Yesterday we learned that Sir Terry Pratchett had died, a unique and much favored author of fantasy, sci-fi and I guess with Dodger historical fiction. Within my eulogy I had vowed to start, or more correctly keep writing without fear and I want to share with you my first leap of faith. I had been contacted last year by PRM Comics to write a treatment for their newest creation Spooky Abigail, a teenage witch with a rat without a cat, she lived in a peculiar fantasy world and the book needed some direction. So I stepped up, writing a treatment about the world and the script for the first Spooky Abigail book. You can read it below after the Jump.
Spooky Abigail – Treatment – Teenage Witch Comic Book
This is a teen book aimed at all ages, but most importantly is this story has to be accessible for all-ages. Spooky is a teen Witch, having teen kid problems while attending witching school. She must be identifiable to girls of her age and have the same problems – like fitting in, crushes, picked on, not to bright in class. We have to establish her world, and her character through her actions and eyes. In a sense we are world building alongside Spooky and her friends.
Pitch – Her World
Welcome to the realm of Notorious Odyl, Not (NON), a land of magic, wonder, mystery and leeks (a national export). A county of crystal lakes, soaring mountains and if the wind is in the wrong direction a hazy onion smell.
Meet Spooky Abigail, a spirited and kind-hearted girl of red hair, green eyes, very pale skin, with freckled face and thick black framed glasses with even thicker lenses that always seem to be two-sizes too big, which she is constantly pushing back onto her face and she is blind as a bat without them. Which would be just fine if Spooky was an ordinary little girl, but she isn’t… You see she is a Witch, or more correctly put a Witch in Training (WIT), a first year student at MacGiven’s Academy for Witches and Magical Folk. You can see it over there – it’s the craggy scary looking leaning black tower nestled quite nicely next to a large forbidding lake, looming mountain, dark forest and customary homely village full of gentle, (but not very bright) folk.
As Witches go, even for first year ones she isn’t really that good; a constant grade of ‘must do better’ follows her from class to class and it seems she only excels at Broomstick riding – which she rides with a skill that can only be described as a stubborn refusal of recognizing any maneuver apart from a straight line.
Since Spooky is a Witch she has the usual witchy gear, a pointy black hat (slightly crooked at the top as she accidentally sat on it), a black dress that is touch too long because she has to grow into it, and is sensibly practical, but ten years behind current witch fashion, and of course her familiar.
Her Familiar – The Rat
Now every Witch must have a creature to deposit magical energy in, sort of like a portable battery or lightning rod to earth the magic running through them. Most Girl Witches have a Cat or Bat – normally black because that is traditional, while the Boy Witches usually have a Lizard or Owl. Spooky sadly is allergic to cat fur, feathers bring her out in hives and has a phobia about Lizards after being chased by Uncle Montgomery’s during High Solstice when she was a baby. She was perfectly safe, the Lizard only wanted the candy rock she was carrying.
With Spooky limited in her range of familiars through allergy, reaction and phobia she ended up with the choice of a Rat or a Frog – and sensibly choose the Rat. While not very good for magical storage and would go splat if used as a lightning rod, Spooky’s Rat even for NON standards is super-smart – a side effect from being around all the magical energy.
MacGiven’s Academy for Witches and Magical Folk
Now a word must be given about MacGiven’s Academy for Witches and Magical Folk – it is a traditional boarding school for Witches, Werewolves, Vampires and other Magical Folk and is very progressive for NON. With mixed classes in all the subjects except Magic, which Witches are expected to learn and Werewolves and Vampires are not. A school stuck between stuffy tradition and the modern times.
The Academy is a large, slightly leaning black tower full of terraces, stairwells and overlooks a large dank lake that it is said inhabits a large ‘Nessy’ Monsters that was rumored to once be the pet of of the Academy’s founder Grand Mistress Nelly MacGiven. The woods are dark and always seem to be constantly wet, the Mountain well that just looms because that is what is expected of Mountains that are near large Black Towers. You see the entire land around the tower is saturated with magic off-spill and conforms to dramatic expectations. It is only dark, looming and scary because that is what is expected of it.
It is in MacGiven’s we will be introduced to Spooky, the school is a traditional mix of 1950’s style common-rooms, dorms, secret passageways and amazing vistas. Pretty much everything you expect from a boarding school, that is a Witches Tower and a looming piece of Gothic architecture. This huge tower packs in Terraces for flying practice, Gymnasiums for spell practice and the hated dodge-the-ball sport, great labs for potion practice, assembly rooms for feast days and stadiums for kick-the-ball-with-your-foot. The tower is so saturated with magic it will bend to expectations placed upon it, and is almost sentient in its nature.
We must have a quick work about magic, it is dangerous stuff almost radioactive with its invasive touch. It seeps into the environment around it and can have positive and negative effects to the fauna and flora around it. Magic is so powerful that is dangerous to write it down. The books that contain magic are vicious and mean. Long ago Witches banned the use of printed press when producing magic books and everything has to be hand taught and written down by the Witches hand for their eyes only. The books in the forbidden library are kept under constant guard by Gargoyles and are caged on their shelves. Indeed the Forbidden Library is deemed to be so dangerous that it is never in the same place twice in MacGiven’s Academy, it wanders around sometimes while it is still occupied by students and can only be found if it wants to be.
The Village next to the tower is a right out of the pages of a fairy tale book, wooden timbered, thatched roofs, Tudor style buildings and exists to service MacGiven’s needs. With stores of every type, a High Market every other Sunday, a street of craftsman, a fat docile Mayor and a workforce if need be. Although it will not be mentioned only hinted upon in the book, the non-magical inhabitants of NON are very much second class beings.
Opening Story – Synopsis
The first book will open with an introduction to NON and the Tower, before we introduce Spooky who will be working on a lab bench full of bubbling instruments. Her Rat familiar will be perched upon a hat and she will be working on a potion, concentrating on getting it right. This potion will explode in her face, and it is only them we realize she is in a class as the Teacher gives her another Must do better grade. It will be through her eyes that her part of the Tower world will be introduced and we find out she has a huge crush on the most popular boy in the school – a subplot will be her trying, and failing (every time) to get his attention.
She will run foul of the most popular girl in her school and her mean little gang. We will find out her best friend in the school is her dorm partner a Girl-Werewolf called Bella; it is important to establish the tone and character of Spooky in the opening pages. She is a kind-hearted spirited girl desperate to fit in, while a little clumsy and bumbling – just like everyone in their first year in school. She is the every Witch for our Reader to root for.
The first story will be her adventure aided by Bella to get into the Forbidden Library to locate a rumored book of powerful potions that could restore her eyesight – which she wrongly thinks is stopping her from being popular. Of course she will need to turn herself invisible to get past the ever vigilant Library Gargoyles. So she must first master that potion before taking her steps into the Library and of course she will need a map to the books location, and the Library’s because it keeps moving around the tower – leading to her needing to use a Crystal ball to predict where it will turn up next; that will uncover a nefarious plot by Outsiders to steal a magical artifact from the Towers Vaults.
Or course Spooky will first tell her Teacher who will dismiss her, leaving her determined to stop the Outsiders herself. Plucky, courageous, full of heart and slightly clumsy will be her character throughout the first set of books.
My Thoughts on the Books/Art
One of the most important things about this teen book is it has to have its own character and look at the world Spooky inhabits. We are seeing it through a Spooky’s eyes, so the darker elements, the coming war (shown in the adult books) and oppression should only be hinted at.
I think the first story will carry over into four issues of 17 – 18 page books or six issues if it is run as a B-Story in the other books. It is important to keep the mood light, as we ramp up the danger – which should be dealt with a feeling of Home Alone slapstick before descending into unnerving menace.
Spooky herself is defined more by her glasses, they are her shield and viewpoint of the outside world. When we first meet her she should be all kinds of awkwardness, new school, badly fitting (but practical) dresses with very little expectations placed on her by her peers.
To be frank I’ve largely ignored the supplied Issue Zero script, it doesn’t contain any fun elements that should be included in this world. NON is magical therefore we should channel a whimsy and absurdity into the story.
I have taken elements from the initial overview and incorporated them into my pitch – the land should be High-Fantasy with some very dark places. I will need to know because the adult book will be taking the lead on character, what I can, cannot put into the story as that will be dealing with the hero themes more than this teen book. Can I have Werewolves and Vampires in the same school as the Witches? Do I get to choose her best friends? I will hint at other elements of Spooky’s past through the first story, about her Nanny and growing up fairly normally (for a Witch).
That is all… Thank you for this opportunity and let me know your thoughts about my thoughts, and if we are going in the same direction I will start the script for the first book based off my synopsis.
— And that was my treatment for the Spooky Abigail Comic Book, you can learn more about this book here.