So every fall Top Cow does a talent search. It’s a pretty cool idea and I can see it being a great way to find some new up and comers who have a fresh take on their characters. But like all of these things it’s hard not to get a tad cynical.
I don’t mean that to sound negative towards the contest itself. I just mean that it’s hard not to get cynical in the classic “How the shit am I gonna make myself stand out” kind of way. I guess negativity would be a better term?
But you NEED to face these types of scenarios with the exact same attitude you face the entire pitching process in general. Which is: shut up and write.
I mean that in the truest sense. I am fully aware most of the stuff I write won’t get read by the people I want to read it. And even then, are they actually reading it or just looking for what they want to see. After all, those are two fairly different things.
Like, if I’m Michael Bay and you put Schindler’s List in front of me, my reaction will be, “Uh … so you’re telling me there’s no explosions? Not even any robots?”
And in turn if I’m Gus Van Sant and you put Rocky 4 in front of me, I’d say, “So there’s no long drawn out symbolic shots expressing isolation and solitude?”
See what I mean there? Both of those movies are great, but for COMPLETELY different reasons. So when Top Cow is doing a search for talent, you might actually have submitted the best script ever written in the history of comics, but if it isn’t what they’re looking for you will not get picked up.
That’s just the name of the game. It goes for every pitch you send out and every bit of writing you do, period. This is a lesson Adam and I are learning as we go. In fact it’s a lesson I spoke at length about on the upcoming edition of my podcast with J Torres and J Bone. That will be posted on Friday Nov 8, by the way. CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE FRED CAST.
When you send out that submission and it doesn’t secure a gig or even a glowing review coupled with a rejection, just take your lumps and whatever feedback you get, and get back to the fucking keyboard, hippie.
I actually sent in some stuff for the Top Cow Talent Search last year, and since I didn’t get picked up, I suppose I can always just show you what I actually wrote. But bear in mind, if you aren’t familiar with the Top Cow universe most of it will go totally over your head. I submitted two ten page shorts, whereas this year I plan on doing a single 22 page issue.
I won’t lie. I wasn’t even planning on throwing my hat into the ring. Not for any pompous “I refuse to write characters that aren’t my own” reason. It’s just a time thing. But since Adam is doing more freelance stuff and we’re just focussing on pitching, I have more free time.
The reason I mention the creator owned character thing is because I had mentioned this contest to one of my other indie friends, and that was the first thing out of his mouth. “I don’t work on other people’s characters, man.”
I could see that, if you had your own series out there paying your bills. But for me? I want to get to the point where when I send in my pitches an Editor will know I’ve done work already. I know some people might roll their eyes at that, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think that have a few credits under your belt gives a potential employer a tad bit of incentive to actually read what you’ve submitted.
Anyways, I have a script to hammer out … but if you’re interested, all the contest deets can be found HERE.
Lost in the Mountains
- Page 1 -
A wide shot of a mountain trail. There is blowing snowfall. A lone figure bundled up in layers. He has a tall walking stick. The shot is long and we see the foot steps winding back towards the camera. This snowfall is at least six to eight inches deep. He’s headed towards what looks like a sheltered portion of path that runs along the base of a steep cliff.
A side shot of the figure’s upper torso. The top of the head is covered by a cloak brought up and draping over the shoulders. He’s not at all wearing authentic winter clothing. He’s bundled himself up in wraps and blankets, drab beige and grey. The lower half of his face is mostly covered as well. The exposed skin around the eyes is tan, this is an Asian man. His eyes are squinting and he’s partially hunched over walking into the wind. He grips his walking stick tightly with hands wrapped in rags for warmth.
A closer shot of his face. Eyes suddenly wide. He sees something ahead of him on the trail. Something that definitely shouldn’t be there.
A medium shot of a slumped over body of a woman. She’s collapsed at the base of the cliff side and has a bit of climbing gear around her. Looks as though she was climbing the cliff face and fell. A bit of red hair making its way out from under her hood. She’s a bit scraped and her coat’s tattered, but for the most part she’s clean as if she’d only been out here for a short while. In the distance we see the lone figure rushing towards her.
- Page 2 -
Interior. Medium wide shot. A darkened shack. A simple structure made from old timbers and planks and the odd bit of corrugated sheet metal. A true third world home. Shelves lined with nicknacks. Ratty books. Small religious figurines. Jars made of glass and pottery. Bunches of herbs hanging along the walls. Heavy shadow. Our focus is on the red haired stranger, Glorianna. She’s had her coat removed and she lays in a bed wearing a tight fitting but dirtied white under-armour shirt. There is a ragged cloth on her forehead as she sleeps. The Ember Stone around her neck. An incense burner is beside her with smoke rising and twirling in thin strands.
The man (Xi) hunches over a small fire in a simple/small stone and brick fireplace. He’s lifting a primitive metal tea pot. He’s a younger man, looks to be in his early twenties, but there’s wisdom about him. His body is marked with strange tattoos. He wears a simple toga of rough spun fabric. We see the edge of a small rickety table with three chairs in the centre of the room. That’s the entire place. The table and chairs, the bed, and the fireplace. Maybe 400 square feet at the most.
He looks down at two mismatched pewter cups and pours in the tea. His face is neutral.
The woman on the bed stirs, a wincing across her face. She’s in pain and raising her hand to her head where the cloth is. Her eyes are still shut, she’s not quite aware of her surroundings yet.
Xi putting a cup of tea down on the nightstand beside her. Speaking in a calm manner to ensure she knows he means her no harm. He maintains his serious expression, sizing her up at the same time.
Xi: Be calm, you are safe. Drink this for the pain.
- Page 3 -
She raises herself up. The cloth falling from her head, we see there were herbs underneath it. She attempts to catch it as it falls. She looks over at her rescuer as he begins to walk away.
Glori: I fell … I think? How did I get here?
Xi placing his cup of tea on the small table as he sits down facing her. His eyes don’t move from her. There is a hint of mistrust in his eyes.
Xi: I found you on the trail and brought you here. You looked hurt, but you will be fine. (link) Tell me …
A closer shot of Xi’s examining face as he takes a sip of the tea. His eyes focussed on his guest.
Xi: … what is someone like you doing alone in these mountains?
Glori swinging her legs over the side of the bed to sit on its edge. Her right hand reaches out for the cup while the left holds her forehead. Her eyes barely opened, she’s trying to reagin her focus. She’s still wearing her tattered ski pants. No boots though. The medallion dangles around her neck.
Glori: I wasn’t alone. I was with a research group. We were looking for a temple. It’s supposed to be in these mountains, but we’d been having trouble–my head …
Xi looks over at her as he places his tea cup back on the table. His eyes are unwavering as he continues to size up his guest.
Xi: You and your friends, you wish to find this temple and study their teachings? Learn their ways?
- Page 4 -
She chuckles as she’s about to sip the tea. She finds the idea of what he suggests genuinely amusing.
Glori: No, not exactly. We just wanted to take a look at the art, the murals inside the temple.
Xi leans back in his chair a bit with his right arm resting on the table, hand by his cup of tea. Steam still rising from it. He’s stiffly postured. A subconscious rejection of what he hears.
Glori begins to talk with her hands a bit and gets more involved with what she’s saying. She holds the cup in her left hand. She fans her right arm across to really add flair to what she says.
Glori: Yes. This region was the backdrop for some of the most vicious battles ever recorded. A thousand years ago armies warred constantly along the same paths people use today.
A two shot of Xi sipping his tea while listening to her speak. She has his ear now. Glori is getting animated and really involved in the story.
Glori: Folk tales talk about a cursed weapon of power and a temple — a hiding place. Or so we assume. But the art we’ve come across doesn’t show any “weapon” at all. Most of it is so abstract it’s hard to understand. There’s a story there, we just don’t know what it is.
Xi lifts the cup of tea up slowly with his right hand. Elbow still on the table. He eyes his guest. There is a tension in what he says, as though at any moment he’s ready to spring to life in a fury.
Xi: Perhaps you’re not meant to know?
- Page 5 -
A mid two shot, pulling back as far as the camera will allow in the tight quarters of Xi’s shack. Glori chuckles at what he says and grips the cup with both her hands once again. Her eyes are examining Xi. He is looking away, down at the table pulling the cup away from his mouth.
Glori: You sound like a poet. Is that how you spend your days up here? Writing prose?
Xi: I’m no poet, merely a student of nature.
Glori raising the cup to her lips. She’s almost flirting with him now.
Glori: Isn’t nature poetry?
Xi holds the cup by its brim as he places it on the table, twisting it ever so slightly. His head and eyes turn towards it. He relives painful memories while he speaks.
Xi: Were nature a poem it would be a long and winding tale filled with short and violent verse.
Glori looks at her cup with a bit of a grin beginning to form. There is a dark nature about what she says. Not evil, but a childlike sense of deviousness.
Glori: Some would say it’s the violence that makes things exciting.
Xi’s hand is still on his cup. His fingers arched and tensed as he grips the brim. His head is raised and staring right at Glori, for the first time we see him look angry. Not yelling but direct/sharp speech.
Xi: You didn’t come here with any team. You were alone, and it’s no temple you seek. It’s me.
She puts the tea down on the nightstand with her right hand. Overly gentle in the way she moves. She keeps the hint of a grin but doesn’t look up at him. The amulet around her neck glows.
Glori: You know, this really was a good cup of tea. It’s a shame I won’t get to finish it.
- Page 6 -
Glori flexes out her right hand. Her arm is palm up. She’s underhand tossing a mass of flame that pours out of her arm. Her left arm is postured back a bit as it too joins in the blast. The amulet glows wildly and her body is transforming into the avatar of flame. Fingers of flame trickle across her body ensuing change as they go.The force of the heat blast knocks over the night stand and sends things swirling. Anything easily flammable begins to spark.
Xi raises both his arms in front of him. He’s sprung up from his chair legs bracing himself against the blast. He’s low, like a boxer. His eyes glow purple. Smokey tendrils exude from his arm. There are dozens of them. They pour out ahead of him, interlocking, forming a shield. The flames to spray around him all over, like the hull of a boat cutting through water. The heat consumes everything around him.
A wider two shot. He fans the flames away with his smokey appendages on his right arm. He reaches fully out with his left arm. The smoke acts as part of his body and the tendrils wrap about Glori’s arms, legs, and body the way an octopus grabs prey. She struggles as her transformation is complete. Xi’s face has morphed into the purple infused skull we saw during Artifacts Volume 3.
Xi: You have no understanding of what you came for, girl!
- Page 7 -
Glori breaks free from the smoke amid an intense burst of flame that explodes in all directions. It looks like a classic “bursting free” moment. Arching backwards arms flexed, shouting in triumph, giddy at her own power. She is raw flame and fury.
Glori: A nice try …
She issues forth a massive blast of flame with both hands. Her body is flexed, her arms out before her. She hovers ever so slightly as the blast impacts into Xi. His smokey tendrils protect him once again though not as completely as before. He’s charging some sort of counter attack.
Glori: … but no one can contain the power of creation!
Xi: Your words are hollow …
A small inset panel of Xi’s demonic skull face. Purple energies drift out of his eyes nostrils and mouth like the smokey tendrils around his body. He’s angered and annoyed.
Xi: … as is your conviction!
Exterior. Wide shot. The snow still blows. The sky is overcast, we’re in a similar craggy mountainous setting as we were in the beginning. We see Xi’s humble shack, midway up the side of a hill it looks as ramshackle as we’d imagine. Smoke and flame pour from the chimney and windows. Glori is blown clean through the side of the shack spraying flame and debris. She is being thrown down the hill, out the side of the shack that faces the descending slope.
- Page 8 -
Glori raises herself slowly. She’s furious, enraged, but hurt. She lurches as she gets up. The snow flies around her, evaporating on contact. The snow around her feet melts. Steam rises about her, giving the panel a primordial feel. There is the bit of trail in the snow in front of her from where she landed and slid.
Glori: I was trying to be merciful, giving you a chance to surrender.
Glori Transforming into the dragon. It’s wings beginning to spread. The beginnings of flame snort from its mouth. Muscles tensed preparing to begin its assault anew.
Glori: But no longer!
The dragon wings raise in the air as it bellows out a horrifically large stream of flame. Large enough that it consumes the shack whole. The flames spray up off the ground. Smoke, steam and carnage are everywhere. The dragon is leaping as it breaths. The wings spread, it is truly terrifying.
The dragon smashing its fist through the shack, sending burning chunks of debris everywhere. Xi has yet to show himself, he’s still inside.
Glori: Show yourself!
- Page 9 -
Smokey tendrils shoot out from the rubble and burning mass. The dragon rears back upon seeing them. The rubble shakes and bits of flaming debris fly out as the tendrils emerge. They’re coming extremely fast. Not a lot of them just five or six thin ones.
The five or six whisps of smoke wrap themselves around the dragon, one on the arm, another on the opposite wing, and the others around the face and neck. More are emerging from the smoke, a dozen more, all at varying lengths from what was the mass of rubble. The rubble itself explodes out in all directions as Xi emerges, glowing with purple energies.
Xi: The day will come when you will shake the world …
Xi walks towards her, the whirls of flame encircle them as pieces of burning shack and red hot metal swirl in the air. The tendrils are wrapped around Glori’s limbs, her neck, her head and snout. Xi pulls her in close. There is eye contact, Glorianna is fighting, but looks directly at her foe. Xi has his arm flexed in front of him. This takes great control on his part.
Xi: … but not until you know who you are.
Xi slams her head into the ground so hard it creates a crater in the stone, the snow kicks up, the ground cracks, rocks from the mountain fly. This was a god-like impact.
- Page 10 -
A very close, inset panel of Glorianna’s face. Her nose bleeds and eyes are closed. A flake of snow drifts onto her cheek.
A wider shot of Glorianna laying naked in the snow. She’s laying in a crater, her head is at the centre. She’s covered in a bit of snow. It hides her naughty bits. She’s just gaining consciousness, her eyes are wide open and her face is aware.
She gets up, visibly annoyed. The snow blows. She looks around trying to get her bearings, and see if Xi is anywhere to be seen. She’s covers herself as she rises.
A wide over the shoulder shot of Xi watching the dragon flying through the sky in the distance. He’s standing in the entrance of a cave looking up as it leaves. He is far from where the fight ended. He’s wearing singed and burned rags he salvaged from his burning shack.
Xi: Fly away home, pretty thing. I will come for you in time.