Yikes! See you in court, Gnats!
See many more gnats at
Yikes! See you in court, Gnats!
See many more gnats at
See more Dang Gnats at
Happy to report I’m writing adventure comics again! Just completed a script (scroll to see it) for a deep-diving tale of The Terranauts, the team created by Paul Daly and Don Secrease. Splash page complete. What new menace taunts the ‘nauts? We’ll find out — in a cold, dark place.
Credits on this page: Pencils by Paul Daly. A great composition meticulously realized. Coloring by Don Secrease. Masterful. Look at that water. Copy and inks by me. (Yeah, inks, too. “Walt Jaschek inking” is not something you usually see in any reasonable reality. But I wanted to try it. Let me tell you, inking Paul’s beautiful pencils is daunting. Fun, but daunting. Also, now my carpel tunnel has carpet tunnel.)
Here’s the fully inked page, just before I sent it to Don to do his amazing color stuff.
Bonus! Here is the
“CALL OF COLD DARK, PLACES”
Script by Walt Jaschek
++++++ SPLASH ++++++
CAPTION: In the middle of the Aegean, we locate the anomaly.
CAPTION: We are warned it will sense us.
CAPTION: And will not be friendly.
CAPTION: But we are…
[LOGO] TERRANAUTS 2020
CAPTION: So we dive.
++++++ PAGE 2 ++++++
A hero shot. Under the surface as Adam and Maria complete the dive, each arcing upward to stabilize, a trail of bubbles indicating their trajectory.
ADAM: Read me, Connie?
MARIA: Si, Adam. It’s as if we’re in the same ocean.
ADAM: Very funny, Terranaut.
ADAM: Propulsion mode.
Having stabilized after the jump, Adam and Maria have activated the propulsion packs: they are jetting swiftly through the water in a downward diagonal,
ADAM: How ‘bout the ship? You with us, Harry?
HARRY (from off): With you and remind you…
Back in the ship, Harry is standing with his walker, but is surrounded by sensors and screens and sonar, some of which are hologram projections.
HARRY: The sentient is self-replicating.
HARRY: It doubles in size every 6 hours…
HARRY: …along the top of a seamount ridge…
Close on Maria as, through her mask, her eyes go big. She sees something.
HARRY (through transmitter): …close to surface.
Maria: Madre de Dios!
In the foreground, a jagged “arm” of ice, coming from bottom right corner of panel and seeming to reach out like a warning finger to our oncoming divers in the distance.
And in alien letters and/or alien balloon, the word: S T O P
++++ PAGE 2 ++++
And there is the creature in full, as seen by our divers in foreground. They are about a mile away. The creature is a huge, octopus-shaped alien crystal. It sits atop a mountain in a mid-ocean ridge. Gigantic tentacles are growing down the side of the rigge and into the surrounding ocean. It’s half holding on. And half spreading out.
Near the the top of this icy mass a “face” has formed, chunks forming brow and dark holes in the ice forming “eyes.” At the moment, the face is glowering..
Alien balloon: G O A W A Y
ADAM: Getting this, Harry?
HARRY: Threat projections.
HARRY: Translated by your partner’s telepathy.
Adam turns to look Maria in the eye, through his goggles and hers.
ADAM: You heard him, Connie. You’re our conduit.
ADAM: Can you get in there…
ADMA: And read its “mind”?
Maria is “floating” in an all-white panel with no background, to suggest she is in some other place, some netherworld of telepathy. She has her hand to her temple, reading incoming signals.
MARIA: Memory synapsis evasive…
MARIA: Like static…
MARIA: Wait… I have something…
Outer space. Earth a blue ball in background. A huge comet is hurling in blackness, rocky, irregular, minerals in catching distant sunlight. But attached to the bottom is of the comet much, much smaller version of our creature, an irregular mass of icy lichen on a rock. A piece of it, though, is tugging away.
MARIA (from off): It was using a comet…
MARIA: (from off): As habitat.
MARIA: (from off): On a near-Earth pass…
MARIA: (from off): It tore itself off.
++++ PAGE 4 ++++
Long shot as the creature crashes hard into the ocean, speed lines indicating its trajectory, a circle of waves where it hits.
MARIA (from off): After eons inert, all it needed was…
Back in the ship, Harry has taken off his glasses and is holding the bridge of his nose with his fingers. A realization is sinking in.
HARRY: Something to drink.
As close as we’ve been on the creature yet. We can see its whole “face.” And its “scrowl” is deep.
ALIEN: I DRINK.
ALIEN: I GROW.
ALIEN: I TURN YOUR SEAS…
ALIEN: INTO ME.
Maria and Adam are jetting through a “cave” – AKA a hole — at the edge of a tentacle. Maria is shining a light into the foreground, where we see floating dead fish and brown, limp sea plants, and a murk of grey gasses.
MARIA: Not good, Adam.
MARIA: Whatever alien chemical stew it’s excreting…
MARIA: …is killing sea life for kilometers.
ADAM: Roger that. “Sentient bad.”
Adam presses down one of the buttons that make up a grid of rectangles on his high-tech band on his wrist. The button he’s pushing is green.
ADAM: But as I’m sure Harry would agree:
ADAM: “Sentient” does not equal “smart.”
In the ship, Harry is looking at a looking at a screen. It shows a large panel opening at the bottom of the ship. Emerging from the panel are five, high-tech harpoons, pointed down, ready to be launched.
HARRY: It does not.
PANEL 1-A, small inset panel. Closer on the screenshot of the harpoons. Words appear over picture: HARPOONS BOOTING
Wider shot as Maria and Adam make a loop around a tentacles and shoot off in the opposite direction, away from the creature.
ADAM: Yo, cranky alien! Ever heard of the internet?
You should have used it to search…
“Where Not to Breed Underwater.”
The creature squints, trying to understand.
ADAM (from off): Top answer:
ADAM (from off): “Above a Geothermic Vent.”
Adam and Maria are booking out of there, full propulsion speed, diagonally up and away.
CAPTION: They’re all over the ocean floor.
CAPTION: Temps up to 3000 degrees Celcius.
Looking up at bottom of the ship. The panel is fully open and the harpoons have been fired. They’re raining down on us.
CAPTION: The vents it’s sitting on have been clogged for a while.
The high-tech harpoons shoot through the surface of the ocean.
CAPTION: We’re the plumbers.
Harpoons penetrate the surface of the ocean
BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!
Alien: M I S S E D
Unclogged, the geothermic vents turn into geysers of super-hot water. All around the geysers, the tentacles of the creature are instantly melting and dissolving.
ADAM (from off) Didn’t.
The face of the creature as it knows it is doomed. Already the ice of its face is melting and dissolving into streams shooting upward with the hot water.
ALIEN BALLOON: [SCREAMS WHILE DISSOLVING]: AAAA
ALIEN BALLOON (GETTING SMALLER WHILE THE LIST OF LETTERS GETS LONGER): AAAAAAA
ALIEN BALLOON (GETTING SMALLER WHILE THE LIST OF LETTERS GETS LONGER): AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
Now back outside: long shot of the ocean as seen from the ship. A mile or so away, globules of dissolving creature are sending up wide showers of steam. A piece of the ship in foreground suggests scale and distance.
Inside the ship, Harry is looking very closely at a censor and tapping on it as he does so.
HARRY: 99.9% decrease in sentience.
ADAM (communicator balloon): Not 100?
HARRY: 1% margin of error.
SFX (as Harry taps on censor screen) TAP TAP TAP
ADAM (communicator balloon): Well, I’ll round up and call that…
The surface of the ocean. The large raft we saw hanging from the ship is now floating on the surface, waiting, stocked with containers for food and dry supplies. On either side, rope ladders. A dripping wet Adam and Maria are climbing the ladders and climbing into the raft. The sun is low in the sky.
ADAM: …“mission accomplished.”
MARIA (a disappointed grunt): Hurmph.
Maria pulls off her hood and goggles: we are seeing her face full for the first time. She is looking at Harry pointedly.
MARIA: Shortest. Mission. Ever.
Reverse angle looking at Adam as he removes hood and goggles, too. Also, in the background, the silhouette of the hovering ship against the late afternoon sun. (A silhouette to save you from drawing those details.) Its presence subtly underscores what Adam is saying.
ADAM: Be thankful, Terranaut.
ADAM: They get longer.
Maria hugs herself, shoulders hunched, cold. Her wetsuit is now slighting zipped open at the neck, revealing a small crucifix necklace. Adam is reaching out to her, handing her the cup from atop a Terranauts-branded thermos. It steams with a hot beverage.
MARIA: And I’m still cold.
ADAM: Warm your core, Maria Consuela Santos…
Deep down below. A tiny chunk of the creature, sinking even farther into the crevices of the ocean. A stream of bubbles follows it down. It is breathing.
ADAM: “They also get colder.”
End of script
Walt Jaschek likes spending time in warm, bright places.
You probably don’t remember “Stoogecoach,” our 1987 Three Stooges comic, but that’s because it was never printed. Ask Don Secrease or me about it sometime when we’re drinking.
Those are the first two-pages of a completed, 22-page second ish. A first issue, “Of Stooge and Screen,” is around here somewhere, too. It has some great pin-up pages by Paul Daly.
Let’s just say the indie publisher who told us he had the licensing rights to the Three Stooges turned out to be… wrong. But only after we completed two full comics.
It was 1987. We were learning. Contract first, then the fun begins.
Walt has been channeling gnats and producing the Dang Gnats webcomic since 2002. He’s taken breaks to prove his sanity. But the gnats always lure him back. He now vows to keep turning out gnat comics until there aren’t any gnats left. That should be a long time.
Walt also writes the Dang Gnats Twitter stream, where people are complaining about gnats constantly, and seem surprised when gnats respond.
Thanks, and keep being kind, creative, compassionate — and noticing the little things. Especially the funny little things. – Walt