Fantasy comic I was playing around with, about a twenty-something woman named Alex forced to confront her past in an imaginary world.
Alex Swanson: Young woman in her early twenties, average build, shoulder-length brown hair. Very sarcastic and bitter, is usually either rolling her eyes or glaring with loathing. Alex will also be portrayed in flashback as Girl Alex, Alex at around seven years old with long hair and bright, boundless energy, and Boy Alex, a male version of Girl Alex.
C.P. Swanson: Alex’s mother, a thin woman in her late forties. Her brown hair is cut short, and she wears expensive but not flashy clothing. In flashbacks, she has longer hair and simple jeans/t-shirts. She knows how much Alex resents her, and is trying to make things right.
Dushanti: Race of warrior beings from a fantasy land, with light blue skin and dark green hair. Typically dressed in Barbarian garb, they should look (coloring aside) close to human, but not quite able to pass. The most prominent character is Dryan, a warrior prince who appears around seven years old.
Alandrya: Daughter of Alex and Dryan, she looks like Girl Alex with dark green hair and slightly blue skin (could pass as a girl in some kind of costume). Raised as a warrior, she bears a short sword on her back and wears the typical warrior garb of the Dushanti.
Maxtor: The initial villain in young Alex’s first adventure. The scary (but not too scary) evil magician antagonist, with over-the-top theatrics and four arms.
Jake: Young man in his early twenties, Alex’s best friend with blond hair and blue eyes. Quite nerdy.
Marcus: Young boy, eight years old, red hair and green eyes. Alex’s childhood friend and largely forgotten fellow adventurer.
PAGE 1: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Exterior of a sinister tower—but not too dark. The lair of a villain from a children’s book.
You know how it all started, right?
PANEL 2. Interior of the tower. Maxtor is peering into the cauldron, grinning evilly. Behind him, in a cage suspended from the floor, a female version of Dryan clutches the bars defiantly.
The evil Magician Maxtor had captured the Dushanti princess for his sinister scheme.
PANEL 3. The center of the Dushanti village (a collection of oddly shaped and brightly colored tee-pees), three Dushanti shaman chant and gesture ritualistically around a large fire.
So the Dushanti shaman summoned a great and noble champion who was destined to rescue her…
PANEL 4. Close up of the fire blazing brightly.
PANEL 5. The fire is now completely extinguished. In the charred center of the charred circle where it once stood stands a surprised Boy Alex.
…Alex, the Awesome.
PAGE 2: (4 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Boy Alex leads a small group of about 5 Dushanti warriors through a vibrant, magical forest.
Alex led the Dushanti through the Forest of Trials…
PANEL 2. Boy Alex and the others are facing a massive fantastical beast, a cross between a bear and an a crocodile. The crocodile-bear is rearing up ready to pounce, while the Dushanti warriors raise their spears. Boy Alex raises his spear but hangs towards the back, hesitant with fear.
…facing deadly challenges…
PANEL 3. Boy Alex pulls a sword out of brightly colored flower.
…unlocking his potential…
PANEL: 4. Boy Alex is climbing up the side of the sinister tower, holding on to a rope that’s been grappled to the top (off panel). The sword from the previous panel is now strapped to his back. He has a determined smile
…until finally he came face to face Maxtor…
PAGE 3: (4 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Boy Alex holds up his sword, deflecting an energy blast from Maxtor back to him. Boy Alex is triumphant, Maxtor’s eyes are wide with sudden fear.
…and defeated him!
PANEL 2. Boy Alex stands in front of the cage holding the Dushanti princess, swinging at the lock with his sword.
Except it wasn’t like that at all.
PANEL 3. Boy Alex finishes his swing, the lock of the cage broken and the door swinging open. Only now, male Dyran stands in the cage, stepping forward.
For starters, it was the Dushanti prince, not princess…
…and, oh yeah…
PANEL 4. Girl Alex holds out her hand, helping Dyran out of the cage. Behind them, off to the side, is Marcus, who shares Girl Alex’s victorious smile.
…I didn’t have a penis.
PAGE 4: (3 Panels, plus title)
TITLE PANEL: Alex and her mother, C. P. sit on the couch of a regular modern-looking psychiatrist’s office. Across from them behind the desk is Dr. Shultz. Alex is smiling sarcastically, C.P. is rolling her eyes, while Dr. Shultz calmly makes notes on his note pad.
PANEL 2. Dr. Shultz looks up from his notes, brow wrinkling.
Tell me, Ms. Swansen, why did you make Alex a boy?
PANEL 3. C.P. with an exasperated mother look, holds her temple in her hands.
It was just better from a marketing perspective…
PAGE 5: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Flashback panel. Young girl Alex is animatedly telling her mother, C.P, a story. C.P. now has long hair, wearing simple t-shirt and jeans and looking very amused. They are standing in the kitchen of a poor apartment.
When she was a little girl, Alexis used to come up with the most wonderful, elaborate stories about a magical land she’d invented.
PANEL 2. Flashback. Young C.P. sits at a table, writing with a pen on paper. Various papers with her handwriting cover the table as she sips from a mug of coffee.
They were so imaginative, I decided to write them down so Alexis would always have them.
PANEL 3. Flashback. Young C.P. and a couple other young mothers sit at a park bench. The other mothers are reading the pages from the previous panel and laughing. C.P. is smiling, hopefully. In front of them is Girl Alex and Marcus, playing.
I showed them to my friends, they showed them to their friends, and before I knew it…
PANEL 4. Flashback. Young C.P. stands nervously in a publisher’s office in a nice, but cheap, dress. In her hand she is holding up concept art for a children’s book cover, featuring Girl Alex.
…I was showing them to a publishing company.
And they agreed to publish them as a series of children’s books!
PANEL 5. Back to the present in Dr. Shultz’s office. C.P. looks down, with hint of guilt on her face.
…but only if I changed the main character to a boy.
PAGE 6: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Alex holds her hands up and smiles wearily, radiating sarcasm. Her mother duplicates the same gesture.
And so my mother gave my childhood a sex-change!
And my daughter is never going to let me forget it!
PANEL 2. Dr. Shultz leans over, with his hand folded in front of him.
Tell me, Alex, how did all this make you feel?
PANEL 3. Alex stares, blankly.
PANEL 4. Alex turns to her mother, raising an eyebrow. C.P. leans forward to answer Dr. Shultz, tired.
How much are you paying for this, again?
Alex resents my making the main character a boy, and she won’t let it go no matter how hard I try to make it up to her.
PANEL 5. Alex rolls her eyes, dismissively. C.P. turns to her, defensive. Shultz studies them.
Make it up to me?
I dressed you in the finest clothes, sent you to the best private schools, and I would have paid for your degree at Harvard if you hadn’t dropped out!
PAGE 7: (6 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Alex turns back, accusingly at C.P. C.P. holds up her hands, conciliatory.
All with money that came from my fantasies! Where’s my royalty check?
I’d be happy to give you money, Alex! Is that what you want?
PANEL 2. Alex snaps back, defensively. C.P. throws up her arms, completely exasperated.
No, I don’t want money!
Then what? What do you want?
PANEL 3. Focus on Alex, suddenly silent, bitter, and slightly mournful.
I want to go into a bookstore, and not see strangers pawing through a twisted version of my childhood.
PANEL 4. Alex sits with the same expression. C.P. is absolutely speechless. Dr. Shultz stands up, beaming.
Excellent! This is exactly what we need to get out in the open! We’ll pick up here at our next session.
PANEL 5. Schultz reaches into his desk, as Alex and C.P. stand up and get ready to leave.
Oh, before you go…
PANEL 6. Dr. Schultz hands a book to C.P., addressing only her. C.P. sheepishly takes out a pen from her purse, while Alex glares.
…would you sign my copy of “Alex the Awesome and the Terror of Twilight?” Both my kids love your books!
PAGE 8: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Alex and C.P. exit the downtown office building where Dr. Schultz is located. As she walks out the door, Alex grabs a pack of cigarettes from her inside coat pocket. C.P. rolls her eyes disapprovingly.
Well that was money well spent…
Alex, will you please stop smoking? You know how it…
PANEL 2. Cigarette in her mouth, Alex lights it with a lighter she also keeps in her coat pocket. She looks back defiantly at her mother, who gives up.
PANEL 3. C.P. leans in, pleading, as Alex puts the lighter back in her coat pocket.
Please, Alex. I know we have problems, but I’m trying to work on them.
Can’t you try to work on them with me? Please?
PANEL 4. As Alex puffs on her cigarette, her cold stare dissolves—adolescent defiance melts before motherly guilt. C.P. smiles, happily.
I can…try to try.
That’s all I ask.
Can you come over for dinner on Friday? There’s something else I want to talk about.
PANEL 5. Alex turns to walk off, shrugging with a wry grin. C.P. rolls her eyes, but smiles.
Can’t say no to free food and laundry…
Love you too, sweetie.
PAGE 9: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Alex, still smoking her cigarette, enters a subway station with a faint smile and an almost contemplative look.
PANEL 2. Alex throws away her cigarette into a trash can on the subway platform, with a couple other passengers around. Alex now wears a blank expression, looking at the poster next to her. The poster bears a large image of Boy Alex on what appears to be a pirate ship, grinning. If there’s space, the title is “Alex the Awesome and the Pirates of Pizzazz”
PANEL 3. Alex sits on a chair in the moving subway car. She frowns as she studies the seats across from her.
PANEL 4. The seats across from Alex—a mother and her three children are sitting on a couple seats. All four of them are reading books on which Boy Alex’s face is shown prominently in different poses. To the side of the family on the wall of the subway car is a poster showing C.P. smiling and holding up an Alex the Awesome book, underneath the caption “Reading is Awesome!”
PANEL 5. Close up on Alex giving the death glare.
<bPAGE 10: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. The interior of Alex’s small apartment. Alex kicks the door open, entering a small living room area with a couch and a coffee table. The entire place is a pigsty, with clothes and small boxes scattered everywhere.
PANEL 2. Alex shucks off her coat, letting it fall to the floor in a heap.
Today was definitely a beer day.
PANEL 3. Alex walks into her kitchen, dialing a number on her cell phone as she opens the fridge. Behind her is a counter with a sink filled with dirty dishes.
PANEL 4. Alex holds her phone up to her ear as she opens a bottle of beer with an opener on the side of the fridge.
Are you still in the lab? It’s a beer day.
PANEL 5. Jake is in his lab, looking through a viewport on an MBE growth chamber (http://www.mse.txstate.edu/Photos/Construction.html) as he holds his cell phone up to his ear.
Sorry, I’ve got about three more hours left on this crystal growth.
PAGE 11: (6 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Alex rolls her eyes as she takes a swig of her beer, still talking on the cell phone. Lab-Bitch talks through the cell phone.
You and your science…
Oh congratulations, by the way.
PANEL 2. Jake sits down at a computer next to the growth chamber, grinning slightly. Alex answers over the phone.
You mean your mom didn’t tell you?
…she said we had something to talk about.
PANEL 3. Alex walks into her bedroom, which is as messy as the rest of her apartment. Next to an unmade bed is a desk with a laptop and 3-4 empty soda cans. Her eyes are narrowed, as she continues the conversation.
The story broke all over the internet this morning. I emailed you a link.
PANEL 4. Alex sits down, phone still to her ear, with a now suspicious expression. With her other hand, she types on the computer.
PANEL 5. Jake leans back in front of the computer, pulling the phone away from his ear and laughing as he tries to picture the look on Alex’s face.
ALEX (PHONE, SCREAMING):
C.P. Swanson signs off on “Alex the Awesome” movie series?!
PANEL 6. Alex, fuming, gets back up from the desk, leaving behind her beer.
I’ll call you later—today just became a tequila day.
My regards to your brain cells…
PAGE 12: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Pitch black panel, except for a single speech balloon of Alex snoring.
PANEL 2. Alex lies on top of the messy bed, arms and legs out in an awkward position, hair a mess. She is now wearing pajama bottoms and a tank-top, and snoring heavily. At the nightstand by her bed sits a bottle of tequila, about 3/4ths empty.
PANEL 3. Same as before, but now focus on Alandrya’s arm reaching from off panel to gently get Alex’s attention.
PANEL 4. Same as before, with the Alandrya arm shaking her more insistently. Alex, eyes still closed, feebly bats the arm away.
Alandrya (OFF PANEL):
PANEL 5. Close up on Alex’s face, her eyes suddenly wide open. A small pile of drool is by her mouth.
Alandrya (OFF PANEL, SHOUTING):
PAGE 13: (5 PANELS)
PANEL 1. From Alex’s point of view, we see Alandrya lean in hopefully, her excitement barely containied.
Are you the great warrior, Alex the Awesome?
PANEL 2. Alex slowly leans up, studying Alandrya blankly. Alandrya beams, expectantly.
PANEL 3. Alex, now sitting up on the bed, grabs the tequila bottle and studies it with a raised eyebrow. Alandrya stands up proudly, and formally begins her address.
Alex the Still Intoxicated, at least.
Great Alex the Awesome, I am Alandrya…
PANEL 4. Alex gets up, heading for the living room. Alandrya follows, confused. This was not going as she had imagined.
Yeah, yeah, you’re a Dushanti warrior—here to seek my aid to fight a terrible evil.
Well…yes…but I’m also…
PANEL 5. Alex enters the living room, and picks up her coat where she left it on the floor with a weary expression. Alandrya follows, still mostly confused but now somewhat annoyed.
Except you’re not. Because the Dushanti are something I made up when I was six.
PAGE 14: (4 PANELS):
PANEL 1. Alex reaches into the coat pocket, pulling out her cigarettes. Alandrya studies her, not quite sure how to process all this.
See, you’re actually a hallucination brought on by really cheap tequila…
…and right now I’m not in the mood to deal with something that doesn’t exist.
PANEL 2. Focus on Alandrya, suddenly calm. Alex blithely pulls out a cigarette from the pack.
You don’t think I exist.
PANEL 3. Alandrya fiercely smashes her fist into the coffee table, causing it to splinter into kindling. Alex jumps back, completely freaked out.
PANEL 4. Close up of Alandrya, smiling sweetly with a hint of menace.
I’m sure that table thinks I exist.
PAGE 15: (6 PANELS)
PANEL 1. Smiling in a daze, trying not to lose it, Alex puts on her coat.
Okay, I’m just going to head out and get my stomach pumped, see if…
PANEL 2. Alandrya pulls out a jewel from her pack, that glows oddly with a flickering yellow light. She advances, with a determined face.
No, I’ve come to bring back Alex the Awesome to fight a great evil…
…so you’re grabbing hold of this journey stone and coming with me.
PANEL 3. Alex backs away feebly, as Alandrya advances, holding the stone out with a fierce look on her face.
No thanks, I…
PANEL 4. Alex hastily grabs the stone. Alandrya has drawn her sword and is pointing it at Alex’s neck.
…ready to help in any way I can!
PANEL 5. Alex nervously looks down as the journey stone, which begins to brightly glow, it’s yellow light beginning to fill the panel.
Wake up wake up wake up wake up….
PANEL 6. Bright yellow light flashes, and fills the entire panel.
PAGES 16 & 17: (2 PAGE SPREAD, 2 INSET PANELS)
INSET PANEL 1. Close up of Alex’s face, eyes closed, bracing herself for something. Behind her is a white background.
INSET PANEL 2. Same close up of Alex’s face. She opens her eyes, taking in new and confusing surroundings.
2 PAGE SPREAD. A fantastical city built on the petals of an enormous daisy flower. Exotic buildings extend down all the petals, with a large castle built on the center (I picture the architecture similar to the Venetian Renaissance, but this is flexible). Alex’s speech balloon comes from somewhere in the city, out on one of the petals.
ALEX (A SPECK IN THE CITY):
I paid way too little for that tequila…