“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
Act I: The Transgression
Our hero, a boy, examines his bruised and battered face in the bathroom mirror. Another day, another altercation with the school bully. Oh, if only he were big enough to stop these daily beatings! If only he were brave enough to do something about it! The boy lets his mind wander: a police officer, a stalwart figure of the law, comes and arrests the bully. The boy stands nearby, proud to have saved the school — and his face — from further harm. Oh, if only, if only!
Act II: The Sighting
Our boy hero is now grown: a man with a fine job and a magnificent mustache. Working in The
Venetian Vatican casino at the roulette table provides a steady paycheck, a splendid bow tie, and above all, a sense of purpose. Our hero is happy.
But what’s this? Something — or someone — has caught our hero’s eye!
Across the room, speaking to an officer of the law, there is a man. A man who looks very familiar . . .
It can’t be — !
Act III: The Plot
Why, it’s the school bully! Now grown up, just like our mustachioed hero! (Sans mustache.) After all these years . . . Our hero is stunned. He remembers the beatings as vividly as if they had occurred only yesterday. Surely this is his chance — for revenge! But how?
Ah! An idea!
Our hero calls over to his old classmate, still talking to the police officer.
Dennis turns . . .
(ed. — the artist would like to make it known that she is very proud of the drawing of the arrow in this scene.)
. . . to see our hero, beaming at his station. His whole bearing, his grin, his gesture all say, “Come and play! We’re old friends, aren’t we?”
Act IV: The Reward
The two schoolmates catch up. Dennis is amazed at the cushy job of our hero and much admires his mustache. Our hero is flattered but does not fall for this fiend’s niceties. He has not forgotten the past. So, our hero asks if Dennis would like a go at the roulette wheel — he may get lucky with a “friend” at the helm.
Dennis is much obliged and takes a seat next to yet another police officer and a suspicious-looking woman. He places his chips on the table, ready to play.
Now, unbeknownst to most people, all the games in casinos are rigged. (The house does not like to lose.) Sometimes even the dealers are unaware of the myriad ways their tables are manipulated. But our hero is a model employee and high ranking. He knows of the special little button on the roulette wheel that will allow him to stop it wherever he chooses. This is our hero’s plan for revenge: Dennis will bet high, counting on the good luck of a school pal. But even with a thousand spins, the wheel will never land on his number, thanks to the “rig game” button our hero will press. He will lose everything. At last, our hero will receive retribution!
Our hero’s hand hovers over the button, waiting for Dennis to make his choice. The former school bully, by way of making conversation, casually mentions how badly he hopes to win — he really needs the money.
Our hero is taken aback! Dennis is destitute? Clearly not a man of wise life choices, betting what must be the remainder of his savings at a casino, in an all-or-nothing attempt. Why, he deserves to lose!
And yet . . .
It would not be fate’s impartial hand driving that final nail: it would be our hero’s. He would be the cause of Dennis’s suffering, fully and intentionally. And even though that would be mere pittance compared to the bullying of long ago, our hero feels shame.
Our hero moves his hand away from the button. He cannot go through with it. Revenge is no longer a temptation.
Let the chips fall where they may.
The roulette wheel spins . . .
. . . and in an absolute bloody miracle, Dennis wins! He is saved from creditors and having to borrow more money from his parents! There was no rigged button nor the influence of either good or malicious intent: merely pure chance. What a joyous day for Dennis!
What about our hero, you ask? Well, he whistles on his way home that night, happy and proud of himself for doing the right thing . . .
You’re probably wondering what the heck this all is, right? XD
This past weekend, The BF, a couple friends, and I all played this board game called Mangaka. A mangaka, if you don’t know, is a manga artist, usually Japanese. The game is basically you trying to be a mangaka yourself: you are given three themes (“obsessions”), and you have to create a story around those themes. There are four rounds, with a different number of comic panels for each round. The first has two, the second has four, the third six, and the fourth eight. You don’t have to make a continuous story across the four rounds, but we all did anyway. In addition to this, there is a limited amount of time for each round; we did eight minutes as “students,” though I think it goes as low as four minutes for “masters.” And it may seem like eight minutes is enough to sketch something in a couple panels, but it is NOT (hence why my drawings got very messy at the end — also, I am not an artist in any way). But wait, there’s more! Every round after the first has “trends” that are included. So, in addition to your themes that you must incorporate, you also have to put in whatever the trends are, such kawaii elements or no speech bubbles allowed, etc. These trends are increased with each round, starting with one in round two and four in round four. IT GETS REALLY INTENSE. Since this was our first time playing, we decided to give ourselves a couple minutes before officially starting each round, just to brainstorm ideas, but even then, we barely had enough time, and people still ended up with blank panels. In order to win, you have to have the most points, and you get points for every theme you include, for using no more than three word balloons (sound effects and signs don’t count, though), for drawing something in each panel, and whatever points you get from doing the trends. You can’t lose points for not doing these things, but you won’t get any either, so it’s in your best interest to do as much as you can and also have a cohesive story.
My themes were: bullying, gambling, and police. (And now you know the reason for the random police officers.) As you can see in the first “act,” not only did I not incorporate gambling, there is only one panel, when there should have been two. So I only got four points out of a possible seven for that round: two for including two of my themes and two for having fewer than three word balloons. It sounds complicated, but the scoring really isn’t that bad: it’s just trying to finish! The trend for the second round was to have speed lines (hence the dramatic ZOOM on Dennis’s face); the third round trends were to have a character shout another character’s name, and something else, I think to have the most sound effects (whoops). The final round’s trends were ridiculous: points for having something kawaii and also points for whoever had the most hearts/unicorns/etc.; points for violence and highest body count; points for having the most panels (I almost won that); and points for putting in an autobiographical character (the suspicious-looking woman was me all along!).
I explain all this because it’s why my story is overall a little wonky, but also why I didn’t win, because I was more focused on finishing the story as I envisioned it than getting the most points. The initial germ of the idea was similar to how I get my ideas for my short stories: I think of a beginning and an end. So, I knew where I wanted my little comic to go, but I wasn’t prepared for the wrenches the trends would throw into the works. And it was also difficult putting everything into the specific number of panels (I didn’t know at the beginning that they could be divided). Even with allowing for brainstorming time, we made it a rule that you couldn’t draw or write anything during that time, you just had to outline in your head.
THIS GAME WAS A CHALLENGE.
But it was also pretty fun! It was cool seeing how everyone interpreted their themes and the trends, and only of us was actually an artist, so it wasn’t embarrassing to have stick figures or bad perspective. And, as I’ve proved by posting it here, it was a really good prompt exercise! I could see someone using it as such, anyway. You wouldn’t even need to play the game: just randomly draw a few cards and make a comic (or a story!) out of what you get. (By the way, there is an actual game designed specifically to be story prompts, and I want it: Story Cubes.)
If you don’t read manga or watch anime, Mangaka might seem a bit “out there,” but you don’t really need to understand those things to have fun with it, as it really is just making comics and making your friends laugh. I recommend it, and I hope you liked my silly story and sillier drawings! ♥
(P.S. The reason the casino is called “The Vatican” is because I meant “Venetian” but totally blanked on its actual name. I mean, there could be a casino called the Vatican . . . )