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A Ten-Page Comic

26 May

So, this was a small project I started working on with a friend, almost two years ago, for an anthology that is now long-since passed. It was written while I was thinking about the revolutions that were happening in Egypt, at the time, an event that is ALSO now since passed. It’s only ten-pages long, and is me examining revolutions, superheroes, children, and other stuff. 

It’s only script, which may not be of an interest to anyone…but *I* like reading comic script and dammit, I’m kind of proud of what I did here. This was the first comic script where I felt like I did what I was trying to.  So here you are.

It never had a title, I’m afraid.

10 PAGE EGYPTIAN COMIC
(working title)

PAGE ONE

 

PANEL ONE: A shot of a simple, narrow bedroom, in which there is a thin bed with no sheets or pillow on it, a window with the blinds down, but open, the sunlight coming through in slices, and a handful of boxes stacked against one wall. There is one box open, in the foreground, and a boy is standing in front of it. He is upright, a bright red hijab falling unfolded in both hands.

 

CAPTION: Friday, January 28th, 2011

 

CAPTION: The revolution out in the streets of Cairo has led to a little war, right here in the Saqr home, and Darius takes advantage of it to grab his mother’s hijab.

 

PANEL TWO: a close shot of the hijab, tucked under one of Darius’ arms, against his skinny body, mostly folded again but still spilling and drooping around his arm. We can make out the details, the intricate weave on the fabric. More importantly, we also note that it is frayed, loose threads hanging off in spots. This is an old hijab.

 

CAPTION: he’s taken it twice, and both times his grandmother has yelled at him for going through the things she has kept for all of these years.

 

CAPTION: she has kept all the things her daughter left behind in Egypt, including Darius.

 

PANEL THREE: in this one, we are in a simple apartment living room. It is also narrow, like all of the house, and full of more furniture than could be of use. All tables and wall space is covered with photos in frames, family photos. Squashed in among all of the furniture, there is a comouter set up on a small table. It is a desktop PC with an older bulky CRT monitor.  There is a small television set, and angled in front of it is an old chair.

 

Sitting in the chair is an old man, Grandpa Saqr. He is short and squat, a round head on a round body. Balding, with a thick mustache, and bushy eyebrows. All is hair has faded to white except his eyebrows which remain as black as ever. He wears black slacks and a white button down shirt, and an olive green open vest over it, which barely fits. This is a man who was once muscular and worked hard at a job, but whose muscles have now turned to flab and whose clothes, no longer worn out, still seem like the pieces of a uniform.  he is staring listlessly at the tv, slouched low, remote dangling from one hand. Faintly grumpy, like a man enduring something.

 

what he is enduring is standing next to him. His wife is arguing with him, but it’s a one-sided argument, as you can tell from her body posture and his. With one hand she is gesturing toward that PC in the corner of the room, and is not yelling, but is clearly agitated. She is tall and thin, with a gaunt face, and she also has thick eyebrows. She wears a simple dress, cut to past her knee. One gets the sense that, like the house and her husband, she settled years ago and nothing much has changed.

 

CAPTION: brought on by events out in the city, this battle is new…

 

CAPTION:… but the war itself is old and worn-in. Comfortable.

 

PANEL FOUR: an outside shot. We are looking closely at the side of an old and dirty apartment building, of the type that has metal fire escapes up the side of the  building, the metal platforms and ladders-stairs winding up and down. In the center of the panel, on one fire escape, a window is pushed open and Darius is slipping out. One leg and his head out already. One arm bracing against the top of the open window, and the other on the bottom. This is not a big window. He’s holding the hijab in bottom hand. On the fire escape is a potted plant, a big pot with a very small plant in it.

 

CAPTION: no one notices him go out the kitchen window.

 

PANEL FIVE: this panel is just a small one, probably in the corner of panel four. A close shot of Darius, from about stomach level, angled upward. We can see he has draped the hijab around his shoulders, across his back, in classic blanket-cape-style. Across his neck, he is tying it.

 

CAPTION: Grandmother thinks he wants the hijab because it was his mothers, but he wants it because it’s the right size, and it’s red. As a cape should be.

 

PAGE TWO

 

PANEL ONE: A long panel across the top of the page, showing us a panoramic view of the top of the apartment building. It’s a flat roof area, a small two-foot-wall running around the edge. There are some potted plants up here, and a few trash bags here and there. It’s just generally unkempt, but not badly. There are  big air condition units, long rectangular things — the sorts that have two or three big fans blowing up out of them — and this is close to one edge of the building. Maybe two feet separate the air conditioning unit from the edge of the building.

 

In this panel, we see Darius just beginning to climb up onto the air conditioning unit. His red hajib-cape is fluttering to one side.

 

No dialog.

 

PANEL TWO: A shot of Darius, from about the waist-up. Standing on top of the air conditioning unit, with his arms planted squarely on his hips, he’s looking out across Cairo. The cape snaps back away from him in the wind. His messy hair is blown up and away from his face. He has a wide, contented smile on his face.

 

CAPTION: This is his favorite spot, right here. It’s not just because of the hot, dry wind snapping his cape, threatening to push him over.

 

CAPTION: Or the quiet and lack of arguments…

 

PANEL THREE: This shot is from behind Darius.  We are looking over his left shoulder, out at Cairo, which sprawls away past him. It’s a fairly tall apartment building. He’s in the same pose as before.

 

CAPTION: …it’s the view.

e

CAPTION: Up here, it’s not hard to feel like a super-hero.

 

PANEL FOUR: A frontal shot, again, pretty much the same as panel two. The difference is that now, it’s not Darius we’re seeing — scrawny kid with too much hair and a hajib knotted around his neck — it’s a super-hero. Tall and broad-shouldered, long cape flowing behind him.

 

CAPTION: In fact, it takes no effort at all.

 

PANEL FIVE: The edge of the building is just in view, but we’re looking up toward the sky now. Darius is no longer present. Up in the sky, distant but still recognizable to us, is the Adult Superhero, flying away.

 

CAPTION: In Al Tahrir Square, the crowd roars. Perhaps they roar for him.

 

PAGE THREE:

 

PANEL ONE: We are high up in the sky, with the Adult Superhero in view, swooping past us, arms extended, classic super-hero-in-flight posture. If his cape is at all visible, we can see that it still has the intricate design-work that was present on the hajib.

 

CAPTION: Darius’ grandfather is the one who gave him the comic books

 

CAPTION: They’re old and ragged. They were used, decades earlier, as ballasts on cargo ships  coming from the United States, grandfather says.

 

PANEL TWO: We are above Adult Super-hero, who is landing amidst a crowd. The crowd is huge. We may not be able to tell, but we’re in Al Tahrir square, where the massive crowds have gathered, spilling over into the streets. All are looking up at him. A huge circle is cleared as people get out of the way of him landing.

 

CAPTION: Grandmother disapproves of them, but Darius hides them, and she can do nothing.

 

PANEL THREE: All of the people in the crowd are clustered around Adult Superhero, pushing up close to him, touching him, cheering around him. He is smiling broadly at them all. He is taller than everyone by at least a foot.

 

PANEL FOUR: A close-up shot of Darius’s head and shoulders. We see his eyes are shut. The hajib still flaps out behind him, and his hair is still being blown by the wind. He has a satisfied smile on his face. It’s a good fantasy.

 

GRANDFATHER: Where are you, boy?

 

PANEL FIVE: A shot from back, closer to the fire escape. In one corner of the panel, we see just a hint of Grandfather Saqr, since we’re right by his shoulder. Darius is a little ways off, on the air conditioner. He has turned around, eyes open, probably looking a bit surprised.

 

DARIUS: I’m right here, grandfather.

 

PANEL SIX: A frontal shot of Grandfather Saqr, who has an amiable look on his face, and one hand tucked into his pants pocket. With the other hand, he is tapping one temple with his index finger.

 

GRANDFATHER: I meant up here. You were a million miles away, I think.

 

PAGE FOUR:

 

PANEL ONE: Grandfather Saqr leverages himself into a sitting position on the edge of the air conditioner, next to where Darius is standing. Classic old-man-leveraging posture, one hand on his knee, and one hand on the air conditioner, lowering himself. We can see Darius from about midriff down, but he’s still standing upright, so we can’t see his top half.

 

DARIUS: Nothing. Just stuff.

 

GRANDFATHER: What kind of stuff?

 

PANEL TWO: This is a long panel. Most of it is a shot of Adult Superhero lifting a car to throw at men who are firing guns at him. The bullets are bouncing off his chest. A handful of nearby civilians are looking on in amazement. (Strongly reminiscent of Action Comics #1 cover).

 

CAPTION (Darius): I kinda wish I could swoop down there, where all those people are. Like in comics.

 

CAPTION (Darius): Tear the doors off their hinges and walk into his office and arrest the bad guy.

 

CAPTION (Darius): I could just pick him up and fly to jail. Nothing could hurt me.

 

PANEL THREE: Similar to panel one. Darius is still standing up and only half-visible to us in the panel. Grandfather Saqr is huching over, a cigarette in one corner of his mouth, cupping it with his hands as he tries to light it against the wind.

 

GRANDFATHER: Hmn….

 

PANEL FOUR: Darius squats down, balancing on his toes, his arms resting on his knees. His hajib-cape is fluttering to the right, going behind his grandfather. He has his head tilted, looking at Grandfather Saqr. Grandfather has one hand tucking something into a pocket on his shirt, inside his vest. The cigarette is held between two fingers in his other hand, which rests on his knee. A little trail of smoke comes off it, and a little puff of smoke is just above his head.

DARIUS: You don’t think it sounds cool?

GRANDFATHER: How am I to know cool? It is a very fine idea, in comics. In real life, not so simple.

 

GRANDFATHER: That is your mother’s hajib.

 

PANEL FIVE: Now Darius sits down next to Grandfather Saqr. He is looking down at his hands, which are resting in his lap. Grandfather Saqr holds the cigarette pinched between two fingers and takes a puff.

 

DARIUS: Are you gonna tell?

GRANDFATHER: Hmn. I think she has enough things to be upset about without this too. Besides, it is either a cape, or sitting in a box being eaten by mice.

 

GRANDFATHER: And I think it is a fine cape.

 

PAGE FIVE:

 

PANEL ONE: A different angle of the two men sitting. Darius has his head tilted toward his grandfather, and is leaning quite close to him. His grandfather is blowing smoke. The wind blows not only Darius’ overly long hair around, but it fluffs up the wisps of his grandfather’s hair too.

 

DARIUS: What were you and her fighting about?

 

PANEL TWO: Inside the Saqr apartment, full of clutter and gloom and dust. In the foreground of the panel is the desktop computer’s shape, and we are looking overtop it, past it, to Grandma Saqr, who is standing a little ways back, clenched up and nervous. One arm across her midsection, the other arm braced against it, hand on her mouth, she is biting at her nails. Nervous and distraught.

 

CAPTION (Grandfather): When your tetta is upset, she fights. It is her way.

 

CAPTION (grandfather): Yesterday, all the internet went down. She tells me this, and the television agrees with her.

 

PANEL THREE: Inside the living room, Grandmother and Grandfather are fighting. Grandmother is clearly irate and yelling, furious at Grandfather (mostly, though, just upset and scared) and Grandfather appears less concerned and mostly defensive and put-upon. In the background, we can see the window that leads out onto the fire escape, which is open from Darius having slipped out.

 

CAPTION (grandfather): Grandmother says, if the internet is down, how will your mother talk to us?

 

CAPTION (grandfather): I say, well, she never does anyway, why will she start now?

CAPTION (grandfather): …this was a poor thing to say.

 

PANEL FOUR: Back on the roof, Darius and Grandfather Saqr sitting side by side. Grandfather is examining his cigarette, held pinched between two fingertips. Darius is leaning back, looking at an upward angle at the world around them.

 

GRANDFATHER: So it seems a good idea to come out here and have a smoke. Wait for her to calm down.

 

GRANDFATHER: …but do not tell her I am smoking a cigarette.

 

DARIUS: I won’t.

 

DARIUS: Grandfather?

 

PANEL FIVE: From inside of what is presumably a government building, we are looking toward the main entrance, a pair of large, metal double-doors. They have been crumpled and pried open by Adult Superhero, cheering civilians behind him.

 

CAPTION (Darius): How come they’re all just standing there? How come they don’t go get him?

 

PAGE SIX

 

PANEL ONE: Them sitting on the air conditioner again. Darius is looking at his Grandfather, who is gesturing as he talks, the cigarette hanging from one corner of his mouth.

GRANDFATHER: Because it would be violent, and so much of the time, violence only makes things worse.

 

DARIUS: Not in comics.

 

PANEL TWO: Grandfather Saqr has his hands extended, as if he is trying to sculpt his thoughts in the air in front of him, forming them into words.

 

GRANDFATHER: Even in comics. It is fantasy, like how they can fly, or shoot laser beams.

 

DARIUS: But it does work in comics! Burst through a wall and punch out the bad guy, then take him to the police. That always works!

 

PANEL THREE: Grandfather Saqr whacks Darius upside the back of the head, and Darius makes a face at the hard, but not painful blow.

 

No dialog.

 

PANEL FOUR: Darius rubs the back of his head, frowning. Grandfather Saqr bends over to one side, stubbing the remnant of his cigarette out on the ground.

 

GRANDFATHER: You understand?

 

DARIUS: No! That really hurt!

 

GRANDFATHER: Maybe violence does not always work, hm?

 

GRANDFATHER: Of course they could go in, throw punches, take away whomever they want. But that is what he would have done, and they do not wish to be like him.

 

PANEL FIVE: Grandfather Saqr gestures again. He is a man who speaks with his hands, cannot help but to do so. Darius again has his hands resting in his lap. They are clenched into fists, palms-upward, and he is looking not at his hands, but out and away from himself and Grandfather, out toward Al Tahrir Square, off in the distance.

 

GRANDFATHER: Besides, they must deal with the idea of the man. That is much harder to defeat than one man in an office with a title. The idea of a man can be so much bigger and more powerful. You understand?

 

PANEL SIX: Grandfather is still sitting there, looking about the same as the last panel. But next to him is not Darius, but Adult Superhero, sitting with his arms resting on his legs, his long cape flowing out behind him. He is much larger than Grandfather. He is looking down at his open hands.

 

DARIUS: Yeah…

 

PAGE SEVEN

 

PANEL ONE: A shot from behind, and just above Darius and Grandfather Saqr. We can see that Darius sits pretty straight, the great posture of the young and still-mostly-boneless, where Grandfather Saqr is hunched and rounded. Darius’ hajib-cape blows out and away from him a little, to the left, toward his grandfather’s back. Grandfather Saqr’s vest’s hem is also blowing a little as the wind gets under it, and it blows to the left too. Where the hajib is red and has a pattern woven into it, the vest is plain brown, drab, old. Nevertheless, they both blow to the side.

 

GRANDFATHER: I met him once, you know.

DARIUS: Huh?

 

GRANDFATHER: The president.

 

PANEL TWO: A shot from the side, very close to Grandfather’s Saqr’s face, so that he is not only in the foreground of the panel, on the right side, but his eyes are the main focus. He has a faraway look. Behind him, in the background, we can see Darius looking frontal toward us, facing his grandfather.

 

DARIUS: Really? When?

 

GRANDFATHER:  I have no head for time. I wore my best suit. The one I married in.

 

PANEL THREE: This is a wide panel, beneath the other two. Now we are sometime in the past, and because we are in memory, the world around us is a bit sketchy and hazy. A younger Grandfather Saqr stands in the middle of a line of other men. He has thick black hair, a thicker mustache, is a little more muscular in his stocky build. He wears a brown suit which looks a lot like the vest he’s wearing while sitting on the air conditioner. In his hands, he clutches a cap with two hands, as if at any moment, someone will take it away.

 

GRANDFATHER: Some ceremony. Some event. He would come down the line, shake our hands, say thank you, good of you to come, have a nice time, that sort of thing.

 

GRANDFATHER: I was very scared.

 

PANEL FOUR: Again in the present, Darius and Grandfather Saqr talking. Grandfather Saqr is leaning in close to Darius, as if confiding a secret.

 

GRANDFATHER: Would you like to know a strange thing?

DARIUS: What is it?

PANEL FIVE: Back in sketchy memory again. Two black-shaped bodyguards are standing beside the form of the President Of Egypt, who has stopped in front of Young Grandfather Saqr, and they are shaking hands. Grandfather Saqr is about five-foot-eleven-inches, and is thus about six inches TALLER than the President of Egypt.

 

GRANDFATHER: I was stunned to discover that I was taller than the President.

 

PRESIDENT: What?

GRANDFATHER: Nothing.

 

PANEL SIX: Back in the present, but this time it is the younger Grandfather Saqr, his hat still in hand, who is sitting on the air conditioner and leaning in toward Darius.

 

GRANDFATHER: I see the powerful and famous on the television, photo in the paper…I assume they are taller than me. Bigger than me.

 

DARIUS: Well sure.

 

GRANDFATHER:  I have met three famous people, and each time, it was a shock that they were human sized. Twice, I was taller. Each time, it felt like a mistake. It should have been —

 

PANEL SEVEN: A bigger panel, if there’s room, in which the BIG shape of the President is looming over a small, terrified, child-like Grandfather Saqr. Everything about the President is too big. Huge booming, roaring mouth. Fe-fi-fo-fum.

 

PRESIDENT: THANK YOU FOR COMING!!! ENJOY YOURSELF!!!

GRANDFATHER (tiny text): yes! yes!

 

PAGE EIGHT:

 

PANEL ONE: Back on the roof. We are a distance away from the air conditioner. It is Adult Superhero, who has stood up and walked forward, to the edge of the roof. He is looking out, toward us. In the background, standing front of the air conditioner, is Young Grandfather Saqr. He is looking a little upward.

 

DARIUS: We should be down there, shouldn’t we? With all the people, doing what we can, right?

 

DARIUS: How come you aren’t down there, grandpa?

 

PANEL TWO: Same angle. Darius is still Adult Superhero, looking out at the world. But behind him, by the air conditioner, Grandfather Saqr is just his old, normal self. Nothing young about him anymore. Now he’s looking a little downward.

 

GRANDFATHER: You are too young. And I am too old.

 

PANEL THREE: He is now Darius and not Adult Superhero and is turned away from the edge of the roof and toward Grandfather Saqr. A close-up shot on just Darius.

 

DARIUS: Maybe, but…David, the butcher, grandmother was talking to him on the phone, and he is down there. And he’s your age.

 

PANEL FOUR: At a side angle, so that we can see Darius on one side of the panel, facing Grandfather Saqr who is on the other side of the panel.

 

GRANDFATHER: David is fifteen years younger than I am.

 

DARIUS: He’s still old, though.

 

PANEL FIVE: Grandfather Saqr standing there, hands in his pockets, facing us, looking disgruntled.

 

GRANDFATHER: Hmph.

 

GRANDFATHER: Come. It’s time we went back inside. If matters become violent, we should be in.

 

PANEL SIX: Darius and Grandfather Saqr walking toward the fire escape, some distance away from us, their backs toward us. Grandfather Saqr has his arm draped across Darius’ shoulders. We can see that Darius is looking sideways and up at Grandfather Saqr.

 

DARIUS: I thought violence wouldn’t work?

GRANDFATHER: No. But it happens, sometimes. We will pray it doesn’t.

PAGE NINE

 

PANEL ONE: Grandfather Saqr is standing on the top platform of the fire escape, looking down at Darius, who is heading downward, but has paused to look up at Grandfather Saqr and at us. Darius looks very young, and a bit frightened.

 

DARIUS: If things do get violent…you won’t let anything happen to me. Right?

 

PANEL TWO: A side shot of Grandfather Saqr looking down at Darius. We can see his face, the reassuring smile and expression on it.

 

GRANDFATHER: Never. Not a single thing.

 

GRANDFATHER: Go on down now.

 

PANEL THREE: This is a frontal shot of Grandpa Saqr, who is for just a moment looking out at the city, his hands still tucked in his pockets, a small smile on his face. Tied around his neck with a simple knot is a bright red hajib, which is fluttering in the wind out from behind him.

 

GRANDFATHER: All is well, and all shall be well.

 

PANEL FOUR: A long panel, inside of the Saqr apartment. In the foreground, Darius is moving toward us, down the thin hall and toward his room. in his arms is clutched the red hajib, the knot still in one part of it. In the background, in the living room, his irate grandmother has her hand up and her mouth open, about to say something.

 

CAPTION: In Al Tahrir Square, the crowd roars…

 

PANEL FIVE: The same long panel, same shot, but now Darius is gone from the frame, in his room, and we see Grandfather Saqr has just leaned in and kissed Grandmother Saqr on the cheek. She looked surprised, but has at least closed her mouth and lowered her hand.

 

CAPTION: …but perhaps not for him.

 

PAGE TEN

 

PANEL ONE: A small shot, looking down at Darius, who is lying sprawled on his bed, looking up toward us, and the ceiling. He has his hands tucked behind his head. On his chest is his mother’s hajib, and on top of that is an old super-hero comic.

 

No dialog.

 

PANEL TWO: Adult Superhero is flying high up, near the clouds, over Cairo. He is looking down, and we are looking over his shoulder. Below, we can make out the shape of Al Tahrir Square.

 

CAPTION: Perhaps they roar for themselves, for the future.

 

CAPTION: They are taller than the man they are angry at, and, Darius thinks, he probably knows it.

 

PANEL THREE: A close up shot, from the chest-up, of Adult Superhero, who is looking to the left, out of frame, with a look of surprise and Heroic Determination on his face.

 

CAPTION: There is no need for super-heroes down there, and that’s fine.

 

CAPTION: He’ll defend them against other threats, in the meantime…

 

PANEL FOUR: A big panel, the rest of the page. We are no longer in Cairo, but are out toward the Pyramids and the Sphyinx. they are in the background. Erupting huge out of the sand is a gigantic monster made entirely out of stone, a big roaring, classic 1960’s sort of Jack Kirby monster.  Swooping in toward it, fists extended, is Adult Superhero

 

CAPTION: Darius may be unsure about revolutions, but knows exactly what to do with Boulder Behemoths, after all.

 

 

THE END.

 

 

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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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