Monday, October 14, 2013

The comic book idea that I pitched to STAN LEE

In episode three of Fangasm, my fellow interns and myself were given the opportunity to pitch original comic book ideas to Stan Lee. 
STAN. LEE. The man who invented the X-men. The intensity of this gift was not lost on any of us.

Going into his office one by one to present was nerve-racking. It also really felt intimidating to try to present my little comic idea when there are giant portraits of Superman and the Silver Surfer on the walls. As if. Stan himself was SO nice though, though he misheard my name when I said it, and thought my name was Daley, not Dani. I knew I only had 5 minutes, and I tried to get through it quickly. I know you can't see it on the show, but we weren't in the room alone with him, there were multiple producers, camera operators, and audio guys in the room watching us. ADDED PRESSURE.

I thought every one of my house mates did an outstanding job, and I happen to be very proud of my own character. I noticed though that our pitches were all edited due to time constraints. There were a few facts about my character and story that did not make it on the show, so I'd like to put them all here for anyone who is interested. This is my FULL pitch, and a few extra explanations. I'm pretty proud of it. It's not the greatest idea out there, obviously, but I would read it if it were a real comic!
"Cadence Cassina is a rare case of a young person with debilitating arthritis.
At 27 years old, she is an entomologist in grad school, helping study insects and their medical uses. While studying the medical benefits of the cicada, she learns that the Chinese drink powdered cicada skins as an arthritis treatment. Inspired by this idea, she utilizes the cicadas in the lab, creating a serum from their enzymes. She believes the cicada serum could cure her arthritis, and begins injecting herself with it under the medical supervision of friend and med-student Miles Landry.
She keeps the injections pretty routine, partially to have an excuse to see Miles, but mostly to see if the serum improves her condition. She'd been upping her dosage in small increments, but once Miles go on a date with a healthy, attractive girl, Cadence gives herself an unusually large dose, wanting nothing more than to rid herself of her arthritis and her crutches.
The next day in the lab, a strange gas begins to pour through vents, filling the room. Cadence watches her lab partners all succumb to the gas, coughing and choking on it's poison. They die quickly. The unknown attacker who gassed them, then sets the lab on fire, and she sustains a burn to her face as she pull herself out of the smoke and flames.
Realizing that the attack on the lab was meant to kill her and the other scientists, she goes to Miles' apartment instead of her own. He sends his date home and bandages her burned face before they even realize she's standing and walking without her crutches. Her arthritis appears to be gone.The deadly gas meant to kill her reacted to the cicada serum in her blood, backfiring and making her strong and fast.
With her newfound strength, and concern about the attempt on her life, she begins investigating, trying to get to the bottom of who killed her lab partners, and why their research was being covered up. Inspired by the insect cicada's three eyes on the top of it's head, Miles helps her build a pair of goggles that equip her with X-ray vision, telescopic vision, and night vision.
She's ready to begin a no-mercy investigation, but her crime-fighting has one weakness; Like the cicada's 17 year long hibernation underground, every 17 days her strength wanes and she reverts back to her weakened, crutches-reliant self for 24 hours. This gives her a huge window of opportunity for enemies to attack her, so she and Miles build an impenetrable case to reside in on her weakened days. They call this case, of course, the cicada shell. When she emerges, she is strong again and ready to continue her fight for answers and vengeance. "
I would like to add now, that I worked so hard in the days leading up to our meeting with Stan. There was a night Molly begged Kristin and I to go to a bar, but Kristin and I just wanted to stay home and finish writing our pitches. I was researching like mad, because if I'm going to present an idea, I want it to be thorough, and I want my info correct. I researched arthritis, I made sure a girl as young as Cadence could have such crippling arthritis, and it turns out, while it's rare, it's possible. I researched cicadas. They are laid as eggs, hatch and stay underground for 13-17 years feeding on sap from tree roots, come up out of the ground, make a shit-ton of noise, mate, then go back underground and lay eggs. These new eggs hatch and the new brood stays underground for 17 years before they come up. It's fascinating.
I got my inspiration for Cicada because I wanted to utilize what I had costume-wise. I had a shiny green dress, and I had a pair of welding goggles I'd painted silver. The dress reminded me of a shiny beetle, and the googles I felt could serve as the vision of some insect. Thats when I started researching and decided upon the cicada. I really liked the idea of a hero who's powers completely LEFT now and then, giving her a major complication as far as fighting crime.
I also liked the idea of her going from plain and feeble, to strong and beautiful when she got her powers. If this were an actual comic, when she wasn't fighting crime, she'd be learning how to deal with her new 'normal' body and her sudden good looks.
I myself felt very plain growing up, and it wasn't until a few years ago, when I was 23, that I started to receive noticeable attention for my appearance. I still think I'm pretty average looking (leaning towards cute) and I have a hard time accepting compliments about my looks. It always makes me feel uncomfortable to be told I'm attractive, I am not used to it, and I never know if I should respond with a confident "thank you" or respond with severe humility and self-depricating humor. It's a weird place for a girl to be, and I think it would be interesting played out in a comic.
I would love to write out more of Cicada's story. I want her to find her confidence, I want her to find out who killed the other grad students, and I want Cadence and Miles to go through the dance of not really knowing what their relationship is. I see his character as being her Alfred Pennyworth, assisting her crime-fighting endeavors, always checking her health during her weak times, and one of the few people to know about her secret. Unlike Bruce Wayne though, when she's not fighting crime, she's not strutting around confidently, she's pretending she still needs her crutches. I think this would be interesting.
Thanks for reading it through, if you did, I wish my thoughts and writing were more organized, but oh well :)


  1. DIG IT!!
    Did they edit Stan's reaction at all?
    I have been blessed to have met Stan on a couple different occasions.
    He was humble, kind and SO engaging. Even in a packed room, he always made you feel like it was only you and him.
    Great pitch!

  2. Been watching the show from the beginning. I'm 58 and a loooooong time geek/nerd. Been collecting comics since '64 and lived through most of the 'fads' that are today true geekdom... so trust me -- you are one cute ball of fire. Super superhero origin idea -- should have some form of 'really annoying noise making' power though. :p Stay geeky!

  3. I have to admit...that's a really interesting premise!! I mean...THE CICADA!! Awesome. Let's not forget that every superhero needs a nemesis. Here's a quick thought:

    The healthy, attractive girl that Miles sent home when Cadence arrives bears a grudge against her now, maybe is also a bit jealous of Cadence's newfound beauty and attention from Miles. She secretly obtains some of the serum and begins experimenting on her own...maybe eventually mixing it with some poison gas in hopes she'll turn out like Cadence. However...DUN DUN DUH!...something goes wrong in process and her transformation isn't as complete as Cadences!

    She becomes horribly disfigured and ends up mutating to resemble the Cicada nymph ( - she gains armor-like exoskeleton, strength (?), some kind of deformed pinchers and mandibles, but loses her good looks. Or maybe he body hardens and get toned but her face and hands mutate so she ends up wearing an elaborate disguise that showcases her attractive body but hides her deformations until she reveals herself to her prey (which maybe she devours like an insect?) - either (or any) way - Cadence now must be wary of THE NYMPH!!


    Good luck with your pitch and continued exploration of the idea!! I think it (and you) kick ass!

  4. I really loved your idea for a comic book Dani. It was unique and clever. I hope to see this at my local comic shop one day in the future. Best of luck and keep kicking ass!

  5. haha holy shit, i'm a 20 year old girl with shitty arthritis! badass :)
    I'll have to try this cicada treatment myself, and possibly become Cadencecicadagirl and let you know how I've been since the pitch!

  6. you are just awesome.

  7. I learned something new. I didn't know the Cicada stayed underground for so long. I like the relationship between Cadence and Miles. The fact that Cadence is having to learn how to deal with her new found beauty and the freedom from crutches when she's not in her weakened condition is pretty rad. I think it's something that many women and men can relate too if you were a late bloomer. Kudos. I'd read it.