It's been a while, I know. But I've been busy this year and I wanted to take a small break and dive into my earlier work. She Hears Voices was released late in 2017. I've been selling ash-can copies at conventions (see above).
But now, you can check out the comic online at ComixCentral.
Rafael Dantas did the art and Chas! Pangburn did the lettering.
I wanted to dive into the process a bit, very much a bonus/behind the scenes thing.
The premise is, a little girl learns to communicate with animals and a year later she is imprisoned in a detention camp where orphaned kids are forced into labor. In order to free herself from the fascists in charge she talks to city creatures like pigeons, rats, and dogs to help her.
It's like a Don Bluth take of Shawshank Redemption.
I built an inspiration board on Pinterest for the artist to reference. City of Lost Children and Gattaca were prime examples of the dystopian aesthetic I was looking for.
As for the script, the biggest challenge was to establish the dialogue balloons to show her speaking telepathically to animals while narrating her thoughts to us. It was very tricky but I wanted to remain consistent so there's no confusion. Also I purposely didn't want to use the Professor X telepath balloon because it's a bit dated and very unique to his character in the X-men series. So Chas, who did an excellent job parsing through all the different forms of dialogue, created a whisper-telepath hybrid balloon.
Small panel - A Dragonfly, like a winged messenger, flies through a crack in the window of a basement.
CAPTION (CECI): How to talk to animals.
Night time. Ceci looks up at the window from the cold floor. She is in tattered clothing and wears low tech infrared goggles. It helps her see movement. She was blinded by the corporate goons who run this place, coder slaves.
CAPTION - ONE YEAR LATER
NARRATION - I’ll never forget what Mr. H said to me later that day,
“Animals are not aware of the politics of this world. They keep flying and crawling, with or without us.
NARRATION - “But I believe, somehow they know who’s worth helping.”
We see an albino rat named Sim is next to her looking up at the dragonfly.
**Lettering note: Telepathic dotted lines should be used when she speaks to animals**
Hello Dragonfly. How are you?
Side note- I absolutely loved WE3, so this was also a nod to Frank Quietly and Grant Morrison.
SMALL BLACK PANEL
NARRATION - People can't see in the dark. But I'm not like most people.
SFX - Huff Huff
Ceci runs down the hallway passed the camera. There's low light coming from the exit signs.
Inside a security office, OTHO a bald headed guard, stands over a large workstation, pressing a button and talking to a TECH GUY on speaker.
Otho here at Sector Twenty Four, what seems to be the issue?
Is it software or hardware?
Not sure. Want me to check it out?
I'll go. Just keep an eye out on the bridge.
Ceci slows down, she hears a growl behind her.
She looks behind her. It's a dog but really a robot.
***Lettering note: His name and his dialogue should be an old digital font.***
NARRATION - CYD06. He looks real, but only a part of him is. Organic heart, metal brain. I can only stall him for a short while.
But the guard in charge, Otho, finds her before she's about to escape. He uses his electric baton on her and she's knocked out, barely moving. The pigeons who live in the building and know Ceci sees this and starts attacking Otho. The great thing about this scene is we get to see what the pigeons are saying. The squaking is translated.
Five pigeons see Otho standing over her.
SFX: Coo. Coo
They become agitated, flapping their wings.
BLACK PANEL ***Lettering note: same font used for cooing and squaking***
NARRATION - I hear them. They're fighting for me.
CAPTION (PIGEONS): Get away from her, you bad man!
Her POV: She sees the outline and heat from Otho getting attacked by the pigeons.
CAPTION (PIGEONS): Monster!
Otho is waving his arms around, the pigeons peck at his head.
OW! Get off of me! Dumb flying rodents!
And so if you haven't read it yet, I'd suggest you do because I don't want to spoil anything....
But she successfully escapes. The last panel shows her running out onto a bridge. The cityscape is barely in the background but to sum up this story, I took a quote from an amazing anthology called Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse.
The quote from Dale Bailey's "The End Of The World As We Know It" was to end the story as more of an ellipsis than a solid period. There are no real happy endings in dystopian stories. It's more of a, "I survived this, for now. But the world is still on fire." My urge to write this story (only two years ago) was that, we're not that far off. The headlines are as bleak as ever. As of now, there are kids being stripped away from their parents and some are dying in cages on US soil. History is repeating itself and before I go out on a rant, I'll just say, comics is not just a form of escapism, but a way to express what's happening before our eyes.