The below is printed here for posterity and as evidence of my ownership of this proposed work of comics fiction:
Hidden World: A Proposed First Story Arc Synopsis
“Hidden World” is a proposed ongoing series for Shot in the Dark Comics. The premise is that beings called “celestials” operate invisibly and (usually) silently throughout the universe and beyond, collectively affecting life across all of space and time. Celestials can come in three varieties. There are celestials that have always existed and helped to shape the universe. The second type of celestial is a being that is a physical manifestation of desire or emotion expressed by living creatures. The celestial who factors most greatly into the plot, Pizarro, is the physical manifestation of positive wishes and desires. The final type of celestial is a being who used to be a living mortal but did not leave the mortal world upon death. Ghosts and demons fall into this third category.
The story begins in the present day city of Grand Hill, as Pizarro puts his finest plan in millennia into action. Normally, celestials of Pizarro’s type are omnipresent and have no need to take a physical form, but Pizarro is so excited by his plan that he decides to enact it in person. He plans to have two 15-year olds, Titania and Dante, meet at the Grand Hill Mall and fall in love. Their romance is supposed to be so spectacular that it becomes a legend recorded in film and all other media, and it will encourage people in the United States and around the world to stop being afraid to pursue love and marriage amidst rampant adultery and divorce. The desires of many people to find true love could be fulfilled potentially from this one successful romance. However, Pizarro accidentally ruins this plan by knocking Titania off the second level railing of the mall, seemingly to her death. In actuality, Titania is only in a coma and will reenter the plot toward the final conclusion of the narrative, but for all intents and purposes, the reader and Pizarro believe Titania is dead.
According to the comically enormous rule book that governs what celestials can and cannot do, Pizarro becomes legally bound to meet Dante and become his friend/sidekick for the remainder of Dante’s natural life span. The rule is set this way so that Pizarro can attempt to make Dante as happy in life as he would have been if he had been able to meet Titania. When Pizarro does meet Dante (in a bathroom in the mall, of all places) and tries to explain his situation, it does not go well, and a miscommunication leads Dante to believe that Pizarro intentionally murdered Titania. When Dante attempts to flee, the celestials fear that Dante will reveal their existence to humans, so the celestial Cutie is dispatched to kill Dante and punish Pizarro. Cutie is a beautiful woman but also an executioner, driven largely by bloodlust, and will not hesitate to kill Dante.
As Pizarro creates an army of exact physical duplicates of himself to slow down Cutie’s death march, the original Pizarro teleports Dante to a deserted island and is finally able to explain the truth to him. Pizarro reveals that his power is nearly infinite, that he can read minds, and that he even knows the secrets of the universe, and all of this can be at Dante’s disposal for his entire life as long as he keeps his mouth shut about the celestials. Dante happily agrees to these conditions, and Cutie leaves Dante in peace.
Just as soon as Dante and Pizarro return to the mall, Pizarro explains that the rule book actually does allow Dante to tell three people about the celestials. These three people will in turn be able to see Pizarro and other celestials, whom would normally appear invisible to living mortals. Dante knows immediately that the first person he will tell is Art, his best friend whom accompanied Dante to the mall before the chaos with Pizarro began.
As they soon discover, Art has problems of his own. He has been marked by Hat Man, a celestial that is the physical manifestation of fear and desolation. “Hat Man” is a phenomenon that has been reported in real life as a three-dimensional, totally black entity with a trench coat and fedora hat that stalks unsuspecting people at night and in their day-to-day lives, and that is exactly how he appears in this story. The script written for and included with this submission ends with the cliffhanger revelation that Hat Man is stalking Art.
Due to Pizarro’s frantic warning of danger, Dante leaves Art at the mall without telling him about the celestials. Likewise, Art does not tell Dante that Art has been stalked by Hat Man for a couple of weeks now and is completely terrified. Art tries to convince himself that Hat Man is only a disturbing figment of his imagination, but as Hat Man starts to invade Art’s dreams and waking life more and more, Art starts to believe Hat Man is real. Hat Man is drawn to Art because Art is both a worrier and unpopular. It is easy for Hat Man to feed on Art’s fear in his dreams to create nightmares in which Dante, Art’s only close friend, is taken away or killed. Art has lived with these dreams silently, afraid to scare Dante or risk their friendship. What Art does not know, however, is that in people as prone as Art to experience pure terror, Hat Man’s stalking can prove fatal.
At school, Dante simultaneously adjusts to having access to Pizarro’s powers while trying to understand what danger has taken hold of Art. Dante goes on a misadventure using mind reading to learn about what really goes on in a girl’s head, since he is far too awkward around girls to get to know them well. Mind reading proves ineffective on Art, however. Pizarro explains that one celestial cannot actively affect a mortal that is already under the dominion of another celestial. Taking matters into his own hands, Dante uses Pizarro’s power to enter Art’s dreams at night. Dante comes to understand that Hat Man’s hold on Art is based on Art’s fear of losing his friendship with Dante.
As much as Dante wants to fight Hat Man, Pizarro explains that Hat Man is immune to all forms of harm. Art must ward off Hat Man himself if he wants to survive. The following day, Dante reassures Art throughout the day that he is the best friend Dante will ever have. Art takes this the wrong way, suspecting that Hat Man is now stalking Dante too. That evening, Dante and Pizarro sneak back into Art’s nightmare to see what will happen. At first, Hat Man continues to control Art’s emotions, and Art is close to death. Then Art thinks about what Dante would do if Dante really was being stalked by Hat Man—Dante would be brave enough to fight for Art. Thus, Art finds the courage to fight Hat Man and expel him from his life. With this crisis resolved, Dante finally is able to reveal the existence of celestials to Art, and Art meets Pizarro. Art is embarrassed when he realizes that Dante knew about his nightmares, but he gets over it quickly. Dante and Art’s friendship is stronger than ever.
Some time very shortly after they celebrate this victory, however, the handsome celestial Incubus looms over the bed of Dante’s beautiful older sister, Melody, lusting over her. Incubus is a celestial of the third type—a demon. For thousands of years, Incubus has come to women at night to have sexual intercourse with them and, in the process, steal a small piece of their life force. Melody is his intended next meal, but in their first encounter, Melody is able to fend off Incubus’s hypnotic power. She does not remember any of this, though.
As Dante selects Melody to be the second person to be able to see celestials, Pizarro once again informs him that Melody has become the dominion of someone else, Incubus in this case. Pizarro suspects that this is not coincidence and that a higher celestial is just giving them a rough time, but it is nothing he can prove. Dante, Art, and Pizarro soon meet Incubus, who turns out to be intelligent and articulate when he is not rabidly demanding sex. They plead with Incubus to leave Melody alone, and Incubus ignores the plea, but he reveals something of interest. Incubus once had a celestial lover thousands of years ago named Succubus. They were faithful to each other and made the most wild, passionate love in all of existence, but then they had an argument. Incubus cannot remember the argument, but ever since then, he has not spoken to Succubus. Since then, they have spent the past several thousand years having sex with every mortal in sight in a spiteful attempt to get revenge on the other person.
Dante and friends resolve to reunite Incubus and Succubus to save the piece of Melody’s life force that is being threatened. Dante and Art ask couples around school how they deal with their arguments, and in the process, they fix one couple who were on the verge of breakup. Armed with a slightly better understanding of relationships, Pizarro takes Dante and Art to Succubus, who gives the same speech that Incubus gave about their relationship. Ultimately, Succubus will not budge; she insists that Incubus apologize to her for the argument that neither one of the can remember.
Pizarro’s solution is to use his power to send himself, Dante, and Art far back in time to the moment of Incubus and Succubus’s argument. As it turns out, Incubus and Succubus were originally from a world far from Earth, before and after they died and became demons. Their argument, however, was about Earth. In the infancy of humanity, Incubus and Succubus had the power to dictate whether human sexuality would be driven by love or lust. Incubus favored love for its social stability; Succubus favored lust for its biological practicality. When they absolutely could not arrive at an agreement, they both exerted their influence over humanity at once, leaving humanity in a deadlock between love and lust. Incubus and Succubus were so outraged at each other afterward that they never spoke, even though they still only ever desired each other. They never left Earth either, so that they could make a spectacle of their escapades to each other.
Dante and Art are unsettled by all of this discussion. This talk only exacerbates Dante’s inability to communicate well with girls, and Art is particularly bothered because he has had a major crush on Melody for years. Before Pizarro can return them to the present, the younger Succubus spots them and attacks in a blind rage, the argument still too fresh in her mind for her to have any sense of reason. Succubus uses her power to charm Pizarro into a state of blithering idiocy, but not before Pizarro can impart some of his power on Dante and Art. The duo battles Succubus as best as they can, but they know they cannot win. They survive just long enough for Succubus’s rage to subside a little, which gives Pizarro time to return to his senses and send himself and the others back to the present.
Dante and friends return to Incubus to remind him of what caused the argument, and Incubus suddenly realizes that he has always tended to seek out women who were unmarried, most likely in accordance with his belief that love should prevail. Still, Incubus says he will not be the first one to apologize, and so Pizarro tricks Incubus and Succubus to arrive at the same spot at the same time. When they arrive, Pizarro demonstrates how well the dichotomy of love and lust has worked out for humanity, citing lust as what begins a relationship and love as what sustains it. Incubus and Succubus are finally persuaded, and they apologize in unison. The two go off to make passionate love for another thousand years, and Dante and friends have succeeded in ending the plight of the pair of demons. Dante proceeds to tell the freed Melody about the celestials, and now she too can see Pizarro.
The theme that runs through this first story arc, in which Dante seeks to introduce Pizarro to Art and Melody (the third person introduced, much later, will be Titania), is the utility of love and friendship in modern society. This story arc asks the characters—why do you value friendship and love? The fact that the main plot lines (the “A-stories”) take place in fantastical places like nightmares and in the past while the supplementary plot lines (the “B-stories”) take place at school serves to ground the story in reality while providing a dynamic and visually interesting reading experience. Hidden World has a premise that is expansive enough to allow for many different kinds of plot lines, ranging from adventures through time and space to the potential romance that might crop up between Art and Melody. Most importantly, though, Hidden World is a series with the ability to draw in readers and keep them reading.