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Brian

Initiate

Initiate

An initiation to The Initiation, that’s what we’re up to in this post.

Although we’ve been working on the Tens-Day graphic novel for quite some time, our prose comic, The Initiation, a more contained story, is closer to being finished. This one-shot is a re-imagining of our short story of the same name with the addition of art by Joe Koziarski. Here is the summary of the story that will be included in the comic:

A final obstacle stands in the way of Cadet Wren Yorick before he can join an elite United Colonies of Earth 23rd-century military squadron: a trust exercise on a long-abandoned installation on the planet Venus that is rumored to be haunted. Isolated and disoriented upon waking up from his induced sleep, Wren must rely on the guidance of his superiors to complete the task. They remotely direct him on his solitary journey to the remnants of the former colony through a vicious and unfamiliar landscape rife with whipping winds and extreme heat. His commanding officers, however, do little to neutralize his sense that there is something more, something uncanny about the bleak geography that he traverses. This leads Wren to question what he knows about his mission, his commanders and even his own eyes and ears before he reaches the small outpost at the edge of the colonial outpost, at which point his life forever changes.

The Initiation occurs almost a decade before the Interstellar Civil War erupts in 2239. Not so much a precursor to the conflict, this narrative examines one of the darker and stranger outposts of the INT universe before the outbreak of war. How did the story come to be?

I was tasked to write an eerie short tale set in the INT universe to share on a popular creepy pasta YouTube channel in 2014. At that time, the writing team, in conjunction with Justin Bise, INT’s creator, generated a list of possible story kernels. (The only other one I recall now was a ghost-ship narrative.) Last year, we decided to revisit The Initiation (after it was published in The Infinite Spectacle) with the aim of transforming the story into a prose comic.

That process began in late 2015, after I read a number of prose comics, including two Batman stories: Batman 663 “The Clown at Midnight” by Grant Morrison and “Death Strikes at Midnight” by Denny O’Neil. (This insightful review of the former includes its relation to the latter, if you are interested in learning more about the respective stories.) After reading around and becoming more familiar with the prose-comic genre, I broke down the 7,000 words of “The Initiation” into pages paired with one to three images. In a subsequent post, I will share the transformation from story, to script to finished page.

For the moment I will leave you with our working cover to The Initiation, courtesy of Joe:

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With the cover, an INT advert, credits page and bio page, we are looking at 28-page book, which we hope to share with you shortly.

Click on the image below, the original “cover” for “The Initiation” that accompanied the creepypasta story on YouTube as rendered by Nathan, if you want to read the all-text short story:

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More soon.

Under the Hood

Continuing last post’s theme of reintroductions, I want to show the developmental arc of Tens Day’s Twiggy over the last year or so, to share the changes that the character has undergone at the hands of various artists. Although we have shared two of the four images below previously, I thought it would be informative to see Twiggy’s “aging” process collected onto one page. First, a brief introduction, initially packaged with an INT update at indiedb.com (which includes Twiggy additional concept art from Robert):

Twiggy is a vapor addict. She is thin, has dark hair and is of average height. Most often she is seen wearing tight black pants, a dark pancho, boots, and a head scarf. She also carries a small satchel with her at all times, which includes her vapor pen, stash box, a wallet that rarely has money in it, and a small stuffed bear’s head that is missing its body, the last connection to the Haelen orphanage from which she ran away at the age of 12. Twiggy wears metal rings on the fingers of both hands, a last line of defense on which she has relied on numerous occasions. She also carries a metal key ring in the shape of a cat-outline with pointed ears, that when slipped onto her hand, becomes as effective as a short, double-bladed knife at close range. Although she doesn’t carry a sidearm, she has been known to carry other sharp weapons from time to time.

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Figure 1 Tens Day 0, Page 13

Figure 1, Page 13 from Tens Day 0, courtesy of Josh, stresses the character’s head scarf, in panels awash in somber blues and purples that show her about to hit vapor as she interacts with Garfin.

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Figure 2 Character Turnaround

Ryan’s character sheet for Twiggy displays her jagged hair style, adds a hoodie to her wardrobe and incorporates more accessories from her description.

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Figure 3 Headshot
This colored headshot by Ryan adds details such as earrings and dark eyeliner to complete Twiggy’s look.

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Figure 4 Tens Day 1, Page 5
The last image depicts Ryan’s unfinished panels to page 5 of Tens Day 1. It shows Twiggy sharing a couple of moments with Garfin and Rhett. Who are they? Check issue 0.

Have a Twiggy preference? We’d love to know.

Next time we’ll shift gears and focus on our one-shot prose comic, The Initiation. More soon.

Allow Ourselves to (Re)Introduce Ourselves

Hey all. We’re back. The Tens Day/comics blog (more on this in a second) took a backseat the last half year. But we are recharged and ready to share our progress and process with you again. But first things first: the Starboard site received a revamp, courtesy of Alex and Michael, who worked hard to upgrade its features. We think it looks great and are cozying up to our new home, which is still receiving some tweaks.

The new site isn’t all that has changed, however. Initially, this blog had been intended to discuss the graphic novel Tens Day. We will still do this in the coming days. But we have another project to discuss, too, in this space, a prose comic one shot: The Initiation.

Longtime INT followers will recognize this narrative as the title of the creepypasta story that has been since revised and published. The Initiation is also based in the INT universe, but the events therein occur prior to the advent of the Interstellar Civil War that is the game’s backdrop. I will have more to say about this project in the near future. For now, I will share a sample layout that we packaged with a previous INT update on indiedb.com, which also includes a preview of page 2 of Tens Day 1.

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The pages that we currently are proofing are legible, so don’t worry; we just wanted to share the layout and design of the pages that Joe created for the prose comic. We may have a cover to share with you, too, shortly.

Speaking of covers, here is a wip of the cover to Tens Day 1, courtesy of Ryan:

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If you’ve read Tens Day 0, then you know what’s happening here. If you haven’t or need a refresher, then check it out. This podcast may be of interest, too, as the cool folks at PageBacon had me on as a guest a while back to talk about the project. They published “The Initiation,” which you also can read in its entirety at my Wattpad page. The regularly updated Tens Day novel serialization, which I may be discussing from time to time here, too, is also homed there.

Lots of links and material, I know. But since this is a reboot of sorts, I wanted to (re)acquaint everyone with the lineages and lifelines of our current comic-related projects.

Telescoping ahead, the plan is for me to blog about twice a month. I hope some of you will stick around and introduce yourselves to us and check out some of the linked material. More soon.

Heads Up

Heads Up: Old Friends and New Faces

It’s been a while since we last checked in, so here is a brief update on Tens Day: as Ryan continues illustrating panels, I am putting together a promotional packet for the project, as well as editing the script. Once we have a healthy backlog of material, our plan is to release the first issue online incrementally, page by page. While we still have work to do to reach this point, we do have something cool to share. Below are head shots of four of the main characters in Tens Day, which exhibit the style and vision that Ryan brings to the graphic novel.

Lining up the Logline

Lining up the Logline

In this post we are taking a break from discussing the content of Tens Day. Instead I want to consider a small but potentially important marketing vehicle for the graphic novel: a logline. A logline is a sentence or two that really gets to the core of a story. Used in the comic-book, television, and film industries, a logline’s purpose is to encapsulate a project when it is pitched to a company or studio. A quick online search turned up an overwhelming number of examples and discussions concerning the subject, but here is a handout from a university course upon which I stumbled that I found quite useful: View Here.

The linked document contains successful and unsuccessful examples of loglines, according to the instructor. Although we are not pitching Tens Day right now, I figure we can use a logline to help promote Tens Day 1 in the coming days. Here is what I started with:

Tens Day: The explosions were just the beginning
Tens Day: The real story happens after the bombing

Not good. The pair is, in fact, quite bad. It didn’t take me long to realize my biggest obstacle. Tens Day has an ensemble cast.

Tens Day 0: Detonations and Denotations

Endings and Beginnings

So Garfin knows that something is up at The Pinnacle Hotel. He and Twiggy trade some banter before the explosions rock the hotel and island. But what does Garfin know about the bombings? What about Caran Slake, who took aim at the hotel after slaying one of its employees? What happens to Dru Fallet and Shade Reyes? And what about the Lescure family? Remember them?

The answers to these questions drive Tens Day’s plot, which we will share with you right here in the coming weeks and months – you didn’t think that we’d just upload the rest of the graphic novel, did you? We couldn’t anyway, since we are still editing and illustrating it. But soon enough we will have some new material to share, replete with new plot twists and characters. Future posts will range from works in progress to completed pages from Tens Day 1, all rendered by artist Ryan Z. We might even share our thoughts about the challenges of creating a graphic novel and our long-term goals for the project and beyond, too.

I will leave you with a slightly modified excerpt from an internal document describing the planet Serenus, which spawned the Tens-Day graphic novel, a beginning of sorts to mark the end of Tens Day 0:

Tens Day 0: Meets, Greets and a Medley of Peeks

Last week we met cartel assassin Caran Slake. This week we meet Twiggy and Garfin on Page 13, who inhabit a seedy underworld comprised of small-time drug dealers and thieves, as well as the homeless and wayward. Page 14 returns to previously established plotlines.

A Touch of Twiggy

Twiggy is a young addict of Vapor who lives on the streets. Unlike the drug Dust, which we mentioned in
the previous post, Vapor, which is distributed by the Bakunin Bratva, the rival to the Prometh Cartel,
induces a mellow but intense state of dreamy euphoria reminiscent of lesser opiates. For more on Vapor
and the role that it will play in INT, check out our indiedb.com post on “The Tubes,” a dangerous underground community that is centered on a synthetic hybrid and more potent strain of the drug here.

Tens Day 0: The Story Continues

Tens Day 0: The Story Continues

Courting Cartels

Caran Slake. She is an assassin for the Prometh Cartel, a powerful syndicate with inroads in remote colonies and sprawling megacities alike, which is known for its signature drug, Dust. We haven’t shared much info about the major cartels in the INT universe yet. However, part of Caran Slake’s story in Tens Day will acquaint you with a longstanding grudge that the Prometh Cartel has with the United Colonies of Earth (UCE), the presiding power of colonialized space in 2238 (did you checkout last week’s primer?), the year in which Tens Day takes place. Slake’s plot begins in Tens Day 0 with her abbreviated relationship with Jex Black, who becomes a pawn in the assassin’s vendetta. We also learn about Slake’s interest in Dru Fallet, head of security at The Pinnacle Hotel.

A Snippet on Slake

Here is a little more on Caran Slake’s background from an internal Starboard Games document that has yet to be made public:

Tens Day 0: One Step Forward, One Step Back

Oops (about that first post …)

So, yeah. We messed up. Anyone notice the misspellings and errors in the text of the comic? For over a week unproofed and unedited pages of Tens Day 0 remained online. The edited pages are up now. We’re still pretty new at this online-comic thing, but that’s no excuse, and we’ll do our best to make sure to that it doesn’t happen again.

That being said, I encourage you to take another look at the first pages of Tens Day 0 before you read the latest uploads. In addition to cleaned up punctuation, syntax and misspellings (I hope), all pages have a slightly higher res, too, which increases their readability. Thanks to Andrew for noticing the mishap and thanks to Waffle (Adam) for uploading the edited pages earlier in the week.