This short was originally written for a website that was distributing Crazy Mary and other comics through (semi) smart phones on a pay-per download system. The site was called ROK comics and my friend and former editor John Freeman was involved. Note this pre-dates iPhones and real smart phones by a few years but Freeman was consistently ahead of the curve as far as tech went (ask me about V zones sometime). I had just finished writing a story for William Blankenship’s “Special Edition” book and we collaborated well together. William’s style, I noticed, would work spectacularly with Mary’s more creepy elements. The situation led to me writing a short and William illustrating it as a thank you for Special Edition. As you can see my instincts were spot on; William produces some of the creepiest imagery for Mary’s visions I’ve ever seen. J.K.’s interpretation is skin crawling and profoundly unsettling, William’s is borderline madness. It’s like having the best apples and oranges ever grown to pick from.
Despite its length “Deal” is brimming with references and encapsulates a lot of the arc elements I’ve worked out for Mary…
Some weren’t even intended that way.
PN 1 – “Six years ago” that being six years from when we first meet Mary in “Trail of tears”. I’m sure you figured that out.
Mary says “no” three times, yes this was intentional. The recurring threes motif and also showing Mary’s advanced state of mental anguish.
PN 2 – Col. Taurus is a character that plays a significant part in Mary’s backstory but he has yet to be seen. He is the leader of Project Dragonfly which is responsible for Mary’s condition. He has kept contact with Mary since she left the project. (This provides story vectors for Mary) The military in Mary’s world utilizes Upgrades as independent contractors for objectives the military can’t get directly involved in. Mary is on Taurus’ speed dial for that but he also does it to keep tabs on his “project”.
I gave him the name Taurus going off the bull animal totem, specifically the concept of sacrifice. This is from a google search on Bull as animal totem: A Bull totem symbolizes nourishment through its slaughter or sacrifice.
Draw your own conclusions from there.
Mary’s brainwaves are being monitored: delta, theta, beta and gamma
Delta waves are usually associated with the deep stage 3 of NREM sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), and aid in characterizing the depth of sleep.
Mary’s Delta waves are spiking, whiles she’s awake; essentially in a dream state while awake.
Theta waves are a bit more controversial; different schools of thought link it to motor function and a mammal’s sense of location in an environment, others think learning and memory. Cortical theta waves in older children and adults tend to appear during meditative, drowsy, or sleeping states, but not during the deepest stages of sleep. Several types of brain pathology can give rise to abnormally strong or persistent cortical theta waves. After years of not knowing and letting the explanation for Crazy Mary’s BIG secret work itself out I discovered all of these interpretations and differences are valid in context of Mary’s situation. But initially the appearance during sleeping and meditative states was what I had intended.
Beta wave states are the states associated with normal waking. No wonder they are in the cellar right now.
As for Theta waves, I got this from Wikipedia: A lead article by Andreas K. Engel et al. in the journal Consciousness and Cognition (1999) that argues for temporal synchrony as the basis for consciousness, defines the gamma wave hypothesis thus:
The hypothesis is that synchronization of neuronal discharges can serve for the integration of distributed neurons into cell assemblies and that this process may underlie the selection of perceptually and behaviorally relevant information.
Or, in short, theta waves help in the interpretation of reality. So her theta waves are crashing. That means her perception of reality is substantially altered. That is a thematic element of Crazy Mary in a nutshell.
PN 3 – Sigma waves – when I wrote this sigma waves weren’t believed to exist but Sigma is next in the Greek alphabet, so it made sense that if I was to expand on already established science Sigma would be the next wave. Remember way back in “Epilogue” Tweek is experimenting on decaf coffee and the possible sigma wave emanations?
Of course the sigma waves can’t be pinned down, it’s my McGuffin.
Corporal Neti sums up everything I’ve been droning on about with waves and shit by saying “She’s lucid dreaming in reverse.”
PN 4 “…The dose?” they seem to be keeping Mary drugged up during her episodes.
PN 1 – Neti is, in Sumerian, Babylonian, and Akkadian mythology, a minor underworld god, the chief gatekeeper of the netherworld, and the servant of the goddess Ereshkigal. It should be apparent why Corporal Neti is named as such.
PN 3 – The first look at William Blankenship’s interpretation of Mary’s crazy vision. I always give the artist a lot of free reign with these panels because I imagine these panels are the kind of thing comic book artists are dying to do. I think I recall William freaking himself out a little by what he was doing here.
Sigma, Delta and Theta waves spiking when Roswell shows up.
Roswell, as usual, being obtuse – what he is saying is a mental test to test if you’re mental. “…crazy is quite subjective, isn’t it?”
PN 4 – I might have mentioned before that I am a set lighting electrician in my day job. I know I mentioned in my bio that I worked on BABYLON 5. I pay homage to that great show in this story by somehow fitting in four of the five QUESTIONS constantly asked throughout the series. Those questions are:
Who are you?
What do you want?
Why are you here?
Where are you going?
Do you have anything worth living for?
As a side note I knew about three of the questions while watching the show. When I worked on it I got to ask JMS if there were actually five questions; he said “yes” but looked like he was going to cry. Good thing I never mentioned the Lord of the rings references, he might’ve broke down by the caser’s salad.
Two of these questions are in this panel.
PN 1 – That background looks like H.R. Giger doing art for the next Doom video game.
A partnership? Yes, it’s kinda an origin story. Damn smack in the middle of an origin story, really.
PN 2 – “Who are you?” this is, in order of the B5 questions, the first but it was tough enough getting the questions into the script organically, forget about correct sequence. If there truly is such a thing as correct sequence.
PN 3 – The original version of “Chase” served as an introduction to the trinity of Roswell, Loki and Hoax. You can see that in an issue of DWP and the super rare “Trinity” collection put out by DWP. Art was by a different guy and the text had a whole internal narration by Glimmer. This short covered the same ground, just not as much info.
Roswell originally came to me in a dream which was set up like an extended film trailer. He was a lot more evil in the dream but still had the same eloquence. In good magick fashion I flipped it on him and re-imagined him with a lot less menace and trapped him in a fictional universe. He doesn’t mind seeing as how he has some form now and a major character arc. That’s why he’s mellowed considerably.
Hoax had the feeling first, her design grew as the stories progressed but that’s how I wanted her to develop; let her reveal herself as things went. Kinda odd but her essence was always there it just didn’t want to reveal itself all at once.
Loki – Comic relief and usually generates the most chaos. All I ever described him as was an imp.
PN 1 – “The codes, she knows the codes!” This line popped into my head when I was writing the story. This was a point where I still hadn’t been shown what the trinity really is. Yes, I’m intentionally using a passive verb there. Now that I know everything it makes perfect sense.
PN 2 – Beta and Gamma waves rise once she starts communicating with Roswell and talking about a deal. Her or the trinity doing it?
PN 4 – “Three choices you can make.” Guess what they are. Here Mary says “Yes?”
PN 1 – “Each can set you free, just in different ways.” Not all choices are acceptable apparently.
PN 2 – “For access” and all that implies.
PN 3 – “Where are you going?” the last of the Babylon 5 questions appearing but not the last B5 homage…
PN 4 – a call back to Chase again and a recurring theme; Choice or the illusion of choice.
PN 5 – “Be seeing you.” Roswell’s regular goodbye to Mary. B5 used that line with the Psycorp conspiracy. But he was paying homage to “The Prisoner”. I tip my hat to both by this line.
PN 2, 3 – “Deal? Real?” me being clever I guess.
PN 4, 5, 6 – Essentially a dolly back out of the room through the monitor and into the control room, common cinematic device. Obviously something happened in there but what really happened. Col. Taurus’ last line “There are no facts in this game, only interpretations.” I believe that was Josh’s addition, of course because it is Nietzsche. It’s about positivism.
Positivism holds, roughly, that the phenomena we observe through our senses are physical in nature and that they actually happen in a material world. Thus positivists take these phenomena as objective fact and use it for their world-explanation, for example by making physical laws. Nietzsche’s statement is that fundamentally, positivists are interpreting observed phenomena as physical (instead of non-physical, e.g. Berkeley), and real, when in fact they have no definite justification to do so. Thus, facts are really the subjective result of information: there is nothing necessarily “true” about them, other than how they fit into a particular interpretation.
Even though I feel putting the quote in feels a tad awkward there is no doubt that Nietzsche would grok what Crazy Mary is about.
By my friend, Hugo award winning editorial director and Semi-guru Lou Anders. Check out his musings and writing updates at www.louanders.com and @louanders Thanks Lou.
My bio may contain some fictional elements.
Friends, family, dogs, influences, video games, porn stars and more thanked.
That wraps up the annotations for “By Factory smoke and acetylene light” hope you enjoyed it and it deepened you enjoyment of the work. I’m not sure but maybe the next Mary GN will be titled “De do do do, De da da da” or “tea in the Sahara.”
COMICS IN THE CAN – FCBD special pt 2
ATOMIC ROBO (+ Brodie troll and haunted)
AR – written by Brian Clevinger
Art – Scott Wegener
I’ve been a big fan of Robo from almost the beginning. Robo and Witch Doctor by Brandon Seifert will always be my first suggestion to anyone interested in trying out comics. Something about a wise cracking robot running through history having science adventures just makes sense for this medium. The sense of fun and humor this book has raises Atomic Robo above it’s pulpy trappings. When one of your main enemies is named Doctor Dinosaur; a talking raptor with delusions of grandeur and a rocket launcher you’ve got fun in mind. When that bad guy is a legitimate threat while also being hysterical you got something special. All said, I love Atomic Robo and the FCBD stories almost always stand out. When I was reviewing for comics bulletin a FCBD Robo story was one of only two “five bullet” ratings I ever gave. This year’s story doesn’t live up to (admittedly super high) expectations. The story is pretty average; a student fInds some weird EGG-LIKE rocks and encounters a rock monster in the process. Robo is also there searching for said rock monster. Punching and explosions ensue. I’m sure you already figured out the twist as soon as I wrote about the strange rocks; they are rock monster eggs. The student hurls the eggs into a mine shaft fire, dynamite is added – BOOM! I think what didn’t work for me is that I felt sorry for the monster momma protecting her (it’s?) eggs. The monster, apart from being big and scary, is never established as a threat. Robo and the monster have history (guess how the mine fire got started) but I have more empathy for the monster in this case. Oh well; Wegener’s art is full of action and humor as always. The colors are bright and everything is clear and enjoyable. An average Robo story is still better than a large chunk of material out there on any day.
Brodie Troll by Jay Fosgitt was a treat; whimsical and imaginative it seems to be made for the little kid who digs Jack Skellington (like my daughter). The joke about Brodie’s culinary tastes gets a little strained but it’s all for the payoff at the end.
Haunted seemed capable but didn’t leave much of an impression. It looked creepy, I’ll give it that.
WAITING TO EXPLODE
Script – Michael Colbert and Josh Finney
Art – Ryan Sergeant
Layouts and colors – Josh Finney
Waiting to Explode has been laying around since the Digital Webbing days; the plan was to have it as a stand-alone story if we went and did the series with DWP. Sadly, or possibly for the best, that route was not to be taken. But when the time came for 01 the story was, in my opinion, the perfect step to take to expand the euniverse. It was a great story with a twist, lots of action, A Die Hard-esque plot (which I’m a sucker for) and most signifigantly: already written. With all the work I had on deck I was grateful for the fact that I had stock piled stories. All I had to do was crank it up, make a tiny revision here and there, let Josh take a quick gander for a dialogue tweak here and there then move on to production… Easy.
Boy was I wrong.
Pn 1 – A slightly different opening. Originally I opened with what’s on PAGE 2; it was a struggle to get the story into 22 pages so I felt what happens on this page is evident on page 2. Doing the story for the GN freed up space so we get a get an in-the-moment killing instead of a remove.
As a side note, I always have sympathy for the poor security guard in movies and TV. Their function in such media is suffering a senseless and horrible death to illustrate how bad/evil/monsterous the antagonist is. Always wrong place, wrong time for these poor saps.
Guilty as charged, but in case you wanted to know; the guard that gets his head blown off was named Reggie. Things had been a bit up and down for Reggie recently; his girlfriend of two and a half years had just left him. (“It’s not you, it’s me.”) But he did recently reconcile with this estranged half-brother because of a cancer scare. Reggie drank a bit too much and couldn’t stop recalling the glory days of high school. Especially when he made that winning touchdown off a beautiful Hail Mary pass that Gibson had thrown to Simmons. Simmons was a dick and always got the girl even when he acted like a complete douchebag. But it wasn’t Simmons who was wide open near the endzone that fateful day in October. It was REGGIE! Gibson tossed that pigskin and it was like the whole world went into slow motion. Reggie could see the spin on the ball as it soared through the air in a beautiful arc right to where he was headed. As the final seconds ticked down on the scoreboard and the HUD in his helmet, Reggie knew this was his moment. But the ball was too high and two defensemen were closing in. Instinct took over and Reggie leapt over the attacking slabs of muscle, violence and football gear and plucked that goddamn ball right outta thin air landing safely in the endzone. Everybody in the bleachers went crazy, even Brittney Walters… especially Brittney Walters… and all was right with the world. That night at a kegger his buddy Scooby (not his real name) was throwing because his parents had gone to the Poconos for the weekend, he scored again, this time with Brittney. Douchebag Simmons, attending the same party, passed out on the back porch and woke up vomit stained with Scooby’s wire hair terrier mix licking the remaining chunks of barf off his lips. Suck it Simmons.
Yes those were the good ‘ole days and the rest of Reggie’s life was a slow, spirit breaking decline from that young highpoint. Brittney went on to become a dental hygienist with four kids out in Wichita near the Holy Texas Empire border. They never hooked up again though they did become Facebook friends a few years ago. Simmons went on to sell used hover cars in Jersey and ranks 20,056 in World of Warcraft’s Fightin’ Cleric brigade (Holydeathmerchant97).
Reggie’s story will never be known beyond the digital ink of these annotations but that doesn’t lessen the tragedy of his passing. In fact the tragedy is amplified; Reggie’s funeral was closed casket and only a smattering of people, including his half-brother and his ex, attended. Unsung and few to remember him; Reggie’s violent death was merely an exclamation point in an otherwise standard sentence. Reggie might never have lived up to his potential as a comic book character, but he had a good credit rating and always tipped at least twenty percent. So, next time you see that poor miserable son of a bitch security guard who gets sanctioned an hour and a half before the Bruce Willis image-licensed hero saves the day in a special effects extravaganza, remember Reggie. ’Cause that poor bastard dying for plot reasons has a rich backstory that only the writer and the extra playing him care about.
But I digress.
Pn 1 – Poor Reggie
Pn 2 – Saul giving last rights.
Pn 3 – Hugo’s body in the shot, of course we don’t know that Hugo is the bomb at this point. This is the opening I originally wrote and it serves multiple ends: We learn of God’s army and their ruthlessness, someone is watching them from survaillaince cameras, that watching someone doesn’t want this to go down, Saul is a righteous ass-hole. Then add in a re-read after the Hugo reveal and the page takes on other levels for the story. Saul is still an ass-hole however you cut it, though. I always loved the bloody wheel tracks; ghastly but effective.
Pn 1 – A cluttered, chaotic, busy night in Megalopolis. This page is a lot of Josh’s doing; the set-up is pretty tight and there is a lot of information (both visual and dialogue driven) packed into these four panels. Once again I love each artist’s interpretation of Megalopolis. I try and veer away from the Blade Runner rainy dystopian punk rock look but I do feel that population nexus’ like Times square are going to be even MORE overloaded with advertisements and information and this panel does capture that.
Pn 2 – Mary’s ring tone is “Spirits in the material world” from the Police. Pretty on the nose especially considering the caller. The other house band for Crazy Mary is Sisters of Mercy BTW.
Pn 3-4 – These two panels achieved the same goal I had done in a page in the original draft. A bit more economical. The holoprojector on panel 4 is saying “No image available.”
Pn 2-5 – Roswell doing what Roswell does best; a little abstract information delivered elegantly. It should be noted that Roswell never tells Mary to do anything, he just gives her information and lets her decide for herself. Of course since he knows Mary he doesn’t really have to; he’s pretty sure what way she’ll go. This irritates Mary to no end. She has free will, arguably, but her reactions can be anticipated. He’s nudging her, immediately quelling the “Bullshit or not?” question of Hugo.
Pn 5 – “Two worlds and in-between” a line from “Lucretia My Reflection” a song from Crazy Mary’s other house band Sisters of Mercy.
Pn 1 – Roswell not messing around anymore.
Pn 2 – Mary’s hostility at her hand being forced. Roswell does look a tad smug.
Pn 3 – Two buildings mentioned here. 1 – Thorndyke building – pretty sure a blade runner reference. 2 – New Rose plaza is assuredly a William Gibson reference. I applaud Josh for this one.
Pn 4 – “Everything will add up.” A foreshadowing line if there ever was one. An overt reference to Hugo’s AI nature.
Pn 1, 2 – Josh added a lot of sweetening to the flying panels. Ryan’s pencils and colors were great but blurring the background and adding VFX to the bike’s propulsion and such just made the panels come alive.
The dead spot is a frequency envelope generator. A natural extention of tech in this world (countermeasures). In an earlier draft Glimmer sneaks into the building and tricks a God’s army into shooting it full of holes. The final version put the generator inside the bomb. That made tactical sense and eliminated some plot cleaning up from previous draft.
Pn 4 – “… ridiculously overpriced spy toys…” Josh’s line. I always liked that line.
Pn 5 – Another example of Josh’s sweetening and an excellent example of Josh’s military/hardware fetish. Sometimes I think Josh is a cyborg sent back from the future to acclimate us all to the singularity or the fact that “Call of Duty” becomes the primary outlet for international conflict.
Pn 1,2 – Another sweetening trick; Josh broke this panel in two and placed the recoil below the muzzle. The result is about a hundred times more dynamic. He did the same trick for Pn 5, 6 achieving the same magnitude of effect.
Pn 5 – “Club Dreah” in the background – Ryan illustrated my friend, Sean Dulaney’s book “Dreah, Queen of thieves”. Ryan was also illustrating my aborted adaptation of Yar’s Revenge back in ’08. I wanted to work with him since seeing Dreah on DWP and this was the opportunity.
Josh “remixed” this page making the action more dynamic. The way I laid out the page had a bit more info and turned out crowded. Intergrating diagonal lines and splitting that one panel into two really amped up the tension. I know enough about graphic design to see when it’s done right but just not enough (at the time) to come up with that idea on my own. This is the benefit of having someone like Josh in your corner.
Pn 1 – A hazy vfx over the panels on this page. Nice aftermath shot.
Pn 5 – Two to the chest… …and one to the head – Josh’s line, lending more credence to the cyborg from the future theory.
Pn 1 – Simon is a ladies man, you can tell.
Pn 2,3 – You had ONE job, Simon…
Pn 5 – Mary doesn’t kill so it is tazer pistols in all their glory. Bet it hurts though.
Pn 4 – Mary really liked that coat too.
Pn 2 – 3 But Hugo has told you where the bomb is Mary. Hugo is struggling, has always been, with telling Mary the truth. I wouldn’t call it a slip-up; Hugo is just being as evasive as he can be while still giving Mary what she wants.
A side note on Hugo’s name: I wasn’t thinking of Hugo Chavez when I named him; Hugo just seems like a name an AI would give itself. Beats Reggie (sniff, poor Reggie).
Pn 1 – The original version of this story focused more on the Die Hard mechanics of the plot. I was determined to get a face to face between Mary and Hugo and as a result I had to thin out God’s Army methodically. It kinda got off track from the heart of the story but it also built up a relationship between Mary and Hugo not un-like the John McClane/Al Powell relationship in Die Hard. When Mary and Hugo do meet face to face there is a level of tenderness in their brief time together. Obviously the situation changed in the re-write and the dynamic between Mary and Hugo changed too.
Pn 1-2 – Josh pointed out to me in the script that Saul’s religious trappings are very catholic. I wasn’t cognizant of that at first but it later helped dictate elements of God’s Army design and agenda as they evolved from faceless baddie/obstacle to more defined antagonists.
Pn 3 – The problem with finding a sufficiently wrathful bible passage wasn’t eeking one out from text but in choosing from the multitude available. Fortunetly I had a substantial list of quotes that I had gathered from researching the supplemental prose story in Titanium Rain and another project titled K.R.A.N.E.
Pn 4 – I named Saul after my least favorite apostle
Pn 1 – I suppose it’s redundant to point out that Saul is modeled after Hans Gruber in all the most superficial ways.
It’s mostly covered by a balloon but you can see Peter’s bandages from his most recent bout of cutting.
Pn 4 – I never specified that God’s Army dress like the support team for Master Chief. I believe that came out of Ryan’s designs.
Judges and Exodus team – Josh’s flourish; a little old testament wrath style. Fitting for God’s Army.
Pn 1 – Wallpaper had made a swing to hypnotic patterns when Thorndyke building was built apparently.
Pn 2 – 3 – You get the feeling Peter isn’t well liked among the members of God’s army? Too weird for a bunch of neo-fascist religious nuts? “The cutting keeps him pure.” This was a Josh idea. It adds a fragile human angle to a least one of these messed up people.
Pn 2-3 – I love the holo-schemes. Pretty much exactly how I wrote them out. Josh sweetened them with a filter of course.
Pn 4 – Still no lack of wrathful smack talk. Thanks bible.
Josh had written some dialogue for this exchange that wasn’t quite what I was aiming for. At first I thought my redux was a bit on the nose but Josh loved it. He felt I was right on target and encouraged me to get in touch with my anger towards religion. That advice informed the later speech from Mary.
“…that’s not piety, that’s myopia!” Ok, Mary DOES hang out at a lot of coffee houses.
Pn 3 – About wheels turning – Glimmer chooses to go in to help Mary. This is the beginning of the architecture of coincidence that saves Mary’s ass.
As stated previously; I had wanted a face to face between Mary and Hugo. This draft made it obvious that was just not possible. Here is a version with the reveal of Hugo as the bomb :
PANEL 5 Low angle. By a desk surrounded by three of the low walls. Phil and Andrew are in a pile like sacks of flour. Mary is standing over them. Hugo’s balloon is back to spiky.
You did good Hugo. How’s part two of the plan?
I have five minutes of recorded hall cam footage.
Start running it. And the radio check-ins?
I can fake it as long as they don’t want to talk sports or something.
Don’t worry. One last thing Hugo…
PANEL 6 Mary is by the door Andrew and Phil were guarding. She is ready to open it. Hugo’s balloon is spiky.
You say if I find the bomb, I find you, right?
Yes, but… I have to tell you something…
Don’t bother, I’ve figured it out already grasshopper…
PANEL 1 A full page. We are inside the room, it’s an office with the desks pushed away to the edges. The lighting is from the overheads. In the middle of the room is the snowman bomb. Mary is in the background standing in the doorway looking at the device and she has a knowing look on her face, like she is bummed that she is right.
You are the bomb.
I felt that their heart to heart, where Mary convinces Hugo to not murder thousands of people need to have that visual connection and intimacy. I noted that Hugo should be shot like another person in the scene and his original design (like a snowman) reflected that. Just not gonna happen with the final draft. I had to sacrifice the intimacy but ultimately this situation made more sense from a logistic standpoint is more thrilling and has a better vibe of danger and desperation.
Pn 1 – Since there was no face to face Hugo got radically redesigned into the (again very Cathloic) ball and cross. It should be noted that it’s only Saul’s sense of the dramatic that informs Hugo’s shape because, really, after the bomb explodes there wouldn’t be anything left. But I had decided very early on that Saul was a melodramatic douche bag.
Pn 2-3 – Mary always knows when she is being directly watched through a camera. Must be that crazy sight of hers.
“Just don’t explode.” A simple solution. But life is never simple like that or, more specifically, we don’t allow it to be that simple. Classic, well-trod argument here: Free will vs. Fate. What if God came down from heaven and said you were put on this earth to kill thousands. It is your destiny to have your name reviled with the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Cheney? Two things 1. You’re not cool with that. 2. God is an asshole. I mean just #1 is enough but essentially #2 is about some prick using you to push his own agenda and selling it as “Destiny”. I think it’s obvious where my sentiments lie. But Hugo’s existential crises is more tactile…
Pn 1 – He was created to blow up, there is no hypothehtical here. What a mind job that would be. Consider that instead of being a psycho like Hitler who cultivates the mass destruction your destiny is that you are patient zero for an epidemic that will kill thousands or maybe millions. You’re not a bad person, you just got the short straw. If you knew that what would you do about it? Especially if you had your creator (the one who also made the virus) telling you your purpose.
Pn 2-3 – “A rudimentary AI, no smarter than a chicken.” Chicken; the one meat all religions can agree on.
Pn 1-2 a little humor to lighten the tone. A female pope; note they aren’t upset that it’s a female pope. Gay porn in the background as Pete cuts himself to fight the urges.
Pn 3 – Behind Saul’s words is the God’s army logo; it’s a mod of a fascist logos from Italy if I recall correctly. A lot of research went into that little detail.
Pn 4 – Ahh, the dangers of expanding your mind, AI or otherwise.
“The data sea” was coined (at least by my knowledge) by David Louis Edelman in his “Jump 225 trilogy” a book series I cannot recommend highly enough. It’s from Pyr books which is run by my friend, and Crazy Mary afterward writer, SF guru Lou Anders.
Pn 2 – The importance of Zero, One, Two and its correspondence to Yes, No, Maybe is revealed later.
Pn 3 – Sometimes I do think Roswell is deliberately obtuse just to make Mary work for it.
Pn 5 – This is Mary’s angle to convince Hugo not to explode.
Pn 2 – Droppin’ a little Nietzsche on ya! Rather fitting for an existential crises.
Pn 3-5 The whole argument condensed into 3 panels. Gun included.
Pn 1 “These Assholes…” Mary feels the same as I do about the subject (no big surprise). I have a real problem with people trying to cram THEIR morality and world view down my throat! I’m very much a “Live and let live” kinda person and this behavior is very much against my personal code. This goes doubly so for religious folks because the idea that they could be mistaken is short circuited by their unwavering faith that it is mandated by God therefore right, regardless of the evidence to the contrary. What’s baffling is the obsessive need to eradicate all contrary points of view and any variant from their accepted world view. It seems like a pointless exercise to me; shit, if you’re so sure you’re right just kick back and enjoy the fact. Of course the point is that deep down they know they’re wrong and externalize that denial by trying to expunge contrary viewpoints. Hence blowing shit and people you find disagreeable up.
Welcome to sentience, it aint ever easy.
Unlike me Mary is a big coffee drinker.
Pn 4 – “By taking a leap of faith” subverting the opposition’s dogma there.
PN 1 – Glimmer’s vehicle is an odd duck sort of an ATV of flying machines. Ryan just winged it (I gave no description of it). One can assume it’s newer, not a conversion like a lot of flyers in Megalopolsis. So I figure Glimmer has some money in the coffers. Some interesting backstory there.
PN 4 – Ouch! See the wheels turning; did Roswell know Glimmer was going to be there at that moment?
PN 1 “Fire and brimstone…” heh.
PN 2 – I love that Hugo switched to the camera watching them. Quick way to make them know who he is.
PN 1 – EXPLODO! Hugo got to have it both ways. I can’t help think of the collateral damage of the Thorndyke going up but it could’ve been worse. Nice epic panel BTW. Thanks Ryan and Josh.
PN 1 – Apollo’s coffee again, I never get tired of that joke. Post-game wrap up over coffee.
PN 2 – Trinary code for AI; Yes, no, maybe… a trinity of “Spirit guides”. A lot of threes hanging around this book. Hmmmm.
PN 1 – Ummm, yeah… Hugo could’ve that. If he did I guess he could watch Mary from a security cam…
PN 2 – Rez-lines indicating the shot is on a SECURITY CAM!?!?!?!?
PN 4 – As I’ve said before; Mary always knows when someone is watching her through a cam.
In the original draft I had a follow-up scene of Hugo wandering free on the data sea essentially in an AI nirvana.
PANEL 5 The kaleidoscopic tube again. In the center, like we are zooming away from it is Mary on the cam monitor.
It feels like a billion fingers or hands reaching out and carrying me…
THIS PAGE IS A FULL PANEL PAGE WITH SEVERAL SMALL PANELS (1-4) INSERTED ON IT MAKE THE INSERT PANELS FLOW LIKE A NATURAL READING PROGRESSION AND CAP IT OFF WITH THE WHOLE PAGE PANEL 5.
PANEL 1 The tube again but we are just about to leave it and enter the Escher cityscape of the web again.
…Crowd surfing on the web…
PANEL 2 We see the full cityscape the racing lights, the windows into our world, code floating in the air… a glowing living thing.
Here I am now one with infospace all the thoughts, dreams, and ideas of the world!
PANEL 3 The same view except that glowing hands come into view from the bottom of the panel. They are human but they have a slight purple glow, like an aura around them.
Humans, artificial intelligence… and more… I can be part of their lives here…
PANEL 4 Same view except the arms are spreading out to the sides of the panel.
I am part of it, the living world. I am one with everything…
PANEL 5 The full panel. We see Hugo he looks like a teenage boy version of the child we saw back on page 18; young, vibrant, glowing and happy. He has his arms stretched wide like he is embracing everything a broad blissful smile on his face. The web city pulses and glows behind him and all around him. He’s truly in his element.
…This must be Heaven!
This end also existed when Mary and Hugo met face to “face” so part of it was archaic to begin with.
We decided to leave it a little open to interpretation. What we did in final draft soft sells the idea and has its own charm too. I think it’s a better ending because the reader is left to draw their own conclusions about a lot of the loose ends.
COMICS ON THE CAN – Free comic book day edition pt 1!
Scam – crosswords
Written by Jason Ciaramella
Drawn by Joe Mulvey
THE EXPENDABLES + OCEAN’S ELEVEN X LEGION OF DOOM = goofy over the top fun. 2 stories, first one is about a merc named Crosswords with a black and white checkered mask, a snarky attitude and a penchant for a level of mayhem that would make Deadpool go “Dude’s on an impressive level”. This is my first encounter with this guy (and scam as a whole); signs point to him being the big bad.
I like him! He, in short order, dumps some kidnapees out of a plane making it rain splating bodies onto not nice German crime guy (father and husband of kidnapee sky-pizza) then crashes his plane into the guy’s goons and slaughters everyone that survived. Lot of content for 10 pages or so. Cinematic and relishing it’s “R with an explanation” boundary push; Crosswords is Bugs bunny by way of Garth Ennis.
The second story is about another hit man in the line-up named “Pint” who gets stronger and faster the drunker he gets. He’s after a Russian bag man taking a break in Vegas with a bodyguard who does nothing to dismiss the beefy Russian female joke. Fast paced and kooky enough to keep it on the entertaining side of hit men. Pint’s mis-adventure doesn’t reach the scale of cartoon violence that Crosswords does but it is a laugh and has flawless comedic timing.
Considering the fun I had reading this I’ll have to check out more of SCAM. And isn’t that one of the things that #FCBD sets out to do?
I mean this in the best possible way – perfect bathroom reading.
COMICS IN THE CAN – WONDERCON EDITION PT 3
KODOJA TERROR MOUNTAIN: SHOWDOWN Issue #4
Written by Keith Foster
Art by Rory Smith
You ever lie awake in bed late at night; just you, the gassy dog and your deep dark secrets and think “Gee, there just isn’t enough Kaiju comic books out there. I mean there is Godzilla at IDW and I can’t wait for (shameless plug alert) World War Kaiju but damn if there isn’t enough sharp, well written, fast moving and fun giant monster stories for me to purchase… Oh god, Fido, what the hell did you eat to make that smell!?!?!”
Lord knows I do.
That’s why I’m here sitting on the potty for YOU! Switch Fido to dry dog food, I’m sure you “accidentally” killed that hobo in Cincinnati and next time you’re at a big con look for Kodoja Terror mountain! Drawing from a deeply held love for Kaiju movies KODOJA’s got the moves down and offers some surprises along the way. The beats are familiar; mysterious giant monster casually demolishes everything in its path, a deeply frustrated military hurls everything it’s got (including a secret weapon) to no avail and a team of scientists unlock the secrets and bear witness to the inevitable Kaiju on Kaiju violence. But where most of the Kaiju stories compel you to fast forward past the expository dialogue and get right to the monster bashing Kodoja keeps you invested in the characters with depth, snarky/funny/clever dialogue and figuratively and literally well drawn characters.
Kodoja is a man-made bio-droid that’s been mothballed. It activates itself and heads out into the world driven by some unknown purpose. Meanwhile a giant demon snake Kaiju thing shows up and starts tearing shit up. You can guess the rest of the plot; buildings get Kaiju-ized the countryside shakes and everybody panics and grasp for a solution. The fun is built into the action and Kodoja delivers wholeheartedly.
Indie comics can be a lot of things and sometimes it’s forgotten among the pretense but one of the things they can be is damn entertaining. And infused with homage, action and an obvious sense of fun – that’s just what Kodoja Terror Mountain is.
On a side note you should also see out, if they have it in stock, the soundtrack to Kodoja by Big Pimp Jones w/ hot peas n’ butta. The soundtrack is a funky take on Kaiju movie music that will impress the music kook in your clan… Worth it.
www.kodoja.com @kodoja www.bigpimpjones.com www.recordbreakin.com
Next: The Eltingville club
Soon: Free comic book day edition
Welcome to COMICS ON THE CAN – WONDERCON EDITION Pt 2
As I sit here on the throne and contemplate Misfortune High from Jules Rivera it occurs to me that the “—— in high school.” is an indie sub-genre. Probably a result of panning for that Harry Potter and/or Buffy the vampire slayer gold and also High School is an apt metaphor for life challenges and an effective microcosm of life in general. Not all of them are done well… most aren’t done well… Misfortune High is the exception that proves the rule. It’s about a lying upper class jerk who gets expelled from his 1% wizard school and sent to the wrong side of the tracks. Hilarity and class struggle ensues. In the interest of full disclosure Jules is a friend of mine, in fact we shared a table at wondercon, and her wrath terrifies me. But even if I wasn’t scared of the verbal and physical drubbing I’d get I’d still dig Misfortune High. Here’s why – most of those indie books lack depth. No so with Misfortune High – the characters are very well grounded and distinct (both visually and personality-wise) for such a out there concept. I found myself thinking about them long after I finished my duty. Jules also balances sly humor with some serious notes and manages to fit an interesting plot in as well.
The art is unique; the watercolors have a loose feel that enhances the comedic aspects of the book but somehow transmits a full emotional range too. The world of Misfortune High feels lived in and authentic even with the cartoon-ish look. The foil stamped cover is keen too.
Misfortune High left me wanting more; the plot kicks into gear right at the end of the 48 pages. Thankfully book #2 just got funded on kickstarter and Jules is finishing coloring it as we speak.
Next is the final entry for Wondercon – Kodoja – Terror mountain showdown
Soon – Free comic book day edition
The second published Mary story (Digital Webbing #23) the first in color. Ed Dukeshire hated this story, he’s in the minority. The idea sprang almost fully developed while in the shower and I think it shows off the versatility of Mary. Coffee is a slow burn and is a lot more about the internal workings of this universe. The story also introduces two of the trinity, Roswell and Hoax. Loki would’ve been superfluous in this story. J.K. was experimenting with a different style, what he calls his Diego Bernstein; markers (I think) instead of guash. He was doing something similar at the time for Fallen Angel at IDW. A bit quicker in process but no loss in emotional punch or detail.
Pn 1 – I don’t think I need to point out the pun of Apollo’s Coffee.
Pn 3 – “It’s not like I could stop you.” The first hint at Mary’s relationship with her trinity, Roswell in particular; she considers it a pain in the ass. She can’t even have a cup o’ joe in peace.
Pn 4 – Mary expands on why it can be a pain in the ass.
Pn 6 – Be careful what you ask for.
Pn 1 – “Very Hitchcock…” Mary is referring to the famous Hitchcock lesson about the difference between surprise and suspense; two men sitting at a table talking and a bomb underneath explodes. The audience is surprised. Two men talk at a table and the audience knows there is a bomb underneath is suspense.
I recently discovered an expansion on the Hitchcock lesson by playwright Tom McCormack which dovetails nicely with the rest of the Coffee story :
Once again, imagine a restaurant where there’s is a ticking bomb under the table, and we in the audience know it’s going to go off in fifteen minutes. Now imagine one of the characters knows it as well, but can’t reveal it. With this, the suspense ratchets to another level. Not only are we aware of the impending explosion, we share in the character’s anxiety to get away and the excruciating effort of acting totally unconcerned even as the bomb ticks down. The emotional connection we have to a character for whom this situation is a matter of life or death makes the suspense we feel that much greater.
This isn’t quite what happens in Coffee but it does reflect the added layer of suspense.
Pn 2 – The idea of choice is another recurring theme in Crazy Mary.
Pn 3 – “Like I have a choice.” This falls into the question of choice; it’s not in Mary’s character to allow innocent people to die. Since she has the burden of knowing something is going to happen and her character would reflexively attempt to do something about it, does she really have a choice?
Pn 4 – Roswell plays along, to an extent. This speech does double duty; it reminds Mary of the mechanics of this universe and her place in it and opens the door for the next story and the next Mary GN plot.
Pn 6 – “Three choices… Yes, No and Maybe.” This is the most important trinity in Crazy Mary. This is the biggest recurring theme; the subjective nature of reality, neatly encapsulated in three words.
Note Magritte’s Son of man behind Roswell. Magritte is my favorite artist. Son of man was the template for Roswell in the first place.
Pn 7 – “You know what my choice is.” Is it a choice?
Dali’s Persistence of time can be seen in background, my second favorite artist. Fitting that the surrealists are given a shout out in Mary, don’t ya think?
Pn 1 – Making the Roswell/Son of man connection blatant.
Roswell gets in a gentle dig at Mary and drops a clue as to what the prize is at the end.
Pn 2 – Completing the Roswell/Son of man circuit. Mary was originally scripted says “Damn!” I forget if the final cut was intentional or an accident.
Pn 5 – The readers first reveal of a second trinity member, Hoax.
Pn 5-7 The classic Mary P.O.V. set up.
The dude with the baboon jaw freaks me out.
Pn 1 – Here comes the hearse.
Pn 3 – If it wasn’t obvious before Hoax was pointing to the fire alarm. The perfect means to clear the coffee shop in seconds, helping Mary in her choice.
Pn 4-7 Hoax is the member of the trinity that most of the bad things happen around; if she pops up death will be involved or at least massive collateral damage
Pn 1 – Case in point.
J.K. outdid himself here.
Pn 3 – Silas Blackburn R.I.P.
Pn 4-5 – Originally there was no dialogue for these two panels. Josh felt that we needed to point out that Silas had a crystal in his hand. I felt that it was obvious. Calling back to Roswell’s comment is a bit on the nose but at this point the reader has no idea why a man died for a chunk of rock. And her line tells what the item is without answering any questions.
That is the next story’s job.
As I said above Ed Dukeshire hated Coffee and Dreams simply for the fact that it wasn’t like Trail of tears. “It didn’t have enough action” was his reason. Chase was a direct response to that comment; it is nothing BUT action… on the surface. Since I figured that was all Ed cared about I gave him a rip roaring flying car chase through the canyons of Megalopolis. Chase also gave me an opportunity to do yet another type of Mary story where the visual was all action but the reading is a completely different experience (Subjective nature of reality anyone?) a similar but more extreme version of the Trail of tears structure. The original version of this story (which appeared in a digital webbing Mary one-shot called “Trinity”) was illustrated by Fedrico Zumel and was a bit of a mess. My experience in being an editor get discount viagra online was limited and diluted even more because I still got psyched at seeing my words become visuals. Thus I missed a lot of mistakes that Fedrico doubtlessly would’ve fixed if I had said something.
This version, which is completely re-done by William Blankenship (Doublejumpers, NFL Rushzone), debuts here in “By factory smoke…” more on him later.
Josh Finney, my editor, was no stranger to aerial action having done the spellbinding Titanium Rain. He helped shape the re-write and give it a bit more punch and coherency but the story and its objective have remained the same; you learn about Mary’s trinity while watching a dazzling kinetic story long action scene.
Pn 1 – A nice big panel filled with Easter eggs. William came up with the idea to put the credits on the billboards and signs.
Yes, I have flying cars in Crazy Mary. What I really dig is each artist’s take on the flying car; William’s looks like back to the future hover conversion, Ryan’s looked more like star wars mini-rigs (google it, if you’ve never seen them) and JK created the feel of a car but also something new. I don’t really have a preference but I think William’s take is perfect for this particular story. If I remember correctly the cars were the toughest part of the illustration, William had never really tackled hardware in such volume before.
Pn 1 – Tweek must’ve been watching some western on sync just before this story kicked off.
Pn 2 – Tweek’s lair looks nothing like Epilogue. Holograms are cool things aren’t they?
Glimmer is the defacto narrator for the series. Obviously he is referring to the events of Coffee and Dreams.
You don’t see much of Glimmer’s wardrobe but he rocks a Jerry Cornelius/Gideon Stargrave/Jon Pertwee/60’s British spy look. This is partly because he’s originally a magician showman but it’s also because if I had the guts and a hundred less pounds I’D rock this style too.
Pn 3 – The data crystal from Coffee and dreams; I assumed any self-respecting SF fan knew what a data crystal was in the other story. Turns out that’s not the case. Most writers also recognize the crystal for what it is: a mcguffin.
Pn 2 – A lot of interesting billboards hidden in the cityscape. I swear that’s a They Live alien on the left.
“Where we are now” is another recurring line.
Josh added the motion blur on the cars, it really amplifies the sense of speed.
Pn 3 – Street names – 56th no signifigance, Vailo – a tribute to my favorite Yu-Gi-Oh card Maha Vailo, Morrison – Jim or Grant whichever dealer’s choice.
Pn 1 – I always yell “Punch it!” in an ironic way.
Pn 2 – What did get scrubbed from this version was all the narration about her Trinity. The visuals and placement in the GN line up rendered it somewhat superfluous
Ident signals on trucks. I think they have something like that for real, if not, soon.
Pn 4 – More than the cars is each artist’s take on Mary’s vision. William’s style is something akin to Tex Avery emulating H.R. Giger on the brown acid laced with DMT. Oddly enough I think he felt more comfortable doing these panels than the straight up car chase material.
“THIS WAY for comFORt and pleaSURE.” Writing that pissed off the autocorrect on my word processor.
Pn 1 – “My guess, Mary just had one of her moments.” Good guess Glimmer.
Pn 2 – One of the intangibles but driving forces of Mary is her trinity’s tweaking of cause and effect. Mary needed to choose between left and right, Roswell told her left.
Pn 3 – Meet Loki, a decidedly non-Tom Hiddleston looking imp and the weird third of Mary’s trinity. I mean, he is putting the moves on a hula doll. He also allows Mary to twist cause and effect to her favor and makes a bad pun while doing it…
Pn 1 – The hula doll gets tossed…
Pn 2 – We get to do Dr. Stangelove homage…
Pn 3 – It causes Tony to lose his concentration…
Pn 4 – jerking the wheel…
Pn 5 – Almost knocking Dan outta the car. This buys Mary the precious seconds she needs for the events that happen next. Of course she doesn’t know that it’s going to work that way just that her spirit guides are helping her out.
I constantly crack up with Dan calling Tony “Bitch” it’s a funny little detail that adds to the story.
Pn 4 – There is no significance to 1988. Seriously, it’s just below 2000. Move along…
If I remember correctly Josh gave the tilt to the panels and shifted panels a bit to create a greater sense of energy. I’m sold.
Pn 2 – “The Utopiate” if you haven’t read Josh and Kat’s Utopiates remedy that situation right now www.01publishing.com and order a signed copy.
Pn 4 – About the only place we could put a Blues Brothers shout out.
Pn 1 – Looks like those few seconds lost cost Tony and Dan. I’d feel bad for the people on the bus, originally it was one of those shipping trucks with a busted ident signal. It’s late night so there probably wasn’t anybody on the bus anyway.
Pn 4 – Meet Hoax; remember what I said about collateral damage?
“The smell of success” and “Providence” very telling and still not the last play on words in this story.
One of the bigger questions that runs through Mary is stated on this page
Pn 2 – For some reason Loki shouting “Yaaahoooo!” and Mary telling him “Shut up!” didn’t’ make the final.
Pn 3 – “Ok feels pretty subjective right now.” Right on the nose.
Pn 6 – The last and biggest wordplay; The Continential sign becoming “CONTIN” in the same panel that Glimmer tells Mary about getting “Brotherhood of the void” off the data crystal. If you look close you can see sparks making the ellipses “…” right after the “Contin”.
At last! The Crazy Mary Graphic Novel is now available on Amazon.com!! Not only that, Mary SOLD OUT on Amazon.com in less than a get viagra avoid prescription week. So, if you want your copy of Crazy Mary, hurry over to Amazon and order your copy for the next shipment ASAP!.