View Full Version : "Wannabe" - eight-page script

05-12-2006, 02:19 AM
This is the third installment of a series that begins with "Hand In Glove" (http://www.digitalwebbing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=86639) and continues in "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire" (http://www.digitalwebbing.com/forums/showthread.php?t=90180) -- both still available from a fine web forum near you. There will be one more installment. One can only hope it will finally reveal what all this has been about!

This script introduces a variety of new characters created specifically for this story; character descriptions and notes are in a second post following the main body of the script.

(8 pages)

PAGE ONE (three panels)

Panel 1. Big panel (taking up two-thirds of the page) to include the title and credits. HOWARD LOWE sits in his apartment late at night in front of his computer. Howard is a civil servant in his late thirties; his apartment is full of books, on shelves and in careless stacks all over the place. It's an adult single guy's apartment, very shabby.

20 April 2004

Ben Franklin had his parable about the whistle that cost too much. I had my power suit. The day I first laid eyes on that damn thing was the day my troubles began.

I was browsing through the "costumed hero tools and accessories" section on iBid. Yeah, like you haven't done the same.

That's when I saw it.


Panel 2. Closeup on the screen showing the iBid website, which is meant to be eBay. The item headline reads "Electrostatic Harness - Gives Wearer Shocking Electric Power" -- the rest is unintelligible, but it's a typical eBay auction page.

Five thousand dollars if you clicked the "Buy It Now" option. And I'd just received a tax rebate that week.

Panel 3. Closeup on HOWARD, his face illuminated by the glow of the screen, looking troubled. He's tempted by this and is trying to decide whether or not to go for it.

Sure, I'd always dreamed of being a costumed hero. Who hasn't?

People know your name when you're a hero. People respect you. And you can really make a difference. You're not just some overweight history geek in Philadephia with a civil service job.

PAGE TWO (six panels)

Panel 1. AMANDA (a.k.a. THE THIRD RAIL) sitting at her computer in her Brooklyn apartment. She's about five years older now than she was the last time we saw her. She looks tired and world-weary, not at all happy.

The suit was put up for auction by a hero in New York who decided to quit the costumed life.

I gave her good seller feedback. Smooth transaction, would buy from her again next time she was selling superpowers.

Panel 2. HOWARD is standing in front of his bathroom mirror, wearing a wire mesh bodysuit with attached gloves and socks. Howard is wearing it over his boxer shorts, his belly hanging out, unappealing and very much in contrast to when we saw Amanda wearing this same bodysuit in the previous story. Howard doesn't look pleased by what he sees in the mirror.

When I tried it on, it looked like an outfit from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I needed a costume to go over it. And a name.

Panel 3. A notepad lying on a desktop with a list of names written on the top page, each of which has a line drawn through it, indicating they've all been crossed out:

The Battery
The Charger
The Taser
Reddy Kilowatt
Lightning Lord

I went through a lot of possibilities. Most of them were either taken already or totally lame.

Panel 4. A portrait of BEN FRANKLIN, in the form of a poster on Howard's wall. Franklin appears to be smiling enigmatically. Something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Franklin-Benjamin-LOC.jpg

I was looking at the portrait of Ben Franklin on my wall when it hit me. I was in Philadephia, I had an electric suit...

Panel 5. HOWARD is wearing a Revolutionary War-era army uniform like the one at http://www.actionfigureworld.com/acatalog/6002-rev-war.jpg -- but we don't see it yet; this is a head-and-shoulders shot of him donning the tricornered hat, and already wearing a Green Lantern-type eye-mask.

I bought a Colonial era suit from a company that makes them for historical reenactments, specially tailored to fit over me and the harness. Cost a lot. Then I added a mask under the tricorn hat.

Panel 6. HOWARD with hands on hips in a heroic pose, looking much less ridiculous now that he's not in his skivvies but wearing the uniform. This is his big unveiling as a costumed hero.

Suddenly, Howard Lowe vanished. I was a hero.

I was Franklin Key, the Living Lightning Rod!

PAGE THREE (six panels)

Panel 1. HOWARD (in costume) looking down from the rooftop of his building.

On my first outing, nothing happened. Except I nearly froze my keister off.

Dunno what the big deal is about standing on a rooftop. If you saw a crime, you'd have to get down there to sort it out. The rooftop thing is for the flying and wall-walking guys.

Panel 2. HOWARD (in costume) walking down a Philadelphia street, getting puzzled looks from tourists.

I took to walking down the streets in costume. Tourists thought I was with the chamber of commerce. I got asked for directions to Independence Hall a lot.

Panel 3. HOWARD (in costume) on a quiet neighborhood street at night, spotting two men facing each other outside a bar. Both men are holding broken bottles with jagged edges, and are crouched as if about to lunge at each other.

Finally, I came upon a fight. Two drunks were going at it with broken bottles. My big debut!

Panel 4. HOWARD has grabbed a man by the shoulder with one of his gloved hands. The man is wide-eyed and open-mouthed and has a hand raised to his chest, as if he's simultaneously surprised and in pain. A hazy crackle of static electricity surrounds them both.

I powered up and reached out to give the drunks a shock. One of them let out a yelp of surprise and jumped back.

But the other clutched his chest and dropped to the pavement.

Panel 5. HOWARD looks down in alarm as the man, who has fallen to the pavement, clutches at Howard's leg. The other man is running away.

Well, how the hell was I supposed to know a drunk in a brawl would have a pacemaker? Jesus, if it was me, I'd stay out of fights, you know?

Panel 6. HOWARD in costume in a courtroom, standing before a judge. Both the judge and the baliff are scowling.

I ended up in court. That's how I found out costumed heroes have to carry malfeasance insurance.

PAGE FOUR (five panels)

Panel 1. HOWARD in civvies, opening an envelope and pulling out a bill.

With one violation on my record already, my premium started at $10,000.

On top of what I'd laid out for the power harness, the costume, the fine and court costs, I was in the hole for twenty grand and hadn't stopped so much as one bank robbery.

Panel 2. HOWARD in shirt and tie at his desk at work, holding up his head with both hands, looking sleepy and unhappy.

It didn't help matters that staying available nights to patrol the city meant I'd been turning down overtime at work. Or that lack of sleep was catching up with me.

Panel 3. HOWARD being told off by his supervisor at the office. Howard's head is lowered as he takes the chewing out.

I was falling further and further behind on my paperwork. My boss was not happy.

Panel 4. A telephone sitting on a table, not ringing.

I gave up on having a social life. Not that it was booming before that, you know? I didn't tell my friends what I was doing, and soon they stopped calling.

I just kept at it. I figured that if I plugged away long enough, I'd develop some momentum.

Panel 5. Page-wide panel showing a panoramic view of the Interior of a Philadelphia bar named "Kuper's" populated by various superheroes, all in costumes. HOWARD, in costume, is in the foreground talking to another costumed hero.

I found this one bar where all the local costumes hung out. At least the ones who weren't too busy. Figured I'd get some pointers, soak up a little shop talk.

PAGE FIVE (six panels)

Panel 1. HOWARD (in costume) talking to the other HERO.

What kind of hero name is Franklin Key? Is that your real name?

Er, well, it could also be Lightning Rod for short...

Panel 2. HOWARD talking to THE BLACK SHEPHERD in the bar, as various heroes mill around behind them. The Black Shepherd has a kindly, sympathetic expression. (See character notes for details.)

I met a really good guy there: The Black Shepherd. I know some people are uncomfortable with his whole religious thing, but he was really approachable.


Child, though you are beset by sorrow on all sides, know the will of your maker.

BLACK SHEPHERD (continuing):
Trust in divine grace to be your guide, for a mansion high above awaits you.

Okay, he did have a tendency to get preachy.

Panel 4. THE BLACK SHEPHERD introducing HOWARD to THE EMPIRICAL MAN and FLASHFIRE. The Empirical Man shakes Howard's hand firmly.

The Shepherd introduced me to Flashfire and The Empirical Man, two more local heroes who were ready to go national any day now. Of course I'd been reading about them for years.

Panel 5. HOWARD talking to THE EMPIRICAL MAN as FLASHFIRE looks on. The Empirical Man is smiling knowingly, while Howard looks baffled.

Ah, the wearable Faraday Cage! Can't beat the classics.


Panel 6. THE EMPIRICAL MAN gestures at HOWARD's costume with the stem of his pipe.

Your electrostatic power suit. I saw one about twenty years ago in the UK. Fellow called Nimbus, wasn't it?

EMPIRICAL MAN (continues):
Welcome to the contra-criminal fraternity. Hope to see you in action soon.

PAGE SIX (three panels)

Panel 1. Big half-page panel with an action shot of THE BLACK SHEPHERD, FLASHFIRE, THE EMPIRICAL MAN, and BUBBLE BOY facing off against THE QUARRYMAN, a living gravel creature. (See notes below for details.) The Quarryman shoots a stream of rubble from his arm at Bubble Boy's sphere as it flies toward him. The Empirical Man is working something out on a pocket calculator. Flashfire is breathing flame at the Quarryman. The Black Shepherd is gesturing towards the Quarryman with his shepherd's crook, urging Flashfire on.

It wasn't all bad. Remember that time when Bubble Boy recruited a team of heroes to stop the Quarryman?*

FOOTNOTE (small type):
* For the full story of this epic battle, see "Where Quakes The Quarryman" in Imaginary Comics, not on sale!

Panel 2. HOWARD (in costume) is standing in the background, maybe behind a pile of rubble, watching the action taking place in front of him.

I was in on that. Well...I watched them. If there had been looters, I could have shocked them or something.

Panel 3. HOWARD in the foreground looking on as the four triumphant heroes head away in the distance: BUBBLE BOY'S bubble hovering over the other three, who walk.

Join one of those super-teams and you're all set. The good ones all offer full dental and a health plan, plus they cover your malfeasance insurance. It's a sweet deal.

PAGE SEVEN (six panels)

Panel 1. HOWARD in costume, shaking hands with a CONSULTANT in an expensive business suit. The Consultant is smiling. Howard is not. They're standing in the consultant's office.

I found a costumed hero image consultant. I thought he could jazz up my presentation -- maybe that would help get me an agent. I could get some exposure, do some endorsement deals.

Panel 2. The CONSULTANT is standing in front of a poster stand, about to make a presentation. Meanwhile HOWARD, sitting in the foreground, looks dejected.

The patriotic angle is good. Plays well in the red states, you know? But market research shows ordinary people feel threatened by the historical thing.

Panel 3. Closeup on the poster stand, which now displays a sketch of HOWARD in a new costume. It has shoulder and elbow protectors like a football player, a Kevlar vest, and a helmet. There are patriotic insignia and decals. It bristles with macho and testosterone. Think of a cross between Ultimate Captain America and the Comedian from Watchmen, exaggerated for comedic effect. The idea of Howard being in this costume is patently ludicrous. The caption on the sketch could read "Ultimate Lightning Rod" if the point seems too subtle.

CONSULTANT (off panel):
So we jazz up your costume, go for a military feel instead. This shows you support the War on Terror. Now there's a hero America can get behind!

He cost $100 per hour. And he was full of crap.

Panel 4. HOWARD in costume, alone on an empty Philadelphia street late at night. He looks up in surprise, having just heard an alarm go off.

So finally, the other night I'm coming home from Kuper's Bar and I hear an alarm.

Panel 5. A KOREAN MAN, frowning and looking off to one side suspiciously, crouching in front of a closed storefront with the steel gate halfway open. The window of the convenience store is shattered.

A convenience store is being knocked over, and I spot the guy doing it.

Panel 6. HOWARD punches the KOREAN MAN square on the jaw.

Two zaps, and he still doesn't want to go down. I'm thinking, what, does this guy practice by tasering himself at home? So I punch him out.

PAGE EIGHT (seven panels)

Panel 1. HOWARD standing over the unconscious form of the KOREAN MAN, sprawled on the sidewalk, as a police car draws up.

I'm standing over him when the cops show up.

Turns out he's the owner of the store, and he'd just interrupted a robbery in progress before I showed up.

Panel 2. The KOREAN MAN is shouting at two POLICEMEN and pointing at HOWARD, who has a deeply embarassed expression.

He didn't press charges but he could still sue me for assault and battery, wrongful use of superhuman force, and wrongful detainment.

Panel 3. HOWARD back in front of his computer, looking sad.

My insurance premium would shoot through the roof. Add that to the other fines and tickets, the professional fees, the costume, even the batteries for the harness I blew my tax rebate on in the first place.

I'll probably lose my job.

Panel 4. HOWARD looks up toward the wall, where he sees...

I'm putting the damn suit back on iBid. There's no reason to keep doing this.

Panel 5. ...the poster of Ben Franklin, seeming to look down at Howard benevolently, with the slightest smile.

(no text)

Panel 6. HOWARD rises from his chair, reaching out with one arm to pick up his costume, draped over the back of the chair.

Ah, hell...time to go out on patrol.

To be continued...

Panel 7. Not a full panel, just a black area wide enough to contain the following text in white against the black background, like the postscripts at the end of each issue of Watchmen.

"Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other."
--Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack

05-12-2006, 02:20 AM
HOWARD LOWE looks roughly like the actor Wayne Knight -- he's in tons of stuff, best known as Newman on Seinfeld, see http://www.itscraigmitchell.homestead.com/files/knight_wayne.jpg -- but it doesn't have to be a perfect likeness so much as a suggestion of the character type. He's not tall, he's heavy, with curly brown hair and glasses.

In costume as FRANKLIN KEY, THE LIVING LIGHTNING ROD he wears a red white and blue Revolutionary War-era uniform -- this kind of thing: http://www.actionfigureworld.com/acatalog/6002-rev-war.jpg -- with the addition of a Green Lantern-type mask over his eyes.

AMANDA (a.k.a. THE THIRD RAIL) looks like Portia de Rossi -- http://us.imdb.com/gallery/ss/0246500/Ss/0246500/IMG0004.jpg?path=pgallery&path_key=de%20Rossi,%20Portia -- and in this story she's five years older than she was in "I Don't Want To Set The World On Fire." For reasons not yet explained, she's given up on her career as a costumed hero.

THE BLACK SHEPHERD is African-American, with white hair and mustache and beard, and wears a long white robe with vestments -- in other words he's dressed as a minister, or possibly as the member of a church choir. In his right hand he holds a long golden shepherd's crook. He has a kindly expression. His name is a play on "black sheep" and his mission as a superhero is to lead the wayward back into the fold of righteousness. He has the gift of divine prophecy and can speak and understand any language.

THE EMPIRICAL MAN is Caucasian, a stereotypical 1950s comic-book or b-movie scientist, cleancut with short hair, wearing a white lab coat over a shirt and tie. He smokes a pipe. Definitely a bit of Reed Richards and Professor Utonium (from the Powerpuff Girls) -- both of whom are latter-day tributes to the same stereotype -- in his heritage. He's smug and pompous but basically a good egg.

FLASHFIRE is a sexy Latina wearing red and orange leotards with a flame motif. Her power is breathing flames; if there weren't already a character called "Spitfire" she'd be called that instead.

BUBBLE BOY suffers from severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and cannot be exposed to the outside environment. He travels around in a flying transparent plastic sphere (very much like the Time Bubbles once used by the Legion of Super-Heroes) big enough for him to stand upright inside. I'm not sure yet what else his bubble does besides fly.

THE QUARRYMAN is a giant creature composed of small rocks, pebbles, and gravel. This might sound similar to the Thing or the rock creature in Galaxy Quest, but visually he's different in that the bits and pieces that make him up are smaller and rounder so he has a more "granular" quality. He can shoot part of his mass at a foe in a blast, sending a stream of rocks and gravel. He's yet another creation of an invading other-dimensional race called the Nyogtha, but Howard has no way of knowing this.

05-17-2006, 08:43 AM
I gotta tell you, this had me going up to the end. I can tell you put alot of time into the research for this and it shows in the descriptions at the end. I like the fact that it shows how he struggles to be a noted hero but gets the "charlie brown" syndrome. I had fun reading it, pretty entertaining and original. Keep it up

05-17-2006, 08:08 PM
I'm totally guessing here, but is that title "I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire" a Flaming Lips song? It looks familiar. I'm singing Hand in Glove now. :laugh:

Alrighty... to the CritMobile, Bez!

I was browsing through the "costumed hero tools and accessories" section on iBid. Yeah, like you haven't done the same.

You're forcing the reader to relate to your character, and instead, you make us shake our head at him. I've never gone in that section on eBay. Does it exist? I bet most people haven't. So instead of you wanting my "yeah, yeah, you got me" reaction, you instead get my, "um, I have no idea what you're talking about, freak" reaction.

And I'd just received a tax rebate that week.

Double past tense verbs ruin the flow. Lose "I'd" and just say, "And I just received my tax rebate." Or... if you want to be like me :laugh: "And lookie here! I got me a tasty tax refund calling out to this sucker." Nah... don't be like me. :laugh: But bottom line, this needs to be rewritten to fix.

Sure, I'd always dreamed of being a costumed hero. Who hasn't?
While this works, because most comic book readers have... it's still forcing... still stretching. Not a major crit. More of an observation of perception and storytelling.

She's about five years older now than she was the last time we saw her.
When's the last time "we" saw her? Probably the last time you saw her, but this does not help people, nor the artist for that matter, whom never seen her before this story. You always want to give some sort of description. I could say more here on how it affects your writing, but we usually understand each other, and I'm pretty sure you know what I'm saying here. :)

I gave her good seller feedback. Smooth transaction, would buy from her again next time she was selling superpowers.

This is the quick thinking, inside dialogue, and your speed is interrupted by the comma and missing conjunctions. Try:
"I feel good. Gave her some good seller feedback. Smooth sale, and I'd definitely buy from her again. Let's hope she's desperate with those superpowers soon." Something like that. Add a little "oomph" to it.

I was in Philadephia, I had an electric suit...

I notice you do this a lot. What's the value you have in writing this way? It works, not to its potential in my mind, but it's not a hard crit. I'm just wondering why is all. For me though, it really takes me out of the flow, and I had to reread it three times to get back in rhythm. If it were me, I'd go with, "I was in Philadelphia, and here of all things in my possession, I was holding an electric suit..." This is debatable, but just giving my two cents here on why it didn't work for me.

Suddenly, Howard Lowe vanished. I was a hero.
From third person to first, this doesn't work so well. I think you should stick with the third person here and let the next caption handle the first. Try:
"Suddenly, Howard Lowe vanished, and only a hero remained."

I took to walking down the streets in costume. Tourists thought I was with the chamber of commerce. I got asked for directions to Independence Hall a lot.
Just wanted to say I love this. I live a mile from Hollywood, and people walk up and down Hollywood Blvd like this. Full costume. And it's normal to see.

Jesus, if it was me, I'd stay out of fights, you know?
Nope, I don't know. Is he talking to himself and us? The "you know's" are a real weakness in your storytelling, and you have to find a way around it. Because from the perspective I have, I'm following this super hero down the street, and when he says this, I'm looking at my watch and making up a story in my head on someplace else I need to be. Don't take this personal, this is me talking to your character.

I thought he could jazz up my presentation -- maybe that would help get me an agent.
There ya go!! I think it's only one dash though. Could be both. But that's what you do for the speech patterns you're trying to invoke.

Why is he Korean? I was reading something earlier you wrote in this area of description about a mugger using phrases that indicated he was of a certain race. So to see this is a little weird. I would use generic terms like "Looter" or "Burglar". Unless you have a specific reason as to why he needs to be Korean?

THE QUARRYMAN, a living gravel creature. (See notes below for details.)
I'm blind cuz I don't see them. I can pretty much picture him, but when you list to see notes below, you're indicating that I don't have the full picture from the name. So, I'm left with pieces. Make sense? The mind is a powerful thing, but when you raise your hands up to guide it, then expect followers. This is your fortune of the day. Brought to you by Panda Express. :p

Alrighty... so despite the amount of crits I have, this is actually very, very good. You started out rough in getting the idea out of your head, but once you got through those first couple of pages, BAM! You were on it. I really enjoyed the bar scene, and that's where I really started to like the guy. So from here, take what I've given into account, and see if it helps. And let me know if there's an opening on the team. I know this guy... ahem... friend of mine... he uh... he's called Super Lubricant Man... and uh... he's looking to fight crime. :laugh: Good stuff!

** Oops! I see The Quarryman now in the other reply.

05-18-2006, 12:30 AM
kamikaze, I'm kicking myself for not having thought of Charlie Brown while writing this! That's exactly the feeling I was hoping to create. But it's probably just as well I didn't make the connection, because now all I can think of is the association of Ben Franklin and Charlie Brown with kites. I wonder if the whole point of that famous experiment with the key was to destroy an 18th century kite-eating tree with lightning? No, surely not.

bez, I really appreciate the close reading. I don't quarrel with any of the grammatical comments in and of themselves, but the goal here was to convey a specific person's speech pattern -- missing conjunctions, mismatched pronouns, awkward constructions, even the superfluous interjections like "you know?" In both this and the previous story, the narrative captions were someone speaking rather than a written account. Had this been Howard writing, in a diary or in a letter to someone, I would have written it differently; for that matter, had the narrator been a different character, his or her speech might be more technically correct. That said, obviously I overdid it in some places! I'm taking these comments to heart and will definitely work on making the language a little more elegant for the printed page.

On the Korean convenience store owner...my problem with the script you mention wasn't the mugger being black. It was discomfort with his lines being written in cliched slang. The mugger being black isn't a problem...and for all I know, it may be important to that story later on. In this case, yes, there is a reason for the store owner to be Korean.

05-18-2006, 06:30 PM
Cool beans! Looking forward to more then! :D