This is my script for the second issue of District X. The series was my first commission for Marvel and only the second time I had written for another artist. You'll see that I don't work 'Marvel method'. I do detailed breakdowns of plot so that I know at the beginning how the story will be structured and how it will end. I then visualize the story in my head, letting the whole thing play out like a movie. The next stage is to break it down into pages, each of which should end on a mini-cliffhanger. I then do thumbnails of each panel to check that everything works in the visual grammar of the comic-book page. I usually dialogue at this point, then write the panel descriptions as the last phase. The thumbnails don't usually go to the artist, unless there is some kind of explicit visual trickery. I'll post another script at some future date, where the layouts are integral to the script.
There's more information here than some artists would be happy with and I now make it a point to let artists know they are always free to deviate from my panel descriptions. But I find that I have to do this much work before I can let a script go. At the time I wrote this, I knew very little about the artist, David Yardin. It turned out to be one of the best collaborations I have had. David threw everything into this book and it shows. He's an artist who understands that he is not only an illustrator but an actor. He once told me he physically acts out the parts of the characters, pacing the room and working out facial expressions and gestures.
When you get to the end of the story, note how David's choice of overhead point-of-view for the last full-page spread gives that final page a heightened emotional impact.
Mike Marts was my editor on this book and I'm eternally grateful to him and to Joe Quesada for letting a newbie loose on a prestigious X-book. Also for allowing me to write a Marvel comic that had no costumed heroes. Apart from Bishop, every character was new to the Marvel Universe and the book was a fantastic experience for me. Inks were by Alejandro Sicat, colours by Andy Troy and letters by my good friend Rob Steen at Richard Starking's Comicraft.
A word about the cover: Steve McNiven did a superb job on these covers and they probably sold a lot of extra copies of the book. At the time, both David Yardin and myself were a little disappointed with the tone of the covers - all those big guns and explosions were not what District X was about. In fact the theme of the first arc was specifically anti-guns. In the event though, the covers worked. The images on the first few covers make guns look cool, but when issue 6 came out, and we see the body of a child framed by the image of a gun, it hits you like a boot to the balls.
Now here's the script as it went to David Yardin, with a few pages from the comic inserted for comparison.District X Issue 2
David Hine January 2004
This page consists of 3 small panels along the top and one big panel taking up most of the page. The three panels could go inside the frame of the large panel to give the impression of a splash page.
We’re introducing two major characters here, Hanna Levy and Mr M (Absolon Zebardyn Mercator):
Hanna Levy – Hanna is a quiet, retiring, studious type. She is slim and long-limbed, with unnaturally pale skin. Long shiny, flowing, black hair - almost liquid. She has large prominent freckles, which are suggestive of the markings on a lizard. Her nose is long and upturned with prominent nasal cavities, again reminiscent of a reptile without being freakish. Very thin lips. In other words, her appearance is lizard-like without being unattractive or inhuman. Large round, heavy-lidded eyes which tend to be downcast as she is very shy and avoids the attention of others. In this scene she is wearing a sleeveless dress, tied in or belted at the waist. It comes to above the knee – not too sexless or too flirty. (Oh, and she also has a long forked tongue but we don’t see that until she uses it to catch a fly on page two.)
Mr M – this is in many ways, the central character of this story arc. This guy has the most amazing powers to alter the molecular structure of objects, even the air around him. If he chose, he could heal the sick or - as we will see at the end – destroy a city. In fact, he uses his powers infrequently and often for the most banal of purposes (fixing a broken toaster for instance). He is utterly disillusioned with the human and mutant races and is for the most part, content to pass through life, observing the folly of the world around him. On the occasions when he does intervene the results can be catastrophic.
Mr M is tall, lean and wiry. He has the gaunt pasty look of a long-time heroin addict, though maybe one who occasionally works out – kind of like Iggy Pop – unhealthy and fit-looking at the same time as if there is some terrible energy consuming him from the inside (definitely very Iggy). His age is indeterminate – could be anything from thirty to forty-five. Mr M always wears his black fifties-style fedora hat. Later we will see him without it and see why he keeps his head covered. The top of his cranium is transparent so his brain is visible (I’ll elaborate later when we see this). He suffers from alopecia, so no eyebrows or body-hair. His melancholy eyes are black – constantly dilated pupils – and sunken with dark circles denoting sleepless nights. His body-metabolism is so hyped that he never sleeps. His fingernails are black (not painted black, just dead, If you have ever hit a toe-nail real hard you know how it turns black after a while). In this scene Mr M is wearing a white undervest (known as a wife-beater in the USA I think} and suspenders/braces to hold up his high-waisted black trousers. He is barefoot in this scene.
Hannah stands, hands on hips, glaring down at her broken toaster – a classic chrome two-slicer. Two slices of charcoaled toast have popped up amid a cloud of black smoke. Hanna’s thin lips are pinched together in exasperation. She isn’t too angry though – this is going to give he an excuse to go see the intriguing Mr M.
1) Caption: McCARTHY AVENUE, DISTRICT X.
A shot looking down the narrow staircase of the apartment building. As with most buildings in District X the place has a well-worn look to it – not totally squalid though – the people in this building try to keep the place clean. Hannah is plodding determinedly up the stairs with the toaster under her arm, the wire coiled in her hand, plug hanging down.
From behind Hanna as she knocks at the door to Mr X’s apartment.
SFX: KNOCK! KNOCK!
Splash panel, taking up most of the page. To the left is Hannah in the foreground – just her head and shoulders, we can maybe see a quarter profile of her face. Mr M is opening the door, we see him from waist up – vest, hat and suspenders as described above. He holds the door half open. He isn’t used to letting people into his home, although Hanna is an exception. We can see past him, into the room. There are books everywhere. Bookcases up to the ceiling, some books stacked in piles on the floor and a few lying on the wide window-sill. On the window-sill is a pot plant. This is important. We will see it at later stages getting progressively more wilted. It doesn’t have to be large or stand out in an intrusive way. But it has to be there. At this is stage it is in fairly good health – a couple of leave wilting and brown at the tips. The window is fairly large and looks out onto the street – we can see the building opposite - this is where the Merwoman and the Costanzas live(d) – (issue 1). Mr M’s stuff is all old-fashioned. He has old 78 records, which he plays on a wind-up gramophone. There is no TV. Lamps, kettles, cooker, whatever, should all look like they come from the nineteen-fifties or earlier. The focus of this shot is Mr M who should fill most of the panel, I’m just giving you the background details for the rest of the scene – only include whatever details fit. A single large black fly is buzzing prominently around Mr M’s head.
2) Hanna: HELLO. I WAS HOPING YOU’D BE IN.
3) Mr M: MS LEVY. WHAT CAN I DO FOR YOU?
4) Hannah: I’M SORRY TO TROUBLE YOU. IT’S MY TOASTER.
5) Mr M: AH. YES. I THOUGHT I DETECTED THE AROMA OF CARBONIZED WHEATGERM.
6) Caption: HANNA LEVY KNOWS MR M BETTER THAN MOST. SHE KNOWS THAT HIS NAME IS ABSOLON ZEBARDYN MERCATOR.
7) CAPTION 2: SHE KNOWS THAT HE CAN FIX JUST ABOUT ANYTHING MECHANICAL OR ELECTRICAL, ALTHOUGH HE DOESN’T OWN A CAR OR A STEREO OR EVEN A TELEVISION.
8) Caption 3: SHE HAS NO IDEA HOW HE KNOWS THE TOAST SHE BURNED WAS WHEATGERM.
Inside the apartment, Mr M has taken the toaster from Hannah and is setting it on a table. Hanna is hovering self-consciously. The fly is visible somewhere in the panel.
1) Hanna: CAN YOU DO ANYTHING WITH IT?
2) Mr M: I’LL HAVE IT WORKING FOR YOU IN NO TIME.
3) Caption: HANNA CAN SEE THAT MR M IS AN EDUCATED MAN. HIS APARTMENT IS CRAMMED WITH BOOKS. YET HE RARELY LEAVES THE APARTMENT, EXCEPT AT NIGHT.
Hanna has moved over to look out of the window. We are looking over her shoulder into the street where crime-scene analysts in blue coveralls are leaving the building opposite, carrying boxes of equipment. Mr M is behind Hanna – the fly still buzzing round his head. A couple of guys in smart suits and shades are entering the building. They are plain-clothes cops (Internal Affairs Bureau). One is black, one white, early thirties.
4) Hanna: DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE SHOOTING?
5) Mr M: THE YOUNG COUPLE OPPOSITE. YES. I HEARD.
6) Caption: HANNA OFTEN HEARS HIM COMING HOME IN THE SMALL HOURS, STUMBLING ON THE STAIRS, LEAVING THE TASTE OF BAR-ROOMS ON THE AIR.
Panels 3-5: a row of small panels, each from a similar viewpoint, just outside the window of the apartment. Hanna and Mr M are looking out through the window (towards us), Mr M standing just behind Hanna and to the right of the panel.
Hanna and Mr M watch silently through the window. Hanna’s eyes are following the flight of the fly above her head
7) Caption: SHE WOULD LIKE TO TELL HIM ABOUT HER WORK.
Hanna’s tongue, long and forked like a lizard’s, flicks out to snatch the fly from the air. Mr M watches her from the corner of his eye but does not react.
8) Caption: SHE IS SURE HE WOULD BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THAT SHE HAS A DEGREE IN SOCIAL HISTORY…
Hanna lowers her head, blushing as she puts her hand to her mouth – the kind of gesture you might make after belching in front of guests at the dinner table. Mr M’s face betrays no emotion.
9) Hanna: OH. EXCUSE ME. THAT WAS RUDE.
10) Mr M: NOT AT ALL MS LEVY. THAT FLY HAS BEEN BOTHERING ME ALL MORNING.
11) Caption: …AND THAT SHE IS EMPLOYED AS A RESEARCHER FOR ‘THE NORTH AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW’ - ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST HIGHLY REGARDED HISTORICAL JOURNALS.
Hanna is back out in the corridor. She looks awkward as she half-turns to Mr M who stands in his doorway, the door half-closed.
12) Mr M: I’LL HAVE YOUR TOASTER READY FOR YOU IN A COUPLE OF HOURS, MS LEVY.
13) Hanna: I-I’LL BRING YOU SOME PIE. I’M BAKING A BLUEBERRY PIE.
14) Mr M: THAT WILL BE WONDERFUL. THANK YOU.
15) Caption: STUPID FLY.
The final panel on this page should be large. The six silent panels can all be quite small.
Mr M has taken the toaster into his kitchen – again all the furnishings are old. A full-length shot of Mr M standing over the toaster which he has placed on the kitchen table.
Point of view is from table level, looking up past the toaster at Mr M who is holding his hands over it as if in benediction. There is a glow around the toaster and it has become transparent so we can see its inner workings. Mr M’s eyes are half-closed in concentration. The cable from the toaster winds out of view so we can’t see that it is not plugged in.
Similar angle. The toaster looks normal – no longer glowing/transparent. Mr M is inserting a slice of bread. Cable still goes off frame.
Pull back a little to show the whole of the cable so we can see that the plug is lying there, nowhere near a power source. A perfectly toasted slice of bread pops up from the toaster. Mr M’s face is expressionless. This is too easy for him to register any real self-satisfaction.
From outside the apartment window. Mr M is standing at the window, eating his toast as he looks out.
Pull back to show more of the building. We can see down to the street below. The effect is of a camera pulling back from Mr M until in the next panel we are inside the Costanza apartment.
Large panel. We are now inside the Costanza apartment where two Crime Scene Analysts in blue coveralls and white gloves (see pic supplied) are finishing up with the scene where the Costanzas were blown away by Gus last issue. Through the window in front of us we can still just see Mr M watching from his apartment window. The implication is that he could have witnessed the shooting. There are four people in the room: the white IAB guy in his suit stands, hands on hips looking around at the scene, eyebrows raised. On his knees beside him, an analyst is clearing up his equipment. (See Crime Scene websites for equipment reference: http://www.feinc.net/equipmt.htm http://www.crime-scene.com/catalog/index.shtml http://www.evidentcrimescene.com/ )
In the centre of the room the black IAB guy is standing with arms folded talking to the second Crime Scene Analyst who is looking up to where a bullet has been dug out of the ceiling. A circle has been drawn with a marker around the bullet’s entry point. The second Analyst is pointing a small pen-laser at the bullet hole. These lasers are used to track bullet trajectories (image supplied).
Physically the scene is the aftermath of the shooting and should match up to the first issue’s visuals. The bodies’ positions are marked with tape. Blood-spatters, footprints, spent shell casings etc are all marked with cardboard tags. (The tags are not absolutely vital as the scene has been photographed and is being cleared up.) Floodlights and camera tripods may still be standing in corners – basically put in whatever paraphernalia you feel like.
1) White IAB Guy: QUITE A MESS.
2) First Analyst: I SEEN WORSE. HANDGUNS AREN’T SO BAD.
3) Linked balloon: MACHETES NOW…THAT’S ANOTHER STORY. I HATE MACHETES.
4) Black IAB Guy: SO ARE WE CLEAR WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
5) Second Analyst: WE RECOVERED THE SLUG THAT HIT THE WOUNDED OFFICER FROM THE CEILING.
6) Linked balloon: THE TRAJECTORY IS CONSISTENT WITH A STRUGGLE FOR THE WEAPON OCCURRING RIGHT ABOUT HERE.
The second Analyst has moved over to the wall with the blood spatter from Costanza. He is pointing at the floor where Costanza was standing when he was shot. Black IAB guy stands to the right.
1) Second Analyst: BACKSPLATTER PATTERNS PUT THE MALE VICTIM ABOUT HERE WHEN HE WAS SHOT.
2) Black IAB Guy: YOU MEAN WHEN HE SHOT HIMSELF?
The Analyst is tucking his laser pen into a breast pocket. The black IAB guy rubs his jaw thoughtfully.
3) Second Analyst: THAT’S FOR THE PATHOLOGIST TO SAY. OFF THE RECORD, YOUR OFFICERS COULD BE TELLING THE TRUTH.
4) Linked balloon: BUT IF THE RELATIVES GO FOR A PRIVATE PROSECUTION THERE ARE ENOUGH INCONSISTENCIES…
Low point of view from near floor level, emphasizing the tape outline of where Jake Costanza’s body lay. Analyst looks down significantly at the body-outline.
5) Black IAB Guy: ENOUGH TO MAKE A CASE FOR UNLAWFUL KILLING?
6) Second Analyst: ENOUGH FOR SOME EMBARASSING HEADLINES.
Black IAB Guy in extreme foreground. White IAB guy behind him, jerking a thumb at the door.
7) White IAB Guy: OKAY, LET’S GO DOWNSTAIRS AND TALK TO THE SISTER.
Patricia (Merwoman) Hamilton’s apartment. Bethany Danziger (The Siren’s sister) is sitting on a couch with a cup of tea on her lap. The black IAB guy is sitting in a chair opposite her. The white IAB guy is standing to one side. Patricia Hamilton is looking on from behind the couch, frowning slightly.
8) Bethany: AH’M REALLY NOT SURE. I JUST HAVE THIS FEELING SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT.
9) Linked balloon: I NEED TO TAKE SOME TIME. THINK IT OVER.
10) Black IAB Guy: OKAY, THAT’S FINE. WHERE CAN WE REACH YOU MS DANZIGER?
Patricia has moved up behind Bethany and placed one webbed hand on her shoulder. Bethany smiles slightly at the reassuring touch. This shot is tight on the two women to emphasize the contact.
11) Patricia: BETHANY WILL BE RIGHT HERE. SHE CAN STAY AS LONG AS SHE NEEDS.
Close-up of Bethany, furrowed brow, looking earnest. She isn’t used to dealing with the authorities, but she is determined to have her rights addressed.
1) Bethany: COULD I MAYBE SPEAK WITH THOSE TWO OFFICERS? I THINK THAT MIGHT HELP.
The black IAB guy us still sitting. He looks a little uncomfortable with the idea of Bethany confronting the man who shot her sister, but does not want to antagonize her. His colleague is standing behind him, one hand in his pocket.
2) Black IAB Guy: UH… WELL, YES, I’M SURE WE CAN ARRANGE SOMETHING. OFFICER KUCHARSKY IS CURRENTLY HOSPITALIZED, BUT I BELIEVE HE’S RECOVERING WELL.
(Linked balloon): WHAT ABOUT OFFICER ORTEGA SAM?
3) White IAB Guy: ORTEGA? HE’S ON SPECIAL DUTY, WITH THAT BIG GUY. THE FED.
Cut to the exterior of the 11th precinct station house. Bishop and Ismael Ortega are exiting the building into the parking lot at the rear where squad cars, vans etc are lined up
4) Ismael: SO WHAT’S THE DEAL BISHOP? HOW COME THE FEDS ARE SUDDENLY INTERESTED IN OUR LOCAL CRIME PROBLEMS?
5) Bishop: WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT DANIEL KAUFMAN AND FRANKIE ZAPRUDER?
Ismael and Bishop have reached their patrol car.
6) Ismael: BETWEEN THEM THEY RUN MOST OF THE RACKETS AROUND HERE. THAT’S NO BIG SECRET.
Ismael has opened the door on the driver’s side of the car. Bishop is talking to him across the roof of the car. Ismael is grinning dismissively.
7) Bishop: WORD IS THERE’S A TURF WAR BREWING.
8) Ismael: NAH… THEY’VE BEEN SOUNDING OFF AT EACH OTHER FOR YEARS. IT ALWAYS FIZZLES OUT.
Bishop still leaning on the roof. Ismael is getting into the car.
9) Bishop: WORD IS THIS TIME IT’S FOR REAL. A GANG WAR IS ALWAYS NASTY. A GANG WAR SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF MANHATTAN, INVOLVING MUTANTS… THAT’S A NIGHTMARE.
10) Ismael: RIGHT. MUTANTS SLUGGING IT OUT IN MANHATTAN. THAT COULD REALLY DAMAGE THE TOURIST TRADE.
Bishop is inside the car. He’s big. He fills the space beside Ismael in a way even Gus didn’t. Ismael has his hands on the wheel, His jaw is clenched. He stares ahead through the windscreen. He suddenly feels like Bishop is invading his space, in the car and in his precinct. Bishop gives Ismael a calculating look, sizing him up.
1) Bishop: LISTEN ORTEGA, THIS ISN’T ABOUT PUBLIC RELATIONS.
Same point of view.
2) Bishop: WE NEED TO TAKE THEM OUT OF CIRCULATION BEFORE THE LID BLOWS. ZAPRUDER, KAUFMAN AND THEIR LIEUTENANTS. IF WE DON’T, A LOT OF INNOCENT BYSTANDERS ARE GOING TO GET HURT. LOCAL PEOPLE. CITIZENS.
3) Ismael: CAN’T BE DONE. THEY HAVE A FIREWALL OF LEGITIMATE BUSINESSES BETWEEN THEM AND THE DIRTY MONEY. CLUBS, RESTAURANTS, IMPORTS. YOU NAME IT.
Exterior shot of car.
4) Bishop: OKAY. GIVE ME THE TOUR. SHOW ME WHO RUNS WHAT.
Interior of car. Over Ismael’s shoulder we have a good view of the street through the windscreen. They are passing a video rental shop “VID-U-LIKE”. On the other side of the cross-street ahead is a tenement with a flight of steps down to the street. A group of tenants are gathered around the landlord. From this distance we can just see this is a group of angry, gesticulating individuals.
5) Ismael: THAT VIDEO RENTAL… THAT’S FRANKIE’S. ‘ROUND THE CORNER FROM HERE HE HAS A CAR DEALERSHIP AND - RIGHT UP AHEAD… WE’VE GOT TROUBLE.
The patrol car pulls up at the kerb. Ismael leans out of the window. Mixed crowd of mutants, many of them black are surrounding the harassed-looking building-manager – Manfred - who is black, in his fifties, wearing a shabby suit over white T-shirt with picture of Bob Marley. He has dreadlocks but has seriously receding hairline. He sports a couple of short blunt horns on his forehead. First male tenant is a white-haired, white mustached old black guy with pork-pie hat and braces (suspenders) – the type of grouch you always see hanging out on street corners in Spike Lee movies. There is no visual evidence that he is a mutant. The second tenant is a young black woman, carrying a baby in her arms. Her eyes are gold disks – no pupils, Her baby has the same eyes. She holds the baby under one arm as she points angrily at the landlord.
6) Ismael: HEY GUYS! WHAT’S UP?
7) First Tenant (Male): WASSUP?! ASK THE MAN HERE WASSUP. ASK MISTER RENT-COLLECTOR LANDLORD HERE WHY HE’S LETTING THOSE FALCONES BREED VERMIN UP THERE.
8) (linked balloon): WHOLE BUILDING’S CRAWLING WITH ‘EM.
9) Second Tenant (Female): I’M A MOTHER OFFICER. I GOT A BABY.
Close-up of second tenant in Manfred’s face. This could be inset into panel 5.
10) Second Tenant: YOU HEAR ME MANFRED? MY BABY GETS BIT BY ONE OF THOSE RAT THINGS AN’ GETS RABIES OR PLAGUE OR-OR MAD COW, I’M COMING AFTER YOU. MY LAWYER COMING AFTER YOU!
11) (linked balloon): I’M GONNA SUE YOU FOR EVERY CENT YOU GOT.
Ismael and Bishop are out of the car. The crowd is simmering, glaring at the Manfred. Ismael holds up his hands in a pacifying gesture. Bishop is frowning. This is not what he is here for. Manfred is speaking to Ismael.
1) Ismael: ARE YOU THE LANDLORD HERE?
2) Manfred: I AIN’T THE LANDLORD. DO I LOOK LIKE I OWN REAL ESTATE?
3) (linked balloon): I’M THE MANAGER. AND I’M NOT GOING UP THERE AGAIN. THOSE AIN’T NO RATS.
4) Ismael: WE’LL CHECK IT OUT. WHERE ARE THESE FALCONES?
5) Manfred: FIFTH FLOOR. YOU CAN’T MISS IT.
Cut to full-on shot of the Falcone’s front door. Grafitti has been sprayed all over it: THE RAT HOLE, FALCONIS R LOWLIFE TRASH
and skull-and-crossbones etc
Mrs Falcone answers the door, peering warily out at Bishop and Ismael. She is bent and worn-out, her face resigned to its fate, strands of hair fall over her face, She’s forty but looks older.
6) Ismael: MRS FALCONE? COULD WE SPEAK WITH YOU? IT’S ABOUT-
7) Mrs Falcone: YES, I KNOW. YOU BETTER COME IN.
Interior of the Falcone’s apartment. Mrs Falcone is leading Bishop and Ismael into the sitting room from the hallway. There is a dresser against one wall with the good china on shelves behind glass doors. The lower part of the dresser has a couple of drawers where documents and old photos are kept. A bright Italian landscape on the wall. Kids’ toys are scattered around – baseball glove and ball, junior size guitar etc. Mr Falcone is sprawled unconscious in an armchair in front of the TV. Empty wine bottles roll around on the floor. There is a typical daytime game show on the TV when the screen is visible. The sound is turned all the way down. Mr Falcone is fat and balding, dressed in stained undershirt and shorts. His body is covered with scars and freshly healed wounds, plasters stuck on his forehead, bandages around one thigh and one fore-arm. There is a massive bulging bubo on one shoulder. Other, smaller lumps on other parts of his body.
8) Mrs Falcone: IT GETS WORSE WHEN HE’S DRINKING.
9) (linked balloon): ONLY JOB HE COULD GET WAS GARBAGE COLLECTOR. LOST THAT WHEN HE GOT IN A FIGHT.
10) (linked balloon): HIS COLLEAGUES DIDN’T LIKE THE WAY HE SMELLS.
Close-up of Mrs Falcone crossing her arms across her chest, glaring bitterly.
1) Mrs Falcone: SO NOW I HAVE TO WORK NIGHTS. TEN PM TO SIX AM CLEANING OFFICES FOR MINIMUM WAGE TO PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE AND WINE IN HIS FAT BELLY.
Same angle. Her expression softens a little. She pushes a strand of hair behind her ear.
2) Mrs Falcone: I GUESS IT’S NOT HIS FAULT. HE CAN’T EVEN GET DISABILITY. NOT A RECOGNISED MEDICAL CONDITION, THEY SAY.
Bishop has moved towards the husband. He has his hands in the pockets of his coat, frowning down at the slumbering drunk. He is also between the husband and the TV (he has to be close enough to touch the TV on the next page.)
3) Bishop: WHAT EXACTLY IS HIS ‘CONDITION’ MRS FALCONE?
Two boys – about 7 and 10 years old - burst into the room waving toy guns. The oldest, Primo, carries a replica Uzi, which he points at Ismael, the younger, Matteo, has a replica handgun (22 automatic…whatever). COLORIST: COLOR THESE GUNS ORANGE. THAT’S HOW TOY GUNS ARE MADE NOW IN THE US. They are snotty-nosed ghetto kids. Baggy T-shirts, high top fade haircuts. Ismael whirls round in surprise. Mrs Falcone looks furious.
4) Matteo: HEY! PIGS! WACK ‘EM PRIMO!
5) Primo: EAT UZI SUCKAH!
Mrs Falcone whacks Primo round the head – hard. The force of the blow sends him reeling. Ismael looks shocked by her reaction.
6) Mrs Falcone; PRIMO! Per Carita! YOU BE NICE. SHOW THE OFFICERS I BRING YOU UP RIGHT!
7) Ismael: PLEASE, MRS FALCONE. THERE’S NO NEED-
Close-up on the two kids. Primo is rubbing the side of his head. Matteo has grabbed his brother’s shoulder and is pointing out of panel, towards us, wide-eyed with excitement.
8) Matteo: HEY! HERE COMES ANOTHER ONE!
9) (Linked balloon): IT’S GONNA BE A GOOD ONE!
Close-up on Mr Falcone, head and shoulders. The bubo on his shoulder is heaving and distorting. Greenish fluid is leaking out of it. Falcone’s face is screwed up in agony.
Full page splash. Go crazy on this. Choose a dynamic angle (upshot?) as the bubo bursts and a grotesque lizard/rat/thing springs out right at us.. It looks kind of embryonic like a new born rat might. Pink flesh, bulbous eyes squinting at the light. Tufts of fur. Teeth! Needle sharp teeth. Green gunge/afterbirth squirting everywhere. Falcone’;s hands claw at the air in pain. His face contorts, his body spasms.
1) Falcone: AAAAARGGHH!!!
The rat thing scuttles across the floor towards Bishop who backs away – the TV is directly behind him.
1) Bishop: WHAT-?
Upshot as the rat thing grabs onto Bishop’s trouser leg and head up his leg. Bishop looks totally repulsed. One hand flails out towards the TV. Some indication of the hand extracting electrical energy from the television.
2) Bishop: GET-
Bishop zaps the creature with an energy beam from his hands. The rat thing is flash fried in mid-air, eyes popping, tail straight up like 50,000 volts are going through it (which they are).
3) Bishop: -OFF!
Bishop, shaken but pulling himself together, looks down at the smoking corpse of the rat thing. Primo is goggling gleefully at the dead creature, Matteo, frowning, pointing at the smoking TV. Ismael gives Bishop a sidelong glance.
4) Primo: AWESOME!
5) Matteo: HEY! YOU BROKE OUR TEEVEE!
Close-up on Bishop and Ismael. Bishop tight-lipped. Ismael frowning, but with a knowing half-smile.
6) Ismael: SOMETHING YOU’VE BEEN KEEPING FROM ME BISHOP?
Mrs Falcone chases the kids out of the room. Matteo is the one who gets hit upside the head this time.
1) Mrs Falcone: OUT! GET OUT! GO TO YOUR ROOM!
In the foreground, the husband has lapsed into unconsciousness again. Mrs Falcone looks down at him, wringing her hands. Ismael and Bishop in the background. The blown out TV still smoking slightly. Ismael apologetic. Mrs Falcone not hearing him.
2) Ismael: UH. I APOLOGIZE FOR THE TV MRS FALCONE.
3) Mrs Falcone: HE-HE WASN’T ALWAYS LIKE THIS.
4) Mr Falcone: UNNN…
Mrs Falcone has gone over to the dresser and is hunting through papers in one of the drawers. Bishop is by the door ready to leave. Ismael, seeing there is nothing for them to do there tries to make his excuses.
5) Mrs Falcone: LET ME SHOW YOU.
6) Ismael: MRS FALCONE, I DON’T THINK-
Mrs Falcone has found what she was looking for. She turns towards them, clutching a large framed photograph to her chest. She looks wistful.
7) Mrs Falcone: THIS IS OUR WEDDING DAY. ARTURO WAS SO NERVOUS, SO HAPPY…
She holds up the photograph. The picture fills most of the frame. The Falcones, maybe fifteen years earlier, on their wedding day. Arturo in his tuxedo, with a full head of hair, his new bride holding on to his right arm, looking ecstatic. Arturo’s left hand is raised like a conjuror. Rising from the palm of his hand is an exotic, other-wordly creature, with colorful butterfly wings. On his hand is a slit, like stigmata, from which the creature has emerged.
8) Mrs Falcone: LOOK WHAT HE HATCHED FOR ME.
Cut to the exterior of the building. Bishop, stony-faced in the foreground, pushing through the crowd of tenants. Ismael behind him is at the foot of the steps, talking to the Manfred, the building manager.
9) First tenant (the old guy in the pork-pie hat): YOU SEE THEM CRITTERS?
10) Second tenant (the woman with baby): YOU GONNA TELL HIM TO EVICT THOSE LOW-LIFES?
11) Manfred: WHAT’S THE VERDICT OFFICERS?
12) Ismael: I’M SORRY. THIS ISN’T POLICE BUSINESS. YOU’LL HAVE TO TAKE IT TO CITY HALL.
13) Bishop: YEAH. TRY PEST CONTROL.
Ismael and Bishop are back in the car, slowly cruising up the street. Ismael glances across at Bishop as he drives.
1) Ismael: SO YOU’RE A MUTANT.
2) Bishop: YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT?
3) Ismael: NO PROBLEM. JUST TAKE CARE. YOU CAN’T GO AROUND BLOWING UP PEOPLE’S PROPERTY.
4) Bishop: WHAT ABOUT YOU ISMAEL? CHIEF ESPOSITO TELLS ME YOU LEFT CUBA IN 1980 WHEN CASTRO KICKED OUT THE MUTANTS.
Ismael is tight-lipped. The two of them are both acting kind of macho here, sizing each other up, digging around for the secrets each is hiding.
5) Ismael: I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD. MY PARENTS CHOSE TO LEAVE. AND IT WASN’T JUST MUTANTS. IT WAS GAYS, INTELLECTUALS, WRITERS, ARTISTS…
6) Bishop: YOUR PARENTS WEREN’T MUTANTS?
7) Ismael: THEY WERE POETS.
Bishop stares at Ismael, assessing him. Ismael in the foreground, is concentrating on the road ahead.
Bishop turns his head, apparently satisfied, leans one elbow out of the open window.
8) Bishop: OKAY. LET’S GET ON WITH THIS. NO MORE DISTRACTIONS. I WANT TO SEE WHERE KAUFMAN DOES BUSINESS.
9) Ismael: HE HAS OFFICES OVER ONE OF HIS CLUBS. ‘DANIEL’S INFERNO’.
10) Bishop: SOUNDS CLASSY.
Cut to the Merwoman’s apartment. This first panel just shows the poster from the scene last issue where Ismael and Gus first enter the apartment. The poster has a picture of Patricia wearing a very skimpy costume, performing underwater acrobatics. The Header reads: THE AMAZING MERWOMAN. Under the picture: PERFORMING NIGHTLY AT DANIEL’S INFERNO.
1)Patricia (voice-over): IT’S RATHER SEEDY ACTUALLY. I DON’T THINK IT’S YOUR KIND OF THING.
Bethany and Patricia standing in front of the poster. Bethany is gazing up at the poster. Patricia’s attention is on Bethany,
2) Bethany: OH, BUT I’D LOVE TO WATCH YOU PERFORM.
3) Patricia: ONE DAY PERHAPS. WE’LL SEE.
Bethany has moved over to inspect the cups and statuettes lined up in the display cabinet next to the poster. She is obviously in awe of Patricia. Patricia’s face betrays a more worldly-wise cynicism.
4) Bethany: YOU HAVE SO MANY AWARDS.
5) Patricia: YES. I WAS ALL SET TO REPRESENT ENGLAND IN THE OLYMPICS.
6) (linked balloon): THAT WAS BEFORE I WAS DISQUALIFIED FROM COMPETITION SWIMMING BY THE SPORTS COUNCIL.
Small close-up of Bethany turning away from the poster, looking dismayed.
7) Bethany: BUT WHY?
Head and shoulders of Patricia, holding one hand up, spreading it to show the webbed fingers.
8) Patricia: UNFAIR ADVANTAGES.
Patricia has turned away to look at the trophies and maybe to hide her feelings from Bethany.
9) Patricia: SO I CAME TO THE STATES. THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITIES… AND NOW I PERFORM IN A NIGHTCLUB. IN A GIANT FISHBOWL.
Patricia leaving the apartment, carrying a medium-size bag – big enough for her costume. These last three panels can be very small.
Inside Mr M’s apartment. Looking over his shoulder as he stands at the window, the perpetual voyeur, watching Patricia walk off down the street. The plant on the window-sill is visible.
Patricia walking towards us. The window with Mr M visible in the background.
Patricia walking up to ‘Daniel’s Inferno’ – Art Deco lettering. Maybe a Mucha style picture of fully clothed women and lots of flames engraves on the blacked-out windows. In the background the patrol car with Bishop and Ismael is pulling into view.
Interior of car. Bishop is looking at Ismael who is frowning as he peers at Patricia, who we can see entering the club.
1) Bishop: WHAT IS IT? YOU KNOW HER?
2) Ismael: YEAH, SHE DIDN’T SEEM LIKE THE TYPE TO WORK HERE
Interior of the club. A pretty sleazy nightclub, with walls painted black and red – the theme is Hell fire flames and devils. The layout in this panel is: to the right a bar where a barman is polishing glasses and Lonnie the manager is sitting on a bar stool. (Lonnie is a slim trendy black guy with corn rows and designer suit. We’ll see him again in a couple of scenes. He’s a decent guy so make him look sympathetic. Later he is revealed as an informant who is leaking information to the FBI.) To the left a doorway through which we can see a staircase leading upstairs. Ahead is a corridor. Patricia is heading for the corridor where the changing rooms are, greeting the manager who returns her greeting. Down the corridor and heading towards us are two heavies who are dragging a young guy between them. He is dragging his feet, looking terrified. This group is small in this shot – not the focus of attention yet. The young guy is Jazz, his skin is deep blue (BIG NOTE TO COLORIST). He is skinny, dresses like Eminem, dyes his hair blonde, wears a beanie and bling-bling jewellery. Total wanksta. He is a small-time dealer, currently working for Filthy Frankie, but about to change sides. The heavies wear designer brown leather jackets and black polo-necks – the uniform for Kaufman’s heavies.
3) Patricia: EVENING LONNIE.
4) Lonnie: EVENING MS HAMILTON.
The group pushes past Patricia who is forced against the wall. Jazz looks like he is wetting himself.
5) Patricia: HEY!
6) Heavy 1: ‘SCUSE US.
Patricia in foreground turns to watch the two heavies dragging Jazz reluctantly up the stairs. Jazz looks back over his shoulder at her, face like a scared puppy. Patricia frowns.
7) Heavy 1: MOVE IT PUNK!
Interior Kaufman’s office. It is big and plush. Abstract art on the walls. In the foreground the two heavies are hauling the terrified Jazz into the room. Kaufman is sitting behind a desk, big picture window behind him looking out over district X.
(KAUFMAN: One of the two major gang bosses in District X. Kaufman is a mutant with a metabolic disorder which leaves him in a state of constant hyper tension. He is edgy, and his entire body is alive with tics and twitches. His face is constantly animated. One eyebrow will be raised while the other eye squints, his lip will curl and quiver uncontrollably. His thin lips are pulled back in a grimace from constantly clenched teeth, which are worn down from being ground together day and night. He has the sunken, staring eyes of a speed freak. Black bags under the eyes from lack of sleep. This guy is so hyped up he hasn’t slept in fifteen years. He has a deathly pallor. Shaky’s face is long and angular, with very high prominent cheekbones. His hair is long black and greasy, receding from his high forehead in a widow’s peak, (Think Bela Lugosi’s hair, but much longer) hanging past his shoulders. His pointed ears are visible, the hair pushed behind his ears, except for a single lock which hangs in front of each ear. His head is thrust forward on his long neck. His body is as long and angular as his face. He is slender, but immensely powerful. At regular intervals the energy builds up in him and he has manic outbursts of violence to expel it – often on unfortunate human victims. He wears a white suit with black polo-neck shirt or sweater.)
Kaufman is snapping matches between his fingers. There are big household size boxes of matches lying on the table and literally hundreds of broken matches scattered across its surface. Beside him stands a massive bruiser, muscular but fleshy too. His entire body (when we see it close up) is covered with a criss-cross of scars. He also has cauliflower ears, broken nose, missing teeth, puffy lips. He is Kaufman’s ‘trainer’ Mr Punch.
8) Heavy 1: WE GOT ‘IM BOSS.
9) Kaufman: HELLO JAZZ.
Close-up of Kaufman, speaking between gritted teeth. Another matchstick snaps between his fingers. Backlit from the window, looking psycho.
1) Kaufman: NOW JAZZ. LET’S GET RIGHT TO THE POINT. THERE IS A NEW DRUG ON THE STREET. TOAD JUICE. TELL ME ABOUT IT.
Jazz looking shifty and fearful, dwarfed between the two heavies.
2) Jazz: UNN. I DON’T KNOW NOTHIN’.
Close-up of Kaufman, his face coming alive with tics and twitches. Matches splintering. His lips are drawn back from gritted teeth.
3) Kaufman: THAT’S A DOUBLE NEGATIVE JAZZ. YOU SELL TOAD JUICE FOR FUH-FUH- FILTHY FUH- FRANKIE. TELL ME WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT IT…
Pull back to a shot including Jazz cowering between the two heavies and Kaufman motioning Mr Punch to talk to Jazz.
4) Jazz: I C-CAN’T. I AIN’T NO SQUEALER.
5) Kaufman: MR PUNCH. INFUH-FORM OUR FUH-FRIEND WHY HE SHOULD START NNNGGG SQU- SQUEALING…
Close-up of Jazz with Mr Punch bending to speak confidentially into his ear. We can really see the network of scars on Mr Punch’s battered face.
6) Mr Punch: YOU MAY HAVE OBSERVED THAT MR KAUFMAN IS A LITLE AGITATED.
Close-up of Kaufman. His head is spasming to one side at an unnatural angle, eyes bulging, teeth clenched. Scary.
7) Mr Punch (voice-off): MR KAUFMAN HAS AN ERRATIC METABOLISM. HIS BODY BUILDS UP COLOSSAL AMOUNTS OF ENERGY, WHICH HE IS PERIODICALLY COMPELLED TO RELEASE IN BURSTS OF EXTREME VIOLENCE.
Close-up of Jazz with Mr Punch speaking into his ear. Jazz is staring in terror at Kaufman.
8) Mr Punch: YOU HAVE ABOUT THIRTY SECONDS.
Kaufman pushes himself onto his feet, slamming his hands onto the table – matches go flying, His hair is wild.
9)Kaufman: NNNNGGG URRRRR
Kaufman heads up the room towards Jazz, jerking around like a psychopathic automaton. Jazz has sunk to his knees, the two heavies are backing away. They don’t want to get too near their boss’s raging fury.
1) Kaufman: NNNNGGG!
From behind Jazz, low-level shot to emphasize Kaufman rising above Jazz, his fists raised above his head in a parody of a ‘HULK SMASH’ type pose.
2) Jazz: OKAY! OKAY! I’M SQUEALING! I’M SQUEALING!
Jazz hunched over on the floor, arms over his head to protect himself from the coming attack. Kaufman, twitching and shaking, his hands spasming into fists, teeth clenched, head wrenched over to one side, eyes bulging, turns towards Mr Punch who stands impassively, arms at his side.
3) Kaufman (Letterer – some suitably quavery lettering please): NNNGGGHH - MUH-MUH- MISTER PUH-PUNCH?
4) Mr Punch: READY WHEN YOU ARE MR KAUFMAN.
Kaufman launches into Mr Punch, kicking, punching, biting, scratching, in a frenzied whirlwind of violence. Mr Punch staggers a little but makes no effort to defend himself. He is Kaufman’s living punchbag. One punch connects with the side of his face, a real blockbuster which would break a normal person’s jaw. (NOTE: Add appropriate SFX after the art is completed)
Kaufman has spent his energy. From behind Mr Punch, who still stands with his arms by his sides, Kaufman’s legs have given way and he is clinging onto Mr Punch, gasping. His hair hangs down in his face. In the background Jazz is still on his knees, staring goggle-eyed, looking like he has wet himself. He is, if anything, more petrified than before. Next time it could be him.
5) Kaufman: HUFF-HUFF
Kaufman stands up, straightening his jacket, pushing his hair back behind his ears. Mr Punch (maybe with nose-bleed?), looks unruffled.
1) Kaufman: THANK YOU MR PUNCH.
Kaufman walking back to his chair. One of the heavies draws up another chair for Jazz.
2) Kaufman: SIT DOWN JAZZ. TELL ME EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT JUICE.
3) Jazz: Y-YESSIR. NO PROBLEM.
Kaufman, calm now is sitting with elbows on the table, hands locked, chin rested on hands. Opposite him Jazz leans forward, apparently eager now to tell Kaufman everything. Mr Punch is standing once more at Kaufman’s side.
4) Jazz: WAY I HEARD IT WAS THIS. THIS IS LIKE URBAN LEGEND ONLY FOR REAL, I GOT HOMEYS WHO SEEN THIS GUY.
Flashback panel. Jazz in the top left narrating the voice-over, fading to a shot of Toad Boy in a playpen. His mother is leaning over the side of the playpen shaking a rattle. (I think we have Toad Boy sorted visually)
5) Jazz: THE TOAD BOY.
6) Caption 1 (voice-over): MAN THIS SUCKA IS SO UGLY HIS OLD MAN COULDN’T STAND T’LOOK AT HIM Y’KNOW. DID A RUNNER DAY HE WAS BORN.
7) Caption 2 (voice-over): KID’S MOMMA STUCK BY HIM. LOVED HIM LIKE… LIKE A SON I GUESS.
Toad Boy is now an adolescent, sprawled on the couch watching TV. His mother in the background has just come in from work. She looks at Toad Boy with a touch of resentment.
8) Caption (voice-over): SO ANYHOW THE KID GROWS UP, AN’ HE JUST GET UGLIER. HIS MOMMA KEEPS HIM HOME. SHE WORKS HER FINGERS TO THE BONE AN’ HE JUST SITS AROUND THE HOUSE, WATCHIN’ THE BOX ALL DAY LONG.
Toad Boy’s Mum is freaking out, shouting at her son who cowers away from her, tears squeezing out of those big bulbous eyes.
9) Caption (voice-over): ONE DAY SHE CAN’T TAKE IT NO MORE. SHE COMES HOME TOTALLY TWISTED AN’ SKITZIN’, JUS’ FREAKS AN’ HOLLERS AT HIM LIKE HE RUINED HER LIFE AN’ STUFF.
Toad Boy is still crying. His mother has taken him into her arms, kissing his face.
1) Caption (voice-over): KID STARTS CRYING AN’ SHE FEELS BAD, SO SHE GIVES HIM A BIG HUG AN’ Y’KNOW, KISSES HIS TEARS AWAY…
The Toad Boy’s mother draws back, mouth half open in a stoned smile. Her eyes look zonked – pupils dilated, staring wide-eyed at Planet Bong.
2) Caption (voice-over): AN’ IT’S LIKE WHAM-BLAM, BEAM ME UP SCOTTY. SHE’S FLYIN’! SEE THE KID SECRETES THIS STUFF THAT’S LIKE THE ULTIMATE HIGH. HIS TEARS, HIS SWEAT, HIS SPIT, EVERYTHIN’ IS LOADED WITH THIS STUFF.
Out of flashback. Jazz is waving his hands around, really getting into the story.
3) Jazz: MAN, FROM THAT DAY HIS MOMMA DON’T WORK. SHE DON’T GO OUT. SHE DON’T COOK. KID HAS TO SEND OUT FOR PIZZA TO STAY ALIVE Y’KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN’?
4) Jazz: HIS OLE LADY IS PERMANENTLY BLITZED. PRETTY SOON SHE’S DEEP IN HOCK. SHE’S BEEN GETTING PAPERS FROM THE LOCAL BANK.
5) Jazz: WHEN I SAY BANK I’M TALKIN’ ‘BOUT ONE’A FRANKIE ZAPRUDER’S FRANCHISES. THIS BANK HAS A TAX ON ITS LOANS AN’ WHEN THAT TAX COMES DUE YOU BETTER COME THROUGH.
Flashback panel. Two of Frankie’s goons kicking in the door. Empty pizza boxes, half eaten pizza, coke bottles etc are lying around the place. Dirty clothes piled up, unwashed plates and cutlery. The place is a mess. Toad Boy is sitting on the couch playing on his Playstation, oblivious to his mother, dressed in rags, sprawled beside him, licking his neck. She is skeletal. A terminal junkie. They make a totally degenerate couple. Make this look pretty sick.
6) Caption (voice-over): THEY FIND TOAD BOY AN’ HIS MOMMA, AND THEY FIGURE THIS IS SOMETHING FRANKIE SHOULD SEE FOR HIMSELF.
Flashback panel. In Frankie’s office. See Unlimited X-Men Bishop story for visuals of Frankie and his boys to make this consistent). Frankie looks on while one of his goons (the one with the teeth from ear to ear) reluctantly licks the Toad Boy’s hand.
1) Caption 1 (voice-over): FRANKIE TESTS THE JUICE ON ONE OF HIS SOLDIERS.
The goon’s face transforms like he is seeing the face of God. The guy’s zipper teeth make his smile grotesque.
2) Caption (voice-over): FRANKIE’S GOON IS WELL IMPRESSED.
Close-up of Jazz, his own face reflecting the enthusiasm of the goon tasting Juice for the first time, clicking his fingers as he reaches for a rhyme for ‘shrooms’.
3) Jazz: COMPARED TO JUICE, ACID IS FLACCID. CRACK IS WACK. SHROOMS ARE ER…
Kaufman in foreground, snaps a match in irritation. Jazz snaps out of his revery.
4) Kaufman: JAZZ… CUT TO THE CHASE.
5) Jazz: OH, YEAH. RIGHT.
6) (linked balloon): SO FRANKIE WRITES OFF THE DEBT, TAKES THE TOAD BOY IN. GIVES HIM A HOME. SETS UP A LITTLE FACTORY, COLLECTS THE KID’S SWEAT AN’… …WHATEVER.
Jazz spreads his hand with a ‘there you have it’ gesture.
7) Jazz: THE SECRETIONS ARE DISTILLED AN’ SOAKED INTO BLOTTERS. AN’ IT HITS THE STREETS AS TOAD TABS.
Kaufman leans forward across the table, looking like a shark moving in for the kill.
8) Kaufman: WHAT’S THE TURNOVER JAZZ?
9) Jazz: UH, WELL I HEARD THERE’S ENOUGH FOR FIVE HUNDRED TO A THOUSAND TABS A DAY. THEY GO FOR TWENTY BUCKS A HIT.
Close-up on Kaufman, greed lighting up his face. This is the moment he decides for sure that he is going to take over the toad juice operation.
10) Kaufman: TWENTY THOUSAND A DAY?
11) (linked balloon): GENTLEMEN, KAUFMAN ENTERPRISES IS ABOUT TO ACQUIRE A NEW BUSINESS.
This page may work best as a nine panel grid.
Ismael sitting in bed in white T-shirt and shorts. He is wearing his glasses and writing in his journal with a traditional cartridge pen (rather than biro). The lighting comes from a bedside lamp, which casts a pool of light on Ismael. The rest of the room is in darkness. Later we will see that Ismael is in a separate bed to Armena with a bedside table between the two beds, on which the lamp stands.
1) Caption (Ismael’s journal – lettered as handwriting): WE STAKED OUT THE INFERNO FOR A WHILE. IF THERE REALLY IS A GANG WAR BREWING, I SAW NO SIGN OF IT.
Ismael standing in his kitchen reading the note his wife has left for him. Ismael in civvies, he always changes out of uniform at the station house. He wears casual jacket, white T-shirt and jeans. Looking over his shoulder we can read the note: “There’s rice and chicken in the ice-box. Esteban did a drawing of you. Kisses, Mena.”
2) Caption (Ismael’s journal): ARMENA WAS IN BED WHEN I GOT HOME.
Close-up of Esteban’s drawing, attached to the ice-box door with a Spiderman magnet. The drawing, done in colored markers, is of Ismael in police uniform, including cap and prominent gun in holster on his belt. He is standing in front of a police car with NYPD on the side. Behind him, to one side is a bad guy locked up in a crudely drawn cell, gripping the bars. There is an arrow pointing to the bad guy with the words “Bad Guy” just so we know. At the bottom of the drawing, Esteban has written: “My father is a police man. He keeps us safe.” (Esteban is 8 years old so this should be drawn to reflect that level of drawing expertise),
Close-up of Ismael’s off-duty revolver (.38 caliber Smith and Wesson Chief’s Special images supplied) lying in the drawer of a cabinet (the cabinet is in the front room of the Ismael’s apartment but we needn’t see any background detail) Maybe show Ismael’s hand pushing the drawer closed.
3) Caption (Ismael’s journal): I DID THE USUAL THINGS. UNLOADED MY GUN AND LOCKED IT AWAY.
Ismael standing in the doorway to his son’s room, backlit from the corridor. In the foreground his son sleeping soundly. The room is in darkness but we can maybe see some typical 8-year-old’s toys lying around. On the door: “Esteban’s pad. Keep Out!”
4) Caption (Ismael’s journal): CHECKED ON THE KIDS.
From behind Ismael as he opens the door to his daughter’s room. Light falls across the bed where his daughter is sleeping. On the door “Chamayra’s Zone – Advance and be recognised”.
5) Caption (Ismael’s journal): I’VE BECOME SUPERSTITIOUS ABOUT THAT. IT’S FIXED IN MY HEAD THAT THE ONE TIME I FORGET, SOMETHING TERRIBLE WILL HAPPEN TO THEM.
(The kids aren’t clearly seen here, but for future reference Chamayra is ten years old and very much her mother’s daughter. Her hair can look pretty wild, but she usually ties it back from her face. She is a very bright kid, a bit quiet – there’s a lot going on inside her head. She is imaginative and idealistic in a ten-year-old way. She can be insecure – she feels there is something ‘different’ about her. There is. She is a mutant, but she doesn’t know it yet. Esteban is eight years old – an incredibly active and happy kid. Constantly laughing, curious about everything. Much more confident than his sister. Physically he takes after his Dad. He is shorter than his sister, slim, constantly ‘acting out’ with facial expressions and hand-gestures. He has a flat top with a tuft carefully pulled up and gelled into position at the front. These are great kids!)
In the parents’ bedroom. There are two beds but we only see the one Armena is in. She is sitting up reading “The Little Friend” by Donna Tartt She is turning to smile at us. Make it obvious that this is Ismael’s point of view.
6) Caption (Ismael’s journal): ARMENA ASKED HOW MY DAY WENT.
Ismael shrugging, a slightly evasive smile on his face.
7) Caption (Ismael’s journal): I DIDN’T TELL HER MUCH. WHAT’S TO SAY? “I WATCHED A WOMAN HALF-CRAZY WITH EXHAUSTION HITTING HER KIDS WHILE HER HUSBAND GAVE BIRTH TO A MUTANT RAT?”
Ismael’s hand, holding his journal. It is a beautiful, leather-bound book with his name embossed in gold leaf – a gift from Armena. It has a clasp and small lock to emphasize the fact that no one else can read it.
8) Caption (Ismael’s journal): SHE REMINDED ME TO WRITE MY JOURNAL.
Close-up of the page with Ismael’s pen writing. (Writing done by letterer to keep it consistent with the captions?)
1) Writing on page: IT’S A VITAL PART OF THE THERAPY, PUTTING DOWN MY THOUGHTS, THE THOUGHTS I CAN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE. NOT EVEN MY OWN WIFE.
In the background, Ismael pulls off his shirt, prior to getting into bed. In the foreground, Armena is putting her book down on the bedside table.
2) Caption (Ismael’s journal): HOW IT KILLS ME TO COME HOME TO HER…
Ismael kneels on the bed to kiss Armena. Her hand goes to his cheek.
3) Caption (Ismael’s journal): TO HEAR HER TELL ME SHE LOVES ME…
Armena is curling up to sleep. Behind her Ismael is still sitting on the edge of the bed, watching her.
4) Caption (Ismael’s journal): TO WATCH HER FALL ASLEEP…
Moving in on Armena’s face as a viscous jelly begins to ooze from her pores.
5) Caption (Ismael’s journal): …TO SEE IT HAPPEN EVERY NIGHT…
Ismael gently pulls the sheet down to reveal more of Armena as the jelly surrounds her body. She is wearing a white sleeveless shirt and underpants. The jelly covers the clothes she is wearing – the (preferable) alternative would be to have her nude, but I don’t know if we can get away with that(??)
6) Caption (Ismael’s journal): SHE CAN’T HELP IT. IT’S SUBCONSCIOUS. A DEFENSE MECHANISM. TO PROTECT HER, KEEP HER SAFE.
Bigger panel. Looking down onto the bed from behind and above Ismael. who stands beside the bed. He has pulled the sheet off completely. It hangs from his hand and spreads over the floor like a discarded shroud. Armena is lying in a cocoon of the transparent jelly, curled up in a foetal position, sleeping soundly.
7) Caption 1 (Ismael’s journal): EVERY NIGHT I LOOK AT HER, AND I THINK ABOUT HOW I LOVE HER, AND HOW I HATE THIS…
8) Caption 2: THERE’S A LOT OF PEOPLE WORSE OFF. DISTRICT X IS FULL OF PEOPLE WHO LIVE THEIR LIVES IN PAIN.
9) Caption 3: I SHOULDN’T MAKE SUCH A BIG DEAL OF THIS.
10) Caption 4: IT’S SUCH A LITTLE THING.
Panel 1 (full-page splash panel)
This panel should be really poignant. In the foreground Armena sleeps on, oblivious to Ismael’s suffering. Ismael is in his own bed in the background, a lonely figure who has let the journal drop and buried his face in his hands. He looks small and isolated. The room is in shadow except for the light from the bedside lamp, which casts a yellow light onto Ismael. The harshness of the light on him in contrast to the semi-darkness and soft shadows on Armena, serves to emphasize his isolation.
1) Caption (Ismael’s journal): I JUST WANT TO HOLD YOU WHILE YOU SLEEP.