Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"I KNOW we're not supposed to be here", or To Serve Man: Steve Gerber's alien invasion or How to Write Dialog for Comics, Plays and Movies

Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook First: DNA Comics #1 is ONLINE!!!

Listen, I'm still figuring out, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason did. (He also got a special bonus copy!) In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at

C. Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25, but save a quarter and get this clearly-drawn story with warm characters and Southern Gothic occultism today for $2.99, $1.25 shipping and handling in the U.S.

You can send $30 and get any three t-shirts and the comic, too---or $25 for the two styles of shirts and a comic.

Be on the look out for Not Another Comic Book! Preview this July!!

Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.

Here's a terrific transition, from Jack's nervous predicament in the presence of his helpless wife (long story) and her friends:

Trepidation, it seems, is afoot everywhere tonight...even in Central Park. A man and a woman in their late 20's are pushing a canoe off a bank; Cissy, the woman, is speaking from the front of the canoe at the water's rippling edge beside the glow of the lamp post.

"I know we're not supposed to be here. That's what makes it fun. C'mon...Shove off!"
"But, Cissy..."
But hey, they're not going to get mugged in the middle of the lagoon..."and unless you decide to send up a distress flare, the cops will nev--Mitchell...what is wrong with you?"
"Be-Behind you! Cissy...Cissy...!"
"Sissy! What is it---your scuba-diving mugger?--a U-Boat? --the entire Midtown North Precinct on a raft??"

But it's not funny when Mitchell passes out..the four amphibious forms pull both of them from the canoe. "Specimens intact..." one says in the drifty, spooky lettering. "one male, one female...first trimester of lifespan..."
"Excellent. Just what our young pupil will require."


Mitchell and Cissy get a layer of characterization by their actions, and another by their dialog...these are bit characters.
This is true of the lagoon creatures. We know they have a certain naturalist interest in those they abduct and become apparently intelligent, in contrasts to our assumptions. Furthermore, they have a relationship with another player in the story, who is further defined as a "pupil." Steve and Sal have done this in one page.

Stillness. Calmness. Then the lagoon bursts with sound, "With the whine of engines, the surface of the lagoon erupts. And, atop the steaming upsurge rides...well, let's just say it's NOT a u-boat, okay?"

The fantastic description, at the verge of purple prose, ends with wonder, puzzlement, and a down-to-earth turn of phrase.

Their abductions resume with the which point we'll see their fantastic headquarters, a sort of Earth-friendly terrarium.

In between, however, we pick up with Jack's ruse. The big superheroes of the book are still unconscious---and how ARE their minds being altered? They won't know. The villains won't tell. Our writer won't forget, though. The pay-off will take a bit of explaining, but it's all going to tie together down the road.

The three Headmen "adjourn to conference," while Jerry anticipates "Chondu's" horror at meeting Ruby. (Chondu. His real name is Harry Schliemleman. Really. What kind of guy was Harry Schliemelman before getting involved with mysticism and mad scientists?)

Jack's able to swallow his reaction to offer a bit of the gorgeous, leggy body...of the woman's who's replaced her head with a crimson, spherical computer (capable of feats like the mini-gamma burst used to render Hulk unconscious).

"*ulp* meet you. You're ---that is, Most of you---is very attractive."

"Thank you," says the reshaping head. "I also find your body...intriguing. Please accept this expression of my wish that we grow to become..." SMAK! "close associates." This, from the gigantic lips, reshaped from Ruby's amorphous head self, above the collar and plunging neckline, as she paws the now-attractively embodied villain...who is not at all what he seems...

Before they continue, Nagan asks "Nighthawk" to recount his observations from infiltrating the Defenders. "Well..."he says, sweating profusely, " Dr. Strange does magic tricks...he'd be fun at parties. And Barb---Val---the girl has a flying horse...if we needed quick cash, we could rent it out at country fairs, and...No, huh?"

The Headgents don't care for this slice of regular guy humor...but Globehead's eyes spark; she leans in, as though consumed by the possibilities of conspiring with "Nighthawk." "Nagan told me you were even stuffier than he. But you seem to apprehend the absurdity of--"

"You BET I do, lady!" he says, leaping to his feet, pointing, gesturing above his head with an open hand, as though to say, "how can anyone comprehend this?" He demands they start from the top: what do they each want, anyway? Ruby applauds. Jerry's glad to penetrate some of Nagan's secrets, though without Nighthawk/ Chondu, he'd never have the nerve to say. After all, in addition to all these plans Nagan keeps to himself, he had a powerful, deadly ally in the wings---someone unstable enough to replace her head, by choice, with a supercomputer's spherical "perfection."

Nagan believes their intellects rally them around the same goals; in unison..."we can seize this mad planet by the throat and force it to submit to our control. That's my goal---the elimination of the accidental factor---a society which functions like a precision instrument!"

"So that people can't rebel the way your simian organ donors did, eh, Arthur? Oh, yes...I can sympathize with your antipathy towards the unforeseen. My work ALSO blew up in my face. But mine was a cellular compression gas that predated Henry Pym's by Ten Years!

I proved the theory. My facial bones shrank. Alas, my skin did not."

Ruby, emphasizing her crystal head with her left forefinger:

"And no one listened to you, because they were repulsed by the sight of you. Pity.

But my case is quite different. Like Nagan, I seek more than mere appreciation of my work. After all, this head was my own creation.

And it's better than any of yours---featureless, beautiful in its simplicity---and a mass of malleable "organic circuitry." It's all brain...and computer-quick. And I want EVERY human being to HAVE one."

"And now, Chondu---it's your turn. What do YOU want?"

He thinks: "the key to the John, maybe? I think I'm going to be ill." Laid out over a sequence showing the red, scaly, fin-headed aliens, stalking and capturing the fawn, who's just leaped to freedom. So, visually, we're getting what Chondu wants, while in the captions, we're getting what Jack thinks "Chondu" should say, to complete his safe impersonation---saving his life, and keeping him close to his fallen friends.

Actually, folks, my one true desire is my own---freedom. I'm a mystic, right? I need to, uh, journey where my soul leads me...and I can't be restrained, y'know? Ask Dr. Strange...he'll tell you...there are too many mysteries yet to be explored...on this world and a million million others."

And just like that, we're observing the captivated Earth people (as well as a giraffe, an elephant, and a horse)within a dome upon four pillars, whose architecture, one stunned elderly woman reminds us repeatedly is Greek. The machine in the middle is of the Jack Kirby school of Ohmigosh what doest THAT do variety. The fawn appears out of the air beside Mitchell and Cissy, with a "FOOM!"

There's six exciting pages to go...and the Defenders are just waking up...

So a lot is going on, a very creative, multi-layered plot. There are two things that make it work: the visual storytelling gives us scenes that can be objectively described, each one complete with details useful to the plot or the scene (which is a building-block of the plot).

The other thing is voice. Steve later observed, looking back a couple of decades, that each character has a unique voice, and this keeps them, their thoughts and actions, distinct. This allows them to flow, each their own way, through the circumstances of the story. Their reactions are part of the story; they give us hints to the characters' backgrounds, to give them depth. These actions and reactions are the identity, and so long as no two are exactly alike, a story complicated by many characters and actions reads very simply. This is the creative team's craft.

Absurdism here has opened up some interesting little insights one can easily carry in a mindset, free of the characters. Meanwhile the depiction is so detailed as to lace it together, voices and scenes, in a memorable way, precisely because it steps outside the regular things we ignore, and approaches our consciousness in a way that draws us outside of complacency---where fantasy and speculation enrich our lives.

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