The road to building a writing career in the comics field is often bumpy and littered with pitches that, for whatever reason, failed to earn that elusive and almighty green light from the powers that be.
Case in point, the below pitch that I presented to DC last year featuring the corniest, hokiest supervillains of all time, The Royal Flush Gang. Initially inspired by HBO's Sopranos, the idea then mutated in its own direction.
I pitched this to Stephen Wacker, who liked it and passed it up the chain of command to Dan Didio, who in turn killed it because basically, it was a comic series featuring the corniest, hokiest supervillains of all time. That and the fact that my name in comics isn't big enough to guarantee anyone would buy it, although I'm working hard on that second part. And I gotta tell you, those are two valid reasons.
Recently, I gave this to a friend as a model for how to structure a proposal he was writing. After reading it, he commented that he recently saw the Royal Flush Gang on the Justice League cartoon, treated in a very similar fashion to what I've written here. It wouldn't surprise me, nor would it be the first time that ideas I've pitched have popped up elsewhere. It happens way more often than people might think.
So without further adieu, here's the pitch. If you think it sucks, let me hear it.
THE ROYAL FLUSH GANG:
A six-issue series by
It’s all a matter of perspective.
A six-issue series by
It’s all a matter of perspective.
From the outside looking in, the Royal Flush Gang is a quaint, silver age gimmick. A team of five bad guys dressed up as an Ace, King, Queen, Jack, and Ten—the hand that makes up a royal flush in poker, robbing banks while flying around on giant playing cards and getting their asses kicked by the Justice League of America.
From the inside out, looked at with a more modern spin, it’s a whole different story. The Royal Flush Gang isn’t just a group of lame super villains: It’s a family tradition that spans multiple generations.
In the Royal Flush Gang, younger family members earn their stripes and move up the ladder, taking on the personas of retiring members (for example, Jack becomes the new King or Ten becomes the new Queen, etc.), or forcibly ‘retiring’ members in order to take up their personas.
In other words, The Royal Flush Gang is a family of super-villain Mafioso. Put even more simply, it’s ‘The Soprano’s’ dressed up as playing cards.
It’s Old School versus New School, Silver Age versus Modern Age, father versus son, with the future of not only the Royal Flush Gang, but also of the entire family on the line.
Even during the best of times, it’s not easy being King. Providing leadership to a family of criminals is a hard, thankless job that requires unflinching strength of will, eyes in the back of the head, and a flack jacket to deflect the constant backstabbing.
For the Royal Flush Gang, the best of times was a long time ago. After making a splashy, debut years ago, the team has slowly hit the skids, their various schemes (mostly related to accumulating wealth) consistently foiled by the Justice League, to the point where the group has become almost a punch line in the super villain world.
So The King has taken the Royal Flush Gang to ground, forcing the group to lay low while he begins to think broader, to plan their future on a larger scale. It’s become obvious from repeated failure that there’s no long-term benefit to playing the super villain game. It’s time for the family business to evolve or die.
For the next generation of the family, neither option is especially appealing.
Lead by the King’s son, the children of the original Royal Flush Gang decide it’s time to reshuffle the deck and start playing the game by their own rules. This should be their time in the sun, not a time to hide in the shadows. To that end, without the original King’s blessing, they splinter off and form their own faction: A newer, edgier Royal Flush Gang consisting of:
ACE OF BLADES: An unstable, fifteen-year old serial killer with a knife for every occasion and a hair trigger temper to match.
KING OF PAIN: The son of the original King and leader of the New Royal Flush Gang. Ambitious, intelligent, and ruthless, his apple may not have fallen far from the tree but, nonetheless, has most likely outgrown it.
DRAG QUEEN: The most reluctant member of the gang, Drag Queen is actually King of Pain’s brother, recently released from prison and forced by the new King into the humiliating role of Queen for reasons of his own.
SUICIDE JACK: Impossibly deadly, he’s the coolest hit man in the world; the kind of guy who would have fit in perfectly with Sinatra and the Rat pack, although he has no idea who they were.
TEN: Literally, a ten. The most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen, she’s everything a man could want. Unbeknownst to anyone, she’s also the brain behind the King Of Pain, a powerful telepath secretly pulling his strings.
More ruthless and deadly (and successful) than their predecessors ever were, the new Royal Flush Gang begins to attract the acclaim of the criminal underworld—as well as the attention of the superhero community. By doing so, they carelessly jeopardize the delicate schemes of the original King who, in three clever moves, is poised to wipe out all competition and transform the alien city of Haven into the new gambling capitol of the world; all controlled by the King and his family.
With the King’s master plan threatened, the original Royal Flush Gang is forced out of the shadows, determined not only to stop their own children, but also itching to show this cocky new generation how the super villain game is supposed to be played.
Keith, I'm not just saying this because I'm a fan of your work, but I seriously really enjoyed reading through your pitch, "The Royal Flush Gang". At first I was like, "Yeah, this sounds pretty cool", but then I got to the edgier RFG and I thought "Now this sounds immense!" Drag Queen- Ha-ha, quality. The whole thing sounds like an awesome story, I for one would really love to read about this gang! Thanks for sharing your pitch.
I hope that more people begin to recognize your name after the JSA issues, I think you're a great writer and artist and we need to see more from you!
Thanks, Chris! Much appreciated!
Oh, and I can't believe the JL cartoon used your idea! That sucks that it was taken from you like that.
Hey Keith those are my favorite villian gang ever...talking about the subject. can you mail me off.
I have something regarding the story.
Hope youa re having a great time keith.
I like the idea! Hopefully IC #2 didn't shell shock you.
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