Orphans

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compound

Well-Known Member
I was originally going to post this in the "Is this workable?" thread, but I realized it was quickly getting large and well-developed enough to merit a thread of its own.

I just wanted to share the idea, more than anything else. I have absolutely no intention of posting any related stories here, in the next year, at least. Still, I would appreciate all preliminary feedback regarding the concept. Gut reactions, and well-considered thoughts alike.

This is more of a "dream project" for me, something that I would only do as a creator-owned work for a medium-sized publisher, and with the appropriate creative team to support me. I envision it as an ongoing maxi-series, with a definite end-point after 75 regular issues or so.

The series is a "soft" sci-fi saga with political overtones and cultural critique. It *should* appeal to fans of DMZ, Y the Last Man, The Walking Dead, and similar titles, as well as TV shows like Lost, Jericho and Heroes.


ORPHANS

THE PREMISE

Alex Pharell -- known as "Alpha" to his friends -- is an 18-year-old small-town kid from rural Virginia, who has gone on to become an Honors student in Human Development at Cornell. (Alpha is physically modelled after actor Jesse Bradford, in the movie Bring It On.)

On Tuesday, June 21, 2006 -- the beginning of the Summer Solstice, in the Chinese solar calendar -- Alpha is in Seattle, WA, to attend the Future Leaders Accord, an international conference of youth leaders, convened by the UN Development Programme, and Alpha's idol, Stephen Wages, entrepreneur, "futurist", and co-founder of the pioneering info tech company, Ficus.

On that morning, he is standing on a sidewalk near his boarding house, when he recieves a cell phone call from his girlfriend, Carrie, in Philidelpia, who is crying hysterically. The line suddenly goes dead, and Alex is hit by a car that apparently has no driver.

He wakes up from a coma, almost three weeks later, in a Seattle hostpital, being attended to by an over-worked, Doogie Hauser, M.D.-like doctor who is only 20 years old.

Alpha quickly learns that on 6/21, a cataclysmic singularity occured, in which all people over the age of 21 -- precisely, those who have experienced more than 21 orbits of the earth around the sun -- sponteneously disappeared, leaving behind no corporal trace. This event has since been referred to as "O-Day", the day when nearly the entire population of the world became orphans.

O-Day has changed everyday life dramatically. The world's fuel supply is dwindling, because there are no adults to work on the oilfields, rigs, and refineries. Diseases are more rampant, and health servies limited, because of the lack of skilled medical professionals. Financial markets collapse, and bartering is as significant as cash. Long-distance travel is difficult. Without "grown-ups" to run the corporate media, blogs and internet feeds are the primary news source, though their relibility is (expectedly) doubtable.

Alpha decides he wants to travel to Philidelphia to find Carrie, stopping by his family's home in Virginia, along the way. He recruits a group of restless youth, each with their own personal reasons to make the cross-country trek. However, during this long and treacherous journey, he will have adventures that convince him that it may be possible to reverse the singularity, and restore the adults.


THE CHARACTERS

Alex's travelling group includes the following people:

Haroun "H-Bomb" ibn Ali, 18, was a Jordanian member of a sleeper cell of an international terror network. Before puberty, he was trained as a saboteur, then sent to live in Aberdeen, WA, posing as a high school student, with the planned mission of eventually bombing the Ficus Corporation's headquarters in Seattle. However, he grew attached to the friends he made, and found an outlet for his rage in the culture of hip-hop music, after he began an online collaboration with a DJ named "Disappearer", based in New York. He views the singularity as a divine act, liberating him from his former "employers". Haroun remains extremely critical of some aspects of American culture, but is not loyal to either the terror network OR the American state. He joins Alpha's party, hoping to travel to NYC to find his musical partner. He eventually confides his back-story to Hope. Haroun is visually patterned after French actor Saïd Taghmaoui in the movie La Haine.

Esperanza "Hope" Miyazaki, 17, is a bisexual half-Latina, half-Japanese punk girl with Harajuku fashion sensibilities. A quintessential "poor little rich girl", she ran away from her affluent family, suspecting her parents marriage was carried out to broker a truce between rival transnational crime syndicates. She has intuitive detective skills, is capable of street fighting, and is a pathological liar. She was mooching off friends before O-Day, unable to hold a steady job. She has a younger sister who lives with an aunt in Chicago, and joins Alpha's group in the hope of reuniting with her. She prefers not to speculate about the reasons behind the singularity, and instead adapt to this harsh new reality. Esperanza vaguely resembles actress Shannyn Sossamon in 40 Days and 40 Nights.

Casey Hall, 19, was a bench-warming basketball player for UCLA. He was in Seattle to pay a visit to his two-year-old daughter Viola, who was the result of a eugenic fling with Catherine Moreau, a much older sports agent, who wanted to have a baby, before she reached menopause. Like Alpha, his extended family is originally based in the East Coast; Massachusts, in particular. Casey later reveals that he had prophetic dreams about the singularity, and meeting Alpha. His appearance is modelled after actor/rapper Bow Wow in The Fast & The Furious 3: Tokyo Drift.

Viola Moreau, 2, is Casey's daughter. She was born with a curious birthmark on her lower back, which bears a remarkable similarity to the fig-shaped design that serves as the corporate logo of the Ficus Corportaion (whose CEO, Wages, owns the basketball team that Catheirne Moreau used to represent). Casey's dreams lead him to believe that Viola's genetic code may be the key to restoring the world's adults.


THE STORY ARCS

These will vary in length. This takes us up to the half-way point of the multi-volume saga.

"Teenage Riot" - Alpha wakes up from his 21-day coma to learn about the after-effects of "O-Day". gathering a small band of restless youths, they intercept a distant radio signal about a possible relief camp being operated by the U.S. Reserve Officers' Training Corps, in the outskirts of Portland. As they make their way to the base camp, they find a greusome discovery. It seems a bloody revolt has taken place, But where have the insurgents gone?

"Bastards of Young" - Alpha's party encounters a settlement based in the gigantic Mall of the Northwest, which is run like an anarchist collective. The "Mall Rats" -- one of whom is an ex-lover of Hope -- have their own theory regarding the origins of the singularity, which changes Alpha's perspective. Loyalties are tested and relationships are shaken up.

This arc is a direct reference to cult New Zealand TV series, The Tribe, which also dealt with the death of all adults.

This arc features guest appearances by indie rock bands Smoosh and be your own PET, who are the two of the most popular indie rock bands left, after the singularity.

"Barely Legal" - Alpha's group takes refuge at the Aphrodite Ranch, a makeshift full-service pleasure complex, owned and run by young women. Their activities range from strip-clubs and webcam shows, to S&M dungeons and full-on prostitution. The Ranch's operations divide the party, who are growing weary of Alpha's leadership. Hope confronts an uncomfortable part of her past. Alpha's loyalty to Carrie begins to waver.

Meanwhile, in the so-called "Area 51", a cabal of delegates from the Future Leaders Accord gathers. But is their intent to save the world... or end it?

"Children's Crusade"
- The mutionous Reservists from "Teenage Riot" encounter Alpha's party at the state line between Nevada and Utah, with tragic results. The last hope for the survivors of Alpha's group may rest with the arrival of a mysterious second party of travellers from California. But they may prove to be an even greater threat...

Meanwhile, in Singapore, where the state requires mandatory National Service military training for all males aged 18 to 20, the ambitious new Commander in Chief has just led a bloodless take-over of the island-state, just in time for his 21st birthday -- and he's got his sights on making the country into the next world super-power!

"Old Before Their Time" - On Christmas day, the two parties share a rare dinner feast, where Amaya's hardended group share their experiences immediately after O-Day, involving (among other things) human trafficking, modern-day pirates, and a shipment of DeGrassi DVDs. It quickly becomes clear that Amaya, in particular, is no ordinary civilian.

"Youthopia" - The protagonists find their way to the town of Delivarance, UT, where an isolationist group of detemrined Mormons have set up a "neo-prairie" lifestyle, based on strict Puritan values, with all the "menfolk" and "womenfolk" occupying appropriate roles, in a pastische of turn-of-the-century American rural life, abandoning the trappings of contemporary youth culture. However, could Alpha's desire to "simplify" his life convince him to take up residence in the community? Or is a more sinister force influencing his desires?

"Ain't Nothin' But A Number" - Questions are answered, and many others are raised, as the travellers head straight for a three-way showdown with the Future Leaders and the Singaporean army, with Viola at the heart of the conflict, in the ski resort town of Telluride, CO.


DIFFERENCES WITH OTHER NARRATIVES

The premise of all the world's adults dying is fairly common. However, Orphans is based on the idea of the adults spontaneously ceasing to exist, as opposed to dying out because of a virus or similar plague. Also, most other stories -- like the comic and TV show Jeremiah -- deal with the distant after-effects, whereas Orphans addresses the immediate short-term impact.


OTHER NOTES

Yes, I have a definite explanation planned for the singularity. But giving it away here would constitute a spoiler, wouldn't it? :p

The series will tease several possible explanations -- some more scientific, others with mystical overtones -- but none that would qualify as "fantasy".

Let me know if you want me to elaborate on these.
 
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ProjectX2

Don't expect me to take you with me when I go to s
This is genius. I have read a few series like this, such as Left Behind, and some other "children left behind" novel, but yours sounds a lot better.

I'm guessing this would be a Vertigo series? It seems to fit the titles they publish.

I wouldn't mind seeing more. It sounds great.
 

Entropy

Well-Known Member
Now this is an interesting concept. Obviously both the survivor quest and no adults concepts have been explored, but combining them in this manner creates a lot of interesting potential.

Right off the bat, your concepts and characters both seem sound. Your storyarc's, while being (necessarily) vague, are tantalizing. I would love to see it published, though I'm not sure what kind of art style would fit.

I'm very interested by your criteria for disappearance on O-Day, both the date selected and the fact it goes by solar orbit. A question though, or possible suggestion? What happens, or will happen, to characters who turn 21 in the course of the story? I'm wondering, will they remain around, or will their be a reoccurence and cause something like a second exodus? Obviously if you have something planned with these lines, I can understand if you don't want to answer, but I'd just thought I'd speak my mind ;).

I see a lot of room for unique explorations of concepts like growing up, sexuality, intellectual power, youthful fantasy, etc. I'm sure you've got plenty of plans in this department, and since I'm typing this cold I don't think I can offer any real idea. Give that later.

A quick thought that just popped into my mind. 21 seems like a number that's going to be playing a significant role in the stories mythology, thought I'd toss out a route for exploration. The idea of turning 21 being a golden ascention. Let me explain. You become totally legal in all states at 21, you finally get to do just about anything and are considered a full adult. What if various superstitions about the age 21 began popping up and led to formation of various communities and societies? Like communities where 20 year olds are the ruling class and treated like kings? I know, cliched stuff offhand, but its just an idea that pops into my mind.

I need to think on this some more, but it's a good idea and I'm very intrigued. I'll post again with some more thoughts.
 

compound

Well-Known Member
21 in Orphans mythology

What happens, or will happen, to characters who turn 21 in the course of the story? I'm wondering, will they remain around, or will their be a reoccurence and cause something like a second exodus? Obviously if you have something planned with these lines, I can understand if you don't want to answer, but I'd just thought I'd speak my mind ;).
I can answer this categorically -- the singularity was a one-time event (which is why it's a singularity) and it has a definite one-time cause. I will also confirm that the specific date it happened is a crucial factor. So yes, the survivors can age normally.

A quick thought that just popped into my mind. 21 seems like a number that's going to be playing a significant role in the stories mythology, thought I'd toss out a route for exploration. The idea of turning 21 being a golden ascention. Let me explain. You become totally legal in all states at 21, you finally get to do just about anything and are considered a full adult.
The number "21" is indeed a recurring motif.

Furthermore, the idea of "legal adulthood" is an important factor in one of the theories explaining the singularity.

Syb, a multi-pierced, hallucinogen-abusing self-styled "oracle" among the Mall Rats, speculates that "the collective consciousness of humanity" regards 21 as the undisputed age of adulthood. So that was used as the cut-off point used by the singluarity, when it was willed into existence. However, Haroun disputes this, pointing out that the notion is hardly "universal" and in fact shows a bias for Western liberalism. (Furthermore, the credibility of Syb's "talent" as an oracle seems to be disputed, even among the Mall Rats, to begin with.)

A related theory favoring the Gregorian calendar is advocated by Mac D, a Physics major from Evergreen University in Olympia, WA. He compares the disappearance of adults to a belated cosmic "defragmentation process" (originally scheduled for Year 2000 -- the start of the 21st Century) that has separated those who came of age in the previous millennium from those who will mature in the current one.

Another hypothesis is that the singularity is the Biblical Rapture. The basic idea is that those born after 1985 or so are so immersed in the "culture of sin", they are fundamentally incapable of moral redemption that they have been systematically isolated from heaven.

There's also another theory, related to the idea of the Golden Ratio, but I haven't completely fleshed that out yet.

In any case, 21 will appear in different ways throughout the story:

* as the number of Casey Hall's basketball jersey, in flashbacks

* in the various games of blackjack that the characters play (in which the objective of the game is to avoid carrying a hand with a value greater than 21)

* in a store sign that is meant to be fashion retail chain "Forever 21" in the Mall of the North West (partially obscured to avoid copyright issues)

* minor spoiler: the finale of the series involves the discovery of blueprints for the antique experimental plane known as "Number 21", (allegedly flown by pioneering aviator Gustave Whitehead, two years before the Wright brothers' first flight), in Bridgeport, Connecticut

* the supposed "weight of the soul", in grams, according to early 20th century physicist Dr. Duncan MacDougall; Mac D claims to be a descendent of his.

* the number of spots on the conventional dice that Viola plays her game with (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6)

* the number of gunshots in a ceremony recognizing the death of the teenage Queen of England (presumably HRH Princess Beatrice of York, 18, eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, though never explicitly named), which is broadcast on a video-sharing internet network, viewed by Alpha's party. She is is reportedly mobbed to death by a posse of "Chavs" that infiltrated Buckingham Palace.
 

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
I read the first few paragraphs, saw the car crash and then coma, and went 'Damn bastard is copying Blairwood."

Then I read the rest and realized you're not copying it at all.

The story seems sound, and it seems you play around with the actually reason of the singularity. Tell me, are you going to keep the main cast, or do you plan to rotate members every now and then. A rotating cast would be one way to keep it fresh while they search for their respective others.

Also, this O-Day, did it affect the entire world, or simply part of it?
 

Victor Von Doom

Fist of teh Internets.
Wow. Normally I don't get into the whole "sudden disappearance" stories because lately it seems to be an overused cliche...but this is pure awesome.

I can see why you said fans of DMZ, Y, Walking Dead...hell even Runaways (as this focuses on youth characters) would be drawn to this story. Great way in combining different elements from each into this and making it your own.

A couple of my questions upon reading the pitch were already asked by Entropy---so that ends that.


If this were to be published, I too, would assume under the Vertigo mantle. Normally I'd suggest an artist like Pia Guerra, Alphona, or Frazer Irving doing the art. But I wouldn't want everyone to write this off as a Y/Runaways rip-off so I'd go for someone not attached to either projects. I'd even go as far as Yanick Paquette (as long as he can make the kids look like kids and not steroid poppers). But this is about the story and not the art.

The story sounds awesome and thanks to your spot-on casting choices I can already envision the characters vividly.



Great job man.
 

Dr.Strangefate

He Sees You When You're Sleeping. He Knows When Yo
Hmmmmmmm... Very interesting.

I have a bit of constructive criticism, should you want it... and ideas to help make it seem less of a rip off of any one of a number of things.

One thing I'm curious about... Where's the Gay male characters? :p

(it's very good, by the way)
 
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DGspider-fan

Well-Known Member
Unlike the previous posters I don't have much input other than I like your ideas and look forward to reading more.
 

Friday

Well-Known Member
Hrmm...

I think this would be a good vehicle for the exploration of cliques in modern youth culture. It seems to me that civilization would be perfectly salvageable as long as each group would realize that they need to draw on the skills of the others to rebuild. Of course that brings you into conflict with the "we're better than that" attitude that most youngsters (and even post college graduates) seem to be ingrained with anymore. Pride versus survivability.

Haroun "H-Bomb" ibn Ali is the character thats grabbed me the most from whats here. The idea of someone who's faith is confirmed by an action that prevents him from his faith based assault really grabs me. I'd love to see the exploration of the spiritual side of an authority free, especially through the lens of a more rigid culture. How much of the old can survive?

I notice that major cities for the most part are untouched in the basic outlines. Do you plan to explore the "urban decay" and innate tribalism going on with street youth culture and how the sociologically support system for those children to live autonomously already exists?

I'll probably have more later but I'm tired.

Oh, and you have to have at least one thunderdome joke in there or I'll loose respect for you. :wink:
 

compound

Well-Known Member
I just want to leave a quick note to acknowledge that I'm grateful for all the feedback, and i'll be addressing your specific questions/points, in further detail, some time within the next 24 hours.

In the meantime, I shamelessly invite you all to comment on my *other* less-major "dream project": correspondence. :p
 
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compound

Well-Known Member
Here we go... Better late than never, I suppose.


I'm guessing this would be a Vertigo series? It seems to fit the titles they publish.
Ideally, yes. But I suspect I'd actually get more support for it, in terms of a publicity push, if it were released by Image, actually, if only because Vertigo already has a number of ongoing "cult hits" that it focuses its marketing budget on. I'd be just as happy if it were picked up even by a smaller publisher like Oni Press, which also releases 'mature readers' sci-fi series, like Wasteland.

Tell me, are you going to keep the main cast, or do you plan to rotate members every now and then. A rotating cast would be one way to keep it fresh while they search for their respective others.
Alpha is obviously the focus of the series, but each of his main companions will be given more or less even time in the spotlight, on an arc to arc basis, until the "Ain't Nothing But A Number" arc, which is the planned half-way mark for the whole series. At that point, the focus shifts between Alpha's group, and the travellers from California, as they decide to take different routes to New York. But the two diverging storylines come to a head in the Big Apple, for the conclusion of the over-all story.

I guess the main supporting characters will get as much "panel space" as the Runaways cast, if you need a point of comparison.


Also, this O-Day, did it affect the entire world, or simply part of it?
It's established fairly early on that the whole world was affected, because the O-Day phenomenon is reported and documented on social networking websites and online journals, from all around the world.

The singularity affected humans primarily, and any damage to technology was a result of the adults' disappearance. Otherwise, there are no nuclear blasts or EMPs to disrupt the flow of electronic systems. All the chaos has its origins in the disruption to the everyday social order.


Normally I'd suggest an artist like Pia Guerra, Alphona, or Frazer Irving doing the art. But I wouldn't want everyone to write this off as a Y/Runaways rip-off so I'd go for someone not attached to either projects. I'd even go as far as Yanick Paquette (as long as he can make the kids look like kids and not steroid poppers). But this is about the story and not the art.
I like some of Paquette's work, but I don't honestly feel it's suited to this book, precisely because of the reason you mentioned -- his tendency to over-buff characters' physiques. I'd love to have Steve Rolston (Pounded, Mek, The Escapists, Queen & Country) draw Orphans, or the very under-rated David Hahn (Bite Club, Private Beach). Another choice would be Jamie McKelvie (Phonogram, Long Hot Summer). I don't mind that these guys are not really "name" creators -- neither were Alphona and Guerra, when they began working on Runaways and Y, respectively.


I have a bit of constructive criticism, should you want it... and ideas to help make it seem less of a rip off of any one of a number of things.
Go right ahead! Post it here, or PM it to me, as you see fit. I'm all ears :D


One thing I'm curious about... Where's the Gay male characters?
Okay, guilty as charged. I don't have any prominent gay male characters. However, I assure you that as the story unfolds, Alpha will begin to realize that he might not be as comfortably straight as he believes he is, at the start of his quest. So while he's not *absolutely* gay, his sexuality is fluid, at the very least.


Pride versus survivability.
Bingo! You're getting right at the source of many of the key conflicts in the series. That (hopefully) means that I've effectively managed to convey the direction of the story, without having to spell it out quite so explicitly.


Do you plan to explore the "urban decay" and innate tribalism going on with street youth culture and how the sociologically support system for those children to live autonomously already exists?
There will be an in-story reason for why Alpha's group avoids major urban centers, but really it's nothing incredibly complex -- they just want to get from coast to coast as quickly as possible, and it's easiest to do that if they avoid the distractions of big cities. *shrugs*

Just the same, I can verify that we'll get glimpses of Seattle and Portland, near the beginning of the series, and we'll definitely get a more detailed look at Chicago and Boston, as our "heroes" reach the end of their little quest.


Thunderdome joke or I'm dropping the story.
I'll confess that I didn't originally plan any. However, since you both mentioned it, I've come up with several possible gags... but I won't spoil them here just yet ;)
 
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Friday

Well-Known Member
Alright, you need to get this going as a book if for no other reason than so I can have an in.

Hear me Compound! Get me a job!
 

Ultimate Houde

UC's Resident Genetic Recombinator
Alright, you need to get this going as a book if for no other reason than so I can have an in.

Hear me Compound! Get me a job!
ME and you both

Hell, we could form our own company with all the ideas we have floating around in our heads
 

compound

Well-Known Member
Bumped, for the sake of those who might not have read it yet.

Once I have the full series plotted out (right down to the fine narrative details), and when I've penned a script for the complete first arc, i'll probably attempt to shop this around to smaller publishers (using a mix of standard and unconventional approaches towards self promotion).

This definitely remains a kind of "dream project" for me, and something I'd like to publish, in a professional capacity, in the near future (at least within the next 5 years or so).

I may need to adjust the timeframe a little bit (within the story, I mean), but we'll cross that bridge once we get there.
 

compound

Well-Known Member
I have something to add to the table for you....if you are interested?
First of all, welcome to the board!

And yes, I would most definitely love to hear your ideas. I already have a *general* plan about where this goes next, but I remain open to suggestions.

Rest assured, should I decide to make any major changes on account of ANY of your input, it will be duly credited. (Plus, if/when this gets published, it would be one heckuva story to tell in interviews; to explain how the chance observations of somebody on a message board changed the overall course of how the narrative plays out.)
 

Zombipanda

My Boom-Boom's mostly gay
I dig it. And I think it's particularly applicable given the boom in information that the youth today has compared to any prior generation. They have all this vast technology and this vast capacity to broadcast individual agendas across so many forms of media. I wonder how that would be utilized, and what kind of hand it would play in the polar political shifts.

And then the real question. What happens to all the nuclear arms and other vast weaponry when the majority of the chain of command has just disappeared, and all that's left across these bases is the youth?

Edit: And what happens to oil-rich territory when the rich men that own them are all up and gone? The young men and women left behind are going to know the world will need energy sources when it rebuilds.

Edit Edit: I'm also going to guess that the singularity is some sort of premeditated act, perhaps on the part of people in the future, to grind the looming ecological emergencies to a halt.
 
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ourchair

Well-Known Member
Edit: And what happens to oil-rich territory when the rich men that own them are all up and gone? The young men and women left behind are going to know the world will need energy sources when it rebuilds.
For better or worse, the kids inherit it.

See Jericho.
 

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