Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sample Pages from "No Stone Unturned," Script by Ray Van Horn, Jr. for Top Cow Comics' 2013 Talent Hunt

So I recently took a shot and entered Top Cow Comics' 2013 Talent Hunt.  The time, preparation and resource gathering invested was one of the most massive undertakings for a project I've yet done in my career.  I worked to the point of obsession and surrounded my writing microcosm with Witchblade, Artifacts and The Darkness books and images.  I mapped out timelines, considering the imprint had already shaken up their stable with the "Rebirth" event that changed everything.  I whispered character names aloud and inside my head like buzzing little mantras.  Sara Pezzini adorned my computer wallpaper, the spaces surrounding my desk and my office bulletin board.  Only does a writer get away with such conduct that would ring "stalker" from anyone else. 

Six hundred-plus aspiring writers also took their shots.  Unfortunately, I wasn't one of the selected winners.  In what was probably the single biggest disappointment I've faced in the past couple years, I brooded for a few hours after the formal announcements were made by Top Cow.  I drank a beer, then a hot tea.  Yin and yan.  I read a Thor comic and spun some Sisters of Mercy to calm myself.  Afterwards, I turned my eye toward my review queue for Blabbermouth and went right to work.  The next day, I opened other comic scripts I've written and worked on polishing them up, as well as cracking into short stories that need an ending and one of four novel projects that has more verve than the others at this point.  In other words, I got over losing in a hurry, because I refuse to give in to negativity.  The universe gives what you put into it, thus I optimistically soldier on.

Nonetheless, I have this little script that was the focal point of my world for a couple months.  In the interest of sharing with my loyal readers here at The Crash Pad, I'd like to toss up a few sample pages from my entry script.  Looking back at "No Stone Unturned," I have no sour grapes.  I enjoyed the opportunity to enter Top Cow's contest and I was glad for the practice. 

I invite any comments, criticisms and (hopefully) invitations for writing work from a comics publisher or anyone currently in the industry.  Comics have always been one of my life's passions and writing for the medium has been a yet-unrealized dream come true.  I wrote original serialized superhero fiction eons ago for Cyber Age Adventures and five of my stories were collected in the trade paperback, Playing Solitaire.  That was a nice start, but I'm after the real deal. 

Hope you all dig.  If you want to know more about the crux of this 22-page story that focuses largely on Patrick Gleason, former partner and love interest to Sara Pezzini of Witchblade (who has a cameo during the intro and outro), hit me up off-site.  I'd be glad to get into it with you.  As always, thanks for reading.

Sample Pages from "No Stone Unturned," for Top Cow Comics' 2013 Talent Hunt.  Witchblade and Artifacts characters are the property of Top Cow Comics.  Original story concept and script writing by Ray Van Horn, Jr.

                                 PAGE 8

PANEL 1:  Close-up of Gleason from the left profile.  In the background are metalheads facing toward the stage as Shallow Graves prepares to begin their set.

1 Gleason (caption):  “Looks like ol’ Finny f’ed up again.  Lost the Glacier Stone here in the big metropolis, his old stomping grounds.   

2 Gleason (caption):  “Wonder what had him back in New York to begin with.

PANEL 2:  Establishing view of the stage from behind Gleason’s head and shoulders.  Show a large crowd of people all the way across the panel in front of the stage.  The members of Shallow Graves are on the stage tuning up, with Rod prominent.  He is wearing black jeans and a muscle shirt with a goat’s head and pentagram on the front.  He has dark hair pulled into a ponytail and he has a few tattoos on each arm, plus a nail-studded bracelet.  The Glacier Stone is dangling from his neck.

3 Gleason (caption):  “There’s my mark and he’s got the ice.  Ugh, Sara’d torch me for that.

PANEL 3:  View of stage left from a distance.  Approach from behind the merchandise table previously referenced with the back of a merchandise girl dominating the right side of the panel.  We see she has green pigtails and black spaghetti straps overtop pale shoulders.  A pair of male metalheads are holding money in their hands.  One is pointing over the merch girl’s head as she hands the other a t-shirt.

Silent panel

PANEL 4: View of the venue floor and audience from Rod’s point-of-view.  We see only his chin down to his pelvis as he’s twisting pegs on his bass with the hand bearing the nail-studded bracelet.  The Glacier Stone glistens beneath the glaring stage lights upon his chest.  Someone in the crowd is yelling at the band to begin.  We see minute details of Gleason in the crowd.

4 Gleason (caption):  “Rod must be carrying wood along with that gem on his neck. 

5 Gleason (caption):  “I’d wonder why girls like Francine waste their time with creeps like Rod, but then, I stuck it out with Sara no matter how ugly it got between us at times. 

6 Gleason (caption):  “Frick, I still miss her.

7 Metalhead in crowd:  "Get on with it!"

                                PAGE 9

PANEL 1:  View from behind the merchandise table again, revealing more of the merch girl from behind, concentrating on the thighs up through the shoulders, with traces of the green pigtails dangling from the top of the panel.  She is wearing a low-cut, black, spaghetti-strap body suit with a pair of high-cut denim shorts overtop.  Accent the curves of her rear through the fabrics, jutting partially from the bottom frays of the cutoffs.  With no customers now, her left arm is reaching backwards and pulling a small NAA Guardian automatic from the center hem of her shorts.  The gun has been stashed inside the shorts above her butt.  We see a “IV” branded on the upper section of her left arm.

 Silent panel

PANEL 2:  Establishing view panning the crowd, tightening on Gleason from the waist-up, but allowing for enough of a view in the distance past the crowd of metalheads to include the merchandise table, still with no customers. We should see slightly more indication that the merch girl is an Aphrodite IV unit.  Her hands are clasped at her crotch, concealing the gun, but her chin is down and her face is partially silhouetted as we’ve not yet seen the confirmatory green spot upon her cheek, nor her green lips.

Silent panel

PANEL 3:  Expansive view of Shallow Graves pounding into action onstage, Rod and his band mates flailing away at their instruments.  Reduce the illumination and douse the band in scarlet stage lighting.  We see a handful of horns-up symbols from the crowd poking up from the bottom of the panel.

Silent panel


                                      PAGE 10

PANEL 1:  Show the mayhem ensuing from the crowd before Gleason.  We’re looking in around him, off-center toward the right.  Show metalheads dashing and shoving each other in a mosh pit, with other metalheads giving them distance, but headbanging or throwing horns in the air.  Gleason is standing rigid from what we can tell at his back.

1 Gleason (caption):  “I’ve seen some weird things in my life, and most of it’s focused around Sara.

 2 Gleason (caption):  “The Brooklyn Bridge turning into some monster bastion out of Krull during that scrap between her and Dani comes to mind. 

3 Gleason (caption):  “Sara getting pregnant by Estacado while both were dead asleep?  Tops, right there.

4 Gleason (caption):  “But what makes people willingly crash into each other like these ass-clowns?

PANEL 2:  Medium close-up of a young female crowd surfer tumbling overtop upraised hands pushing beneath her butt and back, keeping her elevated.  She looks ecstatic.  Gleason is nearby, looking appalled.

5 Gleason (caption):  “Now that could be statutory rape in the making.  Dumb kids.       

PANEL 3:  Angled view of Shallow Graves in action onstage.  Rod dominates the left side of the panel, pushing his bass neck out into the crowd and screaming at them.  The Glacier Stone swings forward as well.  Show the crowd reaching out and yelling from behind an iron barrier and three muscular bouncers between the barrier/crowd and the stage.  One metalhead is pumping his fist and another is giving the band the middle finger.  Shallow Graves’ singer is barking into a microphone.

6 Shallow Graves’ singer:  "Step into the abyss, your new Lord is awaiting you…

PANEL 4:  Medium view of Gleason, catching a teenaged male mosher who’s stumbled backwards out of the slam pit.  In the background, a female bartender yells to Gleason through the noise.  Gleason doesn’t hear her.

7 Bartender:  "Nice catch, old man!

8 Mosher:  "Whoa, thanks, dude!

 9 Gleason:  "Word."

                                    PAGE 11

PANEL 1:  Bird’s eye view of the club floor where we can see the full mosh pit whirling in a circle with the band thrashing about onstage.  One of the bouncers is reaching forward to catch the female crowd surfer at the iron barrier.  At the bottom left, we see Gleason, almost by himself toward the back of the crowd.  To the right, we only see the top of the Aphrodite IV unit’s green hair with pigtails and a partial view of her frame, still in the same posture as Page 9, Panel 2. 

Silent panel

PANEL 2:  Extreme close-up of the Glacier Stone swinging to the right across Rod’s chest.  Shallow Graves’ singer wails from off-panel.

1 Shallow Graves’ singer (off-panel):  "From beneath the remains of this wretched land, a new Paradise welcomes you!

PANEL 3:  Extreme close-up of Gleason, now wincing from the decibels and his repulsion by the death metal lyrics. 

2 Gleason (caption):  “Freaking mutants, singing about Hell like it’s some sort of utopia. 

3 Gleason (caption):  “If these guys ever saw what I’ve seen from Hell, they might change their tune in a hurry.

PANEL 4:  Extreme close-up of Gleason from the nose-up.  Shadowed over his head is one of the horned demons from the “Paper Monsters” story in Witchblade 140-141.

 4 Gleason (caption):  “Those Neumann kids and their creepy demon art that came to life, as if opening a portal for Satan’s minions…

PANEL 5:  Same scheme as PANEL 4, only this time show a shadowed depiction of Sabine thrusting her spear toward the reader and a feral expression upon her face.

5 Gleason (caption):  “Even those supposedly representing the light can turn on you.  That deranged hitwoman for the Angelus, Sabine, almost killed me ‘n Sara.

PANEL 6:  Angled view of Gleason continuing to watch the show.  More moshing fills the remainder of the panel.

 6 Gleason (caption):  “The Pagans celebrated death like it was a rite of passage.  These clueless pricks are no better."
             Listenin' to:  Depeche Mode - Delta Machine

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