Aug 5, 2013

Jenny Everywhere

A few years ago (well, alright, more than a few), I was a member of the Barbelith online community.  It was a great place to hang out for a few years, and during this time an open source comic character was created by Steven "Moriarty" Wintle and the community.  Her name was Jenny Everywhere, or The Shifter.  I lost track of the character, and the community, a few years later, but it seems that some folks followed through in their desires to make comics starring Jenny.  I wrote two scripts for the character, both of which were sent to people to illustrate, but neither of which ever saw the light of day.  I would like to present here, then, for the first time anywhere, two new adventures of Jenny Everywhere.  These were both written some time in 2001 or 2002, while I was running The Magic Mirror.  Both scripts are also to be found at The Shifter Archive.

"The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed."

Jenny's description from The Shifter Archive: "She has short, dark hair. She usually wears aviation goggles on top of her head and a scarf around her neck. Otherwise, she dresses in comfortable clothes. She is average size and has a good body image. She has loads of confidence and charisma. She appears to be Asian or Native American. She has a ready smile."

The Origin of Jenny Everywhere


Page One

Full Page

First things first.  The art should have a real "Silver Age" feel to it.  This may or may not be The Shifter's origin (well, it's my version anyway), but I want it to feel old.  In large letters across the top of the page:"SHE IS THE SHIFTER!"  The Shifter herself is standing, hands on hips looking off-panel.  A very heroic pose.  I'll see if I can find source material, but I'm sure you can see it.  For lack of a better word, it's a "Superman" pose.

Page Two

6 panel breakdown, 2 across, 3 down, all the same size.

So we've got three very brief origins. The captions stretch across the two panels.  If I'm feeling really artistic, I'll send along a little thumbnail thing.

Panel One: Shifter in street wear (secret identity?) walking along the street.  We're looking down through a ring of clouds.  Oddly familiar deities are watching her too, staring down a la that pool they had in Clash of the Titans.

Caption:"DID THE COSMIC POWERS GRANT HER THE WONDROUS ABILITY TO CROSS THE DIMENSIONS?"

Panel Two: Shifter foreground, arms and legs spread facing us, like that Da Vinci thing that went up with the Voyager 2 probe.  If that made no sense I'll send a picture to you.  Background is radiating from a central point behind Shifter's back, cut into slices to show different dimensions.  (Dinosaurs, robots, etc.)

Panel Three: Again, Shifter in street wear/civilian identity, looking at a small bump on her arm that appears to be glowing.  In the sky behind her, possibly disappearing behind a cloud, is a stereotypical UFO.

Caption:"DID AN IRRADIATED BEE STING CAUSED BY A DOOMED ALIEN SPACESHIP ALLOW HER TO BE HER OTHER SELVES?"

Panel Four: Similar to panel 2, but with vertical lines cutting the panel in four.  Each will have a different background.  Shifter is running/striding across all four, but her clothing where her body intersects with each will match the background.  (e.g. moonscape - space suit, beach - bikini, etc.)

Panel Five: Street wear again.  Getting predictable aren't I?  Shifter is looking at a box on a table.  The thought bubble over her head has a cat's face and a question mark in it.

Caption:"IS SHE THE NEXT STEP IN THE QUANTUM EVOLUTION OF HUMANKIND?"

Panel Six: Split panel with Shifter central.  On one side she holds an affectionate cat, on the other she weeps over a small grave.

Page Three

Full Page

The Shifter in a VERY Kirby-esque pose.  Background in much the same vein as page 2, panel 2, but with more and varied dimensions.  First caption at the top, second one at the bottom.

Caption:"THE ANSWER IS....."

Caption:".....YES!"

Page Four

Another 6 panel breakdown, like page 2.  Single panel descriptions of various odd adventures.  Most of the captions will give you a clear enough picture to let your imagination run amok.

Panel One: Similar to opening page.  Heroic stance.

Caption:"WITNESS HER AMAZING ADVENTURES!"

Panel Two

Caption:"BATTLING THE TERRIFYING MIND-SPIDERS!"

Panel Three

Caption:"SAVING THE EARTH AS IT BALANCED ON A PIN-HEAD!"

Panel Four

Caption:"STAVING OFF THE SAVAGE JUNGLE TERROR......"

Panel Five

Caption:"....AND THE STARK DESERT MADNESS!"

For panel's 4 and 5 I was thinking some cheesily sexy poses of Shifter captured by prehensile vines and pseudopods of sand.  A little something for the fanboys.

Panel Six.  Think romance comic.

Caption:"OR MAYBE A LITTLE ROMANCE?"

Page Five

Full Page.

The Shifter in uniform running towards us.  Behind her should be every strange and weird character and creature that you can think of.  In the sky a mass of spaceships and dragons and stuff.  Let's really show that these adventures can involve anything.

Caption:"JOIN THE FABULOUS SHIFTER AND HER FRIENDS FOR AMAZING ADVENTURES IN OTHER DIMENSIONS!"

And that's it.  Whaddaya think?


The Elizabethan Adventure 

Synopsis: A medieval world.  Elizabethan England, but 21st century.  Imagine technological improvement just stopped about 400 years ago.  The Shifter, perhaps not going by that name, or perhaps un-named in the story, wanders the streets in garb fitting the era, along with her trademarked goggles.  We'll assume the movement towards gender equality is much like our own, allowing for a female character to wield a little power in this world.  The Shifter is someone of some importance, a noble or business person.  The whole of the narrative, text boxes and word bubbles will be in rhyming couplets.  For the text, I'm thinking that if we can find a template of an old-looking scroll, or if you can design one, that would lend to the atmosphere of the piece.  Feel free if something doesn't work or seems awkward to change it, or get back to me and I'll do a re-write.  I'm aiming for four pages, but if you see a way to expand or contract that number, you're the drawing guy, so do it.
The meat of the story will be an exchange between the Shifter and someone who seems to know her, though the Shifter has no idea who it is.  I'm trying to get at the idea that it's another person who somehow has the same power as the Shifter, and appears to have awareness of the Shifter while she has no awareness of this person.  I'm not sure I'm going for an action story or a witty one.  If I'm feeling inspired, the Shifter's "adversary" might have an hint of Oscar Wilde about him, more a prankster than a villain.  Anyway, on to the script and we'll see what happens.
 p.s. If this is absolutely not what you were hoping to illustrate, do let me know.  This is just one idea I've had kicking around, but I've got a couple of others.  If you'd rather do something else, give me an idea what you wanted and maybe we can come up with something together.

Page One.

 I'm thinking that, in trying to keep an "old-fashioned" look to the story, considering it's setting, a standard splitting of the page into horizontal thirds would be good.  I'm trying to think of a reference for this style because I know I've seen it before.  The best one I can think of now is Alan Moore's Glory #1, from Avatar.  There's a story within a story there where it goes from "modern" panel layouts to more "traditional" layouts.  Anyway, here we go.

Panel One
Large panel across top of page.  This'll be our establishing shot.  For reference I would advise a scene from something like "Shakespeare in Love" or something like it.  We'll have the Elizabethan setting, but make it look less dirty than it would have been historically.  This intimates that, while technology seems to have ceased, advances in things like medicine and cleanliness haven't.  Perhaps I'm just giving too much background for what the story needs, but I have a very strong sense of this world.  Text box across the top.

Text: "SHOULD THE FORTUNES OF MEN HAMPER US WITH DEFEAT THERE IS ONE WHO WILL NEVER LAY STILL."

Panel Two
Half size of above panel.  Shot of the Shifter walking down the street, perhaps glancing at a fruit cart or vendor of some sort, a smile on her face.

Text: "SHE TRAVELS ALL WORLDS LIVING LIVES STRONG AND MEEK AND HER LIKE'S NEVER BEEN SEEN BEFORE."

Panel Three
Another half-size, same level as last one.  This one can be our "origin" panel, somehow illustrating the Shifter's ability to exist in all dimensions at once.  I really have no idea how to illustrate this.  Any ideas?

Text: "WITH KNOWLEDGE OF SELVES WHO HAVE LIVED OTHER LIVES SHE USES HER WITS AND HER GUILE."

Panel Four
Half-size panel again.  More establishing shots again, as is the next panel.  Scenes of The Shifter interacting with her environment.  The story will get into full swing on the next page.

Text: "SHE IS QUICK ON HER FEET AND IS FLEET IN HER HEAD,"

Panel Five (See descriptor of Panel Four)

Text: "AND IS EVER SO QUICK WITH A SMILE."

Page Two
Set up will be 2 panels, 1 large panel, and then 2 panels.  I'll give a rundown of the action here, rather than separating it into panel descriptions.  The first and second will be shots of our "villain".  Elizabethan clothing, with kind of a shifty yet charming look about him.  Let's make him the perfect foil for the confidence of the Shifter.  Han Solo doing Shakespeare maybe.  I want for him to alternately function as a love interest/nemesis.  Perhaps in the first panel we somehow see him accessing his powers, though how that would look I don't know.  The large middle panel will be another street scene with the Shifter and Sansucre (his name potentially) at opposite ends.  He is quite obviously watching her.  The last two panels will depict her noticing his presence and then stepping swiftly into an alleyway.

Panel One

Text: "THIS TALE WE RELATE IT IS STRANGE IN ITSELF FOR A NEMESIS MAY BE REVEALED.

Panel Two

Text: "ANOTHER WHO LIVES IN A MULTIPLE STATE WHO HAS KEPT HIS PRESCENCE CONCEALED."

Panel Three

Text: "HE WATCHES HER NOW FOR HE KNOWS WHO SHE IS INDEED HE HAS MET HER BEFORE.

Text: "BUT OUR FABULOUS HEROINE, WE MUST CONCEDE HAS NO CLUE WHAT WE HAVE IN STORE."

Panel Four

Shifter (thinking): A STRANGER IS WATCHING, HE THINKS I'M HIS PREY I'LL TEACH HIM A LESSON

Text: "...SHE THINKS."T

Panel Five

Text: "AND MOVING AWAY FROM THE BUSTLING STREET           TO THE DARK OF THE ALLEY SHE SLINKS."

Page Three

Six equally sized panels.  These will depict: Sansucre entering the alley, the Shifter grabbing him from a concealed place behind him, a brief tussle that results in both landing on their butts (2 panels) and an exchange revealing that he knows who she is and that she doesn't know him.

Panel One

Text: "THIS SUSPICIOUS YOUNG MAN HE FOLLOWS HER NOW."

Sansucre (thinking): SHE CANNOT ESCAPE FROM THIS PLACE.

Panel Two

Text: "BUT WHEN HE IS GRABBED FROM BEHIND IN THE DARK            HER STEALTH HAS BROUGHT HIM DISGRACE."

Panel Three

Text: "A TUSSLE ENSUES, THE COMBATANTS WELL MATCHED,"

Panel Four

Text: "IN THE END BOTH ARE LEFT ON THE GROUND."

Panel Five

Sansucre: I'VE FOUND YOU AGAIN, I AM TIRED OF THIS GAME.

Panel Six

Shifter: FOR YOUR ACT, CONSEQUENCE WILL ABOUND.

Page Four

Lots of talking on this one.  I don't know if a break from the set up is called for.  I was against it to begin with, but perhaps a full page with the two conversing might work, their word bubbles running down the centre of the page like a poem?  I'll just put the exchange here and if you don't think that would work visually, or takes away from the way the strip has progressed thus far, we can change it.

Shifter: WHO ARE YOU SIR TO HINDER ME THUS? I'VE DONE YOU NO WRONG AND NO ILL.

Sansucre: FOR WE WHO LIVE LIVES WITHIN LIVES WITHIN LIVES MAYBE YOU HAVE.....OR YOU WILL.

Shifter: ANOTHER LIKE ME?  BUT HOW CAN IT BE THAT NEVER BEFORE HAVE WE MET?

Sansucre: THE WHIMSY OF FATE IS NOT OURS TO DEBATE NOW WE HAVE, THOUGH, OUR DESTINY'S SET.

Shifter: WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY SAYING SUCH THINGS, WHY IS IT THAT WE CAN'T BE FRIENDS?

Sansucre: OUR EXISTENCE NEGATES IT, THOUGH PART OF ME HATES IT AND THAT'S WHY YOUR LIFE I MUST END.  FOR THOSE SUCH AS WE WHOSE AWARENESS EXTENDS TO EVERY SELF THAT DRAWS BREATH MUST AGREE THAT SOME INFINITE BRANCH OF OUR ROAD WILL LEAD THE OTHER TO DEATH.

Shifter:  BUT BY YOUR OWN LOGIC THERE MUST BE A BRANCH WHERE THE TWO OF US LOVE, A DUET? ARE YOU WILLING TO RISK THE FUTURE OF THAT JUST IN CASE WE ARE ENEMIES MET?

Sansucre:  LOVE IT WILL COME AND LOVE IT WILL GO BUT TO LOVE ONE MUST ALWAYS HAVE LIFE. IF ENDING YOU NOW MEANS THAT LIVING I'LL BE I'LL END YOU RIGHT NOW WITH MY KNIFE.

Page Five

Five panels.  Two on top, two in the middle and one large one on the bottom to end it.  In the first panel he launches himself at her.  She ducks under him in the second panel, and, in the third panel realizing that they are too well matched, she takes off into the street.  In panel four he follows her but realizes in panel five that she has escaped into the crowd of the street.  The last panel will see him at the entrance to the alley looking out at the crowd.  I know this seems awfully hurried, but I'll make it seem dramatic and cool with the text and speech stuff.  Hmmm, said I was aiming for four pages, but I really can' t see how to make this any shorter.  We'll see what you think, I guess.

Panel One

Text: "WITH THESE FINAL WORDS HE DRAWS FROM HIS SHIRT A LETHAL AND WELL-BALANCED DIRK.

Panel Two

Text: "BUT HIS LAUNCH IS A BLUNDER, THE LADY DUCKS UNDER REALIZING THAT HE IS BERSERK."

Panel Three

Text: "BEING AWARE THAT THEIR STRENGTHS ARE WELL MATCHED SHE OPTS TO ESCAPE HIS ATTACK AND INTO THE STREET SHE RUNS FAST AND FLEET DISAPPEARING AND NOT LOOKING BACK."

Panel Four

Sansucre (thinking): AND SO SHE ESCAPES, NOW AWARE OF MY PLAN SHE'LL PREPARE NOW SHE KNOWS I AM HERE.

Panel Five

Text: "SO THIS SHORT STORY ENDS, BUT SADLY, MY FRIENDS THE SHIFTER HAS A NEW FOE TO FEAR."

Text: "FIN"

That's it.  Any questions, suggestions I am well open to.  The whole idea is collaborative, so I value any input you've got.  And if you're looking for something else, no offense will be taken if you don't like the script.
 



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