There is a comic book publisher called Oni Press that has been publishing comics for nearly twenty years. Back in May and June of 2015, Oni Press sent out a call to writers, artists, and other creators that they would be having an open submission. It has always been a dream of mine to be a comic book writer, so I thought I would give it a shot. Unfortunately, I did not find out about the open submissions until the middle of June when the deadline was nearing, but I would not let that stop me. I spent every moment I could, when I wasn’t working my day job or sleeping, working on my submission, and I ended up completing it the day before the deadline was up. The submission was based on an idea I have had in my mind for several years that has evolved over time that I had titled Psi-Fi. I know, that is not the strongest title in the world, but when I originally came up with it years ago, it gave me a chuckle, so I stuck with it as a “placeholder” title. I probably should have come up with a better title for my submission, but I could not think of one in the time I had to complete the submission.
And so, with one day left before Oni Press’ deadline was up, I sent in my submission as I held my breath. Keep in mind that there are a lot of aspiring comic book writers out there, and so it took some time for Oni Press to get to my submission and answer me back. As I waited, my nerves eventually subsided, and I continued on with my life, all but forgetting that I had sent in the submission except for the occasional moment when it would briefly pop into my mind.
Then, on August 14th, I received the following reply from Oni Press:
Dear Derrick Nadeau,
Thank you for sending us “Submission for the comic book series Psi-Fi”. We know how hard pitching can be and we appreciate your earnest effort, your willingness to put yourself out there, and the opportunity you gave us to read it.
Unfortunately, this pitch is not a fit for us at this time. We encourage you to continue honing your craft and developing new stories. A passion for storytelling should never be extinguished by a rejection and we sincerely hope you are able to find the appropriate outlet for your work.
Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions we have received, we are unable to give feedback on specific submissions.
Thanks again and best of luck.
So, there you have it. My first ever submission to a comic book company was rejected. To be honest, I was not really saddened or even disappointed by the news. In fact, I kind of suspected that this would be the end result of my submission, so I was not even surprised. It is, unfortunately, the nature of being a writer that we must be subjected to rejection, and it is up to us to us writers to not let such rejection dissuade us from our course to realizing our dreams. Unfortunately, Oni Press was not able to offer me any feedback, so I don’t have anything to work with to improve my next submission (Yes, there will be other submissions, fear not.), but I have gone over my submission and made my own notes on what I could improve on.
One thing I thought would be a good way to help myself improve is to post my submission here on my blog, and let others see it and perhaps even offer advice or helpful criticisms. With that being said, feel free to read my submission and comment on it if you have any tips you would like to offer. The submission is posted exactly as I sent it to Oni Press without any changes or revision made, Though it has been condensed for this blog. Looking at my submission now, I see so many things that I wish I had written differently. If only I had heard about the open submissions sooner, I could have spent more time fine-tuning my submission. At least I have learned something for the next time I send in a submission.
And so, without further adieu, here is my comic book submission to Oni Press.
Logline for the comic series Psi-Fi
Psi-fi is the story of a peacekeeper with psionic powers tasked with investigating the violent deaths of his fellow psionics. The investigation leads to the discovery of a powerful psion who is killing his brethren and stealing their energies to turn himself into the most powerful being in the world.
One Page Synopsis for Psi-Fi
Psi-fi is a book that takes a different approach to the fantasy genre. The setting of the book is similar in appearance and technology level to that of the Old West, while the main character of the book, Hurai, and his Saan brethren are closer in tone to the samurai of feudal Japan. Rather than using magic, which is already prevalent in most fantasy stories, the Saan in my book are a society of psionic user users living among the normal citizens of the world.
The main character of the book, Saan Hurai, is a peacekeeper for the Saan. During the course of the story, Hurai will investigate a series of savage murders, discover a greater plot behind the murders, and even fall in love as he uncovers a conspiracy that will directly affect his life, and the life of his family.
Outline for Psi-fi
Although I do not have an exact issue count for Psi-fi, I do have a specific beginning, middle, and end for the book which I will describe in this outline.
The story begins with the savage murder of an artist. Initial autopsy of the artist reveals that the mind of the artist has been completely wiped away, which seems to be the cause of his death.
The hero of the book, Hurai, a peacekeeper for the psionic organization known as the Saan, begins to investigate the murder of the artist. This investigation leads Hurai to the horrible discovery of a clan of former psionics whose minds have been warped to the point that they are nothing more than mindless, savage, animalistic creatures that attack other psionics and syphon all of their psychic energy, killing the victim in the process. The Saan decide to call these creatures “psionic vampires”.
Hurai continues his investigation, tracking the psionic vampires to a frontier mining town. As Hurai investigates the town, he is struck by the abnormal behavior of the townsfolk that live there. With his suspicions aroused, Hurai decides to spend the night in the town. Hurai wakes himself late in the night to quietly investigate the town. As he investigates, Hurai quickly discovers that the town is empty, and tries to discover what has happened to the denizens of the mining town. As Hurai continues his investigation, he discovers the townsfolk inside the mine, all gathered together, sitting silently and staring blankly at a single man standing before them, performing a strange ceremony. Hurai attempts to use his astral ability to move closer to the gathering in secret, but is quickly discovered by the leader of the gathering. Hurai is then attacked by a large group of psionic vampires, and has to fight his way out of the situation, barely escaping with his life.
Hurai then returns to his superiors, and gives his report on the situation. Hurai’s superiors determine that the strange ceremony was a forbidden ritual performed by an exiled Saan, thought to be dead, that will allow the man to control the minds of the townspeople. Hurai learns that the man, named Kier was exiled because he was attempting to learn and use Saan abilities that could directly read and control people’s minds, abilities that have long been outlawed as dangerous by the Saan.
Armed with this knowledge, the leaders of the Saan peacekeepers decide to team Saan Hurai up with a woman named Janea, who is a Saan Judicator. The Saan Judicators are a small group of Saan specifically chosen and trained to read minds for the purpose of judging criminals innocence, without affecting those minds in any way. Janea is chosen to assist Hurai in his investigation so that she can teach him how to combat and repell any mental attacks that Kier might attempt. During his training, Hurai and Janea see inside each other’s minds and begin to fall in love.
Once Hurai’s quick training is complete, he and Janea head back to the frontier mining town to confront Kier. While making camp one night, Hurai’s mind is invaded by Kier, who has been waiting for his return. Janea wakes the next morning to find Hurai missing, and tracks him back to the frontier mining town where she discovers that Hurai’s mind has been taken over by Kier. Kier commands Hurai to kill Janea, and Janea defends herself by entering Hurai’s mind and tricking him into reliving a childhood trauma. Hurai breaks from Kier’s control, and he and Janea then manage to defeat Kier.
Hurai and janea return to their lives as their romance grows, thinking that Kier has been eliminated. What they don’t know, and what the audience will discover, is that Kier is still very much alive, and has spies in the Saan organization, including Saan Hurai’s commanding officer, Saan Raon. We learn through a secret conversation between Kier and Raon that Kier has had visions about Saan Hurai giving Kier the power he needs to become a psychic god. A plan is then set in motion by Kier and Raon to use Saan Hurai as a pawn to accomplish their goals.
From this point on, the story will focus on Hurai and his various adventures as Kier and Raon watch and guide him from behind the scenes. As Hurai hunts down roaming psychic vampires and other Saan criminals, he marries Janea, and the two eventually have a son. The birth of Hurai’s son is the moment when Kier sets the next stage of his plan in motion.
Kier kidnaps Hurai’s newborn son, holding the boy hostage as he performs another outlawed ritual on him. Hurai, along with some of his Saan squadmates and Raon, who has kept his allegiance with Kier a secret, hunt down Kier and rescue his son from the villain. The story ends with Hurai interrupting Kier’s ritual and confronting him. During the course of the battle, it appears that Hurai kills Kier, who is weakened from the ritual. What Hurai does not know is that Kier has actually managed to transfer his consciousness into the mind of Hurai’s son, where he will remain dormant until the child joins the Saan Academy.
At this point, the story will jump ahead several years to the point where Hurai’s son, named Surou, is a teenager and is enrolled in the Saan academy. While at the academy, Surou begins to see visions of a man who wants him to learn the outlawed Saan abilities to read and control people’s minds. The man in Surou’s vision is of course Hurai’s old nemesis, Kier, beginning the next stage of his plans, the corruption of Hurai’s son, Surou.
As Kier tightens the grip on the young lad’s mind, Surou’s personality begins to darken and change. Surou begins practicing with his newly acquired abilities, using his fellow students as test subjects. When the academy finds out what Surou has been doing, they confront the boy, which results in Surou using his new abilities to kill one of his teachers.
Surou is punished for his crimes not only by being exiled from the Saan academy, but also by being banished to the Wraith Forest. The Wraith Forest is a “haunted” forest where the Saan send their criminals for punishment. The ghosts that haunt the forest are, in reality, the psychic essences of the Saan that have been exiled there. When a Saan is sent to the forest, the wraiths of the forest attack that Saan and rip his psychic essence from the Saan’s mind.
Surou, with the power and abilities he gains from his connection to Kier, not only survives the Wraith Forest, but also learns to control the wraiths of the forest as well. Surou leaves the forest, and comes across a group of people that need help. This group is from a small town that is under attack from a force they can’t handle, and are seeking assistance with their troubles. Surou decides to help the town with their problem, and then uses the wraiths he is now controlling to take over the minds of the townsfolk in order to begin building an army.
Once he has his army, Surou sets a plan in motion that he and Kier have created together. The plan involves the capture of Saan Batteries, those who have no real abilities of their own, but who have an abundance of psychic energy that they can pass on to other Saan. As Surou and his army continue kidnapping Batteries, the Saan send Hurai and his squad to investigate.
Hurai is devastated to discover that it is his son, who he thought dead after being exiled to the Wraith Forest, who is kidnapping the Saan Batteries. The reason Surou is kidnapping Saan Batteries is so that he can syphon their energies to gain the power needed to release Kier from his mind, allowing Kier’s own mind to become so powerful that he becomes a psychic god. This leads to a confrontation between Saan Hurai and his son, Surou, which results in Hurai being forced to kill his own son in order to prevent Kier from becoming so powerful.
What Hurai does not realize is that by sacrificing his son, he has unwillingly helped Kier complete his plan. Kier escapes the dead body of Hurai’s son, Surou, and becomes a being of pure psychic energy, a being the Saan refer to as a psychic god.
As God-Kier begins to wreak havoc and spread chaos across the land, Hurai calls on his wife, Saan Judicator Janae to help him stop God-Kier. Janae and Hurai determine that the only way to defeat the God-Kier is for them both to sacrifice themselves and use the same procedure Kier used to become psychic gods themselves. After an intense battle, Hurai and Janae are able to destroy God-Kier, but at a great cost to themselves.
The defeat of god-Kier is the end of the story for Saan Hurai and his family, and is the finale I have planned for this series.
Psi-Fi first scene script
I have included two scenes from the first issue of Psi-Fi in my submission as requested. The first scene, a short, three page scene, is the opening prologue of the first issue, and introduces the reader to the world of Psi-Fi
Panel 1: This is a full page splash of a lush forest with large trees of various types. The floor of the forest is covered with an assortment of bushes and different types of flowers and plants. In the center of the panel, a path stretches from the bottom of the panel out into the forest. There is a man named Mathus walking down the path into the forest with his back turned to the reader. Mathus is an artist, and is dressed in simple clothes that are covered in splotches of various colors of paint. Mathus is carrying various paint supplies as he heads into the forest, an easel, a canvas, paints, brushes, etc. As he walks, Mathus is looking up towards the tops of the trees and we can see the side of his face. He is obviously happy and content as he takes in the beauty surrounding him.
- Mathus (speaking to himself): This right here is my idea of paradise.
- Mathus (speaking to himself): A quiet forest to enjoy, and not a single soul around other than me.
- Mathus (speaking to himself): I can feel the energy flowing through this forest and reaching out to me.
- Mathus (speaking to himself) : I should be able to create an amazing piece in this place.
Panel 1: Medium shot of Mathus as he is setting up his easel and canvas in a small clearing in the forest.
- Narration: As Mathus sets up his canvas and paints, he reaches out with his mind to harvest the psychic energies of the forest and its inhabitants.
Panel 2: Mathus sits down on the ground, with his legs crossed, facing his easel and canvas.
- Narration: As a Saan Artist, Mathus utilizes his psychic skills to create his art.
Panel 3: Close up on Mathus’ face. His eyes are closed, and it is obvious that he is now in deep concentration.
- Narration: The Saan are a race of psychically powered humans that use their mental abilities to enhance their functions in society.
Panel 4: Same close-up on Mathus, but this time, there are two paintbrushes floating beside his head. Each brush has a different color of paint on it.
- Narration: There are Saan from every walk of life, including warriors and healers, as well as artists and craftsmen.
Panel 5: Close-up of the canvas as Mathus paints on it. There are a couple of paint strokes on the canvas as the two brushes place more paint on it. All the painting is done psychically by Mathus without the use of his hands.
- Narration: To create his art, Mathus pulls the psychic energies surrounding him to find inspiration and to influence his work.
Panel 6: Back to the close-up of Mathus’ face. Now, his face is contorted to show that he is suddenly appears to be in pain.
- Narration: When the surroundings are peaceful, Mathus is capable of creating serene images of pure beauty. But a forest is not always at peace…
Panel 1: Medium shot of Mathus on the floor of the forest. He is doubled over in pain, clutching his head.
- Mathus: Hyaaarrrggghhhh!!!!
Panel 2: Close up of Mathus. He is throwing his head back and clutching at his temples. His eyes have rolled back into his head, revealing the whites of his eyes. There is foamy spittle shooting out of his mouth.
- Mathus: Gurrrrrggggg!
Panel 3: This panel will take up a large percentage of the page. It is an aerial shot of Mathus sprawled out on the forest floor. He is now dead, and his body is contorted to show that he died in great pain as if his brain has exploded in his head. There is blood oozing from his eyes, mouth, and nose. His eyes are still rolled back in his head exposing the whites of his eyes.
Panel 4: This will also be a large panel similar in size to panel 3. This panel will be a close up shot of the painting Mathus had been working on. It is a dark image of a demonic looking face. The colors are all deep blacks and greys except for the eyes of the face which appear to be glowing blue. The mouth of the face is snarling and full of fang-like teeth.
- Narration: Some forests house sinister energies.
End First Scene
Scene Two Script
This scene from the first issue of Psi-Fi is six pages long, and is the introduction to the main hero of the book, Saan Hurai.
Panel 1: Sann Hurai sits on the ground against a tree and closes his eyes. The other four members of his squad take positions around him, standing guard over Hurai as he concentrates.
Panel 2: Mirror panel one, with the addition of an astral projection of Saan Hurai leaving his body.
- Narration: Hurai focuses his psionic energy to create an astral projection of himself.
Panel 3: Wide shot of Hurai’s astral form heading towards the outlaws’ hideout.
- Naration: Using this mental projection of himself, Hurai will scout the interior of the outlaw hideout.
Panel 4: Close up of the front door of the outlaw hideout. The astral projection of Saan Hurai is now phasing right through the door.
1: Narration: Once his scouting mission is complete, Hurai will return to his body and relay the information he has learned to his squad.
Panel 5: Mirror panel 4, but this time, Hurai’s astral projection is exiting through the front door.
- Caption: Minutes later
Panel 6: Medium shot of the astral projection of Saan Hurai returning to his body.
Panel 7: This will be a thin panel running across the bottom of the page directly under Panel Five and Panel Six. It is a tight close up of Saan Hurai’s eyes snapping open.
- Saan Hurai: I have returned.
Panel 1: Medium shot- Saan Hurai’s squad leader is turning to face him. The expression on the leader’s face is stern and serious.
- Squad Leader: Report.
Panel 2: This will be a medium shot of Hurai speaking with his squad leader. The two men will be on either side of the panel with the word balloons appearing between them.
- Hurai: Sir. There are six occupants in the house.
- Hurai: Four men sit at a table in the kitchen of the house playing cards.
- Hurai: Our suspect occupies a large bed room in the upstairs of the house.
- Hurai: He lies in bed, sleeping, with a woman sleeping beside him.
Panel 3: Close up of the squad leader. He is rubbing his chin thoughtfully.
- Squad Leader: Excellent work. And there is nothing else to report?
- Hurai (off-panel) No sir.
- Squad Leader: Then let us begin.
Panel 4: Wide shot of Hurai and his squad running towards the outlaw’s hideout. They are moving as quickly and quietly as they can to remain undetected.
Panel 5: Medium shot of Hurai’s squad taking positions around the front door of the hideout. Hurai kneels down in front of the door, preparing to pick the lock.
Panel 1: Close-up of Hurai placing his hand over the lock of the front door and closing his eyes in concentration.
Panel 2: Close-up of Hurai’s hand on the lock. His hand has a faint green aura around it.
Narration: As a scout, Hurai is able to use his psionic energies to easily pick any lock.
Panel 3: Medium shot of Hurai with his hand on the doorknob of the hideout. He is looking up towards the direction of his squad leader.
- Hurai: We’re in.
Panel 4: Close-up of the Squad Leader. He is waving his hand to signal his squad to move into the building.
- Squad Leader: Quietly now. Follow Hurai’s lead.
- Squad Leader: Go!
Panel 1: Medium shot of Hurai and his squad quickly sneaking in the front door of the hideout. They are trying to be as quiet as possible while also trying to be as quick as possible.
Panel 2: Medium shot of Hurai and his squad, now inside the hideout, taking positions around another door. This door leads to the kitchen of the hideout.
Panel 3: Close-up of Hurai kneeling in front of the kitchen door. His eyes are closed, and he has his left hand resting flat against the door.
- Narration: Hurai reaches out with his mind, taking a psychic reading of his surroundings.
Panel 4: Close up of Hurai. His eyes are open now, and he using his hand to signal to his squad that there are four men on the other side of the door.
- Narration: With this ability, he is able to detect the life signs of any human or animal in his vicinity.
Panel 5: Close up of the Squad Leader. He is signaling another member of Hurai’s squad to come forward.
Panel 1: Medium shot of Hurai’’s squad-mate, Stoffe moving into positon beside the kitchen door. Stoffe is a tall, thin man with a long face. He has a short beard and dark hair.
- Narration: Hurai’s squad-mate, Stoffe has developed the ability to manipulate weaker minds so that they will not see things that Stoffe does not want them to see.
Panel 2: Medium shot of the kitchen door. As Stoffe kneels down on the left side of the door with his eyes closed and his hands raised towards the kitchen, Hurai and his squad begin to rush into the kitchen.
- Narration: Utilizing this ability, Stoffe is able to hide the presence of his squadmates from the outlaws in the kitchen as they move in to incapacitate them.
Panel 3: A thin, wide panel that stretches across the page underneath panel 1 and panel 2. It is wide shot of the interior of the kitchen. It is a standard looking 1800s old west type of kitchen with a wood stove and large basin sink in the background. In the center of the room, there is a square, wooden table. There are four men sitting on each side of the table. These men are outlaws, and are all rough, burly, and appear to be rather strong. Each man is dressed in plain, dirty clothes, and each has a revolver holstered on his hip. Hurai, his squad leader, and his two remaining squadmates are each standing directly behind a different outlaw.
- Narration: So powerful is Stoffe’s ability that even when Hurai and his squad are standing directly behind a man, they are still not detected.
Panel 4: Mirror the wide shot of Panel 3 with Hurai and his squad standing behind the outlaws sitting at the kitchen table. Now, each member of Hurai’s squad has activated their psionic blades, and are holding them in a ready to strike position over the outlaws.
Note-The psychic blades of the Saan are swords, or sometimes daggers, made of pure psychic energy, and should look like they are made of pure energy. The blades are focused through hilts made of crystal. Each hilt is carved by its owner out of a crystal that helps to focus psychic energy into the blade.
The crystals are translucent, and glows slightly from the energy passing through it. Each member of the Saan can determine the color of their blade. Saan Hurai, for example, will have a bright green colored sword, similar to a Japanese Katana.
Page Five (Continued)
- Narration: Every Saan warrior learns to channel their psionic energies through a Psion Crystal to create a weapon of their own choosing.
Panel 5: Medium shot of Saan Hurai attacking the outlaw in front of him with his psionic sword. Hurai is washed in the glow of his sword as it strikes the outlaw.
- Narration: A Saan uses his psychic blade to incapacitate an opponent. The blade can stun anyone it strikes by temporarily shutting down their brain synapses.
Panel 6: Medium shot of the now unconscious outlaw sliding out of his chair and hitting the floor. Saan Hurai has deactivated his psychic blade, but is still holding the hilt in his hand.
- Narration: If need be, a Saan can also increase the power of his blade to permanently shut down their opponents brain, killing the foe in the process.
Panel 1: Full shot of a large bedroom. There is a Wardrobe cabinet on one wall of the room, and a dresser with a mirror attached on another wall, near the door of the room. In the center of the room is a king sized bed. Everything in the room looks fancy and expensive. There are two people sleeping in the bed, a man and a woman. The man , who is on the right side of the bed if you are standing at the foot, is young, in his mid-twenties, and very handsome with short, blonde hair and chiseled features. The woman, who is on the left side, is also young and attractive, early twenties at the most, with long brown hair.
- Caption: Upstairs.
- SFX: Click
- SFX: Click
- SFX: Klakk
Panel 2: Medium shot of Saan Hurai and his squad rushing through the door into the bedroom. Hurai and his squad leader enter first, igniting their swords and taking defensive positions at the foot of the bed. The squad leader is pointing towards the man in the bed as he is barking an order. The man and woman in the bed are now awake and sitting up in the bed. Both appear to be naked with the man being shirtless, and the woman covering herself with the blanket.
- Saan Squad Leader: Saan Jerotte, you are under arrest for violating Saan Law! Come along peacefully, and you will not be harmed!
- Man in bed (aka Saan Jerotte) What….What is going on here?
Panel 3: Close up of the Saan Squad Leader. He is still pointing and shouting at Jerotte. His face has an angry expression.
- Saan Squad Leader: You are in violation of several Saan laws, which include fraud, racketeering, and using your psionic abilities to influence and abuse non-psionic citizens.
- Saan Squad Leader: Come along peacefully, or we will use force to subdue you.
Page Six (Continued)
Panel 4: Wide shot of the bedroom from the perspective of Saan Jerotte. The back of Jerrotte can be seen in the foreground, raising both of his hands towards Hurai’s squad who are standing in a defensive formation around the bedroom.
- Saan Jerotte: No!!
Panel 5: Mirror the behind the back wide shot from panel 4. Jerotte is still holding his arms up towards Hurai’s squad. This time, Hurai’s squad is being thrown back against the bedroom wall, the result of Saan Jerotte using a powerful telekinetic push against the squad. The squad is obviously surprised by this attack, and it shows on their faces.
- SFX: Crash!
Panel 6: Close-up of Saan Jerotte getting out of bed. He is using his right hand to steady himself while continuing to point his left hand towards the squad who are trying to recover from their crash into the bedroom wall. Saan Jerotte has an evil smile on his face as he stares down his opponents.
- Saan Jerotte: No. I don’t think I’m going to make it so easy for you.
End Scene Two