Inside the Mind of Kurtis J. Wiebe

A Life's Journey

Month: January, 2012

Short Yarn – Safe

This is a short story I wrote probably 6 years ago. I think, looking back, it meant a lot more than I realized at the time I wrote it. I’m very happy with it as a character piece. Enjoy!

Safe

Evan couldn’t pull himself away from Valerie’s gaze. Her eyes, red and swollen, laced with tears, reminded him of where it had all began. It had started here, in the Starbucks on22nd Street, three years ago. Valerie wasn’t crying over him then. She had just stopped in for a cappuccino on her way to the funeral parlour; her father had passed away.

It was different knowing that the reason she felt pain was because of something he had done, something he could have so easily avoided by just listening to her. That’s all it would have taken, someone to give a damn.

“Brings back memories, doesn’t it,” Valerie said, wiping away a tear with her finger. She tried to cover up that she was hurting, but Evan knew her better than anyone.

There were roughly a thousand things he could have said but he knew not a single one would be what he wanted to convey. He was really sorry, yet sorry was so trivial. Evan nodded.

Valerie sighed and took a sip from her iced latte. Her hands were trembling. They often did when she was nervous. She breathed in, trying to take a deep breath but was only able to muster short staccato bursts, the way one often does when they cry.

“Emily is coming up tomorrow, helping me pack my things,” Valerie continued, nodding her head slowly. She looked out the window. It was unusually warm outside for October. “She hasn’t been up this way since last fall when we went on the hiking trip.”

“That’s good, Val, I’m sure it will be good to see her.” He stared into his coffee mug and took a deep breath when silence followed.

Valerie took another sip. Evan still thought the way her lips scrunched up over a straw was cute. She always half closed her eyes when she sipped from one. He couldn’t help but remember the silly straws they won at the summer carnival. Valerie had a wonderful time that night.

“Mom couldn’t make it. She really wanted to see you, but…well, you know,” Valerie said with a fading smile. “She understands, really she does. I think she’s going to miss you though, Evan.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s it? That’s all you have to say?”

“What do you want me to say?”

“Why are you doing this, Evan? Why are we doing this?”

“Doing what, Val?”

“We’re sitting in the same coffee shop we met in, pretending like it’s just another Saturday.”

“It is Val, it is just another Saturday.”

“No it’s not, Evan, no it’s not. Did you think asking me here would make it easier, or were you just being melodramatic again?”

“I did think it would be easier. I thought the memories might soften things a little.”

“Oh my god, Evan, this isn’t a damn movie. Do you even remember why I was here three years ago?”

“Yes.”

“Yeah, of course, how I could forget Mr. Sensitive himself is sitting across from me,” Valerie said as the tears began to flow again.

“Look, I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Well you did, Evan. I should just go.”

“No, please, wait.”

“Why, what can possibly come of this? It’s over Evan, you made sure of that.”

“I just… I don’t know… something.”

“Something?” Valerie asked, crossing her arms over her chest. Her forearms were red and Evan knew right away that she was furious. Her demeanor was the first sign, but she never stayed mad for long unless her forearms had turned red. That was the permanent angry. “Alright, well you come up with something. I’m going home.”

She stood from the chair, grabbed her purse and tucked it under her arm. Evan put his hand on her forearm.

“Please, give me time.”

“Time for what?” she snapped.

“Time to…”

Evan looked down and stared at the table, unable to find anything to say to her. Three years of his life with a woman he loved. He couldn’t bear the thought that she would walk out that door and curse his name. Evan looked back up at her. She was a stone, impervious to anything he could possibly say.

“It’s over, Val. I guess I needed to come here to know for certain.”

It wasn’t what she had expected. He could tell by the way Valerie’s eyes squinted and how the left corner of her mouth twitched ever so slightly. They stood there, staring silently at each other for minutes. Valerie slowly sat down again.

“Do you remember when I said…”

“I don’t want to remember, Evan, I’m not here to reminisce. It took everything for me to get out of bed this morning. Please, spare me making even more of a scene, alright?”

“Do you remember when I said that I wanted to marry you because I loved you?”

“Yes,” Valerie whispered.

“Did you believe me?”

“Yes,” she whispered again.

“Why?”

“I don’t know Evan, because we had been together for long enough to know that you loved me?”

“See, that’s just it. When did it become about time?”

“Evan…”

“I mean it, Val. That’s all we did, we… we aged together. We used to be alive, you know, there was this… thrill.”

“Is that what this is about… the sex?”

“I‘m not talking about sex Valerie, I’m talking about how we used to feel together. You grew distant, I stopped listening… I stopped caring. Nothing separated Monday from Tuesday except for what we ate in between. You never saw that, you still don’t!”

“You don’t think I ever felt any of that? I laid beside you every night feeling like I loved a stranger.”

“Why didn’t you say anything, then?”

“I did, Evan. But you were like a ghost. I swear I was alone all the time.”

“You deserved better than that,” Evan said.

“I know I deserved better, but I deserved it from you, not the next man who comes along. You owed me that much, Evan. Was it that hard to love me?”

“No.”

“Then why are we here, why are we doing this to each other? Do you still love me?”

“Yes.”

There was a long pause and Valerie wringed her hands together. Her eyes darted back and forth. Evan knew she was debating something in her head.

“No, I won’t do this to myself. I don’t want you back, Evan. It feels like I do, but every time I do this I get hurt. You had your chance to be with me, but you were too busy to notice I was gone.”

“I didn’t bring you here…”

“Let me finish. Let me speak and please for once, just listen to me.”

Evan nodded. He wanted to speak, but right now so did Valerie and it was her turn to escape the numbness that he knew they both felt.

“When my father started to overnight at the hospital, I came here to get away from it all. I couldn’t stand to see him suffer, and I knew deep down he was ashamed to be seen by mom and me. I never drank coffee until then, not until I came here. I saw you that day, Evan. I saw you a few times every now and then, tucked away in the corner reading your stupid fantasy books. God, I doubt you even noticed me.

It was like everything inside this place was safe, and I hate saying that about a place like this, but it could have been anywhere, Evan. It could have been at the mall or the bar… but it was here. When dad died, I came here to feel safe. I didn’t order a coffee, I just sat down and prayed that the day would end.

It didn’t end. Dad was still gone and I was still a grieving daughter sitting alone, coping the only way she knew how. You changed that. You changed everything by sitting down with me. You didn’t say a thing, you just sat there. In that moment, it wasn’t the place that made me feel safe, it was you.”

Valerie cried. She continued with a broken voice between gentle sobs.

“I’m sorry I put that on you, Evan. It wasn’t fair that you were the one to shoulder all of it, but you were my goddam hero that day.”

“Everyone loves a hero,” Evan said. He didn’t smile.

“Sometimes I wonder if maybe you thought I expected you to be a hero all the time. I never wanted that, I wanted you to feel comfortable with me. I never wanted that Evan, you need to know that.”

Evan nodded. He wanted to be her hero all the time, but he was only human.

“I… I just needed you to know that before I said good-bye,” Valerie said as she wiped the tears from her cheeks and blew her nose with a tissue. She stood up again and looked at Evan with sorrowed eyes. “I have to go, Evan. You wanted to meet here, is there anything you needed to say?”

Evan stood from his chair and stepped to Valerie. He wrapped his arms around her tightly, tears flowing from his eyes, and whispered into her ear.

“Good-bye.”

Faith – A Snow Angel Short

I mentioned a magazine I co-founded and was chief editor for called Vehicle in a few posts. Shortly after Tyler and I did the Snow Angel 24 page comic (self-published, before it was picked up by Arcana as an OGN) we decided to branch out on our own and create a magazine that gave the opportunity for talented writers and artists to display their work. Scott Kowalchuk was one of those contributors, it was through the magazine I was put in touch with him for our eventual team up on Intrepids.

At any rate, one of the first comic shorts in the magazine’s first issue was Faith, which is pictured here. We were debuting the magazine at the Calgary Entertainment Expo a full year after the release of Snow Angel (this was 2009, I believe) and we wanted to have some sort of Snow Angel content for the people who bought the comic the previous year. This is what came of it, a 5 page short telling a bit of an origin story of The Caesar. If you haven’t read it yet, you can purchase it on Amazon, or, even better read it for free here: http://www.tylerjenkins.ca/?gallery=snow-angel (sub-categories beneath Snow Angel show Issues 2, 3, and 4.)

Once you’ve read that, check out this 5 pager, one I’m still very proud of.

 

 

Green Wake – Test Script

When Green Wake was first turned into an ongoing series, artist Riley Rossmo was just starting to get some work with Marvel and was unsure if he could commit to illustrating the continuation of the story. I wrote a test script for two purposes:

1) We needed to test artists as possible replacements for Riley. (This is how I inadvertently became connected to Grim Leaper artist, Aluisio Santos)

2) I noticed the website http://www.thought-balloons.com/ was using Green Wake as one of its studies. I wanted to contribute.

I wrote this little piece about Carl, which at the time probably seemed like a throwaway to anyone who got a chance to read it, but if you’ve read the first volume (Issues 1-5) you’ll know what he’s talking about now. Below is the adaptation by Aluisio Santos.

Enjoy!

Green Wake – Carl

1. Carl leaning on the rail of a cobblestone bridge, the cold iridescent river bubbling quietly beneath. Black skies, silver light creeping through, hinting at more beyond. He’s lost in thought, peering through the bottom of a whiskey bottle, using it like a filter to watch the water rush by.

CAP Everyone’s got a line. The moment you cross it, you know. You just fucking know.

2. Inside the bottle, a reflection of Carl’s eye in the remaining whiskey.

CAP All these little back steps, trying to recover. Tip toeing and egg shell walking. So weird how we do that.

3. Carl taking a swig of the whiskey, eyes closed as he powers through the burn.

CAP Like we’re making things better by our inattention to the details.

4. Carl tosses the whiskey bottle as far as he can.

CAP Happy with the lies.

5. Shot of the bottle as it drifts toward the camera, Carl watching it go.

CAP I could still be happy with you, Ariel.

6. Carl, walking away from the camera, hands in his pockets, shoulders hunched.

CAP Happy with you and your fucking lies.

What is Green Wake? – Photos from the Pre-Launch Blog

A few months before the release of Green Wake, I was writing a prose blog from the perspective of a young man who came across a bunch of photos and relics when his grandfather, Morley Mack, passed away. It was meant to be a sort of viral tie in, but I’m pretty sure most people didn’t see it. So, here’s the link for all who might find it interesting.

http://whatisgreenwake.blogspot.com/

We included some real photos taken during WW1 by Robin Rossmo’s (Riley’s wife) grandfather. Some have been modified for effect, but they are gorgeous and chilling. Enjoy.

Cyberpunk in the Silver City

These are some pages from a 5 page short story Peter Panzerfaust illustrator Tyler Jenkins and I did for a self published magazine we put together called Vehicle. Enjoy!

Green Wake Explained

Want to know the bones and muscle that make up the mysterious town of Green Wake? Have some unanswered questions that claw at the back of your mind?

Look for an in depth post on this page when Green Wake #10 releases, February 29th, for a detailed explanation of Green Wake and all its mysteries. I’ll be posting a world bible and exposing every single secret of the town that I was unable to reveal in the comic series.

Then, I’ll be posting a brand new thread on the Image forums in my sub thread for questions, any and all are welcome. I will be available all day ready and waiting! A link is here: http://forums.imagecomics.com/viewforum.php?f=43

Kurtis

Short Yarn: Team Feldman

Team Feldman

Gary Feldman hated father-son picnics.

He despised the masked bravado, the constant penis measuring of insecure, fat old men. It was painful to watch the other fathers suffer through the various competitions.Gary was above that; he was a three legged-race god.

Gary feigned a face of amusement for his young, impressionable son. Max was a good kid but he couldn’t help but think that the child slowed him down. His rowing was a nightmare.

He had tried to raise the boy a winner, instill him with a sense of pride and self esteem. Max chose fantasy books and computer games; the kid hated himself. It was embarrassing.Gary’s father would’ve beat success into him with a brick – a brick with jagged edges that made an impression. Back in those days, child protection meant wearing an extra thick sweater.

“Dad, the canoe race is up next!” Max shouted from the bottom of the hill. He was knee deep in the small, man-made lake, pushing a canoe out into the brownish waters.

“Dammit,”Gary muttered.

“What?” Max asked with a shout.

“I said dammit, son,”Garyreplied with a smile and wave. He had to try harder to appear interested.

Max pushed up his glasses and tried to pull himself into the boat. It tilted and swayed as the boy gave everything he had. It kept overturning.

“Son, you should’ve gotten into the boat while it was on land,”Garyshouted as he walked down the hill. “We go through this every year. When will you learn, boy?”

“Sorry, Dad,” Max said. He hung his head and pushed the canoe back onto the shore.

Gary patted his son on the shoulder when he reached the bottom of the hill. He held the beached watercraft while Max crawled inside. The boy wouldn’t look his father in the eye.

Five other teams of father-son competitors were already seated and floating. The boy moped while Gary pushed the canoe into the water and hopped inside. Max picked up an oar and slipped in into the water. Gary was sure the boy would start crying.

“Enough pouting, Max, we’re here to beat the hell out of Jim and Bobby Douglas and I think you’re the rower who’ll give team Feldman an edge.”

It was a lie, but even if Max was a terrible canoeist he could at least steer. Gary was man enough to propel six canoes to victory, yet he still needed a skipper. He picked up his oar and guided them to the starting line. Gary nodded at the man in the next lane. It was Jim Douglas, second place finalist four years running.

“Jim,”Gary said with a smirk.

“Gary,” Jim replied with a tip of his tacky fisherman hat.

“Nice day, ainnit?”

“Nice day,Gary. Ready for a little friendly competition?”

“Words of a man who’s already lost, eh Jim?”

Gary flashed Jim a toothy smile and then turned to Max. He patted him on the head.

“Your pop’s a winner, Max. You should be proud.”

Max didn’t look up;Garycould see the boy’s cheeks reddening under his downcast stare. Max pushed up his glasses.

A hefty, bespectacled man with a whistle around his neck and a megaphone in hand rowed out to the front of the starting line. He gave everyone a nice, friendly wave and clicked on the megaphone.

“I hope everyone enjoyed the weenies and marshmallows!” the man said over the speaker. Someone yelled that he indeed did and clapped. Then it was silent.

“Weenies and marshmallows,”Gary whispered to Max, nudging his knee. “Pretty much sums up the picnic’s attendees, eh son? Weenies and… ah forget it.”

“We come to the final event,” the event coordinator continued. “Teams must paddle across the lake and be the first to successfully tie their boat on the shore and make it to the finish line. This competition is worth five points for the winner and three for the runner up! Are you gentlemen ready?”

All the men shouted; Gary screamed.

“On your mark, get set, go!”

Gary paddled like a maniac, his neck muscles bulged as his paddle tore through the water. Jim Douglas and company kept a steady pace. Gary knew the man had an advantage: his son was built like a Buick. He paddled harder.

“Son,”Gary whispered as he leaned forward. “I’m going to drop back a little and let theDouglas’s catch up. When they do, steer the canoe closer. I want you to accidentally hit Bobby on the wrist with your paddle. Understand?”

“You can’t be serious, Dad,” Max said. He pointed at the Douglas boy. “Bobby is my friend!”

“Stop pointing and keep steering, Max,”Gary said. He didn’t understand the boy; it wasn’t like he was asking him to kill a puppy. He knew Max wouldn’t do it. They were going to have to win the old fashioned way and it ended up, as always, onGary’s shoulders – strong, powerful shoulders that won numerous university scholarships for athletics. It all seemed so long ago, but the sudden sharp suffering felt very immediate.

Something was stinging Gary’s bicep, a slow, pulsing pain that grew stronger as he heaved on the oar. He winced at first, fighting through it with bitter resolve, but eventually succumbing to the unbearable agony. He dropped the paddle and clutched at his arm.

“Max… you’re gonna have to win this one for team Feldman,”Garygrunted. TheDouglas’s were catching up. “Row, boy, row!”

“No, I don’t want to win this stupid race,” Max said, finally looking at his father. “I just wanted to spend the day with you. The more you’re around the more I realize everyone else is right. You are an asshole.”

The Douglas’s sailed past the Feldman’s.Garyheld out his good arm and gestured at the passing canoe. Max didn’t say anything.

“Fine, Max, but know you just got beat by a fat guy and his half-wit son.”

Max stayed silent as the boat glided into the shore. He turned and watched the other fathers and sons excitedly race up the hill to the finish line, laughing and giggling the entire way.

“You know what, Dad; you’re just as fat as everyone else here. At least the other dads are happy,” Max said, pushing up his glasses and crawling out of the boat. “You’re fat, angry and drive a sports car. You think I’m lame.”

Max turned and walked up the hill.

“You know what I went through to get that car, Max?”

“Do you know what I went through when you did?” Max replied without turning.

Gary stared at his son. He finally knew why the boy hated himself so much – Max knew he’d never own a sports car.

And so ends Green Wake

To our faithful readers,

I’ve just finished writing Green Wake #10. It’s cold outside, which is fitting really, and I’m sitting here reflecting on the experience that has been Green Wake. It’s been an interesting journey, starting out as a five issue mini, then, with an overwhelming response quickly being upgraded to an ongoing series, and finally coming to an early end at issue 10.

From the very beginning, Green Wake was a project of passion. I poured my heart into this little beast, filling it up with all my crazy experiences over the last few years. While I’m sad that we didn’t get the full run to fully flesh out the mythology as we had planned, I’m satisfied with the resolution and looking it over even now, I believe we lived up to our promise in revealing Green Wake to you.

So, the question on your minds: Why did it end 15 issues early?

The answer is simple.

Sales.

Indie books live and die by numbers and while we received universally stellar reviews, it didn’t translate into sales. While we wanted to continue on, we simply couldn’t afford to do it anymore. We had to come to a very tough decision and this was the ultimate result. I truly hope you understand.

This is my message: if you like a series, tell everyone. If they won’t buy it for themselves, buy the first issue for them. Give comics as gifts, get your friends and coworkers on board.

Riley and I have loved this book and along the way we’ve become good friends as well as being able to work incredibly well together. We have something new coming. Something fun and exciting. Something totally different.

Something like Red Sonja fighting Transformers in a dystopian Miyazaki world.

Something called Debris.

Thank you for all your support, we appreciate it  more than you can know and from me personally, I owe all my readers. Without you, I wouldn’t be writing new series, I wouldn’t be doing this as a full time gig and I’d still be going around in circles driving a city bus.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Kurtis J. Wiebe

Bits of Script – Green Wake #1 Pages 1 & 2

I’m going to cut out and post bits of my scripts for various projects on my blog for people to read and get a feel for how I draft my comics. Here’s one I’ve always been very proud of, Green Wake #1. Enjoy!

 

PAGE ONE (5 Panels)

 

Panel 1. A dark lonely dirt road, heavy rain and muddy puddles. The front of an old Model T Ford is crushed up against a tree that sits at the side of the road, a swerving track indicating the vehicle went out of control in the deep mud and slid off it. A single headlight streams light ahead, to where a man lays on his side in the muddy ground. This is MORLEY MACK, who’s been thrown from the vehicle. In this panel, we see a woman, her torso ejected from the passenger seat, she is half sprawled on the hood. They are both dressed in 1930’s era formal wear, as they have returned from a night out.

 

CAP 1                   THERE’S A MOMENT IN A MAN’S LIFE WHEN HE QUESTIONS EVERY DECISION HE’S EVER MADE.

 

Panel 2. Morley on his hands and knees. The shot is from behind, looking toward the car, the single undamaged headlight blinding him. He raises his hand to shield his eyes.

 

CAP 1                   HE BELIEVES THAT BY GOING BACK, WEIGHING EACH FORK IN THE ROAD AND COMPARING THE POSSIBLE OUTCOMES, HE CAN ACTUALLY CHANGE HIS FATE.

 

MORLEY 1                ANNA?

 

CAP 2                   OR DESPERATELY WISHES HE COULD.

 

Panel 3. Morley pulling himself up to his feet, using the front of the car to brace himself. He is covered in mud and blood drips from the lacerations on his face. We do not see his wife, Anna, yet.

 

CAP 1                   BUT WHEN REALITY SHOWS ITS GODDAMN TERRIFYING FACE, HE REALIZES THAT THERE NEVER WAS A FORK IN THE ROAD.

 

MORLEY 1                ANNA? SPEAK TO ME, SWEETHEART.

 

CAP 2                   HE DROVE DOWN THE ONE ROAD HE WAS ALWAYS MEANT TO.

 

 

Panel 4. Morley finds Anna. Her cold, terrified face looks back at him, hollow in death and so final, splayed across the hood like a doll.

 

CAP 1                   FATE.

 

Panel 5. He brushes blood from her cheek, overcome with his loss.

 

CAP 1                   CHANCE.

 

PAGE TWO (3 Panels)

 

Panel 1. Morley walks towards the camera, his dead wife cradled in his arms. He stares forward, completely broken as the rain pounds the muddy ground at the side of the road.

 

Panel 2. Overhead shot, Morley sinks to his knees still holding his wife.

 

Panel 3. Large panel. Straight on shot, Morley screaming to the black sky as rain pours onto his face. He clutches Anna, rage searing through his bones.

 

CAP 1                        WE ALWAYS HURT THE ONES WE LOVE IN THE END.

 

Pitch Peek – The Intrepids

Fair warning, if you have not read Intrepids and yet plan to, you might want to skip reading this. This is my first Pitch Peek, where I post my portion of the submission to publishers. Enjoy!

Tone and Characters

The mood of The Intrepids leans to dark comedy, similar in feel to the series Umbrella Academy. It revolves strongly around the central cast being a gang of very odd and original characters, both in personality and visual appeal. All the characters are in their late teens. (16-19)

Crystal Crow

Summary: Crystal is the unofficial leader of The Intrepids, she is the weapons expert and tactician, coordinating the efforts of her team in the field under the tutelage of their overseer, Dante. She is serious, at times moody, but always a young woman concerned with the safety of her team. Crystal is armed with an array of handguns and automatic weaponry.

Abilites: Gifted with a natural skill for concentration in extreme circumstances, Crystal’s augmentation is a simple contact lens that transmits visual data to a pair a mesh-mechno gloves that slide nearly unseen over her hands and fingers. Anything she holds is coordinated precisely with the visual data sent from her field of vision.

Doyle

Summary: Doyle is the heavy

muscle, a large young man with the ability to plow his way through any obstacle and bowl over any opposition. He is thoughtful and somber, reserved and keeps to himself when not on mission.

Abilities: Doyle’s body has been wired with technology to make him an ultimate soldier. A self-adjusting mecho-suit lays over his enormous body, enabling him with super strength and resistance to physical trauma. When wounded, the mecho-suit injects his body with regeneration syrum, allowing quick recovery in the field. opposition. He is thoughtful and somber, reserved and keeps to himself when not on mission.

Chester

Summary: Chester is the youngest of the team, he is a technological whizz, called upon to tackle security systems and overcome dangerous automated positions. He is short tempered and prone to brash decisions.

Appearance: Chester’s been given hi-fi, top of the line electronic and computing hardware, with all the latest bells and whistles. His natural gift with all things tech means he is constantly modifying and tailoring his gear to his personal liking.

Rose Alabaster

Summary: Rose is the mouth of the team. Outspoken and always ready with an opinion. Her role is that of reconnaissance, she’s the firecracker of the group.

Description: Rose uses a top secret rocket pack deluxe, handcrafted by Dante may years before the team assembled. She is also outfitted with a multipurpose armband which conceals a retractable blade and grapple coil.

Story Synopsis

 The Intrepids are a collection of runaway, homeless teenagers that Dante has taken in and cared for. After years of earning their trust, he revealed to them his plan for a safer, smarter future. He unveiled his designs, marvelous technological contraptions that could significantly enhance a normal human.

With his vision and his help, the teenagers agreed to don his technology for the betterment of mankind. Together, they would attack tyranny and stop the madmen of the world from bringing harm to ordinary citizens.

At the outset, Dante will appear to be the heroic leader but the truth comes out at the end of the series that he is actually the villain and that he has been using The Bastards to murder his former scientific colleagues.

On one such mission, the team comes up against Dr. Koi only to learn that the good doctor, whom they were told was a crazy, evil scientist, was actually working on technology to save Dante’s failed experiments: Children that came before the Bastards. When the team learns this, they join up with Dr. Koi and his crew and they return to Dante’s lab and battle it out end Dante’s cruel schemes.