Tuesday 24 February 2009

SUGAR! (synopsis for a graphic novel)

In the summer of 2009, the British death metal band Heinous goes on tour to promote their second album, SUGAR. In the European capitals they visit, they are welcomed by dodgy music venues and play gigs for drug abusing Gothic teenagers, secret satanic societies and extreme right youth movements. Soon it turns out that in this threatening scene, someone or something is after them and wants to see them dead.

Jacky Green (22, ESFP) is an all-round freelance journalist in Central London. She has been working a lot lately and needs a holiday. When the manager of Heinous asks her to go on tour with the band, she immediately knows to say yes. She’ll have to write some articles for their website and post a message on their blog every day.

Her hair is bright ginger and she’s got a piercing in her lower lip. She’s got a feminine figure and combines TopShop fashion items with second hand army clothing.

She’s a very active, spontaneous and impulsive girl. Storytelling is her great passion; she loves to listen to people, discover their stories and pass them on. She’s a vegetarian, a smoker and loves a drink with friends.

Actually, Jacky is more into ‘happy’ alternative music, but she agreed to go on to the trip because she’s always looking for adventure and she thought a paid summer holiday would be exciting.

Members of the Band

Grim” George Battlefield (23, INTJ) vocals, guitar, composer

George has only one dream: to be a death metal legend. He has worked very hard to get where he is now. The songs he writes have great potential. They are very fast and have intricate structures with abrupt tempo, key, and time signature changes, just the way death metal fans like it. He practices several hours a day and expects the same from the other band members. He’s allergic to slacking. He is athletic, wears tight leather clothing and red contact lenses, dyes his hair black and has had a dental adjustment of his canines, which now look like vampire fangs.

George has suffered from Type 1 diabetes since the age of 12. This means he has to live according to a strict regimen of home blood glucose testing several times a day, multiple daily insulin injections, a carefully calculated diet, lots of physical exercise and obviously no alcohol, smoking or other drugs. Because to him it is a matter of life and death, George has developed great will power and self discipline. This has helped him to become the electric guitar virtuoso he is today. But he often feels lonely. Because of the restrictions he has to deal with, he is often left out of social activities, and because of his iron determination to deliver a perfect performance every time they go on stage, the other band members find it hard to connect with him.

Vic “The Vile” Pinker (20, ESFJ) guitar, electric violin

Putrid” Paul Pinker (22, ISFJ) bass, electric keyboard

The brothers Vic and Paul look very much alike. They grew up in a warm and loving family in Northern London. They are very gifted, both intellectually and musically, and share a great sense of humour. They have played in classical orchestras before, but never in a band. They appreciate death metal because it is a challenge to play (contrary to punk or pop music), and are very intrigued with the scene that comes with it.

As the older brother, Paul has a great ‘need to be needed’. This is mainly directed towards his younger brother; he virtuously does anything for Vic, even found him a band to join on MySpace when Vic got into death metal. He is often unappreciated, at work, home, and play. Ironically, because he proves over and over that he can be relied on for his loyalty and unstinting, high-quality work, those around him often take him for granted. The problem is aggravated by himself, because he is notoriously bad at delegating ("If you want it done right, do it yourself").

Paul and Vic are both pale and skinny, wear ragged black jeans and black t-shirts. Since Paul is rather shy, he tends to hide his face behind a curtain of blond waving hair. He’s got a big tattoo on his right upper arm. Vic is outgoing, has no tattoos and wears his long blond hair in a pony tail.

Brian Butcher (33, ENTP) drums

Butcher is a big bald Irish carnivore. He’s an alcoholic and a smoker, but after his first can of beer he’s always cheerful and easygoing. He loves to argue for the sake of arguing: he told George he didn’t need a nickname because his real name spoke for itself, and won the argument. He’s got several tattoos and piercings and is often rude to women, but is still very successful when it comes to one-night-stands.

He has performed with Cannibal Corpse and Morbid Angel and is one of the most fiery and fast drummers of this era.

Tour dates: Thursday 16 July – Sunday 26 July 2009

Gothenburg, Sweden

Oslo, Norway

Copenhagen, Denmark

Amsterdam, Holland

Rotterdam, Holland

Berlin, Germany

Warschau, Poland

Prague, Czech Republic

Zagreb, Croatia

Florence, Italy


The book starts with a screenshot of the Heinous website and a list of tour dates. Afterwards, every chapter starts with a screenshot of their blog, with Jacky’s new entry.

Her first entry is a positive review of the concert in Gothenburg. But in the chapter that follows, we see it’s only positive because that’s what she gets paid for. She doesn’t really like the music, she thinks George is a creep and Vic and Paul are slightly pathetic.

On the airplane to Oslo she’s seated next to Butcher. He buys her Champagne because she said ‘no thanks’ when he offered her a beer, and makes her laugh.

Screenshot of Butcher's profile page on the Heinous website, presumably written by Jacky after their chat on the plane.

The concert in Oslo is a great success. Afterwards, George disappears, Butchers leaves with two sixteen year old fans, and Jacky, Vic and Paul end up smoking a lot of weed with the band members of the supporting act. When Jacky asks about George's disappearance, Vic and Paul tell her he can't indulge in their life style because he suffers from diabetes.

The next morning she checks the website and reads the replies to her previous blog. There is one that troubles her. A visitor calling himself 'Stalker' clearly tells her she doesn't know anything about death metal and wishes her dead. She asks the manager to remove it, but he refuses, saying it is all part of the scene.

The next blog post is a positive review of the Oslo-concert. It shows she has picked up on some knowledge about death metal.

All band members are having lunch together in five-star hotel D’Angleterre in Copenhagen. Jacky tells Butcher about the comment on her blog. He points out that the message is a fragment of the lyrics of one of their songs. This makes her feel a little bit better. Then George gets a call on his mobile phone. The van with their instruments has had an accident on it's way to concert hall where they are supposed to play that night. The manager, who was driving it, is okay, and he's trying to arrange for replacement instruments. George is aggravated and wants to cancel the concert, but everyone points out that would be really bad publicity.

That night, Vic and Paul get stoned again with the supporting act and Butcher takes off with a gorgeous Gothic girl. Only George is not happy about their performance that night. Jacky decides she wants to get to know him better, because she is intrigued by what Vic and Paul have told her about him. She goes for a drink in the restaurant of their hotel with him. She has a cocktail, he opts for drink chamomile tea. He says it really hurts him to see people throw away their health deliberately, the way the other band members do.

Screenshot of George's profile on the website, presumably written by Jacky after their chat.

They end their conversation slightly flirtatious. In the corridor of the hotel, in front of Jacky's room, George tells her he has never had a girlfriend. She asks if that's because he was saving himself. He says that's what he'll tell his first girlfriend. They kiss each other goodnight on the cheek.

The next morning Jacky is woken up by room service. With her breakfast there's a note from George, to thank her for the lovely night. It's very kind, but Jacky is slightly disturbed because she recognizes the text as a fragment of the lyrics of one of Heinous' songs.

The next blog tells about the accident with the instruments, and is still very positive. There's a bit of video attached to the message.

Jacky, George, Butcher and the manager are waiting for Paul and Vic in the lobby, discussing the situation with the instruments. Accept for the keyboard and the drums, they are probably able to use their own instruments again that night in Amsterdam. Then Paul comes running from the elevator. He looks awful and is panicking. It turns out he can't wake up Vic. The previous night someone offered them MDMA, and apparently it didn't go well with Vic. They call an ambulance, Vic is taken to a hospital and Paul stays with him in Denmark while the rest of them head down to Amsterdam.

Two members of the supporting act offer to replace the brothers, and the manager insists they perform that night anyway.

That night, Jacky reads the comments on the blog again, and notices Stalker has left a message again, a phrase from the song 'Coma'. This implies Stalker knows about Vic, so it must be someone close to them. She tells Butcher about it, who doesn't feel like going out that night and has a beer with her in the lounge of the hotel. Because of the note with her breakfast, she doesn't wish to tell George.

The next blog shows pictures of the concert in Amsterdam.

They go sightseeing a bit, and then travel to Rotterdam, where Paul joins them again. Vic is still in a coma, but their parents are with him now and the manager is really pressing Paul. He tells him this is what Vic would want, because the tour is crucial for the band's future success.

After the concert, Butcher disappears with a sexy tall woman in leather pants and a corset. She has tea with George and Paul in the lobby of the hotel, when Paul breaks down crying. They try to comfort him, and she almost feels like they are a family. She thinks it's a coincidence George and Stalker both use bits of lyrics. She does think it is suspicious that the manager want the tour to go on no matter what, presses her to write about all the adversity and refuses to remove Stalker's comments on the blog.

When she gets to bed early that night, there's a lot of blood on her sheets and a red chunk of meat in the middle. Pinned on it is a scrap of paper, with a fragment of lyrics on it: “Your heart is next, bitch/I'll eat it raw!”

The next blog is the happy message that Vic woke up from his coma, and will hopefully be joining them again in Prague.

Paul flies back to Denmark. On their way to Berlin, Jacky tells George, the manager and Butcher she wants to write a story about Heinous and Stalker for her newspaper in London. She says so because she wants to test their reaction. Surely, if Stalker were one of them, he would encourage this idea. The manager is the first to encourage it, but that could be because it actually is good publicity for the band. George agrees and Butcher makes fun of it, but doesn't reject the idea either.

Despite the fact that they have to play without Vic and Paul, the concert in Berlin is very successful, and Jacky goes to an after party with Butcher.

The next blog shows some interesting pictures of George and Butcher in Prague.

In Warschau Paul joins them again. After the gig that night, they celebrate that Vic has recovered and will be joining them again. George goes to bed early, but the rest of the band gets very drunk. When Vicky wakes up the next morning she has a terrible hangover. When she goes to shower, someone has written something on the mirror: “The prettiest thing I've ever seen/The bleeding cunt of Jacky Green”.

She thoroughly freaked out now. This is the second time Stalker has broken into her hotel room, and this time he's not even using Heinous' lyrics anymore, but addressing her directly. She decides to write about it on the blog.

In Prague, Vic joins them again. There's a lot of publicity because they are finally together again, and they play very well. Everyone is very happy, and even George joins them to the after party. It's a very crowded, wild party and many people are having sex in public. When Jacky can't find Butcher, she decides to go back to the hotel, and asks Vic to take her back to the hotel. The doctors told him not to use drugs any more, and for now he's more than happy to listen to them.

Screenshot of the profile page of Vic, presumably written by Jacky after their chat.

George and Paul are still at the party. Jacky doesn't dare to sleep alone, so asks if she can stay in Vic's room that night. He's okay with that.

The next morning, Butcher doesn't show up at breakfast. It turns out he didn't check in at the hotel that night. Nobody saw him leave the party. At 9.30 am they are informed by the police that Butcher's dead body has been found in the common shower of a youth hostel in the centre of Prague. He has been tortured to death with an S&M tool in his mouth that prevented him from screaming. He was identified quickly because of a note that was left with the body: a page out of the cd-booklet of the album SUGAR. The page shows the lyrics of the song “Killing Silence”.

Jacky tells the police about Stalker and says she thinks the manager is quite suspicious. She also tells about the note George sent her after their conversation.

The next blog explains the rest of the tour has been cancelled because of the tragic loss of one of the band-members.

They are not allowed to leave the Czech Republic, and while mourning, stay in the Golden Well hotel in Prague. Although George and Paul both claim to have stayed at the party after Jacky left, they haven't seen each other. George is now officially a suspect and has to spend the night in prison, while the police are hearing him.

That night, Jacky, Vic and Paul all want to stay in the same room, because they don't feel safe. They've got a large suite on the top floor of the hotel. Vic is very tired and falls asleep very early. When Paul is having a shower, Jacky wants to reread the comments on her blog. She uses Paul's laptop to go to the website and sees the computer automatically logs in as Stalker. She's in ultimate shock and wakes up Vic. She explains what she has found out. At first Vic doesn't believe her, but she asks him whether he doesn't think it's sort of strange that Paul didn't stay with him while he was in a coma, Vic realises Paul has always been in the shadow of his more outgoing, radiant and handsome younger brother.

They call the police, who advice them to leave the apartment. But Paul hears them, comes out of the shower and tries to stop them. There's a big fight, and while Jacky runs out of the room the fighting brothers crash through the window and fall all the way down.

The last page is a website about death metal legend George, who is the only surviving member of the band Heinous.

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