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Everything here has been compiled as a pitch package meant to convey the PHANTOM FOO SQUADRON (PFS) concept during submissions to graphic novel publishers.
PART I (Visuals) was created by myself using images I pulled from the web and then edited, repurposed, and compiled in order to convey the visual tone, aesthetic, and general design direction of the PFS world. I don’t own any of the rights to any of the images in any way, nor are they intended for direct sale.
PART II (Outline) was written by myself and intended to convey the overall concept, as well as flesh out the details of the PFS world. I own the rights to the concept, and the outline has been registered with the Writers Guild of America (#1773898).
To help get the PHANTOM FOO SQUADRON off the ground, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PHANTOM FOO SQUADRON
Created & Written by Christopher S. Swan
DESCRIPTION: Operating out of World War II, an international squadron of time-traveling fighter pilots battles UFOs attacking global military activity throughout Earth's history.
Format: 12-issue Miniseries
Genre: Sci-Fi / Adventure / Pulp
Tone: The lovable swagger and bravado of INDIANA JONES, mixed with the ill-fated romance and close-quarters camaraderie of CASABLANCA, along with the childlike fascination of newfound flight technology of THE ROCKETEER.
Cover: Key visual from the issue
Opening page: Right in the middle of previous action
Act I, II, & III: The plot will be forged from the “one damn thing after another” formula, intercut with subplots (focused on character and relationships).
Last page: Cliffhanger
Anchored in 1942, each issue will follow squadron fighter pilots as they launch a mission (aka “sortie”) somewhere in the past, present, or future.
The goal of the sorties isn’t always to intercept attacking UFOs. Sometimes it’s to do reconnaissance on non-threatening UFOs. Sometimes it’s to retrieve survivors and parts from downed UFOs. And every now and then, after a current pilot is shot down (aka “zorched”), a sortie is launched to recruit a new pilot.
Complicating matters is the reality of the Axis Powers launching their own UFO squadron (led by the Red Baron) to attack any and all Allied flights, as well as other democratic civilizations throughout the S.T.C. (Space / Time Continuum).
Beyond the missions, there will be layers of sub-plots following the on-going activities of all of the male and female fighter pilots in their hidden airbase.
A mixture of global cultures from multiple eras all unified against a common enemy, symbolizing sacrifice by the minority (without complaint) for the good of the majority of mankind.
Every time the fighter pilots go out into a dogfight in their spacecraft, they enter into another dimension (the “5th Dimension”) where they can see the UFOs that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye.
While inside and operating their UFOs, the Space / Time Continuum stops, as does the fighter pilot’s aging process. This creates a sense of loss, a sense of regret, and a tension of the unknown for what’s coming when they return home.
With every mission, their death toll mounts and the pressure of their secret lives weigh heavier on their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. As the walls of their secret base close in on them, the fighter pilots lose their grip on reality, driving them further into their own personal demons.
Although the fighter pilots move back and forward in time, across multiple dimensions in the cosmos, they always return to their hidden airbase in 1942.
HIDDEN AIRBASE (a.k.a. “The Rock”)
This is the squadron’s base of operations from which all sorties are launched. It’s located inside the Rock of Gibraltar. The vertically-stacked levels are as follows:
:: Level 1 (Ground Level) :: Squadron Lounge
Ground Level: Situated on the peak of the plateau, it has one-way windows that provide a 360-degree view of Spain (to the north), the Atlantic (to the west), and the Mediterranean (to the south and east). The lounge is broken up in areas: poker table, conference table, 3D entertainment area (TV, movies, gaming), and a restaurant-style kitchen. Outside of any granted leave of absence for R&R, all fighter pilots are forbidden to leave the airbase - which means they spend a majority their time, and their lives, inside “the Rock”.
The centerpiece of the squadron lounge is the “Silver Grill” bar where everyone drinks and plays poker. It’s owned by Bert Marcinko (a.k.a. “Thunderchief”), who inherited it from the squadron’s founding pilot, who died in combat against a UFO.
Marcinko keeps the place stocked with steaks, lobsters, drinks, and other assorted entertainment from the surrounding Spanish and North African towns.
Hung on the wall of the squadron lounge are the “Rules of the Rock”
(1) No Axis or Alien Pilots
(2) Never Open the Hatch
(3) No Journals, Photographs, or Letters Home
(4) No Trips Home
(5) No Out-of-Time Items
(6) No Disclosure
(7) No Getting Zorched or Sawed
:: Level 2 (Ground Level - 1) :: Exercise Facilities
A vast array of Olympic gym equipment and workout areas allows for a multitude of athletic endeavors including: weight-lifting, swimming, running, bicycling, basketball, foosball, ping pong, and racquetball.
:: Level 3 (Ground Level - 2) :: Sleeping Quarters
Every fighter pilot has his / her own room, each with a cloaked balcony and window looking out onto the Mediterranean. Inside the quarters is an arrangement of the standard items needed: bed, desk, wardrobe, and shower. The areas are co-ed, which allows for relationships to blossom or fall apart.
:: Level 4 (Ground Level - 3) :: Craft Hangers
Just below the squadron lounge are the hangers for the UFOs. The craft are charged with a multitude of solar, wind, and electric feeder systems, all of which are kept up by the crew of technicians and mechanics in charge of keeping them in the air. The squadron has a total of seven craft at any one time, with each one taking years to custom build - a process which is done in the future (in another dimension), which allows the craft to be delivered backwards in time and space when they’re finished. Hanger doors open onto the face of the Rock of Gibraltar and are cloaked by clouds (manifested by weather control devices), allowing access of the craft any time of the day or night without ever being seen.
:: Level 5 (Ground Level - 4) :: Clone Bay
The area where human clones are generated for replacement during the fighter pilot retrieval process.
:: Level 6 (Ground Level - 5) :: Alien Interrogation Complex
Deep inside the mountain are the quarantine, first aid, bunkers, and interrogation units for all aliens that are captured alive. Once a new alien is brought in, the debriefing process is slow and meticulous to find out whether they are going to cooperate F.G. (“For Good”) or F.E. (“For Evil”).
The debriefing meetings are hyper-sensitive regarding new information, and are extraordinarily dangerous for the human participants due to the lethal physical and mental abilities of the aliens. Many of the special-trained Extra Terrestrial Interrogators (E.T.I.) from NASA have been killed during questioning. The only thing worse than the way in which they’re killed, is the clean-up, which is why the A.I.C. is buried deep within the monolithic Jurassic rock.
:: Level 7 (Ground Level - 6) :: Incinerator
A massive oven used to burn off excess waste: human, alien, or otherwise.
Other parts of The Rock include: Traditional airstrip, the Great Siege Tunnels, Moorish Castle, Rock Gun Battery, Trafalgar Cemetery, bay, and port.
PASSING THE TIME
The squadron fighter pilots - as well as all of the staff that supports operations inside The Rock - pass the time between sorties like firemen between blazes. Activities include, but aren’t limited to: Sunbathing (clothing optional); playing in the high-stakes (never-ending) poker game; drinking and smoking; tall-tale telling; flirting; fighting (w/fists and alien tech); mourning the loss of those who don’t make it back to the base; stickball in the UFO hanger; exercising; playing with the local rock apes; deep sea fishing (on other planets); writing letters home (only to have them burned in the incinerator); secretly visiting loved ones throughout time (sparking UFO sightings); solar surfing; and of course, beer runs (using the UFOs).
“Fraternizing and moonlighting” (a.k.a. intimate relationships) are accepted as long as they’re “appropriate and discrete” (a phrase that is constantly being challenged due to the ever-evolving culture of the squadron itself).
TOLL OF COMBAT
The existence of aliens and UFOs has a varying emotional toll on the pilots, dependent upon their spiritual / scientific upbringings. But the impact of actually fighting alien beings within the UFOs is brutally draining. Not knowing what happened to family and friends is also mindbogglingly frustrating.
All of the pilots also suffer from severe sleep-loss due to “mental hauntings” by the alien pilots they battle...which only stop when the pilots “zorch” the alien.
The physical toll is like having a chronic (and medically mysterious) disease. Symptoms range from migraines caused by the high-pitched ringing (only the pilots hear); painful muscle cramps; shocking static charges; bloodshot eyes with spotted vision; radiation rashes on exposed skin; chronically spiked adrenaline, endorphin, and dopamine; substance abuse issues to ease the pain.
PHANTOM FOO SQUADRON (PFS) PILOTS / UFOS
There are always four squadron fighter pilots (aka the “Core Four”) that are ready and waiting for duty at The Rock. Beyond those four, there’s a list of Ace fighter pilots in “The Bullpen”, tagged and marked for retrieval and recruitment in the Space / Time Continuum. All prospective pilots are still alive and well within their place in history. When they’re needed, they are pulled just before their moment of death in combat, and given the option of serving in the squadron.
Those pilots who accept the offer are spared their death and taken back to 1942 for training inside The Rock. Left in their place is a soulless clone of their dead body, which will suffer the grim end at the time and place they died in combat.
Those pilots who refuse the offer to fight in the Phantom Foo Squadron (and there are some) are returned in their place to die just as they would have.
UFO #1: Saucer
Real Name: Bert Marcinko
Call Sign: “Thunderchief”
Description: American, Male, late-20s, black hair, great mustache, smiles with his eyes and his mouth. He’s the protagonist of the series.
Ace Status: Ace of Aces (Spanish Civil War, WWII, Korea)
Character Brainstorm: Started as a mercenary pilot in the Spanish Civil War, then flew for the “U.S. of A.” in WWII, and again in Korea. Craves adventure. Boisterous. Hard-drinking. Prone to bragging. Gambler with “red in his ledger”. Flies with a YOLO mentality. Never wears a flightsuit. Loves the phrases “Don’t threaten me with a good time.” and “sweater puppies”. Has had more barfights than dogfights. First to arrive and last to leave “liquid celebrations”. Last to arrive and first to leave mission briefings. Calls himself a “disc driver”. Legendary playboy. Has sworn off marriage after his fiance left him at the alter...a story he made up to elicit empathy and dodge vows. Has been known to defend a woman’s honor, even if she has none. Loves the finer things in life, but can’t afford any of them. Favorite possession is his father’s Colt 1911, which he lost in a poker game...and stole back.
UFO #2: Vimana
Real Name: Damayanti (“Dama” for short)
Call Sign: “Fat Lady”
Description: Female, East Indian, late-20s, black hair
Ace Status: Legendary Ace (Bhagavad Gita)
Character Brainstorm :: She’s had multiple lives across time eternal in the multiverse. Related to the Hindu god Brahma. Witnessed and fought in the massive air battles of the ancient Sanskrit epics. She has a daughter (13) named Radha, who Dama demanded come with her when agreed to fly for the squadron. With Radha’s natural father having passed (the reason is still a mystery), everyone in The Rock, especially Bert, treats her like a daughter (“It takes a tribe.”) Though neither will admit it, Dama is absolutely attracted to Bert...and he’s 100% into her. They have intense, heated and humorous repartee to mask the palpable sexual tension. The two biggest reasons they can’t act on it are Dama still being in a time of mourning for her deceased husband...and Bert’s flat out fear of falling in love with Dama...although it may be too late for that.
UFO #3: Triangle
Call Sign: “Baja”
Description: Male, Judean, Mid-40s / From the “War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness” / Ace Status
UFO #4: Cigar
Call Sign: “Voodoo”
Description: Female, Chinese, Mid-30s / From the not-so-distant future WW III / Ace Status
[REPLACEMENT] UFO #5: Orb
Call Sign: “Phuc Yu”
Description: Male, African-American, Late-20s / From Vietnam / Huey Chopper Pilot / Ace Status
Each PFS UFO craft has a full crew of men and women who support it, including:
Flight Crew: Pilot, Co-Pilot; Bombardier / Nose Gunner; Navigator / Nose Gunner; Radio Operator / Waist Gunner; Bottom Turret Gunner; Engineer / Upper Turret Gunner; Waist Gunner; Tail Gunner
Ground Crew: Crew Chief, Mechanics (x10)
Bomb Supply Crew: x4
Specialists: Instruments; Radios; Armament; Parachutes; Superchargers; Propellers; Dispatcher; Weatherman; Space / Time Cartographer
ALIEN PILOTS / UFOS (AKA “MENACING UFOS”)
Like sharks to a frenzy (primal hunger) and moths to a flame (primal attraction), Aliens are drawn to human war on a primal level. They come in infinite species flying a vast array of UFOs, from throughout the cosmos, and have been menacing mankind throughout history.
They use war to camouflage their nefarious intentions, specifically their hunting and abductions - all of which they do for various reasons including training, entertainment, experiments, and food.
Multiple aliens have been captured alive, and are being held captive in the Alien Interrogation Complex (Level 6) of The Rock. They are only questioned by the Extra Terrestrial Interrogators (ETI) from NASA.
As the series opens, a few interrogators have been “popped” (i.e. heads detonated) by captured Aliens using ESP in what seems nothing more than boredom. This has sparked dread of Level 6 within The Rock, as well as a fierce debate as to whether or not the captured Aliens should be eliminated.
AXIS FIGHTER SQUADRON UFOS
Founded by Nazi masterminds and occult fanatics Heinrich Himmler, Hermann Goering, and Martin Boorman, the squadron is now led by Manfred von Richthofen (aka the “Red Baron”) who uses a UFO reverse-engineered (by Nazi scientist Viktor Schauberger) from the 1938 Black Forest crash: the infamous Haunebu-type craft (I, II, and III) - as well as Die Glocke (aka "The Bell").
All of the Axis UFOs are powered by VRIL energy, which the Axis fighter pilots are trained to harness by female VRIL members, led by the sinister Maria Orsitsch (a.k.a. White Wolf), who is both fighter pilot and bride of the Red Baron. She is an Ace of Aces throughout time. Death in the air. Like all members of the VRIL society, she is directly descended from a race of aliens out of another solar system, giving her access to VRIL energy and the Akashic Records.
Other Axis fighter pilots include aces from Imperial Japan, Mussolini’s Italian forces, the clandestine Roman Flying Shields, and the battle-hardened WWIII Arab Crusade Brigade.
All squadron UFOs are manufactured inside Lockheed Martin’s “Skunkworks” in Palmdale, Ca. (Plant 42) using recovered UFOs that have previously crashed or been shot down by squadron pilots.
Every squadron Ace has his or her own craft, and though each one is customized for each of the pilots, they’re based off 1 of the 5 known types of UFOs:
:: Saucer :: Silver, tailless disc with fast-moving lights.
:: Cigar :: Flaming red cone trailing a gaseous green mist.
:: Triangle :: Noiseless except for high voltage corona discharge underneath it.
:: Vimana :: Flying fortress that operates off of magnetic fracturing.
:: Orb :: An orange ball of fire, trailing a tail of heat.
All of the UFO craft used by the squadron are capable of time travel and “dim-hopping” (a.k.a. going in and out of any dimension in the cosmos) as long as the fighter pilots don’t open the hatch.
If they open the hatch while in another dimension...they die instantly.
The manufacturing of new craft is overseen by the NASA Black Ops team all of whom have a “Majestic 12” security clearance set into motion with “Estimate of the Situation” document, Project Sign, and Project Bluebook (via time-travel).
Both good and evil scienctists will play a huge role in the reverse-engineering and continued development of the alien technology. Included on this list are:
:: Nikola Tesla
:: Albert Einstein
:: J. Robert Oppenheimer
:: Victor Schauberger
:: Hermann Oberth
:: Werner von Braun
Once the new craft have completed their manufacturing process and trial tests, they’re delivered to The Rock’s by the Gibraltar Steamship Company.
GIBRALTAR STEAMSHIP COMPANY
Owned and operated by Duke, a wild-eyed ex-UFO test pilot who’s certifiably insane, the GSC is a CIA front company setup to deliver goods, supplies, and new UFOs to The Rock.
The company owns: (1) a steamship (which is in constant state of repair), (2) a cargo truck (with well-worn canvas covering), and (3) a Harley motorcycle (with sidecar) for new pilot transport to and from the steamship. As we open, Duke is on the run from gambling debts to the Sicilian mafia, who are threatening to take all of the Gibraltar Steamship Company assets as collateral.
Every issue will feature at least one edge-of-your-seat UFO dogfight with mind-blowing maneuvers and visuals using proven air-to-air combat tactics and techniques. As elite as the squadron aces are, the Alien pilots force everyone to rethink what’s possible. The learning curve is sharp, and known to cut deep.
How: Assigned by HQ (NASA Black Ops Team)
When: At any given time
Where: All over the Space / Time Continuum
Why: Defense of humanity
The Phantom Foo Squadron’s patch is a 3D style hologram patch that is given to everyone who works in The Rock on both a leather flight jacket (for use during flights, as it gets -60 F inside the cockpits), and an all-black loose Hawaiian shirt (for use off duty).
NOMENCLATURE & JARGON
The fighter pilots have a shared language all their own, using words and phrases like: core four, zorched, sawed, dim-hopping, bogie, etc.
The fighter pilots listen an eclectic mix of music when they go out for each sortie: “Insane in the Brain” (Cypress Hill), “So What ‘Cha Want?” (Beastie Boys), etc.
Every episode is told in flashback (from today) based on an entry out from a journal kept by Radha (Dama’s 13-yr-old daughter). The journal (with photos) was compiled in an “Aviator Flight Log Book” while she grew up inside The Rock.
The log book has been found in the bottom of a dusty box for a snap-and-glue UFO model, bought by Sam, a 13-yr-old boy (and model fanatic) who plucked the box the very bottom shelf of the last rack in his favorite model shop in Cleveland, OH.
The arc of the series takes place over the 12 weeks of one 3-month summer, as Sam (a latch-key kid) reads about one of the Phantom Foo Squadron’s sorties in between summer chores: mowing the lawn, painting fences, walking dogs, etc.
As the story unfolds, Sam becomes more and more consumed with the journal, and begins to fall in love with Radha through her words and photos.
The power of young love and curiosity unintentionally summons Radha (from 1942) to visit him (today) in a “borrowed” UFO. The story ends with Radha’s arrival, and Sam having to choose to stay...or leave to train to become a pilot in the Phantom Foo Squadron.
ACT I - Opening on August 1, 1943 A.D. - Operation Tidal Wave
The Core Four fighter pilots are introduced in a dogfight with Alien UFOs menacing B-25 bombers.
As they battle under a solar eclipse, one of the current Core Four gets zorched by an Alien. The other three surviving Core Four give chase, but the UFO escapes.
Back in The Rock, the pilots mourn their loss over drinks and poker in the Silver Grill. As night falls, we learn about the relationships within the squadron.
In the morning, a brand new allied UFO is delivered by Skunkworks, prompting a quick briefing and emotional prep to “pull” a new fighter pilot out of Vietnam.
The pilots gather around the 5-Dimensional Space / Time Continuum Map as the location is marked, then sent to 5D maps inside the UFOs, booting them up.
ACT II - Opening on July 18th, 1970 A.D. - Battle of Firebase Ripcord
The squadron dim-hops into Vietnam and pulls a seasoned Huey chopper pilot just before he’s killed in battle against a Russian Mig-21.
We witness the process of how the offer to serve the squadron is made. He accepts, and they almost lose another member to enemy fire as they escape.
Back in The Rock, as they drink and play poker at the Silver grill, secret relationships and liaisons between the fighter pilots continue to develop.
Just as they climax, the bogie alarm goes off, alerting the squadron to another UFO menacing.
ACT III - Opening on June 5th, 333 B.C. - First Battle of Issus
The new Core Four saddles up for antiquity. They dim-hop into an ancient battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III.
As 100,000s men fight on the ground and yell out at the flying shields above them, the Core Four engages a nasty dogfight with UFOs. But they realize they’re not menacing Alien UFOs - they’re Nazi UFOs - led by the Red Baron.
We end on a cliffhanger as the Red Baron’s UFO saws one of the Core Four’s UFO in half, breaking the seal and sending the pilot and debris earthbound.