28 Aug 2015

Crossover - Chapter 2

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

Giuliano apartment, Queens, a day later

Nasty set her novel down on the kitchen table, a slip of paper marking where she stopped reading.  "I give up, Eric," she groaned.  "This isn't going anywhere.  Why are they making us read this over the summer?"

Eric looked up from his book, the same story Nasty had set aside.  "You've never had a reading list over the summer before, Tash?"

"No.  Well, never read anything on the list, at least.  I had other things to do."

"I guess it's supposed to get us in the habit of reading."

"But you already read tons.  You shouldn't have to do this."

Eric shrugged.  "It's homework that needs to be done.  Now is better than the week before class."

"I suppose."  Nasty heard the phone ring in the loving room.  "Mom will get it.  Okay, it's homework.  Why can't it be more interesting?"

"That's how it goes."  Eric set his book down.  "Maybe if we read to each other it'll go better."

'Read to each other?'  Nasty felt herself growing warm.  "I, uh, I guess that might, um, might help."

From the living room, Maria called, "Tasha, telephone!"

Nasty started to get up from her chair.  Saved!  She smiled at Eric.  "Back in a moment."  She walked the short distance from kitchen to living room where her mother waited with the phone.  "Who is it?"

"Some woman named Micki, from the Eagle Foundation."

27 Aug 2015

Crossover - Chapter 1 - Commentary

Crossover has begun!  Welcome to the commentary for the first chapter.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

There's the Nasty people know and love.  The story starts off with action and a cluster F-bomb.  There was a purpose here, along with the other scenes in the opening.  Characters needed a proper introduction, showing who they are and what they can do.  I wasn't going to assume readers would know who everyone was.  If Prototype Alpha and Youth Brigade had existed, there'd be people who would prefer those titles over Subject 13.  Thus, the short scenes.

Nasty's scene sums her up.  She doesn't stay down, she doesn't quit a fight, and she has a temper.  Hazard picked the wrong restaurant to hold up.  Nasty wasn't in costume for the fight, either, which should have been mentioned.  It's a superhero setting; costumes exist.  Nasty's dialogue will step back the swearing.  She just has issues when upset.

Crossover is, technically, the first appearance of the Youth Brigade.  I'd been trying to work out a first issue for them for some time, but nothing ever came together.  The roster shown in Crossover came after several attempts to put the team together.  The only character who was a constant was Pixie.  Kid Inscrutable came about after realizing the team needed a leader.  Flashbulb is an older character idea reworked to be a teen sidekick and has light-based powers, but not lasers.   Damage Magnet came about after seeing certain characters in gaming consistently getting hit and can cause ranged attacks to hit him instead of the original target.  Mystery Dude is, according to my notes, psychic, and has very little else known about him.

With Pixie, I wanted to show her off a bit, demonstrate she's a team player, and isn't as foul-mouthed as Nasty.  Her core powers are shrinking to 1/6 scale, winged flight when fully shrunk, and her pixie dust, which puts targets to sleep.  Pixie's powers can give her problems; she couldn't be heard over the car's engines, for one.  She did get her man, though.  It's safe to assume that the rest of the Brigade got the other bank robbers.

Prototype Alpha is the Canadian contingent of the Crossover.  Alpha is different from both Pixie and Nasty; two people are the hero.  Keith is the genius who created the Powered BIKINI, which stands for Bilateral Independent Kinetic Induction of Natural Ions.  Yes, that did take some thought to create that backronym.  The BIKINI was designed to be worn under clothes, though Keith is still working on reducing the size to be less obvious.  Meredith is the woman in the powered armour.  It was her idea to do the field testing of the prototype and she enjoys being out there in it.  Instead of an action scene, Keith and Meredith get a design scene, to show who they are.  The BIKINI will be getting some action later.

The interstitials in the chapter came about from wanting some sort of seamless segue between scenes.  The scenes also solidified the main plot and let me introduce the villains.  It isn't coincidence that the villains have names that are variations of the heroes'.  Nasty's proper name is Natasha, though few people call her that.  Vicki and Tori are nicknames of Victoria.  Alpha and Omega are the start and end of the Greek alphabet.  Here's hoping that these smaller scenes provided enough of a hook for readers.

Crossover is a bland title, but it pulls together the main ideas of the story.  First, it is a crossover, a story featuring characters from different titles coming together.  It's a comic book mainstay.  A character from Title A appears in Title B as part of B's storyline.  With Marvel, Spider-Man was used to show that a comic was part of the continuity and to try to bring his readers on board the new title long enough to get new fans.  Wolverine also filled this role.  /Crossover/ would be bringing three titles together if two of them weren't vaporware.  Second, Natasha and her people will be crossing over from another dimension to hatch their nefarious scheme.  Yes, mirror universes are cliché these days, as are evil twins, but I do have a twist to the idea.

Finally, while Crossover was originally written as a book instead of a serial, I have adapted the Next Week segments that I used with Unruly.  This time around, instead of just dialogue, I'm taking longer pieces.  Is this preferable?  Or would you prefer just dialogue?

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 2.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, a technical hiatus due to hardware problems.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, what happened to cheesy movies?.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

Unruly Update

The Unruly main page has been updated to point to the last three chapters of Basketball Night in Canada.  As an added bonus, the cast page is up, though could still change over time.

21 Aug 2015

Crossover - Chapter 1

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade
The following contains scenes of coarse language.  Reader discretion advised.

20 Aug 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Final Comments

I still have a few unanswered issues to clear up before heading on to a new serial.  Time to take care of them.

First, diversity.  Diversity, to me, means making sure that the cast represents society.  The cast shouldn't be all the same shade of blinding pale that I am.  With today's works, it feels that creators have taken giant step backwards from the 80s, particularly with movies and television.  There is a turnaround happening, but there should never have been the backwards steps to begin with.  That said, I'm may not be much better.  Caitlin may be paler than I am.  I've left descriptions of Skye and Laura mostly to the readers, but that's not the same as stating that they're black, Asian, or Antarctican.

One of the problems I had in working out heritage was that the Unrulies aren't typical schoolgirls.  The school exists to help girls who are trouble* to redirect their energies in a more profitable direction.  My mantra during the early writing was that these girls would be the villains in another story.  Because of that, I wanted to avoid stereotypes if I could help it.  Sure, Caitlin is an redhead of Irish decent, but her goals avoid Irish stereotypes.  Autumn is Vietnamese, descended from refugees fleeing the country, and can be best described as a boy-crazy hacker, but she owns that.  But Skye and Laura?

With Skye, I have the same quibbles that Greg Taylor ran into with Time & Tied.  Skye's athletic, good at basketball, and capable of great violence.  I am hesitant to make her black; I don't want to play into any stereotypes.  As for Laura, her father's a drug dealer and her hands aren't that clean.  In Laura's case, I can argue that she'd work better as being white, mainly because of a former mayor of Toronto and his brother.

Caitlin and her roomies were the main characters for two episodes, but they weren't the only students.  Vamsi can trace her roots back to India, though she isn't particularly religious.  If she was, she probably wouldn't be at the Academy or be the budding fence that she is.  I do recognize that I need to work on diversifying my casts.  While I work on it, don't assume a nondescript girl is white.  Blanks are meant to be filled in by readers.

Speaking of religion, another area lacking.  St. Dymphna is a private Catholic school, so surely someone there must be faithful.  I have spoken to people who have gone to Catholic schools**, though.  Some grew in their faith; others became atheists; still more found a middle ground and ignore the Church except on holidays, weddings, and funerals.  Verity is the latter, at least for now, though I haven't had to get into the nature of her beliefs yet.  Mackenzie is the former.  It's the faithful that I need to work in at some point, both the quiet and the loud.  It's all in the nuance.

Second, the mystery of who is trying to shut down the school.  The mystery started with The Great Jennifer Round-Up and continued into Basketball Night in Canada.  The problem I ran into was that Caitlin really doesn't have a means to discover the person or persons behind the plot.  With The Great Jennifer Round-Up, I had an inkling of who was responsible and worked out at least one of the conspirators.  It was during Camp NaNo that I figured out the other conspirators.  Knowing who it is, though, doesn't help getting Caitlin to make that discovery.  I do have ideas on how to make the reveal to the audience.

Third, the lack of new Unruly episode.  That's all on me.  I have been working on the next episode, but I'm not making great headway.  I have a rough idea of what's happening, but no real details.  The next episode. Making the Rounds, features Vamsi and her roommates as a change of pace.  Laura's plight with her English class will be set aside.  The change of cast lets me expand the setting more, feature side characters in a broader role, and show new aspects of the school and how the students get along with the rest of the community.

Fourth, and this relates a bit to diversity, sexuality.  I have a school full of teenaged girls dealing with hormones, puberty, and budding sexuality.  Would an entire class go ga-ga over a teacher?  Laura hasn't, but she can't be the only girl.  Indeed, she isn't, and I tried to correct things, first by Flora saying that Laura should conform then having Camille tell Laura she wasn't the only one not interested in Mr. Baker.  That still leaves the question of who is and isn't homosexual or bisexual, but there hasn't been a reason to reveal anything like that.  Only six girls have demonstrated their sexual preferences so far - Laura, Mackenzie, Caitlin, Autumn, Caroline, and Jennie Carpenter.

If I've missed anything, ask away below.  I can answer questions, though I will avoid spoilers.

Tomorrow, the start of a new serial, Crossover with Chapter 1.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, the August news round-up.

* As opposed to girls who are in trouble, though that can happen.
** In Ontario, there is are separate Catholic school boards funded by the province as required by the province's constitution.  The boards and their schools still must follow provincial guidelines when it comes to what must be taught, but they can add religious (read: Catholic) studies to their curriculum.
*** Other than Mackenzie, who made it clear on her first appearance.

14 Aug 2015

Crossover - Preview and Backgrounder

Next week, a new serial starts.  Crossover is set in the Subject 13-verse.  However, it takes place long after the last issue I posted.  To prevent some confusion, I present below a brief history of what happens to Nasty between the end of Issue 30 and the start of Crossover.

The Four Horsemen are dealt with.  The idea with them was to be a common threat over several titles, with Subject 13 dealing with Famine.  American Eagle and El Diablo Verde do most of the heavy lifting, but the Conglomerate agents put in for an assist.  Nasty, as Peregrine, handles Famine's cheerleaders and would-be minions on the shores of Lake Ontario.

After dealing with Subject 4 and the result of his weaponized telepathy, Nasty realizes that she needs to go home and that the only way to keep the Conglomerate off her back is to go public.  Maria finds out about her daughter's real fate just before Nasty shows up at her doorstep.  This brings a new problem for Maria.  Back in Issue 13, Maria said she had a younger sister, not a daughter.  What was supposed to be a little white lie to conceal her age to have a one night stand becomes awkward, to say the least.

Nasty becomes a minor celebrity as a result of her unmasking.  While her classmates at Seward aren't as starstruck, other people are.  Nasty takes the attention as well as always, which is to say, not well at all.  There's even an offer to join a hero team, which Nasty declines for personal reasons.  The media find someone else who is more willing to pander to them after a couple of months, but being a former Peregrine is still something Nasty needs to deal with.

Nasty and Erik grow closer, picking up from where they left off.  It's young love, all awkward and gangly and everyone else realizes what's going on except them.  They consider each other good friends and help each other out.  Nasty gets a lot of tutoring from Erik to help her keep up with her studies.

Crossover was conceived as being a crossover, with two other titles, Prototype Alpha and Youth Brigade.  Those titles never came into being, though there was some work done with Alpha.  As elements from those titles appear, and if something I missed with Subject 13 shows up, I'll bring it up in the commentary.

Next week, Crossover begins!

13 Aug 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 13 - Commentary

Autumn feels Caitlin's wrath and the mystery comes to a temporary close.  Welcome to the commentary for "Home Opener".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

Caitlin doesn't like it when her troops ignore her orders.  Autumn doesn't care if Caitlin doesn't like what she did.  Character friction leads to conflict!  Skye gets to be the mediator, which is something she's done before with Caitlin and Autumn.  Laura gets to be the one making comments from the side.

The search for Alexandra Fichetti's identity wasn't important or exciting enough to show.  Autumn had a picture of her and did an image search, leading to the information she reveals.  Moving during a school year is a pain.  Having done it myself, there are ways to avoid the paperwork and headache of a mid-semester move.  One is to just not mention the move at all, which isn't ideal.  The other is to delay moving until after the school year, allowing for a proper transfer to happen.  Alexandra used the latter method.

Laura's seedy background returns.  The name-dropping is more to set up a few details for later, but does go to show where Laura comes from.  This cred let me set up Laura's next few lines about where Alexandra got the St. Dymphna uniform.  There is a demand for used uniforms, mostly from families with younger students at the same school.  There is also a non-academic demand for uniforms, one that Laura is more aware of than Caitlin and Skye.  Autumn just needed the reminder.

The mystery of who fixed the basketball game evolved into something bigger than I expected.  Caitlin discovered the intermediary, but not the puppet master.  At this point, there's not much for the Unrulies to work with.  However, they did make sure that the next game would be clean.  That just left wrapping up a few loose ends that appeared.  Laura's envelope from Mr. Baker, the result of the Friday basketball game, and Laura learning how to poem.  The big mystery will have to wait for a later episode, but I do know who is responsible here.

Once again, I had to figure out both a school name and a team name.  Well, two school names, one in Whitby.  Alexandra's old school came from a nearby town, Port Perry.  Oshawa Western Collegiate was based on the naming convention for other schools in Oshawa.  The Owls came from the the initials of Oshawa Western, which took a few minutes to realize.

Caitlin is going to be disappointed about her new war movie.  Casablanca isn't the war movie the redhead thinks it is.  She's expecting Saving Private Ryan or The Longest Day.  Vamsi's definition is a lot more loose; to her, a war movie is one set during a war, adding works like Casablanca to the set.  The copy Vamsi will provide is legal.  All she'll do is go to a store to buy the DVD.  Not everything Vamsi deals with is illegal.

Tomorrow, the background information needed for the new serial.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the effect of the increasing length of novels on adaptations.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

7 Aug 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night In Canada - Chapter 13

"Is there a problem, ladies?"
"Carly is a St. Dymphna problem."
"Help Carly, or, at least, stay out of her way and see you sent to, well, I have my dreams; or, help you to prevent Carly from being a right pain."
"She's not from St. Dymphna."

Basketball Night in Canada
Chapter 13 - Home Opener

"You did what?"  Caitlin paced around the seated Autumn.  She stopped mid-stride to focus her ire on Skye.  "And you let her?  Do either of you know what could have happened?  Wheeler or his girl could have seen you and called the police."

"Autumn needed me there, Cait," Skye said.  "We weren't seen."

"We also got info for you."

Caitlin whirled back to Autumn.  "If I wanted information, I'd tell you to get it."

Anger clouded Autumn's expression.  "You've been on our backs to look for who is trying to shut us down, a task not made any easier seeing that everyone in Oshawa wants to see us gone."

"By going back to a place that we know is a trap.  Good thinking, Autumn."

Over on her bed, Laura lowered her poetry text.  "That's how you use sarcasm."

6 Aug 2015

Unruly - Basketball Night in Canada Chapter 12 - Commentary

Caitlin and Verity agree on a common enemy and the world fails to implode.  Welcome to the commentary for "Scorpions".  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

The scorpion theme became a central idea once it appeared in Chapter 10.  However, instead of Carly, it became Caitlin and Verity sizing each other up.  After twenty-five chapters over three arcs, the two girls meet face to face.  I got to show their rivalry instead of just hint at it.  Both Caitlin and Verity love to talk at the other.  Their dialogue alone propelled me well past my goal for Camp NaNo.  They know each other well enough to tempt the other.  Caitlin's counting on Verity's need to be the one to defeat her Unruly counterpart.  Carly may be in trouble.  If she was counting on the rivalry between Caitlin and Verity preventing them from making a move on her, the idea has backfired.  Of course, Carly may have help who can plan for an unlikely alliance.

The reference to Laura and her lack of uniform goes back to The New Girl Chapter 2, when Caitlin used her to spy on Verity.  Caitlin knows how to game the rules, interpreting them in a way that works to her benefit.  While Laura might have issue being nude, other girls wouldn't see her nakedness as a problem.  Mackenzie will need a cold shower.

Laura's idea of a museum uses the idea that museums aren't as heavily trafficked as a coffee shop, mall, or park.  A school girl in a museum is there for research, and museums are quiet with enough corners for a quick conversation.  If she gets to meet with Mackenzie, there might be more than talking involved.  Laura is starting to get the game Caitlin plays and use it for her own benefit.

Verity's last line is an oblique reference to the hostilities between Autumn and Caroline.  Nothing has been shown, mainly because Caitlin and Verity know better than to have those two in the same room at the same time.  Hints have been dropped, though.  Poor Jay.  He must be feeling like Archie, except Betty and Veronica are reaching Spy vs Spy levels of rivalry for his affection.

Speaking of Autumn, she's off on her own investigation with Skye along in case something goes wrong.  I still had a loose end flitting about, thinking that she was getting one over Caitlin; she needed to be reminded of her place in the narrative.  Autumn was hoping to find the mastermind.  Instead, she saw the mystery girl, whose name still hasn't been properly revealed.  However, Skye did provide one key clue.

Tomorrow, the new Unruly episode, Chapter 13, "Home Opener".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Lost in.Translation returns with the history of adaptations and the Eighties!
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, a look at changes in publishing and how they affect making an adaptation.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.