And I’m Free, Free Fallin’… — A Dispensable List of Comic Book Lists

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34 Covers Featuring Someone Riding a Bullet, Missile or Bomb Any Doctor Strangelove fans out there? At the end of Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War comedy, pilot T.J. “King” Kong tries to manually release the stuck bay doors on his damaged aircraft. He succeeds, but the bomb on which he’s sitting is dropped just as he celebrates his achievement. So he does what any red-blooded American would do: he rides the bomb all the way down, wildly whooping and whipping his hat as he plummets towards nuclear annihilation.

Kubrick wasn’t the first person to come up with the idea of someone riding a missile in flight; in fact, it proved to be a popular motif for comic artists during the Golden Age. Heck, in some cases they didn’t even wait until the U.S. entered the war — take the first three covers below, which came out before the U.S. formally declared war on the Axis powers in December 1941.

Say, now that I’m looking at all these covers in a row, is anyone else noticing anything that’s slightly… ah, Freudian about this whole missile-riding business? Just me? Ah, well, carry on, then

via And I’m Free, Free Fallin’… — A Dispensable List of Comic Book Lists

 

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The Harder They Fall: A Storm King’s Thunder Tale – Flash Fiction Challenge: Who the **** is My D&D Character (1000 word version)

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The night’s chill reminded Zanici of the time she had fought in Icewind Dale, alongside an elf named Ah’ele Baequi‘ghymn. The elf had been cunning, but gnomes were brilliant at it, excelling in such a manner that other races were jealous. That thought made Zanici grin.

“We have our orders,” Tyauld grunted. “We can’t do whatever we like.”

“Gnomes always do what they like,” Zanici smirked. “Nothing else matters!”

“When you joined us,” Tyauld continued, spittle spewing from his grotesquely bearded mouth, “you made a promise.”

Did barbarians know so little about gnomes? Gnomes only did what they liked. So, Zanici joined a band of giant hunters hailing from Waterdeep, only because it would ultimately suit her desires.

Istean Ciselbe was the leader of the giant hunters. He was a meek and pale-skinned presumptuous human with long grey hair, from a small village along the Sword Coast, and he displayed no real combat prowess, though he spoke with uncharacteristic vigor and authority.

Zanici was mortifyingly shocked at the human’s treatment of the barbarian. You see, Tyauld was a spirited Half-Orc; his beard constantly full of crumbs, his breath rancid. But he was stronger than any full-blood orc Zanici had ever known.

Zanici knew that Rohanna was the true reason Tyauld was so passive. She was a stunning woman with curly chocolate hair. Shocking to see such a fascinating balance of bronzed skin and vivid emerald eyes, Zanici knew right away that the human female shadowed a secret from the others. But none kept secrets like a gnome.

Zanici was allowed to join the band of giant hunters only because their magic user had been recently swallowed by a giant. An opportunity presented itself and Zanici seized it, claiming she knew rune magic. It was not a lie, not really. She knew of the magic, but just was not very skilled at it. That was unimportant though; the band provided a means to an end.

“I’m doing just that!” Zanici finally said. “I made promises I intend to keep.” She pulled a small gem from her satchel, uttered some arcane words, and then was engulfed in an amethyst haze.

The haze was charismatic yet purposeful, just like Zanici. It billowed up from their hiding spot, and then dashed toward the Frost Giants’ fortress with a speed not unlike that of a fierce flood. Darting between stones and patches of ice and snow, the haze made its way toward the gates.

Just before reaching the gates Zanici allowed the haze to evaporate so that she could be seen in all her gnome glory. The three guards gave no notice of her as she circled their massive feet, scattering small pebbles about. With the pebbles aptly placed Zanici spoke a few words, and then the fun began.

From the pebbles, threads of intense light shot skyward and then fell back to the earth, crisscrossing over the giants, whom groaned in pain. It was an impressive imprisonment spell designed specifically for Frost Giants.

“No giant is a match for a gnome!” Zanici boasted with a wide grin.

From the barracks burst enraged Frost Giants, their mighty swords slashing at Zanici. Easily, she maneuvered away from them as she threw out a handful of small beads. And from these beads emerged numerous giant Rust Monsters, their fangs dripping with anticipation. Each of these conjured beast set their beady eyes upon the swords the Frost Giants wielded; iron delicacy. Zanici howled with laughter as the beasts fell upon the giants, their mouths chomping away at anything ferrous.

“A frontal assault on a giant’s fortress?” Istean gasped. “That gnome is mad!”

Tyauld watched delight come over Zanici as she attacked the giants, and something inside him churned. “That mad gnome is fierce and blood thirsty.” He swung his battle axe high and roared a battle cry that would have given even the fiercest of orcs pause.

The giant hunters rushed from their hidden place and charged the fortress. Zanici could not have planned it better.

The giant hunters crisscrossed the glacier plains quickly, and entered the fortress wailing as they attacked the weakened Frost Giants. For a moment Zanici watched, but then snuck away further into the fortress. Promises, promises.

 

Three weeks later Zanici entered Baldur’s Gate, hastily making her way through the murkiest of neighborhoods. When she found a cistern grate, magic was all she needed for removing it.

She lurked around beneath the city for an hour before finding a concealed entrance to a Drow encampment. Excitedly she descended toward the interim ruler. The guards gave her no gruff when she passed through the opening of the leader’s tent. “I kept my promise,” Zanici called out into the murky interior. She looked around and was disgusted by the filth. “Soon, you’ll be elevated again, Soora Magrora.”

“Of course I will!” Soora emerged from a shadowed corner, her vivid white hair falling over her poignant violet skin.

“Where’s my payment?” Zanici snorted.

Soora smiled. “Did you have no trouble?”

Zanici smirked, “None.”

“Really? Then you did not mind betraying those giant hunters?”

“I only promised I would use magic to handle giants, not keep anyone alive. Their thirst for revenge led their paths.” Zanici paused a moment. “The Sword Coast is safe from giants, for now. I maintained my promise of ensuring Rohanna would die.”

Zanici tossed a small satchel to Soora. “It’s there, what you asked for.”

Soora opened the satchel and reveled at what was inside, the crevices of her lips salivating. “That it is little one, that it is,” Soora chortled. She tossed a red bag to Zanici, “And here is payment.”

Zanici snatched the bag up hastily, fled from the tent, and raced back to the surface. Inside the bag was a gem of great power, and along with the sword she took from the Frost Giant fortress, Zanici had one final promise to keep: the one to herself.

Gnomes only did whatever they liked.

Nu-Merika: A Taste of a Short Story

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“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

I am not sure if anyone had truly believed him, I know I hadn’t. I was a young child when I had heard the presidential hopeful utter those words. Though I was young I was appalled, just like hundreds of thousands of others. But somehow he had won, barely, but won nonetheless. And he had built that wall, just as promised. Each and every one of those bricks was fused with the blood of Mexican slaves, and not a penny of its cost taken from the American treasury. I’m still not sure how he had managed that.

Once the Rio Barrier was completed, that crazed man turned his sights to the north, and within two more years the Great White Shield was completed. The Superpower known as the United States was cut off from its southern and northern neighbor by massive fortifications equipped with heavy guns, anti-aircraft cannons, and armed troopers.

Other than the walls, the man did nothing else, and people were relieved that his term would end. But surprising some, the fool seized a second term. That was too much for many to bear; some of my family immediately left the country. I remember how my aunt had cried and begged my dad to follow. She sobbed as he called her a manic paranoid mess. My dad said that anyone leaving had been acting overly dramatic. If he had felt that same sense of urgency and fear like my aunt though, maybe today he would be alive.

Early in that second term, the crazed man turned interests inwardly, and began building walls between states, redefining them as Zone Districts. Yellow school buses began showing up in neighborhoods, and armed troopers forced people from their homes unto them. Hours, sometimes days later, the busses would arrive in varied ZD Communities, and all the people were forced out. Quickly people realized that these new ZD Communities were segregated along social, racial, and economic differences.

The whole time this man enforced his radically, revolting ideologies unto the nation, the rest of the world watched. They refused to help, many believing the inevitable should be allowed to occur. Me and my friends are restless though, we are no longer afraid of the consequences of wanting a new regime. We will die bringing about the change needed.

Writer’s Digest – Plot and Structure

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Fundamentals: Choose one of Bell’s “Top Twenty Ways to Get Hundreds of Plot Ideas” from pages 38-49 and use it to generate two or three possible story ideas. Then choose one story idea you feel drawn to and begin writing without thinking too much about it, as the purpose of the exercise is to explore ways of generating creativity and possible plot ideas. Write 250-300 unselfconscious words using whichever method you’ve chosen from the chapter (e.g., 8. Stealing From the Best or 9. Flipping a Genre) as your temporary title. You needn’t write anything explaining how you did the assignment (or even whom you “stole” from, or what genres you flipped, in the above examples). In fact, you don’t have to explain yourself or the product to anyone. All you have to do is to get used to generating creativity and new ideas using one of these methods.

Stealing From the Best: If Shakespeare could do it, you can too. Steal your plots. Take old plots and weave “your particular magic” into them. Originality is the key to plagiarism. You cannot lift the exact plot, with the same characters intact, but you may take a pattern and use it, and plot is nothing more than a story’s pattern.

1. Halo Universe: a military fleet threatened by an unimaginably powerful enemy, that seems to have the weapons of war born of unnatural and inhuman means, momentarily escapes oblivion to fight another day. Followed to a mystic fortress, the fleet discovers something far worse than archaic beasts of combat.

2. Hunger Games Universe: the children of the empire are forced to endure the harshness of a dreaded forest; it’s a test of survival instinct, unflinching obedience, and strength of will. The citizens are forced to sacrifice their young to a sadistic and vicious king, a self-proclaimed god amongst mortals. But justifiable resentment is building, and a young Kadnisha Everdeen will soon lead the revolt that will topple the throne, and she is just twelve years old. (Game of Thrones anyone? :-))

3. Pride and Prejudice Universe: Keira Bennet believes that Doctor Darcy Macfadyen stands for all that is wrong with the world; he is obnoxiously wealthy and feeds upon the less-than-fortunate. She hates him. But their lives are about to be thrust into an adventure of apocalyptic proportions, forcing them to rely on one another for survival. When it seems it would be only the two of them left in all the world, Keira must reassess her feelings for this “kindly” doctor that did all he could to rescue her and her sisters from a horde of hungry zombies.

 

Halo Reimagined

The Pillar of Autumn was the most splendid Man-of-War in all of the Spaniard Military fleet. It was a massive vessel, eluding both majestic illustriousness and battle-spirit. It not only obliterated the enemy, but did so without receiving damage. And with its unprecedented crew of three hundred, it was clear it was the future of ocean warfare.

The English Royal Fleet was jealous indeed.

In this time of relative peace though, the mighty vessel was docked in the military city of Alcance, a wondrous place for any military man. But Commander Miguel Claves itched for excitement. He stood at the helm of the vessel wanting to set sail, but he and his crew had orders to remain docked. There were no active traitors to the Spanish Crown lately. Spain was too formidable.

Commander Miguel smiled at the thought of being invincible. He stood straighter, his eyes affixed upon the calmness of the sea. He had much to be proud of: a flawless military record, the unrelenting support of the Spanish Crown, a beautiful daughter named Josephina, and the confidence of the Holy Roman Church.

No one knew it, outside of the Commander and his Lieutenant, but aboard his vessel was hid away one of the greatest secrets of the war against the pirates: a holy knight in blessed armor, which was argued by some to have been created by the Angels of God.

“No!” a cry fell unto the commander’s ears. He rushed to the Starboard side and found one of his soldiers pointing skyward. Commander Miguel looked up, and descending upon him and his crew were winged beasts of fur and horns, controlled by sickly brutes wielding axes and cleavers. These creatures had called themselves the Covenant, in an attempt to mock the Holy Church.

A mistake.

Commander Miguel smiled; he was going to see some combat after-all.

 

Chapter 3 Exercise 1 – Plot & Structure

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The What-If Game: this is perhaps the oldest, and still the best, creative game for novelist. Originality is nothing more than connecting familiar elements in unfamiliar ways. Ask “what-if” when reading the newspaper, and watching every commercial and television show; let the mind roam free; write down what-if questions; come back to list a few days later to see what sounds promising

What if…

  • Natives had refused to assist the journeying Europeans
  • the first American space flight was unsuccessful
  • Hitler succeeded
  • dinosaurs had not gone extinct
  • elephants have big butts and they cannot lie
  • cats were robots
  • dogs were extraterrestrials that integrated into our society
  • all existence was merely the imaginings of some being that is writing a novel
  • Santa Klaus was a dictator intending to control the world through free toys to children
  • you fell in love with an extraterrestrial, would you have sex with it
  • the gods of ancient history returned
  • mutants (as in the Marvel Universe) were factual
  • the atomic bomb was never designed
  • if the ancestral line of Anglo Saxon had not become “the standard”
  • Martin Luther King Jr had not been assassinated
  • Jesus had decided against being the New Covenant
  • we had actually bombed ourselves to oblivion during WWII (think video game: Fallout)
  • the Black Plague had spread globally
  • the Muslims had been able to thwart the Inquisition
  • God had decided to “clean slate”
  • instead of homosapien, the evolved sentient creature was homosaurus
  • the Flood (think video game: Halo) really did exist, and they invaded Earth?
  • Gaea finally became fed up and decided to react aggressively against humankind
  • God allowed Earth to remain flooded
  • society was Matriarchal, rather than Patriarchal
  • Cortez had somehow landed in Canada, not Mexico
  • if Cortez had been defeated, rather than vilely victorious
  • Sputnik was indeed a Soviet weapon
  • Sputnik was actually an extraterrestrial spy device
  • if “Mort(e)” happens
  • the Roswell incident led to an extraterrestrial invasion
  • heterosexuality was the oddity
  • homosapien was not the dominant sentient species
  • time travel was not only plausible, but was Earth’s primary commodity within the Galaxy
  • girls were from Mars and boys from Venus
  • Heracles had drank the entire potion
  • Facebook never existed, and we only had MySpace
  • all of Earth was a nudist colony
  • mobile devices were internationally outlawed and banned
  • Y2K did occur, and the world plummeted into technological despair
  • the Confederate forces had been victorious over the Union
  • all across America, all the slaves had revolted, and done so wildly, successfully
  • cooties were an actual medical condition

???

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Opening Lines: writing opening lines is fun. Try it. Your imagination will thank you

  • “You feel me?” she asked. “I feel you girl, boom shaka laka laka!” she replied, straight-faced.
  • I lay in bed motionless as the sun gleamed through the window. Silent. Until I heard rustling from the cot near mine.
  • “I’m free!” she wailed in jubilation. “I’ve been freed!” Her arms rose toward the sky as a thunderstorm approached. She was naked and elated.
  • Sitting with a coffee in hand and doughnut sugar upon his cheek, James hears the news. Ain’t this a bitch!
  • A red moon, blood red, radiating a thick scarlet mist over the land.
  • All the crew were running around, getting ready for their next assignment. The word had come: the fleet’s largest vessel was ready for its first voyage. And the crew for it were nine women.
  • “How could I make a man out of you?”Drill Sergeant Raines barked, looking down at a cadet who had tripped while on the march to basecamp.
  • Last summer was the first time I went camping.
  • On a calm, silent evening a young, bitter, restless man strolled down a road of a small village called Titania.
  • In a golden banquet hall, in a castle hidden away within a cavern at the bottom of a great ocean, there is a conference taking place.
  • The sun was high in the sky, haloed by vicious vultures. Kel knew they would need to find civilization soon if they were to survive. But for miles and miles only sand, scorching wind, and death loomed.
  • High above the city skyline, zipping through the clouds, Scarlet Avenger looked down at the sulking citizens of Five Points as they went about achieving their daily routines. His lips twisted into a frown, he wondered how so many people in one place could be so discouraged.
  • The moon hung low, casting long and odd shadows across the urban landscape. Babies crying from their cribs, the homeless shifting about within their cardboard homes, and blaring sirens were the soundtrack of the evening. It was perfect for a prowler like me.
  • Since the very beginning, he knew that the world would suffer endlessly due to mankind’s irrational savagery, violence, and lack of foresight. The minds of the two and a half billion scattered across the globe all sought their own hedonistic satisfactions; none concerning themselves with keeping the planet spinning toward a satisfactory future.
  • Falling through the immense nothingness that is existence and oblivion, the mind of a mere mortal would shatter into a prism of agony and disbelief. Even a god would falter at the thought of one’s fate pass the boundless barrier that border and encase the acknowledged universe.
  • The stench is overwhelming, burning my eyes, making them water. But tears do not roll down my cheeks and fall to a bloodstained concrete floor because of the odor alone. I can still feel the pain of those recently slaughtered.
  • It has been a half-century since the Great War has ended and the inhabitants of the planet earth enslaved.

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Session One: Follow the Lead Advanced

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Advanced: The purpose of this assignment is to break down your existing novel in order to see how strong the foundation really is. Try answering the following questions using your own novel as the text and see if there’s any point where connections aren’t being made. If your story is built on the LOCK system, then your answers should give us a good idea of what your book is about. If, on the other hand, you find any of these impossible to answer (and some will be difficult to answer, forcing you to think about your work in a different way), consider why this might be. After you’ve answered all questions, write 1-2 paragraphs on where you think any weaknesses in plot might be in LOCK and what you might do to strengthen these using the suggestions from the chapter and discussion.

My Lead is a ___Pacifist Gunner Pilot___ (description of character, like Vengeful Sea Captain)

His internal conflict is ___desiring to travel the cosmos but not wanting to kill to do so (contradicting life path)___ (such as obsessiveness, recklessness, displaying poor judgment)

His external conflict is ___solar system at war___ (such as white whale, raging sea, mutinous crew)

How the internal and external conflicts work together or illuminate one another is

___there is a sense throughout the system that all must fight to ensure survival of their particular caste, or risk being imprisoned for treason___

(such as, his obsession puts his boat and crew in confrontation with white whale; his need for revenge is as dangerous as the whale)

His Objective is ___ leave Earth and the Inner System___

His Confrontation is/comes when ___ he is recruited by the Sol Federation Navy___

The tone of the book should be ___ dualistic and combative, straining belief versus inevitable action, and emotionally polar-extreme___

The ending will be a Knockout when ___ Bergiere accepts, and fully embraces, what he is good at___

Don’t forget to write your 1-2 paragraphs thinking about your answers and how your novel fits the requirements of the LOCK system.

                Is it really believable that pacifists will be treated as enemies of the caste and thrown into prison? Must create a definitive militaristic government in which all citizens are soldiers; look at Israel government system for inspiration. Will it be required to explain why Earth turned into a global militant government? And if one side is pure military, what type of caste would oppose, and actually be considered a threat? What is the opposite of strict, logical, command and obedience? A Free Will caste would be what; religious, spiritual, artistic, whimsical, magical?

                What would life be like if a citizen did not fight? How would they benefit society? Show how non-combatants are really not looked at as members that provide to the greater good (ex. even a farmer provides to the war effort, as their crops are specifically transported to battle fleets for nourishment; ALL produce and raw materials on Earth are being linked to military).

                What is the true reason for the caste dichotomy? Religion? Economic? Race/Ethnicity? How much do I have to explore the different castes? How many will there be? For Bergiere, ethnicity is unknown; in fact, for much of the world (in theory) there is no racial class. There is no “pure” bloods or ethnicities. Bergiere is a light-brown-skinned male with curly, red hair. His eyes are hazel-blue. Lineage based upon race or ethnicity is not that important. Lineage based upon military or religion is the dividing course. This needs more work; this has been the biggest hang-up. I don’t want to do what has been done.

                Will readers think this is a story about nature vs nurture? Genetics vs Training? Desire vs responsibility? Inevitable human nature versus façade of Free Will? This is a story of one man’s struggle with their personal moral beliefs and the world they were thrust in because of their innate genius level ability. This is a story about how one man will do something horrendous and against what they feel because of an overwhelming desire.

Session One: Follow the Lead

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Fundamentals: The purpose of the exercise is to consider how forming an interesting Lead reveals possibilities about character, conflict, plot, tone, scenes, images, etc. Take a look at how you might form a Lead by choosing an attribute from Column A with a character type from Column B. What does a given combination automatically suggest to you? Brainstorm and jot notes. When you’ve settled on a Lead and have let some ideas and inspiration come to you, write a potential first paragraph inspired by the combination and see if you can keep going. (Let’s limit what you turn in to 300 words or so.)

A B
talentless executioner
motherly father
jealous circus clown
neurotic suicide hotline volunteer
unfulfilled celebrity impersonator
scheming tour guide
bigoted sports mascot
sexist high-school cheerleader
melancholy superhero
self-conscious relationship counselor
psychic minister

 

Melancholy Executioner

The cloaked man had forgotten to wear the hood and mask once while executing his duty in his own village, and it left his life dejectedly altered. Women ignored his courting attempts, men refused him invitation to cards and ale, and children ran away shrilling in fear whenever they saw his face. He forgot the hood and mask, only, that one time.

Hidden beneath an ebony hood and mask, the cloaked man rode pass the village gate toward the gallows, while the sun was still at rest. He had even placed an ebony hood and mask over his stallion’s head, so none could identify him by recognizing the strong and beautiful steed. While the villagers would lay peacefully in their warm beds, he would have the unpleasant task of ensuring that all the wooden beams and supports were sound. The rooster crowed as he had ended his rudimentary inspection.

 

From behind the ebony hood and mask the cloaked man peered out at the crowd, noticing their disdain, fear, and disapproval. These emotions were not for the sobbing criminal that was being dragged passed them all, but rather, for the wretched Puppet of Death which would pull the lever to hang the pleading soul. The cloaked man held tight to the lever, no one noticing how he shook with loneliness.

Only three generations before, his great grandfather was applauded and respected for doing his lawful duty by ending the life of a convicted criminal. In fact, it was deemed the work of God, and it had women throwing themselves at his feet. Men bought him round-after-round of ale. Children pretended to be him. That was then, wonderful days.

The cloaked man yanked at the lever, a man’s neck snapped, and the gathered crowd gasped in judgmental repugnance.