"My Favorite Hero"
By Marlan Harris
Thor is many things to many people: hero, savior, Avenger, idol of lust, god. To one girl in the Mid-West he is the element around which the rest of her life revolves. This is the story of that girl and her relationship with the earth-walking God of Thunder. From 6 years old until her dying day and even beyond, these are glimpses of her life, told through letters she writes to Thor intermittently throughout her lifetime. This is an 8 page story, told in full-page splash panels. Each page is a different correspondence from Elise, who goes from 6 years old on the first page to death on the second-to-last page. The illustrations on each page are in differing artistic styles, representing a girl's changing perspective as she moves through her life, marking each stage with a correspondence with Thor.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: A fantasy image of Thor in triumph. A hyper-realized impression of Thor: huge, bulging muscles, long, flowing hair, his cape crisp and new. The style is certainly cartoonish but not overly so definitely exaggerated. Mjolnir raised above his head (in victory, but his arm slightly bent, like he's still ready to strike if need be). Thor's is looking to the side, his face turned upward toward the sun (off-panel). No marks on Thor's body or signs of battle. Thor stands atop a stacked pile of defeated enemies, his own along with the Avengers'; the particular ones are the artist's choice. Background is sparse, maybe buildings of an indefinable time period (though preferably leaning towards '50's architecture). This is a 6 year old girl's fantasy image of Thor in battle so it may be a litter more flowery and pleasant than your average comic book battle scene (which is itself a teenage boy's fantasy image). Thor is in his classic costume.
Dear Thor, Your my favorite hero. My Dad says your makebeleive and Don't beleve what you C on T.V. but i think your the Best. Do you have frends? Elise [the girlish signature of a 6 year old] age 6 PS If your not 2 busy, write back. OK.
GENERAL NOTE ABOUT LETTERING: The lettering on each page is different. There is only one block of text to each page but each paragraph in that block can be separated as desired, though preferably in a different way on each page. I encourage the letterer to be as adventurous and experimental as possible. Pages 1, 2, 3, and 8 also include signatures in the letters please make the signatures appropriate to the same girl of that age, growing more sophisticated as she grows older.
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: On this particular page, imagine a hand-written letter written by a 6 year old girl: a haphazard scrawl, huge letters, textured and even colored like it was written with one or more crayons. Some of the letters may be backward, random letters may be capitalized or not capitalized correctly. Background of caption is like dark, blue-lined paper -- that really crappy paper they issue in kindergarten. Hand-letter this page, if possible.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: View of a battle scene from inside a family car. Looking up at a metropolitan bridge from ground level, like the car has been tipped over on its side. Thor is tiny in the far distance, floating in the air and in battle pose near the top of the bridge, dwarfed by his opponent, a gigantic monster (artist's choice) that is tearing the bridge apart like it's paper. The bridge, appropriately, is in disarray, support cables broken and flying everywhere, the rest of the bridge torn apart. This scene requires being rendered with realism as extreme as possible, like this is really something that happened in real life and the image is forever etched into the viewer's mind (the viewer being the young girl looking at it from inside the car).
Dear Thor, You probally don't remember but you saved mine and my family's life. When we were in N.Y. (New York) on vacation we were crossing a bridge and it got destroyed by a monster and you saved us. My Dad even said you were great (he doesnt think your made-up anymore). My brother's favorite hero uset to be Daredevil but now it's you (we didnt see Daredevil). We just moved to Muncie, Indiana. I hope we go to N.Y., N.Y. again soon but I dont think we will. sincerly, Elise Erickson [the girlish signature of an 11 year old]
P.S. I've written to you before. Do you remember? If you dont I know your busy.
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: Imagine a hand-written letter by an 11 year old girl. Flowery cursive script, carefully designed, circles to dot the i's, large, circular letters. Background is blue-lined, white binder paper (standard middle school issue). Hand-letter, if possible.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: A newspaper photo of Thor and fellow Avengers Captain America and Scarlet Witch. Use their most recognizable, classic costumes. It's a photo of these Avengers relaxed, at a charity event, with some everyday people gently crowding the Avengers and talking to them. The Avengers themselves are smiling, being cordial; Cap is shaking a man's hand. The people greeting the Avengers do not look specific to a period of time, but if anything leaning toward a conservative, suburban '60's style (men in casual suits, women in tasteful blouses again, nothing period specific). The photo is black & white, pixilated to a slight blur, like it's a close-up of an otherwise tiny photo. The shading blends into itself and the picture is slightly muddled. At the bottom of the picture is a caption, also blown-up and pixilated to almost be unreadable, and cut off by the bottom of the page: "THE AVENGERS today [the rest is cut off]"
October 25, XXXX [year cut off] Thor c/o Avengers Mansion New York, NY Dear Thor, In recognition of Thank An Avenger Day I am mailing a thank-you card to you. The Avengers, along with you, have saved the lives of the people of Earth many, many times and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your allies. We sincerely appreciate it, on behalf of myself and Delta High School in Muncie, Indiana. Sincerely, Elise Erickson [the girlish signature of a 15 year old] Elise Erickson Muncie, IN
NOTE ABOUT CAPTION 2: The year in the header is cut off ["XXXX"], like the paper it was written on has been torn in that spot.
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: As if written on an old, high school typing class typewriter. Some of the letters are chipped, some are darker than others, but all are consistent. A computer-lettering font would work best on this page.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: Thor, as if seen on TV, is in heated battle with Ulik, a powerful and evil troll. Thor has one hand around Ulik's thick throat, Mjolnir held behind him, ready to strike. They are both bruised and beaten, signs of a protracted, drawn-out battle. Non-descript debris lie around them nothing recognizable, just wreckage. The edges of the TV screen appear along the boarders of the picture, a hint of a tuning dial, an on/off switch. Thin but consistent, dark scan-lines appear horizontally across the image, maybe a slight glare in a corner, furthering the appearance that this is seen on a television screen.
March 18, XXXX [year cut off] Dear Thor, I'm not sure if you will ever read this letter personally but I have decided to write it regardless. You may or may not recognize my name I have written to you before. And it is because of those letters that I write you now. I recently came upon some old letters I never sent to you and it made me remember the few that I did. Back then it seemed like a silly schoolgirl crush and up until now I've looked back on it like that but I realize now that it was more than that. You gave me hope. You were someone I always looked up to. You were always someone who inspired me to be my best, for as long as I can remember. You meant much more to me than just a childhood crush. Even in these years past childhood, I still think of you often. My recent move from my childhood home was sudden and I lost some things but luckily one box I recovered had those letters. Even now they give me hope for a brighter future, one brighter than what I realize now was a horrific childhood. When my son is born in June I will raise him believing in you, unlike how my father raised me. I will raise my son looking up to you, striving to be the hero that you encourage us all to be. We all walk humbly in your footsteps. Every night I say a prayer to you, to lead me through this trial of darkness. Perhaps you hear my prayers. If you do, I pray that you lead me through this and to a place of light. Sincerely, Elise Erickson [tight, feminine signature]
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: Like typed on a computer or word processor and printed out. Very clean, very clear. Again, a font would work best on this page.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: A lush, detailed painting of Thor and his Asgardian family. Thor stands proudly at the forefront, Asgard and his closest allies and family behind him. It's a posed painting, though painted from the imagination of the artist. Thor is accurately portrayed but the people and even Asgard behind him are created strictly from imagination and their images are only vaguely accurate to what we know of them. This is strictly an artist's rendition. The style is bright, oil paints, with the same reverence given to traditional religious paintings.
Subject: From Elise in Chicago, IL Time: 5:34:50 PM Central Standard Time From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: Thor@AvengersHQ.com Thor, I write to you this letter in the best of times. I have left the life I had behind in Indiana and have moved to Chicago, of all places. My son Zachary is now 2 years old and I've been married to a wonderful man for 3 months and it's been fantastic with them both. Chicago is quite a change but it's been more than welcome. Everything is working out really well, for the first time in my life. I mention that I write this letter in the best of times since it seems as though I've only written to you in the past when things have been their worst. It seemed like an escape to me at the time, a way to get away from what I didn't want to deal with. But I truly feel like I've left that all behind and I'm on to a much better place, for me and my family. I feel like I've already gone through the worst that could ever be in my life and I'm on to some happiness. Thank you for watching over us and granting us this contentment. Elise Smith
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: An e-mail. Written in block style. Again, very clear, very clean, and again a computer font, but a different one than on page 4.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: A police artist's sketch of Thor in defeat. Thor is laid out on top of what looks like a demolished building, his arms and legs sprawled, his cape torn to shreds, his helmet broken, his face and body bruised nearly beyond recognition. This is an artist's interpretation of the event and as such it is sketched in a heavy charcoal-type pencil style, perhaps done quickly but with some ability. This is a page in a sketchbook and is not placed in the panel boarder straight, but rather at a cocked angle, like looking at the page while walking by. The top of the page says "ARTIST'S SKETCH" and along the side and bottom are various but indecipherable notes.
Thor, Damn you to hell. You should be ashamed. All my life I have talked to you, written letters, spoken to you in my prayers. And this is what I get. I thought leaving that hell-house in Indiana and coming to Chicago and moving in with Mike would be a good thing but it's only made things worse. The first time I moved out was when he broke my arm. The second time was after I came out of the coma he put me in. Jail would have been best if they could have kept him there. He's in the city somewhere now and I know it's only a matter of time until he finds me and punishes me. I thought I could stand up to him, maybe to make up for all the times I never stood up to my father, but I never thought of what would happen after I did that. This is what happens when you try to stop someone from hitting you. And little Zachary died in May, just 12 days short of his birthday. Your taking him from me is something I can never forgive. I can only hope he is in a better place than this now. You already know all this. You can see all us little mortals here in Earth while you sit on your gold throne and probably laugh at us all and our stupidity. You watch us fight and suffer and die and you do nothing to stop it. You could have changed all this. At any time you could have changed this. At any time you could have saved us. This will be the last letter I will ever write you. I know I won't live long after this. Elise Erickson
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: A near-manic, hand-written scrawl. The letter is written out of anger and some of the words jerk into larger or boldened letters, seemingly at random. Hand-lettered, if possible.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: A dark room, everything in it is in shadows. Lit from above, but only barely. Looking from a first-person view down the length of a body in a hospital bed, gently covered by a white blanket. A shaft of light from above illuminates a few hands that reach out across the bed to touch the body's arms. The hands belong to non-descript, unfamiliar faces that are covered by shadow. In the background, behind the people, is Thor, or at least the image of him. He is also covered in shadows but he is recognizable due to his helmet, body shape, hair, etc. He more is obscured by shadows then the others in the room, so much so that it could even be in question of he is really there or not. Perhaps he is a little blurrier, his image a little more ghostly, due to being far from the light or from his form actually being an illusion in the mind of the viewer, the dying lady from whose point of view we see this scene. Very little color: blue for shading on the white hospital blankets, yellow for the light from above even less color on Thor.
January 15 Dear Thor, Some actions in life are performed out of anger. The last letter I wrote to you, written and sent some time ago, was written in anger and I said a number of things for which I now apologize and regret. I make no excuse for my actions. But I would like to attempt make amends. A horrible and inoperable cancer has taken over my body and has recently and unexpectedly entered my lungs. It will soon take my life. The medication I've been given dulls some of the pain but leaves me oblivious to the world around me, even to my own thoughts and feelings. I suffer the pain now only to have the clear mind with which to write this letter to you. To beg your forgiveness. The cancer was discovered shortly after the birth of my daughter. From the happiest moment in my life to the most horrific in the span of less than a week. Luckily, my daughter's body does not hold the same disease that took the life of my dear Zachary years ago. I have every confidence that she will have a fortunate and special life, even without me here on Earth to nurture her. I do not ask for any special consideration. Just the thought that you may be reading this letter personally gives me strength to face the next stage I must enter in this life. Certainly the final stage of this earthly life but perhaps not that of my spirit. I am prepared to go where I must. All I ask of you now, if you can find it in your heart, is not to watch over my spirit, as I will now travel to where I must and what fate I deserve along, but rather, I ask you to watch over my daughter's life here on Earth. My only wish is that she has a full and content life. Thank you for allowing me the good times I've had in my life and thank you for giving me the strength to get through the bad times. I know you have seen in your ultimate wisdom to guide me down this path. And I thank you for watching over me. I know you've always been there. Sincerely, Elise Erickson [a confident, solid signature, distinct from the rest of the letter]
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: Hand-written, long, cursive lines, tiny points to dot i's and for periods, with careful but shaky letters. Basically, the handwriting of an old woman who is in too much pain to grip a pen firmly. This page hand-lettered, if possible.
PANEL DESCRIPTION: An illustration much in the style of the one from page 1. Thor is in the same exaggerated form, much in the eyes of a child, but there's also great hope in this one. Thor is flying toward the viewer and off the page, Mjolnir in front of him, guiding him, the city below in the distance. The buildings below are more modern than in pervious pages. Nothing distracting in the foreground or near Thor (like birds or such), but maybe some clouds to add depth. On his face is ever-present confidence and assurance, but now just a hint of a smile, giving us all hope hope in the future, hope in the world, hope in ourselves.
Dear Thor, Your my favorite hero. My Mom uset to talk about U all the time. She's in heaven now. Before she went to heaven she sed you would wach over her. I no your keping her safe becuz your the Best Hero. You keep everone safe. sincerly, Mia Erickson age 6
LETTERING DESCRIPTION: Like from page 1. In a similar but different style different letters are backward, perhaps on different colored "paper" (background).