GRAYHAVEN COMICS APPRENTICE- Challenge 3- Completed Projects

This week the challenge for both groups was to ‘milk the franchise’. In the spirit of Before Watchmen and Sandman Overture we wanted the groups to find a complete story…something with a beginning middle and end that no one would really be able to continue…and tell MORE of the story.

It was interesting to watch the teams work in the early stages. Andrew Shaw had announced his departure from the game shortly before projects were due. Some teams were in danger of choosing a story that while complete, wasn’t really ‘all she wrote’ about the character. The teams would really have to go independent with their choices as most of criteria really fit titles that were creator owned in some way. Y, The Last Man and Preacher were a few of the titles tossed around by teams before they ultimately settled on the choices below.






Teaser: In 2007, after 106 issues, the fan-favorite comic series Strangers in Paradise (SiP) ended. SiP is the story of a love triangle between best friends Katina “Katchoo” Choovanski, Francine Peters and David Qin, interwoven with a crime tale. Darcy Parker, David’s sister and Katchoo’s former employer, leads The Parker Girls, a syndicate of female assassins and prostitutes who manipulate the American government through sex, blackmail, and violence. While the origins of The Parker Girls were touched on in the original SiP series, there is still fertile ground to elaborate on its beginnings.  Crime is an enduring genre in American fiction. Witness the popularity of television dramas like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy; novels like the Hard Case Crime line; and comics like 100 Bullets, Kabuki, and Stray Bullets.  All not only present extended crime stories, but feature criminals as leads, and even as qualified heroes.  The Heart of Me is a timeless, crime-family epic. Its narrative blends bold mob maneuvering and intimate family relations reminiscent of The Godfather, with sex, introspective characters, and the aesthetic sensibilities of Moore’s original run

The Concept: Twenty years after the end of SiP, Katchoo & David’s daughter Ashley is researching the rise of The Parker Girls with the help of her step-brother Griffin, interviewing surviving members and searching for records left by deceased members. These first-person “flashbacks” allow for an “unreliable narrator.”  Characters recall the same event differently, similar to the movie Rashomon, and a different character narrates each story in this six-issue mini-series.

Theme: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Darcy becomes wealthy and respected as head of The Parker Girls, but her Machiavellian scheming loses her everyone she loves.  Darcy is not a wholly unsympathetic character; as a woman in a man’s world, leading other women, Darcy learned fighting back to survive and protect those whom she loved. Darcy’s drinking is her only concession to her needs to possess and control, and it serves double-duty as a symbol for her deepening inability to share authentic love.  Important thematic patterns in The Heart of Me are sexual identity as personal identity, The Parker Girls as family, and possession as protection.

Patterns of opposition, the key story elements in conflict, are women versus men, women versus women, sex versus love, and belonging versus ownership.

The Creative Team: There was the idea of switching up the team a la Before Watchmen, but giving this to anyone but Terry Moore seemed wrong. Especially since, unlike Before Watchmen, this was 100% creator owned, and Moore has expressed interest in possibly revisiting the world.

Main Characters:

Ashley Choovanski-Peters: Has the artistic streak of both her parents as well as a biological connection to The Parker Girls, so she feels chronicling it is her legacy. Ashley feels like something is missing in her life, but she isn’t sure what. The more she learns about her family’s history and The Parker Girls, the more she worries that she may be inherently damaged. Questions about nature versus. nurture and self identity arise, but in the end, she discovers that in her heart, she’s not just another result of The Parker Girls. She is the product of love persevering over every possible obstacle in its way.

Griffin Peters-Choovanski: Feels less confident in his artistic abilities than his step-sister, but he knows how important this is to her and he wants to help. His love for his sister is the purest, most untainted love in the series. It’s not twisted up with lust or the desire for control. Griffin simply loves Ashley and would do anything to see her happy.

Darcy Parker: The “Charles Foster Kane” of The Heart of Me, Darcy Parker is the late former head of The Parker Girls. Her rise to power left dead bodies, dishonored politicians and angry mafiosos in her wake. The lion’s share of the series will be spent following her path from incestuous sister, to seductress, to murderer, to queen of crime. Darcy trades her soul for money & power; the series will show the effect that her increasingly selfish decisions had on the people closest to her.

Katina “Katchoo” Choovanski: Former Parker Girl specializing in sexual manipulation. She and her lover and mentor Emma stole millions of dollars from Darcy and ran away to Hawaii. She’s the only person Darcy has ever loved except for David, so Darcy feels especially betrayed. Katchoo is hesitant to share details about her past life with her children, but over the years she has gained distance from events and opens up to them about her checkered past.

Yousaka/David Qin: Darcy’s half brother, and for a time, her lover. An inadvertent killer, Yousaka changes his ways (and his name) once he embarks on his road to becoming a Born Again Christian. His journals show the struggle that he felt between his old life and his Christ-like path. David tries to reconnect with Darcy in an attempt to save her soul, but once he sees the power she’s amassed with The Parker Girls, he knows it will be a tough row to hoe. After meeting a drunken Katchoo and falling in love with her, David sees Darcy issue the hit on her and Emma. Seeing Darcy hiding her tears from others, David’s sure she still has love in her heart, misguided and confused with ownership and control though it may be.

Tambi Baker: Darcy’s former head of security, Tambi has equal talents for causing pain and for  strategy, but everyone sees her as a stupid attack dog, and she cuts herself to cope. She gives the most forthright details about the origin of The Parker Girls, and gets Ashley and Griffin on the track to finding journals and recordings of deceased members. Tambi’s story details her relationships with her father and her twin sister. It explores familial love as well as how people cope with losing pieces of themselves. The night Katchoo and Emma abandoned Darcy, Tambi saw that Darcy was completely unhinged when she found out what happened; angrier than she had ever seen her before.This is the moment when she realized that Darcy would ruin them all.

Veronica Bouedaue: David & Darcy’s cousin with designs on both Darcy’s affections and taking a larger role in The Parker Girls than her initial position as chauffeur. Having studied Sun-Tzu, economics and political theory, Veronica feels she is perfectly suited to sit at Darcy’s right hand. She is driven by an intense jealousy, and works behind the scenes to try and unseat her competition for Darcy’s affections. Unfortunately for her, she is completely beneath everyone’s notice; and it festers inside of her. On the night of Katchoo and Emma’s defection, Veronica tried to console Darcy sexually, but she was brutally rebuffed. This solidified Veronica’s hatred of Katchoo and determination to take over The Parker Girls one day.

Emma Glass: Emma is the character we see the least in the original SiP, so she’s given much more room to grow here. She’s the daughter of an older midwest preacher and schoolteacher who feels she doesn’t belong. It’s not until she turns 16 that she discovers that she’s actually the couple’s granddaughter, and that her mother was considered to be a wild child and an embarrassment to the small tightly knit community. Emma runs away to LA, where she is discovered by Darcy. Darcy considers her a natural talent and quickly makes her the top prostitute in the Parker Girls stable. Emma never feels quite at home there either, but once she discovers a destitute Katchoo, Emma sees in her a kindred spirit. While teaching Katchoo how to please both men and women, Emma finds herself falling for her, and they hatch a plan to steal money from Darcy and run away together. Emma considers leaving Katchoo to twist in the wind, because she fears how brutal Darcy and her enforcers can be, but her love for Katchoo overrides her common sense.

Synopsis: Ashley Choovanski-Peters has grown up hearing urban legends about the criminal organization known as The Parker Girls; legends that involve her mother Katchoo, her father David Qin, and her aunts Mary-Beth “Tambi” Baker, Sara-Beth “Bambi” Baker and the former head of The Parker Girls, Darcy Parker. Her step-brother Griffin Peters-Choovanski joins her to help organize her notes into an oral history. Over the course of the mini-series Ashley and Griffin will meet with and interview several of the living former Parker Girls. Some of them are employed by the federal government (Tambi, Cherry Hammer & Becky), and some of them are just trying to live out quiet lives (Casey and Katchoo). Ashley & Griffin will also gain access to journals and recordings (both planned and clandestine) of deceased former members and associates (Darcy, David & Veronica).

They discover that Darcy’s three best agents were in charge of training the girls in different aspects (Emma-seduction, Tambi-espionage and Bambi-murder & torture). Every time a girl is vetted and given the OK by either Emma, Tambi or Bambi to officially join The Parker Girls, Darcy has the girls tattooed with her trademark lily tattoo. They find out that as Darcy gained more power, she cared less and less for people. She treated them like cattle, and her tattoo was her brand. Some of the interviews and recordings expand on the conflicts between Darcy versus the Yakuza, Darcy versus David (after his conversion to Christianity), The Parker Girls versus The Big Six, The Parker Girls & The Big Six versus the U.S. political system and Emma & Katchoo versus Darcy after they steal Darcy’s money. A big emphasis will be placed on the relationship between David & Darcy before his conversion to Christianity (just how far did they go?). Other questions that will finally be answered include: Is Emma really Katchoo’s great love and will Francine ever compare? What things did Katchoo do that were so horrible that she can’t bring herself to ever mention them? And, the biggie, why the hell does Katchoo shoot alarm clocks anyway?

Each issue will focus on the main character whose history is detailed within (either through interviews or journals and recordings). In order, those issues will focus on Tambi, David, Darcy, Veronica, Katchoo and Emma. There will be recurring scenes within four out of the six issues showing how the Parker Girl in question got her lily tattoo and what it meant to her (inevitability, belonging, despair, the unknown). At the end of the series,  Ashley comes to terms with her past and she gets her own lily tattoo on her left chest, with the roots of the plant turning into a heart directly over where her own heart is; symbolizing that her family is where she belongs.






Our chosen franchise is DC Comics’ “V for Vendetta”. Written by Alan Moore and drawn by David Lloyd, other than a feature film adaptation of the original story, this work has never been revisited, yet it still stands as one of the single most influential comics of the last 30 years, including a cultural legacy extending beyond comics into the political sphere.

Set in a (at the time of the original) future Britain.  With the nation having been left relatively unscathed by a global nuclear conflict that has ravaged the planet, it is ruled by a fascistic regime which exerts controls via a security state, maintained through mass surveillance and the extermination of those it deems undesirable, in concentration camps.

Seen primarily from the perspective of Evey Hammond, a teenage girl first seen on the brink of falling victim to the state’s corrupt secret police, “V for Vendetta” follows her rescue and political awakening at the hands of masked anarchist insurrectionist V.  After a campaign of vengeance against key members of the ruling party, culminating in the destruction of both the systems and symbols of control, V realizes his goals of pulling down the system, though at the cost of his life.

Moore has explicitly stated that he did not intend for the story to propose a coherent word view, but leave the judgment of the casts actions and choices with the reader. “V for Vendetta” protagonist’s actions exist in a state of ambiguity unusual for comics, and its cast of meticulously crafted characters, the ultra-violence used by its ‘hero’ in pursuit of his goal, and the sympathetic nature of many of those characters acting against him, makes for a challenging read.

Throughout the story V’s face is never seen, hidden behind a mask of Guy Fawkes, a would-be-political assassin from Britain’s distant past, and this symbol of defiance in the face of authority has taken root extended out from the fictional world in to the real.  Protestors across the world from various section of the political spectrum, including most famously hacker group Anonymous, have adopted during protests and direct action. Though what the protestors in question stand for might diverge wildly from anarchist principles held by V, the power of their gesture, and by extension Moore and Lloyd’s work, is undeniable.


At the time of its publication the book spoke to many debates present within British society, including issues surrounding potential nuclear disarmament, the use of state power in controlling the populace (in particular that seen during the Poll Tax Riots), and the cases for and against immigration.  In the 25 years since that time the United Kingdom cannot claim to have fully resolutely solved many of the same issues, and indeed others afflict it that were unforeseen at the time “V for Vendetta” was created.  These, if placed in the context of the world built by Moore and Lloyd, are fertile threads for expansion in future work.

Why this franchise would be interesting to explore further is the lack of true resolution given at the original’s close.  The system may be smashed and V’s vengeance complete, but in freeing the people from the yoke of a repressive system, there exists no true resolution nor guarantee that those given the chance to rebuild will have the tools or drive to do so, or indeed that the vacuum left would actually end up filled with something better than before.

As V explains during the original story, he sees anarchy as having two states; that of destruction and construction, where new and ideally better forms of living emerge in the absence of leaders.  Additionally, with Evey having taken up the mantel of her mentor on his death there exists the question of what does a destroyer do in a world where the real need is to build?  And in a society that has followed and been directed by the use of symbols, what impact will this new emblem have, and will it retain its potency once the hour of its victory has passed?

The original tale took readers on an epic journey though a world repressed, where the violent acts of the central character served a clear and decisive purpose, at least to a specific end.  But in the world those acts have brought into being, it will prove intriguing seeing if the same methods still retain their agency, and explore what actions are needed to bring the similar scale of change, but in a environment fundamentally altered by the events of the first story.

The name we have chosen for our continuation of Moore’s story is “VII for Vilified”. We believe that this name can convey multiple meanings; “VII” alludes not only to the ‘V2’ as a sequel, but also the Roman numeral for ‘7’. As the character V took his name from the numeral for ‘5’, we carry that concept forward with Evey being ‘6’, and her protégé Dominic being ‘7’. The word “Vilified” was used to create continuity with the original, but also because of how the Guy Fawkes mask would be distorted and corrupted by other characters.

VII for Vilified

Writer: Ales Kot –

Artist: Frazer Irving –

With the time that has passed since the creation and original publication of “V for Vendetta” we felt that the world originally created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd would provide an interesting space for new creators to explore.

The writer of “VII for Vilified” would be Ales Kot, a young writer whose debut book “Wild Children” demonstrated him to be in possession of a distinctive voice, that blends pop culture vivacity with cultural and societal commentary.

His recently completed series “Change” showed his ability to operate in story telling territory that allows the reader to form their own judgements of the material, eschewing or twisting common tropes and clichés, providing readers with no true moral absolutes.  Kot’s work can be uncomfortable to read and in his work with licensed properties, such as DC Comic’s “Suicide Squad” he is happy to subvert relationships and expectations (for example, having one of this unconventional team fall in love with their gaoler) in order to enrich the reading experience.

Having been born in a Czechoslovakia prior to the fall of communism, Kot also has witnessed firsthand a country in the throes of learning to stand apart from a totalitarian system, something that he’s spoken of informing his work.  In the context of the world we would be exploring in “VII for Vilified” we believe his very personal insight into this type of situation would prove interesting.

As artist we chose Frazer Irving, a British artist who currently is providing art for “Uncanny X-Men” and has previous experience on “Batman and Robin”.  With a style that uses skilfully uses photo manipulation and other computer-based techniques to create art simply not possible at the time of “V for Vendetta’s” creation Irving’s art would radically update the aesthetics of the series, providing a distinctive visual identity to the new work.

However, having not just a personal background but also professional background in Britain, with the bulk of his early work on Fleetway (now Rebellion) publications “200AD” and “Judge Dredd” magazine, Irving would be well placed to draw on personal experience in rending the world of “VII for Vilified” for a new generation.  His evocative style and unique approach would match the boldness of Lloyd’s work, but in a modern fashion, much like the story would be exploring the same world but from a fresh perspective.


Evey Hammond. The protégé of anarchist “V” in “V for Vendetta”, Evey first came to readers’ attention as a naїve, orphaned teenager. “V” saved her from a malicious police squad and took the girl under his wing, educating her about the harsh realities of life in post-nuclear-war Britain and shaping her opinions with his philosophy and political views. When he died (at the end of “V for Vendetta”), Evey donned his mask and tried to carry on his work, but failed. Months later, Evey is now slipping into severe depression, with only her own protégé, Dominic, trying to help her. When Dominic receives news from outside of London, he persuades Evey to leave her sanctuary and travel into the countryside where they find that “V’s” resistance unexpectedly changed the course of life away from the city.

Dominic Stone. Although Dominic had worked as assistant to the Chief of New Scotland Yard and Minister of Investigations for the post-nuclear war fascist leaders in Britain, he never did so out of allegiance for their regime. When he is injured during an accidental encounter with a mob, it is Evey – wearing “V’s” mask – who rescues Dominic. Healing his wounds in “V’s” old sanctuary (the Shadow Gallery) she convinces him to become her protégé. As Evey grows more detached and depressed, he becomes her caregiver and provider, until the day he finds a battered man whose death confession makes Dominic wonder how people survive outside of London. He must convince Evey to stop hiding and go with him, if they are to find a better future for themselves – and everyone else.

Sean Robbins. An expert shoemaker from Northampton, Sean Robbins travels south to London on a mission to restore his small part of the once-prosperous commercial trade across Britain. Arriving in the familiar London district where he had for years conducted a great deal of business, Sean was certain that his eyes deceived him. Most of the buildings were rubble on the streets; half had burned. With the contacts he had there gone, Sean was uncertain where to go or what to do. He thought nothing of the footsteps behind him until the sound exploded into a mob. Sean dropped to the road and watched his own blood run into the gutter. Just before he lost consciousness, a different pair of boots appeared and a kind voice spoke to him. All Sean could think to do was tell his story as he knew it. Someone else would have to figure out what was wrong here.

Billie James. Billie was taken in the first round of New Scotland Yard’s post-war arrests. She was twenty, and they had more reasons to take her than not. She was obese, black, and a confessed lesbian, which fit three of their ugly profiles for capture.  Billie was thrown into a long room with hundreds of others – it had been designed, someone realized, as a pig barn. Billie survived until the day their camp was “liberated”; she caught a glimpse of several people wearing clown-like masks that no one recognized. To the inmates, “Liberation” meant that the guards were dead and the gates open, yet after so many years as a prisoner, few knew how to survive. Eventually, as people began to travel the road in front of the camp, someone had the idea to set up a shop for trade. They grew into a real community that naturally looked to Billie and her strength of character for guidance.

“Savage”. At the age of eleven, Savage followed his older brother into a gang. His brother died horribly when he was just sixteen, but Savage worked his way up, doing the jobs no one else wanted, until he was the gang’s undisputed leader. His group of vandals knew no limits and had no rules. That was their definition of anarchy. They used and abused everyone in their path, earning the reputation they felt they deserved, and yet bristling when “V” refused to acknowledge them. Just as they were planning to stage a direct attack, “V” was killed by others, so they set their sights on his favorite pawns, Evey and Dominic.

It has been seven months since the United Kingdom’s fascist government was beheaded by the now-deceased vigilante known as V.  London has become a power vacuum, overrun by gangs fighting over scarce resources. Inspired by a false notion of V’s ideals these gangs have adapted his iconic mask; some even daring to copy the anarchist’s Guy Fawkes visage.

Evey Hammond lacks her mentor’s enhanced physical abilities and clarity of vision. She judges herself harshly, feeling ineffective at facilitating the rebuilding process. Frustrated with her perceived inadequacies she retreats in to the sanctuary of the underground Shadow Gallery, accompanied by her protégé Dominic. There Evey slowly descends into depression while Dominic cares for the broken girl, sneaking out to the surface when food and supplies run low.

Scavenging the city for a meal, Dominic stumbles across a man named Sean who has been robbed and horribly beaten. With his last breaths, the man gasped that he had come from the north to London to reopen trade routes and was not prepared for the state of the city’s collapse. He tells of his hometown, Northampton, describing V’s dream of a “Land of Do-As-You-Please.” Dominic is stunned to hear that a different reality exists outside of the city.

Dominic attempts to provide Sean with the closest he can provide to a dignified burial, hiding his body in a dumpster. As Dominic exits the alleyway he is confronted by those responsible for Sean’s murder, led by a man known only as Savage. Donning a twisted version of the Guy Fawkes mask Savage misconstrued V’s philosophies down to a message of pure violent anarchism.

Vastly outnumbered and outgunned Dominic flees through the city, with the gang in close pursuit. Avoiding several close calls Dominic is confronted by Savage and his followers on a building rooftop, his only escape, diving off of the roof and through a neighboring church’s stained glass window.

The injured Dominic returns to Evey with his newfound inspiration and an idea to travel outside of the city. Evey, tending to Dominic’s wounds and fearing that their hidden shelter has become compromised by the attack, reluctantly agrees to accompany him. Traversing the perils of London’s decay, gangs, and violence, the pair finally crosses the city’s borders. Although lawlessness and danger still exist, as they journey northward they begin to realize that the rest of the country is mending and forming more equal and fair systems of self-governance.

They begin to see that hope is not a lie.

This journey of revelation becomes a quest to learn whether V’s vision for society might be possible. In the void left by systemic collapse, outside of London there is not simply an extrapolation of the city’s state, but slow and significant change toward the world V believed possible.  Evidence is everywhere. A former concentration camp is now a trading post between communities.  Staffed and run by its former inmates – those people deemed worthless to the previous regime. Among them are many non-Caucasians and persons of different sexual orientations.

Identified as Londoners, Evey and Dominic are watched with suspicion by the traders, causing her fears to resurface. These fears are soon quelled once Billie, the main organizer of the post, introduces herself to the pair. Billie shows the pair the small society they have built, that they are allowed to live their lives peacefully and on their own terms.

Leaving the post to continue their journey, Evey and Dominic are set upon by Savage and his gang who have followed them out of London. The hope that Evey has experienced since she left London reignites the passion that she has long been dormant. Outnumbered, Evey uses V’s smoke machine to hide Dominic and herself; taunting and overpowering the gang one-by-one. As the smoke clears the only member left is a terrified Savage, now holding Dominic with a knife to his throat.

In the midst of the stand-off Billie rallies her traders, but at Evey’s request they do not assist only encircle the three. As Evey steps closer and chastises Savage for his inability to understand V’s beliefs, he presses the knife harder against Dominic’s neck; drawing blood. Now practically face-to-face, Savage pushes Dominic aside and plunges his knife into Evey’s abdomen. Undeterred, Evey continues her speech as she engages Savage in hand-to-hand combat, quickly proving herself the victor and unmasking him, revealing nothing more than a man. The defeated Savage is attacked by the crowd, as Evey and Dominic walk out of view. She refuses to stop, or to accept any help, but as they reach Northampton, Evey collapses.

It becomes apparent to Dominic that Evey’s wounds are greater than she admitted. They say their goodbyes before she passes away, leaving V’s legacy in Dominic’s hands. He rests her head against a tree before standing to survey Sean’s home.

Everything Sean indicated was true. Northampton has provided a blank slate to its citizens. Dominic silently hopes that even London will eventually succumb to this positive growth. He realizes, as Evey had, that their ineffectiveness in the city meant that they had been attempting to reach people who were not yet ready to move forward. To effect real change, Dominic must be part of a community willing to adjust, and be open to a brave future.

London is not where he is needed, not yet.




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