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Comics in text


Disclaimer: The contents of this topic are least to say close to border of laws of copyright and fair use. If requested by Runboard staff or anyone anyway connected to copyright owners, the content will be immediately removed.
I have previously posted these on another (now deleted) Runboard.



As you may know, I'm a great fan of comics - practically to same extent as games. Therefore, I've read many wonderful but obscure works that few of even the fans of this art, much less of those who don't read comics, get to enjoy.
This inspired me to turn comics into text form to present them to people of boards over internet.



I'm presenting this story first for number of reasons. It was the first I wrote; it is least violating to copyright laws (because I was lazy and edited large bit out); it is the only one I've translated from a Finnish work; and it's most suitable for Halloween.

(Original comic: "Laulu yön lapsista" by Petri Hiltunen)

So gather, my friends, to hear


THE SONG OF THE CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT


"He hears you, my lord" says the bat.
"He sees you, my lord" says the owl.
"He is here, my lord" says the toad.
And the ominous character answers: "Oh, look how beautiful he is! Do you see his soul?"
"Brilliant, my lord" says the owl.
"Uniquely fascinating, my lord" says the bat.
"Well, if you happen to like poets..." mumbles the toad.

Valentin Kozinets curses his dreams. And as he returns to his senses as much as he can from his hangover, he curses prince Shulgin, ruler of these lands. The pig has the arrogance to ask for canticles from him... even to replace Czar Ivan IV with HIM on Valentin's earlier work.
May his greatness wipe that pest from Earth.


Two men approach the town. One, the older, has hideous scar over one eye. The other is young, handsome. Both well clothed... and armed.
"Poets, scribes, teachers, noblemen, alchemists..." younger points out as they ride under a huge tree. "Valuable harvest this year" he says looking at the numerous hanged men.

Russia 1562 is a cruel place and time.


After fighting of few street thugs hardly worth mentioning in this tale the two men reach the tavern where the poet now sits. Valentin is overjoyed when they tell him the Czar has send them to get him.

But as they try to sneak away prince Shulgin and his men stop them; he does not want to let great poet go. Especially if Czar thinks a blind old man and a pretty soldier can come to grab something belonging to him.
The "blind old man" wishes to make a point. "Do you see that hawk over there? I want a bow and one arrow."
"Give them to him. You'll never hit that far, old man!"
"No I don't" he answers, turning. "But I can hit you before your men can do anything! Tell them to drop their weapons. Old man's fingers tire fast..."


Moments later the men are satisfied that they aren't fallowed and release their hostage.
"You let that monster go, knowing what he is?!" the poet protests. "He'll seek vengeance."
"We gave our word" answers the older man. "And he'll seek nothing. Peasants on their fields have noticed Shulgin alone in their lands... Let us leave the prince with his subjects. We'll ride all night to get far from here."


After much riding and little sleep Valentin starts to ask questions.
Answers follow: older man is Andrej Kutuzov, younger Nikolai Ptushko, they are members of Oprichnik, Czar Ivan's special forces. They also tell Valentin they aren't taking him to Czar's court as he has assumed.

They are Czar's ambassadors to the king of vampires.
According these men, Czar Ivan earned his name "Terrible" by defeating mongols and pushing them out of Russia. King of vampires send Czar a letter proposing an alliance that would keep mongols away forever. Since church could never approve such alliance, their mission is secret.
The vampire king had only one request: to have the great poet Valentin Kozinets in his court.

Valentin isn't happy about this, naturally. Nor does Andrej like their orders. But Nikolai reminds them of the soldiers who died fighting mongols and of Czar's orders and, for better or worse, they journey on.

As they do so they speak of vampires and their leader. The bard knows more than his escorts; he knows the tale of Volk Vseslavevitsh.
His mother was daughter of a Czar and his father was a snake. At his birth unnaturally bright moon shone on Kiev, earth shook and sea stormed. The boy grew to be mighty witch and sorcerer. At age of fifteen he gathered army of seven thousand men and fought the old realm. They say Volk could shapeshift to animals and that he conquered a far away country where he still rules.
Of vampires... they know as much as any of us.


Before reaching their target they travel wide open plains, small towns - where they hear Valentin's poems, changed... improved! ...from the his originals - and strange and dangerous places.
So dangerous that Andrej doesn't finish his mission; he falls on bandit's arrow, saving Valentin.
He'll make a song worthy of the man.

Last edited by Kaunisto, Oct/26/2014, 15:32


---

Oct/26/2014, 15:29 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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Re: Comics in text


First sign of the realm of dead is corpse of a mongol warrior, dried up and set like a scarecrow. After that Nikolai and Valentin arrive to a town populated by living people, who are expecting them and welcome them with plentfiful food and drink.
But in the evening their nice - if oddly uncomfortable - meal is interrupted; all fires are extinguished as a carriage without driver arrives for the two men.

It takes them to the town of vampires, full of towery black wooden buildings. They are met by Volk himself; a fearsome sight in his full armor... fingers like bird's or lizard's and face hidden in darkness of helmet, mere eyes shining.
"Have we met before?" asks Valentin.
"In a dream, at most..." says Volk.
The vampire king dismisses Nikolai, telling deal done, and concentrates on the poet. He shows Valentin wonders of his town and tells about the best dancers and musicians and innumerable artists living in his realm.
And then the vampire makes the obvious offer: Immortality! Eternity to create, endless time to finish every work! Safe from war or hunger or disease... what writings could one do in age of hundred, two hundred... Thousand years!

But the poet refuses, saying his works are born from his mortality and humanity and finity. Volk feared he would... and drugged his wine. Nikolai draws his sword... but what can he do? Fight town of immortals? And his Czar and country need the alliance.
Volk sends him off with human servant, telling he'll turn Valentin vampire next night.


As sun rises Nikolai prepares to go get Valentin out while the town sleeps. He wonders why locals have not assassinated the vampires in their daily sleep... and gets his answer as the long-dead mongols on roadsides charge at him.
Nikolai escapes, severely wounded, and passes out...


When he wakes an unimaginable lot surrounds him: trolls, fairies, gnomes, imps, things Nikolai can't name... but they all seem benevolent, save a troll suggesting eating him. On lead of a small hairy being they agree to help him, despite thinking his attempt impossible. The creature says he will give Nikolai three things.
"My friend alive, Volk's head on plate and return to home" says Nikolai.
"Do I look like a genie? You'll get what I give."

First the greatest sword in the world: the creature puts a door into mountain wall (one should always carry doors with him instead of leaving them around; who knows when you need one) and leads Nikolai to King who sleeps under mountain. He won't wake soon; his sword may be borrowed.

Second will be light, third knowledge. Creature shows Nikolai a path to walk with his eyes closed; it leads him to a woman inhumanly swollen belly. She tells her son is the most powerful sorcerer in world and to keep his power, she didn't allow him to be born. She asks no pity; she's a cruel woman.
She gives Nikolai a lantern that removes spells and shows thing as they truly are. As he takes the light, the woman fades into darkness and Nikolai is no longer in her room.

He stands outside, in front of a hut on bird's feet. Old hag calls him in, promising not to eat him. She'll tell where his friend is; but old Baba is a lazy guide. She tells him to kneel down and covers him with blanket.


Seconds later putting it aside, Nikolai sees sun... and Valentin lying on a bench. They are high in one of the wooden towers. The light of the lantern awakens the sleeper. Now they only need to get out...
...past hundreds of undead mongol warriors that gather around the town of vampires.

They consider their options. The place is too moist to burn. Only thing they come up with is destroying the head vampire; they go to seek Volk. Under largest building they find muddy swamp ground in which the undead sleep. Nikolai sees a chamber that can only be Volk's resting place. But as they approach it, two harpies dive from shadows, ripping the mighty sword from Nikolai's hands and carry it to hand that rises from great box in middle of chamber.
Volk stands, his face now visible: mix of dried corpse and demonic beast. "I am disappointed in you."

Nikolai desperately charges forth, but the vampire king grabs him by throat. "Fools! I am king of the vampires, but not their father. Within this ground lie beings far older than you can imagine. Slaying me, if you could, would do nothing."

Valentin takes a step. "You will not kill him. You will hand him to me unharmed."
"He tried to kill me first" said Volk.
"You will obey me... or I'll RECITE A POEM!"
"Poem? You'll hurt me with a poem?"
"A cruel poem of dirt and rot... a song about pale frightful creatures fleeing light when their stone is turned."
"I could kill you" says the vampire, threatening.
"You could. But the thought about the poem I would have recited will haunt you forever and eat your mind like a hungry rat."

Volk releases Nikolai and says apologizingly: "I wanted to give a haven to your genius..."
They leave, Volk telling Nikolai he'll be fighting mongols anyway. That never mattered.


Valentin tells Nikolai to go ahead. He'll stay to recite one poem... song of the children of the night.
A song about brightness of night... smell of the cool earth and cold stars high above. An ode of beauty and yearning.


Valentin meets Nikolai standing next to undead mongols... they make no gesture to stop the two.
The soldier and the poet walk out from the land of the vampires.

---

Oct/26/2014, 15:30 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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Re: Comics in text


My second feature is a one-shot short story.
Comic published in Epic Illustrated #2, original story by Archie Goodwin with art by Robert Wakelin.

I welcome you to take a look into...



TARN'S WORLD


It starts like other days... with the laughter of children at play and the clatter of wagons bound for the market. This is a world of myth and legend. And no myth is greater, no legend more roundly sung... than Tarn's.

He rules fairly, firmly, and his people know peace. For in his gleaming castle, won from the tyrant Gorm, Tarn is at hand, ready if they need him or his strong, swift sword. And if, on this particular morning he and his mistress, the fair Alyssa, linger in bed late in their slumber... where is the harm? For this is Tarn's world and all is...

The feeling comes sharply, like the pain of an old wound when weather turns damp.

"Something's wrong."


In his soft bed, in his high tower, in his beautiful castle, in his wealthy city, in his lush realm, in his paradise world... Tarn awakens to awareness of a coming danger.


And on a small farm in the outlands... it begins.

The woman, getting water from well like any other day, is surprised by a shadow over her. "Oh...! I didn't hear you ride up, sir. What..."
Seeing him, her features and tone chance completely. "NO! In the name of MERCY! Please don't..."

The rider moves on, swift as a shadow... silent as death.
And that is all he leaves behind him.


"Tarn? What's troubling you? Come back to bed, we can..."

"No, Alyssa. I must dress... ready myself."

"For WHAT? Since you rescued me from the sorceror Necros there's been no evil, no threat to the land. Perhaps you're letting a mere dream..."

"Something's abroad, Alyssa, and I must FACE it."


Like a plague the intruder sweeps on... sparing nothing... or no one.
His sword cut equally the young and old, men and women. His spiked boots trample children with adults.
A village becomes smoldering rubble, its people carrion feed. The bringer of destruction views it unmoved... then leaps to his mount, spurring the animal onward.


With studied calm, Tarn performs his morning rituals. No warning has come, no alarm has been given to confirm the terrible unease within him. Yet, every gathered hand maiden and servant senses his tension and it feeds their own deep fears. Tarn scowls into his mirror of polished bronze, feeling amid all he has fought to win, to preserve... a slipping away.


In its past, the land has known tyrant's rage, has suffered under a sorceror's blasphemous spells, but NOTHING to compare with this force, this scourge now sweeping it. The march is inexorable. From the outlands to the kingdom's heart, all is flame, destruction, deathbird shrieks. And at its center... the dark intruder raging for more.


Smoke-darkened skies give Tarn the message no scout, no runner has lived to bring. His premonition has substance; what was once but a feeling LIVES. Slowly, carefully, his squires outfit him in finest armor. Tarn doesn't rush them or show impatience. Everything must be perfect, for now the understand what only he suspected from the first. Outside, closing certainly on his castle, is the greatest foe of all.
Still, foes, great or small, are meant to be faced. Resolutely, as he challenged the tyrant Gorm... unswervingly, as he faced the sorceror Nekros... Tarn moves to battle again. And his people cheer, their hope, their love draping him like a mantle... that of some more strongly than others.


"Tarn...!"

"Alyssa..."

The kiss is long, lingering, as though perhaps their last.
Then he is gone, riding forth. His charger grows more tense and skittish with each stride, until he finds it best to dismount, so great is the animal's panic... at that which approaches.


His opponent is finally within sight, though only as a black spot, growing larger and clearer of shape, but covered in such shadow that Tarn cannot tell his features. What he senses is not told by his eyes.

As drought follows dry summer wind... as famine flies with an insect horde... DEATH trails the raider's wake.

"What ARE you? Why have you come to MY land?"

Swirling dust settles. and at last Tarn can see... a man. Radiating power like most terrible of warriors, reeking evil like the very worst of sorcerors. A man. A Warrior. A wizard. And more.

"Look closely, Tarn. I'm the END of it."

For an awful moment... Tarn believes. Then...

"NO! You have flesh, you have form, you can be beaten!"

Tarn attacks, turning his fear to strength for sword arm. But the foe dodges easily, his swing glancing Tarn's helmet.

"Your a dreamer, Tarn. And there comes a time when the dream is OVER!"

Having avoided second blow that carried Tarn too close, the enemy hits him with hilt of his sword... and Tarn is on ground, under his foe's blade.

"Well? STRIKE! I won't plead or grovel... particularly for a monster such as you!"

"Oh, cut the crap! I've had it with this romantic bullshit. Here... I'll make it easy." From his armor, which begins to change into outfit very unfitting to this world, he takes out identification with words: REALITY POLICE. "That's it. I know, it hurts. A jolt of objectivity always does. subliminal encoding on the card induces it... sort of jump-starts your perceptions."

"WHAT...? W-who...?"

In words practiced and obviously familiar, the stranger replies: "Reality Police. Just like the I.D. says. A fragile thing, reality... all those endless planes, alternate universes. takes constant patrolling. Usually they run parallel, smoothly... but once in a while things shift. Reality lines intersect when they shouldn't.
That's where you dreamers become a problem. You carry around your own inner, subjective realities. No big thing... unless you're at one of those points of intersection. Realities get muddled. Sometime, the wrong one, the subjective one becomes dominant."

"Y-you're saying that..."

"Your true reality is a place called twentieth century Earth... I'm communicating to you in the vernacular of that plane.
You live a useful, organized existence with your wife, Alice, in a modest suburban home."

"N-no...! I'm TARN, the warrior king! The..."

"You're THOMAS ARNSLEY. Like millions of others, you commute each day to work. But your mind often drifts to fantasy, daydreams... mindworlds drawn from the sword and sorcery adventures you voraciously read in your student days."

"And... I just work at... at an office...?"

"A large maritime insurance firm... Gromham and Necropolis. It's somewhat impersonal, but it fulfills a reasonable function in this reality.
I'm sure it all comes back to you now... quite a change. But once it's made, you won't remember and everything will be exactly as it was, Tom."

His fists clench. His resolve returns. He reaches for his fallen sword... grabs it... and runs it through his enemy!
Whose pierced corpse he clearly sees as he did when the murderous creature first stopped before him.

Weariness grips Tarn. Never have his strength, his skill, his stamina been tested so. Still... his foe of foes lies dead. But the damage, the loss are awesome. Rebuilding will be the work of years.
But he is TARN. He will see it done.
This is his world... and all is right again.


---

Nov/5/2014, 23:55 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 


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