Do you ever come up with half an idea? Like the outline to a story without really knowing how to start/end it? Do you then put it to one side and come up with another half-idea?
I seem to have a collection of half-ideas, destined never to be completed. I figured I’d get some of them out there to an audience, to see if any of you can spark some imagination in me to complete these particular stories.
The first is one I’ve mentioned before, Hindsight Boy. So, yes, something similar was done by South Park (and previously Marvel), but the idea has stayed with me for years. Here’s the gist…
Young lad living in a Sea City apartment with his aunt and her abusive boyfriend. He is often locked in his barren bedroom, hearing his aunt being verbally and physically assaulted. He's never been brave enough to call the police or strong enough to interject, fearing for his own safety. He finds an escape in climbing out of the window and onto the roof of the building, where he can see the city. He follows sirens as they fly past, running from rooftop to rooftop with his self-taught free running skills as he heads to the scene of the crime/accident/fire. Years of doing this has given him an uncanny knack of knowing what the emergency services do, and what they should have done when things go awry. One particular night he is spotted by a fireman after they have failed to save a family in a burning building, he tells him what he should have done, to which the fireman responds "what are you, hindsight boy?" He starts to try and get to incidents quicker, telling the emergency services what they should do, but they ignore him. But some start to realise that he's right and they take him under their wing. One day he runs right to a domestic violence case, which reminds him of his aunt's situation. And that's where things take a turn...
So that’s the set-up, and I know how I want it to end too, I’ve just not got the middle bit sorted. I have the first chapter written, in prose, but I’m not sure if that’s the best format for the story, I’ve started to picture it more as a one off graphic novel more recently. I’ve never got past writing more than that first chapter though.
Part of the idea behind Hindsight Boy was “what if Uncle Ben was a dick to Aunt May?” or “What if Thomas Wayne was the criminal and not the victim?” The superhero stories so often have a character that helps mould them and gives them their moral guidance. But what happens when that person is a grade A arsehole?
I guess that aspect has become interesting to me again more recently, with me becoming a father in the near future and becoming more and more aware of just how much our kids learn from us; whether we intend them to or not.
The one thing I’m up for changing though… the name. Too similar to South Park’s Captain Hindsight or Marvel’s Hindsight Lad (who is often included on lists of the worst superheroes of all time).
After putting Hindsight Boy on the back burner I came up with a character called Han and the crew of idiots he works with. The Secret Life of Han was born.
Han is a health insurance claims assessor for Avenue Health just outside Sea City. He works with a bunch of morons, lives on his own and hates most things in existence. So he's your bog standard single British guy in his 30's. Except he wears a wrestling mask and cape to work and people are starting to think he's a former superhero. "The 6" were a British Superhero group who disappeared ten years ago after a massive brawl between them ended with them sinking the Isle of Wight. Some think they all died in the incident, others believe they are being held in some secret super-prison at the bottom of the English Channel and some believe they were mind-wiped by the government and put back into society.
Avenue Health was to be my version of Aviva, based on my time working there. The characters were amalgamations of the people I worked with, I picked character traits from a few different people to create each character… with the exception of Zack. Zack would just be Zack, a carbon copy. For those unfamiliar with Zack, check out @ZackRandom on twitter to see some of his best quotes.
For this idea I imagined a comic book, and I have the first issue scripted and the next 11 issues outlined very briefly. But I kept changing my mind about what I wanted to happen and I just stopped writing it.
Part of me wanted to never see superheroes in the story, so the “is he/isn’t he” mystery would never truly be solved and would instead the whole thing would be some kind of Office Space/Scott Pilgrim inspired weirdness.
Secret Life of Han is kind of saying “we don’t need heroes to save us, we just need to not be so fucking stupid and self-obsessed”.
Fast forward to this year and another idea struck me. This one I call OAP: Old and Powerful.
Follows an ageing superhero who has retired from active duty, enjoying some peace on the South Coast, in Pier City. His body may be too weak to fight crime, but his powers are still enough for him to fly around the retirement home - a handy ability for someone whose joints are riddled with arthritis and who finds it hard to stand unaided. New heroes haven't appeared since his generation began to age. Some old heroes, like him, are retired. Some continued to fight too long and passed away, heart attacks and strokes being common amongst the hero community. But the villains, they never seem to go away, and when one begins causing problems for our hero, he has to take some unusual steps to save his retirement home.
This one’s a bit more basic, but then I did only think of it recently! But it’s another story that’s on the fringes of superhero stories, just with a little twist. I think this one is inspired more than a little by Bubba Ho-Tep, and definitely needs a lot more work.
So, what do you think of my ideas? Got any suggestions or critiques? I’d be interested to hear what you think, especially if you’re up for fleshing the stories out some more as a co-writer. 😛