify for the Affordable Care Act. They don't, it's an often repeated lie. President Obama said his proposal would not cover illegal immigrants, a remark that prompted Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina to shout "You lie!" The president  was correct: The House bill contained a section (Sec. 246) titled "NO FEDERAL PAYMENT FOR UNDOCUMENTED ALIENS," which states: "Nothing in this subtitle shall allow Federal payments for affordability credits on behalf of individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States."

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... housing." Obviously we covered "housing" under "a place to live," and but I guess the list didn't seem long enough so the author decided to double dip, which goes to their honesty. Or perhaps they didn't know that housing IS a place to live, so maybe they are just ignorant. As I said before it usually comes down to one or another.

"You cross the border illegally and  you get... child benefits." Children of undocumented immigrants DO qualify for child benefits if, and only if, they were born here. If you position is that American children should be denied benefits because one or more of their parents are undocumented immigrants then I should point out citizen children of illegal immigrants -- often derogatorily referred to by racists as "anchor babies" -- costs taxpayers $14,387 per household (this includes education -- which I will get to next AND healthcare which I covered above), according to a (some say inflated) 2014 report by the extreme right wing Heritage Foundation. But in its 2013 "Immigration Myths and Facts" report, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says most economists see providing these benefits as an investment for the future, when these U.S. born children become workers and taxpayers.

 "You cross the border illegally and  you get... education." Well, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again. Children (only children) of undocumented immigrants can attend public schools grades k-12 (NOT higher education). I'll be honest. I'm not sure what the cost is nor do I care, as someone whose wife is a teacher, both parents were teachers and my grandmother was a teacher, I'm pro-education for anyone and everyone and see an educated and informed populace as a good thing.

Finally, let's get to "You cross the border illegally and  you get... a tax free business for 7 yrs."  While MANY businesses are enticed into areas at both the city and state levels, with the promise of no or reduced taxes (my home town of Bristol, Virginia is doing that in spades at "The Falls" complex) but with an extensive search, most of those appear to be either large corporations moving into a depressed or rural area or LEGAL immigrants starting small business. It's hard to get a tax break if you are illegal and getting played under the table. It's also pretty hard to hide your status if you are starting a legit regulated business like a restaurant or specialty store.  I find this highly unlikely, but it's so out there I can't even find data to dispute it but then I could not find anything legit that supported it either.

So that brings us back to the general position of this fact free meme/post. That undocumented immigrants are driving us into debt. In cases of employment fraud (I said I would get back to it), where they provide fake papers to work. They have taxes taken out that they never file to get back. Collectively, they paid an estimated $10.6 billion to state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP). Contributions varied by state. In Montana they contributed $2 million. In California, more than $2.2 billion. On average they pay about 6.4% of their income in state and local taxes, ITEP said. A 2007 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the impact of undocumented immigrants on the budgets of local and state governments cited IRS figures showing that 50% to 75% of the about 11 million unauthorized U.S. immigrants pay income taxes each year. A CBO report on the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007 concluded that a path to legalization for immigrants would increase federal revenues by $48 billion. Such a plan would see $23 billion in increased costs from the use of public services, but ultimately, it would produce a surplus of $25 billion for government coffers, CBO said.  The truth is that undocumented immigrants contribute MORE in payroll taxes than they will ever consume in public benefits. Take Social Security. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), unauthorized immigrants -- who are not eligible to receive Social Security benefits -- have paid a stunning $100 billion into the fund over the past decade. "They are paying an estimated $15 billion a year into Social Security with no intention of ever collecting benefits," Stephen Goss, chief actuary of the SSA told CNNMoney in 2014. "Without the estimated 3.1 million undocumented immigrants paying into the system, Social Security would have entered persistent shortfall of tax revenue to cover payouts starting in 2009," he said. Without immigrants, the Social Security Board of Trustees projects that the system will no longer be able to pay the full promised benefits by 2037.   

You see, if you GIVE MORE than you take then the idea that you are responsible for debt is kind of a nutty one, as was the meme that was re-posted.  This is actual fake news. This is the stuff that is put out to be divisive and stir up feelings of anger and resentment in the white middle class against the poor or undocumented immigrant.  To all I suggest checking some legit sources before you hit that share button because if you don't then you need to ask yourself: "Am I stupid or a liar?" 

If you don't like either answer, it's time to make some kind of change.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

RobCon Reminder and We Talk Comics Podcast Update

Just a reminder/update from my last post from March.

I will be attending RobCon again as a guest this coming weekend. It will be my fifth time around for the ever growing convention and appears it will be the best yet. If you are in the Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia this weekend I highly recommend stopping in. Robert Pilk of Mountain Empire Comics has really been stepping it up the last couple of years. It's a fantastic show, with panels, costume contests, writers, artists, and a floor full of vendors. Last year was an absolute blast and it looks like this year will be even better. My partner on the the upcoming "The Outer Worlds," Ivan Castillo of Conquest Art Designs, will have some fantastic stuff available and even a few pages to preview of our sci-fi comic book mini-series. If you want info on RobCon you can find it on facebook here or contact Robert directly here. Also check out Conquest Art Designs here and here. I'll be sharing space with Ali Slate the GlitterGeek vlogger and cosplayer, who is kind of a "Sith Lord with a make-up addiction." You can check out some of her videos here or here. Ali will be hosting a pizza dinner followed by a Q&A with novelist and fellow RobCon guest Timothy Zahn (creator of the Thrawn character for the Star Wars universe), the night before the convention at Machiavelli's on 5th St. in Bristol, TN at 7:30. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Holly Help Fund.

Since the "Women of Darby Pop" anthology came out in September I will actually have copies available this year. My story story "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes" featuring the character Stingray from Darby Pop's "Indestructible" closes out the issue. If you prefer digital comics you can still get both "Women of Darby Pop" and my four "Adventures In Pulp" short stories as downloads at Comixology here.  "Adventures in Pulp" was named "Digital Comic of the Year" by Pipedream comics for 2015 and all digital profits for go to the artist.

Back in March Chris Beck of We Talk Comics Podcasts contacted me about joining him and We Talk's founder Mo Kristiansen to do an episode focusing on Pre-Marvel Universe comic book movies. I first appeared on the We Talk Comic Podcast way back in the summer of 2015 promoting "Adventures in Pulp" and it was an absolute blast. Chris and Keith Callbeck hosted that episode and talking to them was like hanging out with my friends at the local the comic shop. Keith has since moved on and regular host Brett Monro was ill, so Chris invited me to fill in at the 11th hour (proving one Brett is most definitely NOT as good as another). The show was a lot of fun. It was a different vibe contributing to an ongoing conversation as opposed to a straight up interview so I felt a little shaky. My fear was that I spent a little too much time saying "I agree" or "I really liked this or hated that" without going into specifics. I guess I got lucky because some technical issues cropped up and the whole show and to be scrapped. We are trying to work out a time for a re-recording and I will make every effort to be more ready with specifics this time around. Have no fear, if I choke again,  Chris and Mo are total pros and I'm sure the show, like all their others, will be a fantastic in spite of my "green" efforts. As soon as the new show goes up I will provide a link. Until then, you can check out my first appearance here and I highly recommend trying some of their other past episodes, they are pretty great.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Redux Trilogy: Rob Con, Women of Darby Pop and We Talk Comics Podcasts.

Just a few random notes of interest that prove what is old is new again...

I will be attending RobCon again as a guest this summer. It will be my fifth time around for the ever growing convention and appears it will be the best yet. If you are in the Northeast Tennessee or Southwest Virginia the last weekend in July I highly recommend stopping in. Robert Pilk of Mountain Empire Comics has really been stepping it up the last couple of years. It's a fantastic show, with panels, costume contests, writers, artists, and a floor full of vendors. Last year was an absolute blast and it looks like this year will be even better. My partner on the the upcoming "The Outer Worlds," Ivan Castillo of Conquest Art Designs, will have some fantastic stuff available and maybe if we can put our heads together we can come up with a nice preview of our sci-fi comic book mini-series. If you want info on RobCon you can find it on facebook here or contact Robert directly here. Also check out Conquest Art Designs here and here. As soon as I know the panel schedule I will post an update. I'm already saving up for the cool RobCon T-shirt this year. It's the uber awesome Batman '66 logo from his flyer.

For Women's History Month, the "Women of Darby Pop" anthology is offered again in PREVIEWS. Contact your local comic shop with order order code: MAR17 1916 to get a copy. My story story "Looking for Redemption with Blind Eyes" featuring the character Stingray from Darby Pop's "Indestructible" closes out the issue. It originally didn't drop until two months after Rob Con last year so this will be the first year I have some available. If you prefer digital comics you can still get both "Women of Darby Pop" and my four "Adventures In Pulp" short stories as downloads at Comixology here. All digital profits for "Adventures in Pulp" go to the artist.

Finally, the other day Chris Beck of We Talk Comics Podcasts contacted me about joining him and We Talk's founder Mo Kristiansen to do an episode focusing on Pre-Marvel Universe comic book movies. I first appeared on the We Talk Comic Podcast way back in the summer of 2015 promoting "Adventures in Pulp" and it was an absolute blast. Chris and Keith Callbeck hosted that episode and talking to them was like hanging out with my friends at the local the comic shop. Keith has since moved on and regular host Brett Monro was ill, so Chris invited me to fill in at the 11th hour (proving one Brett is most definitely NOT as good as another). The show was a lot of fun. It was a different vibe contributing to an ongoing conversation as opposed to a straight up interview so I felt a little shaky. My fear is I spend a little too much time saying "I agree" or "I really liked this or hated that" without going into specifics. If they ever go temporarily insane and have me on again I will make and effort to be more ready with specifics. Have no fear, Chris and Mo are total pros and the show, like all their others, will be a fantastic in spite of my "green" efforts. As soon as the new show goes up I will provide a link. Until then, you can check out my first appearance here and I highly recommend trying some of their other past episodes.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Twin Engines of (Self) Destruction

Empress cover artwork by Stuart Immonen.
I know I've been neglecting my blog lately. My son switched schools this year and, having coached AAU wrestling, I applied to be the assistant coach of his middle school wrestling team.  It made for a busy fall and winter. So, while I still hope to do a writer's commentary on my Darby Pop story that was published back in September (you can still get a digital copy here), I thought I would fill the dead air by posting my rejected story for the 2017 MillarWorld Annual. The story was based on Empress by Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen. In addition to the rejected story, I also thought I would include a draft I threw out. The first story was going to focus on the supporting character of Captain Dane Havelok. It was a sequence of him getting ready to try to get Queen Emporia, the wife of a galactic dictator, off of Earth in which he needed a ploy/disguise for Emporia. It was titled "The Fine Line Between Loyalty and Treason." While it worked in concept, it felt too much like a missing scene from the original story rather than a complete story in its own right. I was going to take another pass when I came up with (what I thought was) a better story. The one I submitted (and was rejected) worked better, but in hind sight probably paralleled the original tale too much (including the climactic twist). It followed Dane trying to get Emporia away from a faction of rebels. It was titled "Protector." I still like it (although I wish I had another panel on page two). So here it is folks, TWO ways in which NOT to succeed (or as I like to call them, my "Twin Engines of Self Destruction" (any Star Wars fans get the joke?). If you are an aspiring writer. Learn from my mistakes.


ORIGINAL SCRIPT:
EMPRESS: "The Fine Line Between Loyalty and Treason"
Short Story

Script by Brett Harris
5 pages
Second Draft:
18th November 2016

Page One

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. We see CAPTAIN DANE HAVELOCK walking down a corridor. He looks pretty much as he does when he is introduced on pages 7-9 of Empress issue #1.

NARRATION (DANE): I have to hurry. King Morax is about to execute three workers for "incitement to disobedience."


Page Two

1/ Dane has stopped at a door and is using a card key on a futuristic lock mechanism while looking over his shoulder.

NARRATION (DANE): Queen Emporia is expected to be there, and, by extension, so am I. We have to keep up appearances if my plan to get her off Earth and away from that maniac is going to work.

2/ Dane entering a room with benches and rows of lockers.

NARRATION (DANE): We only have a window of about twenty minutes between the execution and dinner.

3/ Dane at one of the lockers. It is open and he is reaching in. Behind him, we can see an engineer's helmet, gloves, and boots sitting on the bench. They should be identical to the armor Emporia is putting on in Empress #1 pages 8-9.

NARRATION (DANE): I have to get the traveling cloak to disguise her long enough to get her to my ship. Tor is waiting and what I have planned, they'll never see coming.

4/ Same basic panel but we can see he is pulling out a long hooded cloak. We see a partially dressed male human ENGINEER in the background (as if he has just come around the corner of the row of lockers). It is clearly his helmet, boots and gloves on the bench.

ENGINEER: C-captain H-Havelok! Is the Queen making a surprise inspection?

5/ Close on Dane's surprised look. Do NOT over do it with slack jaw and google eyes, just raised eyebrows will suffice.

NARRATION (DANE): Uh-oh. It's time to improvise.

Page Three

1/ DANE is holding up the cloak for the ENGINEER to see.

DANE: No, I, ah, was retrieving a traveling cloak for a visiting dignitary --

2/ The Engineer looks suspicious.

ENGINEER: Anyone can do that, you should never be away from Queen Emporia's side.

3/ Dane throwing the cloak at the Engineer like a net.

DANE: I'll keep that in mind for the future.

4/ Dane punching the Engineer through the cloak, which has landed over his head.

NARRATION (DANE): Damn, pulled my punch. I have gotten too used to sparring. Let's face it, Emporia is never in danger from someone outside. No one would dare cross King Morax.


Page Four

1/ The ENGINEER pulling the cloak away, his nose bleeding and a look of rage on his face.

NARRATION (DANE): My role is ceremonial. I fear I may have gotten soft.

2/ The Engineer taking a swing at DANE, who is blocking the blow with one hand and grabbing at the cloak, which is hanging off the Engineer's shoulder, with the other.

NARRATION (DANE): However, survival is a great motivator. I am a survivor.

3/ Dane has twisted the cloak around the neck of the Engineer, whose eyes are bulging. Dane is pulling it tight. Clearly the Engineer is choking.

NARRATION (DANE): I'll do what needs to be done to make sure the Queen and her children survive.

4/ Same basic panel but the Engineer is dead. Eyes now rolled back and facial features have gone slack.

NARRATION (DANE): That's my job. It's who I am.


Page Five

1/ DANE standing over the dead Engineer, looking at his hands. Some of the blood from the Engineer's bloody nose has gotten on them.

NARRATION (DANE): I got my hands dirty a little sooner than expected.

2/ Dane now sitting on the bench inspecting the cloak, the Engineer's helmet next to him.

NARRATION (DANE): He won't be the last to die today.

3/ Close up of the cloak in his hands. It is ripped and also has blood on it.

NARRATION (DANE): Ruined. Time to adapt.

4/ Same basic panel but now the cloak is on the floor and Dane is holding the helmet.

NARRATION (DANE): This could work. Probably better in the long run. I can't give up.

5/ Dane walking down a corridor with the Engineer's armor.

NARRATION (DANE): I'm loyal to the queen, even if it means committing treason.

CAPTION: The end of the beginning...

And now the story I chose to submit that was rejected:


ORIGINAL SCRIPT:
EMPRESS: "Protector"
Short Story

Script by Brett Harris
5 pages
Final Draft:
27th November 2016

Page One

1/ Single panel splash page with title and credits. We see CAPTAIN DANE HAVELOCK running down a corridor. He is pulling QUEEN EMPORIA behind him. She is dressed much like she is when we first see her in Empress #1 on page 7: Attractive dress, head pieces, the colors are lighter and she has an additional cloak which is flapping behind her, a strip has been torn off. They are running from three men (Rebels against King Morax). One is firing a gun at them the blast going right through her flapping cloak. Dane is wounded with a wrap made of the missing cloak around his torso. A stain of blood shows through.

EMPORIA: Are they insane?! Striking at us on Earth! At the opening of my husband's war museum!

DANE: Keep moving, highness, I need to get you to a defensible position.


Page Two

1/ DANE and EMPORIA running around a corner.

2/ Dane and Emporia (their backs to the reader). Reveal a dead end.

DANE/EMPORIA (together): Shit.

3/ Dane pulling off Emporia's cloak and head piece.

DANE: Highness, if I may?

4/ Dane thrusting the horn of the headpiece through a REBEL as he rounds the corner.

SFX: THA-WHUMP!

5/ Dane punching a second rebel over whom he has thrown the cloak like a net. (The first rebel is lying bloody at his feet).

SFX: WHACK!


Page Three

1/ A third REBEL hitting DANE from behind with the butt of his gun.

SFX: THA-WHACK!

2/ Dane slumped over the second Rebel unconscious at the feet of the third Rebel.

No dialogue.

3/ The last rebel aiming his gun at EMPORIA.

EMPORIA: Coward! You would shoot an unarmed woman? Do you not have enough manly bits between your legs to show King Morax that you are not afraid to get your hands dirty?

4/ The rebel tossing his gun away casually with a smirk.

No dialogue.

5/ The rebel charging Emporia.

REBEL: For the cause! Death to Morax and his Queen!


Page Four

1/ A single panel page of EMPORIA slugging the REBEL with a massive bone crunching, teeth rattling punch.

SFX: KRA-WHACK!


Page Five

1/ EMPORIA standing over the fallen REBEL.

EMPORIA: Been a while since the cages.

2/ Same basic panel but Emporia is kicking the fallen rebel.

EMPORIA: I still got it.

3/ Emporia helping DANE up.

DANE: What happened?

EMPORIA: You were amazing, my protector.

4/ Dane (being steadied by Emporia) looking down at the rebel.

DANE: I don't remember.

EMPORIA: Your training kicked in automatically before you passed out.

5/ Emporia helping Dane down the corridor, their backs to the reader.

EMPORIA: Come, let's get you to a medic.

DANE: Highness, why is your hand bruised?

CAPTION: FIN.

If you want to read last year's rejected entry based on the Flash Gordon-esque Starlight you can find it here. I'm REALLY proud of it and still a little heart broken it didn't get selected.