Disorder

Disorder begins with a flutter.

A smattering of birdsong and a gentle breeze fade into our ears as the screen remains black. It is the calm before the storm, the only real peace and tranquility we, and it’s protagonist, will know until the credits roll.

Disorder is the tale of Vincent (Matthias Schoenaerts), a soldier who finds himself without a purpose when he is cast aside due to his burgeoning anxiety and PTSD. Before long he finds work with a group of fellow ex-soldiers providing security for a party at a beautiful house on the French Riviera.

During the party Vincent discovers the host, Whalid, may be involved in the murky world of political slush funds and arms dealing. Soon after, he is tasked with protecting Whalid’s wife, Jessie (Diane Kruger) and son, Ali whilst he is away on business.

The film opens with Vincent jogging with other soldiers. He becomes unfocused in the frame as he bounds towards us, the camera locked tight on his face. The sounds of nature soon fall away and we’re left with a pulsing electronic beat as we slowly realise that Vincent’s nose is bleeding.

This opening thirty seconds is a portent of how Winocour chooses to show Vincent’s condition throughout the film. She brings us in close on Vincent, often at an unusual angle, whilst discordant sounds and the pounding bassline of Gesaffelstein’s soundtrack block everything else out. Everything in Vincent’s world is amplified. Car engines become an almighty roar and a simple garden sprinkler is a rogue wave tearing everything asunder.

When Vincent is cast out of the army he returns to small flat in a faceless tower block. He shouts for his mother but gets no reply. His bedroom seems frozen in time, like that of a teenager, all football pennants and tattered posters. Vincent is a ghost, moving through our world whilst being entirely separate from it.

As he strides through the party this idea is taken further, taking on an aspect of class. Vincent is a product of a war waged for profit and power, a war conducted by some of the very people he is now protecting, people who don’t even see him unless it’s to ask for more ice.

Schoenaerts plays Vincent as a bundle of tightly wound and frayed nerves. He shoots cynical, resentful smirks and knowing smiles at those around him. Several times during the party scene he follows guests and eavesdrops. He has a good nose for trouble and an eye for detail but it’s only because he’s seeking it out, eager to let go of something festering inside of him.

With this in mind it’s easy to see why Vincent accepts the job of watching over Jessie whilst Whalid is away. He regains some semblance of structure and purpose, but there’s also the possibility he may be called on to unleash the demons inside.

As Vincent’s time on protection detail rolls on the tension winds tighter and tighter. As he watches over Jessie and Ali at the beach, Winocour switches pace, shifting down into slow motion as the soundtrack pounds, rings and roars. We see what Vincent sees, slow lingering shots of two women laughing and smiling, a runner sprinting past Jessie, men standing nearby on mobile phones - everything is suspicious, everything is a threat. This is Vincent’s world.

As the film enters its final act Winocour spends a little time tightening the bond between Jessie and Vincent. When Vincent first sees Jessie he does so from behind a barred window. Later he watches her on a monitor as he looks at the house’s CCTV. Barriers, physical or otherwise, exist between the two characters for a large part of the movie. At several points during the movie we see Vincent’s stare linger on Jessie. There’s an obvious attraction to her on his part, but there also seems to be a fascination. She lives in a world and class so far removed from his own that she seems otherworldly to him. In turn, Jessie is cold towards Vincent initially, even fearful of him.

Later on, Vincent calls in a friend, Denis, for some help in watching over the house. After Vincent does his rounds he comes across Denis flirting with Jessie. It comes easily to Denis and Vincent can only watch from the other side of the table, smiling uncomfortably as he remains trapped beneath his anguish.

But, in a scene towards the end of the movie, Jessie and Vincent watch television. Jessie, in an off the cuff piece of dialogue, says she could see Vincent living in Canada hunting for bears and the pair begin to laugh about it. It’s a small, sweet moment built towards by Schoenarts’ and Venora’s subtle and understated performances. It’s the first time we see Vincent laugh, but it’s also the first time another character sees Vincent as something more than his surface suggests.

It’s at this precise moment that Winocour chooses to plunge the world into literal and metaphorical darkness as the threat of violence that has been hanging over the entire film finally makes its presence known. The house, previously shown as light and airy, now becomes a labyrinth of shadow and chaos thanks to DP Georges Lechaptois.

Vincent, of course, knew this was coming and acts accordingly. There is no efficiently choreographed set-pieces here, no balletic gunfights. Violence is ugly, sudden and messy. Limbs flail, glass shatters and men do not get up when they’re bleeding out from the gut.

It’s easy to miss it during the ferocity of the finale, but the score drops out almost completely during this final sequence. The chaos inside of Vincent is finally externalised and catharsis is a blood smeared coffee table.

It’s only now, when the violence he has been seeking all along is over, that some kind of calm washes over Vincent for the first time. Despite this, the film ends on an uncertain note. Peace (and quiet) reigns, but it’s unclear whether Vincent has finally crossed the divide or whether he still remains on the other side looking in.

November 21, 2017

A Shameful Narrative

This piece originally ran in my newsletter. Inspired by this fantastic and (unfortunately) much needed article by Nick Hanover I am reposting it here too.

Intro

So, as well as my #makecomics hat I am currently (albeit slowly) working my way through a diploma in journalism from the NCTJ. This is because I believe in overloading myself with work.

A lot of the initial assignments started off pretty low level, but as the course has gone on the assignments have gotten much more involved, taking up more time and requiring me to actually gather research, interview subjects and the like myself. It’s almost like they’re training me to be a journalist.

An assignment last year required me to write up a feature, conducting interviews as part of it. So, I set about crafting a feature about gender inequality in the comics industry. My plan was to interview women from the industry at three levels - retail, criticism and creative (be that an artist, writer, colorist, editor, etc.).

I had a very specific shortlist of people I wanted to interview when I was brainstorming the feature. Alas, after initial promising replies the majority of people I reached out to didn’t end up being involved. In all cases, this was due to scheduling, current workload and the cold hard reality of a deadline.

So, the article had to be completely restructured in a short amount of time and I only managed to interview a single person. That said, I think Rebecca Epstein did an absolutely fantastic job at voicing the frustration and exasperation many feel about the state of the industry. She can be found on Twitter, here. Seek her work out wherever you can find it.

The basic premise of the article was to use data I’d culled from October 2016′s solicitations as a jumping off point to talk about the rampant inequality still present in mainstream comics. These findings (in handy list form) were:

DC

Marvel

///

The piece that resulted from the above data is featured below:

Part of the Problem: Marvel, DC and the comic industry’s gender problem

Despite repeated calls for equal representation in the comics industry, new figures show Marvel and D.C Comics, the established Big Two’ of mainstream comics, are still failing in their efforts to provide a creative platform for female creators.

These figures, gleaned from a list of October 2016 releases, show only 22% of the titles listed have a female creator involved. This under-representation has continued to plague the industry, despite Marvel reporting women now make up 40% of its readership, a figure that looks set to rise year on year. Both companies are now guilty of failing to accurately reflect their readership in their choice of creative teams. When presented with the findings, comics creator, critic and commentator, Rebecca Epstein, asks if this is just indicative of a larger problem:

In an industry plagued by dishonest and misogynistic incidents against women, are the findings merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the comics industry’s attitudes towards female creators?”

Her question raises uncomfortable truths, but ones worth investigating.

A Shameful Narrative

For decades, comics was seen as a male dominated industry, in terms of both its consumers and creators. Comic book shops almost seemed to be designed to exclude, places marked as boys only. However, in recent years, the rise of the internet and the burgeoning popularity of comics culture has given rise to entire networks and online spaces where anyone can discuss characters, storylines, and creators without the fear of jokes, abuse or belittlement.

Slowly but surely, there a surge in comics being produced that encourage inclusivity and catered for all tastes. But this influx of new blood was met with resistance by some as parts of the industry struggled to move past its myopic, boys club past. It wasn’t long before horror stories emerged concerning the treatment of female creators and fans. The networks and online spaces that had fostered this surge towards inclusivity were now under attack.

One of the most recent, and well known, examples concerned DC editor, Eddie Berganza. Despite a well-chronicled history of sexual harassment of female employees, he was kept on as editor by the company. In fact, DC also instituted an informal policy that female employees be barred from working in the same office as Berganza, thereby tacitly acknowledging the problem whilst also ignoring it 1.

This example is just one amongst many when it comes to instances of predatory and disgusting behaviour towards female creators and staff.

Such a shameful narrative threaded through the industry immediately precludes and diverts existing and potential creators from wanting to pursue work with these companies. Epstein argues that responsibility should be the first port of call for those at the top.

First, every comics publisher needs to start being held accountable to state and federal laws that prevent toxic work environments, sexual harassment, and sexism in the workplace. Figures like Scott Allie and Eddie Berganza should be fired immediately. In fact, all current leadership in Marvel and DC should be overhauled due to their past protection of sexual predators and replaced with people who openly hold themselves responsible for what their companies and the industry should look like. Only after this, can we truly talk about [the] fair hiring of creatives.”

Alternative Independence

It’s these problems, as well as cronyism and the boys club mentality that Epstein argues, has prevented and undermined efforts by female creators to break into mainstream comics.

At least one woman has admitted to turning down a Superman book due to fears of working with Berganza. Even then, the people involved in the hiring processes in these companies are grossly incompetent and lazy. They don’t seek out fresh new talent, they tend to hire their friends over and over again. And because most of these people have worked in the company for at least 20 years, their friends are the same older, white demographic that wanted to break into comics 20 years ago.”

As a result of this, upcoming and established female creators find a more welcoming destination amid independent comic companies or self publishing. As well as providing a more balanced outlook, publishing work by female creators across multiple genres, such approaches also provide more in the way of creative control and financial reward.

Epstein even recommends this as a primary avenue for female creatives looking to break into the industry. Superheroes are no longer the only draw for comic book readers after all.

An Endless Loop

It’s only when looking at the stories and experiences of female creators that it becomes obvious the figures discovered are merely a smattering of the problems in the comic book industry when it comes to gender equality and diversity. For women working in the industry, these findings don’t come as a shock, as Epstein explains:

No, I’ve watched these same figures for years–possibly even before becoming a comics critic and journalist. These are the best they have ever been. What’s truly shocking is the type of behaviour from comic professionals behind the scenes that ensure that figures stay at such a low rate. It’s really no wonder after hearing so many horror stories from women who tried to break into the industry (as well as nearly experiencing one of my own).”

Unfortunately, at the time of writing, nothing much has changed in the industry and new revelations follow a seemingly predicated cycle. New information will come to light that a male creator, editor or executive have abused their position and harassed or intimidated a female employee, creator or fan.

The comics industry will convulse in outrage and anger, vehemently attacking and condemning the guilty party. Think pieces and commentary will appear stating this is a problem the industry needs to fix. The accused and guilty will batten down the hatches, either denying their behaviour outright, carrying on as if nothing has happened or issuing a stock apology before business as usual resumes. Then the news cycle of the industry finds something else to latch on to and the memory of all that has gone on fades, staying only with the victim and a select circle of journalists, critics and insiders.

The Buck Stops Here

There is, of course, a responsibility of male creators in the industry that all should be observing. Don’t be a dick. Don’t be a creep. Don’t condone predatory or sexist behaviour. Speak up and speak out. These should be unspoken rules, but the fact I’m having to type them speaks volumes.

But the above is merely an extension, a causation of the policies the big two continue to pursue. The vast majority of those who have been accused of harassment, assault or intimidation are still working in the industry. The companies they work for, the same companies who champion their female characters and growing female readership, does not give its male creators and employees boundaries, rules or a set of consequences.

By refusing to dole out punishment and justice to those undermining the efforts to diversify and grow the industry they ensure it will be forever trapped in amber and that the misogynistic attitudes so prevalent will continue.


  1. The latter part of this sentence sums up the problems rife in the industry in a nutshell.

August 5, 2017 · comics · commentary

Aspects and Alters - Psychology, the Hero’s Journey and the descent into hell in Moon Knight - Part Three

This phase of Marc’s journey seems to align with Campbell’s idea of the road of trials’:

Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials. This is a favorite phase of the myth-adventure. It has produced a world literature of miraculous tests and ordeals. The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that he here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage. The original departure into the land of trials represented only the beginning of the long and really perilous path of initiatory conquests and moments of illumination. Dragons have now to be slain and surprising barriers passed — again, again, and again. Meanwhile there will be a multitude of preliminary victories, unretainable ecstasies and momentary glimpses of the wonderful land.”

These tests and trials will often come in threes, an interesting number when you consider Marc’s warring identities and how they begin to overlap before they finally coalesce at the end of Issue #8 with all three arriving back at the foot of the pyramid to be brought face to face with Marc. Action-wise so much has happened, but still we circle back to where one section of the story ended but now serves as the beginning of the next.

Spector's DemiseSpector's Demise Knight's DemiseKnight's Demise Grant's DemiseGrant's Demise

It’s here Marc subsumes the various aspects of his personality through violence, language and acceptance. Once this is done he realises his final goal - to kill Khonshu.

///

The next arc opens with Marc’s childhood and his first meeting’ with the Steven Grant identity. We see Marc scrawling a spaceman fighting wolves on the pavement in chalk. Not only is this a harkening back to the previous arc, but it also shows Marc was prone to flights of fancy from a very early age. These two strands of narrative follow the present’ in the othervoid and Marc’s past from his childhood to his first meeting with Khonshu.

It’s back in the present’ that Marc begins another descent into the sewers before descending once again into the othervoid. Smallwood shows this with a double page splash coated in inky black tracing Marc’s descent, and orienting the panels to the reader is forced to turn the page to track it. The reader’s physical orientation shifts with Marc’s perception. Smallwood then chooses to turn Marc’s final descent upside down, making it look like an ascent. Again, we have to shift our orientation to understand, just like Marc. But it also harkens back to Marc’s first ascent on those stairs as the panel sizes reduced. An descent masquerading as an ascent. Here that is switched, showing Marc, finally, is on the right path.

The next set of flashbacks concerns Marc’s time spent in the mental hospital he found himself in during Issue #1. Here it looks considerably better, not faded and drab as we saw previously. Even Dr Emmet and Doug are here, now dressed in soft, pastel pink rather than the imposing red or white. As Marc returns home for his father’s funeral he’s once again drawn to the moon and the voice of Khonshu as he was in one of the earlier childhood sequences.

This suggests that Khonshu may in fact be just another aspect of Marc that has been manifesting for some time and that when he puts on the Moon Knight mask he is acknowledging that voice.

As we move back to the present’ Marc is fighting Set and his minions. The fight sequence here, another double page splash, is framed in acres of white space with non-existent panel borders. This has the effect of drawing the eye and focusing it, giving us clarity as Marc achieves his own.

As we flip back into flashbacks we are looking up at the moon once more as Marc stands confused out in the Iraqi desert. It’s here he is discharged from the military and soon after we find him lost to violence in an underground fighting ring.

These flashback sequences show us Marc trying to ignore the voice of Khonshu, running halfway across the world to escape it. The constant circles and numerous refusals to the call mirror the choices he’s made throughout this story. He is constantly trying to hide or ignore the voices within. It’s only when he accepts them, moves towards them that some kind of solution and peace occurs.

As Issue #12 begins Marc finds himself bound to a sacrificial altar, looking almost exactly like he did in an earlier hospital sequence.

Altar 1Altar 1 Altar 2Altar 2

The central panel is buttressed by two triangular panels, producing movements in ascent and descent, as well as showing us two mirrored pyramids, suggesting some equilibrium. Marc is nearing some kind of breakthrough.

Later this structure is elaborated on with a set of extra panels either side of the central one inserted. The shape of the middle three panels also take on a triangular aspect that completes the idea of a mirrored pyramid. That these panels show us Marc and Moon Knight alongside each other at last doubles down on the idea of Marc approaching enlightenment. Soon after, the two other vanquished identities return to lend a helping hand too.

PyramidPyramid

This supports the ego-death theory, with Marc going through the stages of separation, then transition before arriving here - incorporation. Here in the othervoid he is also in the state ripe for ego-death - beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self.”

As we move into Issue #13 we begin to understand this last set of trials is all about the atonement with the father/Khonshu. Campbell defined one aspect of this stage as:

The problem of the hero going to meet the father is to open his soul beyond terror to such a degree that he will be ripe to understand how the sickening and insane tragedies of this vast and ruthless cosmos are completely validated in the majesty of Being. The hero transcends life with its peculiar blind spot and for a moment rises to a glimpse of the source. He beholds the face of the father, understands—and the two are atoned.”

Marc, alone, ventures into the pyramid once more as Khonshu’s voice rings out, welcoming Marc’s return. On the next page it’s revealed that the othervoid, the present’, the entire story has been occurring in Marc’s mind the entire time. Like his identities they now start to coalesce and become one. Incorporation.

As Marc descends into the final innermost cave’, the dark recesses of his own mind, he states his intention of being here to kill’ Khonshu. As he punches through more of the deities tricks he arrives back in the subway - another return to the beginning.

Highlighting this is the sequence being juxtaposed with a flashback to Marc’s origin a Moon Knight as he is beaten and left for dead by another father figure, Bushman, as Frenchie looks on helplessly. These two moments, like so many others across the story, are reflections of each other, intertwined tightly.

As Marc comes to and moves through the desert he’s met by Steven and Jake who tell him to rest. When he wakes again it is night, the moon full and bright in the sky. Khonshu’s voice rings out. Marc, finally, begins to crawl towards it arriving at Khonshu’s temple as he did on the very first page of the story.

The TempleThe Temple The TempleThe Temple

Here Marc supplicates himself before Khonshu for the first time. At death’s door, Marc essentially gives himself over to Khonshu, letting the voice and violence into his mind. This is the price of coming back from the dead but also a reflection of what he must do in the othervoid, casting the violence and Khonshu’s voice out of his mind.

As the two timelines merge Marc is surrounded by various external threats - Marlene, Werewolves, Bushman and villains past. Instead of giving in to the voice and anger this time he clears his mind and speaks directly to Khonshu.

Marc states he knows Khonshu is his madness and nothing more. Flying fists, crescent darts and roundhouse kicks are set aside for the biggest boon of all - acceptance. Once Marc accepts his madness, instead of fighting against it like he always has, he is able to shatter and rid himself of Khonshu’s influence.

PeacePeace

Marc is now a master of two worlds. Balance is achieved. He opens his eyes to find himself on a familiar looking rooftop looking up at a familiar looking moon. We’re back where we started, but we’ve come so far.

June 19, 2017 · analysis · comics

Aspects and Alters - Psychology, the Hero’s Journey and the descent into hell in Moon Knight - Part Two

In the second issue Spector finally meets Frenchie in the hospital, his longtime friend and co-pilot. He is the last ally of Marc to be revealed and this marks the beginning of what Campbell calls the Initiation sequence, whereby the protagonist will face a number of tasks and trials with the assistance of others.

As before, this passage into a new phase of the journey is preceded by Marc being strapped to the shock therapy table once again, the panels moving downward in exclamation once more. He awakens, in full costume, kneeling before Khonshu. Initially, Marc is unable to communicate with Khonshu and this small detail plays again into the idea of a circular, reflective narrative. Later, when we see Marc’s first run in with Khonshu in the desert Marc misunderstands the deity. This recurrence, along with their physical positioning within the panel, suggests Marc and Khonshu have never been completely aligned.

Say what?Say what?

Oh...Oh...

The circular motif present in the visuals of the story is also reflective of the structure of Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. This is almost always displayed on a circular diagram, something that implied repetition and a protagonist constantly having to learn new things, acquire new boons and go on new quests. This is something we see with Marc himself as he goes through a kind of mini-journey’ each issue, getting closer to the final truth with each attempt.

These attempts fit with a macro-structure facsimile of Campbell’s ideas that occurs across the entire run.

The CircleThe Circle

It’s revealed during this issue the dream-space Marc is sharing with Khonshu is somewhere called the othervoid’, a place beyond time and space. According to Timothy Leary’s ideas about ego-death, there couldn’t be a better place for Marc to reach some kind of inner peace. He stated that ego-death was an idea of transcendence beyond words, beyond space-time, beyond self”.

As Marc and his allies escape, they head down this time instead of up. They descend the stairs and arrive in the cold, grey subways - a mirror of the beginning of the previous issue where Marc arrived here alone.

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The next part of the story involves Marc gradually losing these allies (Frenchie falls in battle, Crawley sacrifices his soul, etc.) This tallies with thoughts Leary had about LSD and its role in ego-death. He argued the drug stripped away the ego’s defenses and it could be argued this is what’s happening here as Marc loses all of his allies bar one. He doesn’t know it yet, but this battle is one that’s only going to be won by him alone.

This is reinforced with Marc’s conversation with Khonshu in the toilet (tiled half in red) as he tells Marc he will need to lose a lot more’ in the way of friends and allies before this over.

Toilets are RedToilets are Red

This is immediately juxtaposed with the awakening of Marlene before she and Marc head out with her to the giant pyramid that towers above the New York skyline.

This double page splash shows Marc and Marlene looking up to the pyramid’s peak and preparing for an ascent, again as the panels descend in size. This contradiction, like the other sequences earlier, plays into the warring and contradictory nature of Marc’s mind. All is not at peace yet, there is still dissonance here.

As they ascend they are met with perhaps our first true Threshold Guardian’, the old version of Moon Knight standing guard and ready to fight. These guardians were another aspect of Campbell’s monomyth, standing at the edge of a new way of understanding for the protagonist and had to be beaten before new knowledge was gained.

The pair tussle almost immediately with Marc taking a moon-shaped crescent dart and stabbing this Moon Knight in the gut. The placement of this attack is the same as the wound Marc clutches in the opening scene of Issue #1, hinting that Marc is actively hurting himself with his current actions.

HurtinHurtin Hurtin AgainHurtin Again

It also acts as a precursor for what comes next, a stretch of story where Marc’s personality and mind is shattered into his various identities and he enters into conflict with them, attempting to reconcile them all, with each one of them acting as a threshold guardian into themselves.

In DID theory the various identities are often called alters or ego states. Some argue these two terms signify very different things. They argue ego states are an organized system of behaviour and experience whose elements are bound together by some common principle’ whereas alters have their own identities, involving a centre of initiative and experience, they have a characteristic self representation, which may be different from how the patient is generally seen or perceived’. On those definitions it’s clear that Steven Grant, Jake Lockley, etc. are alters rather than ego states.

As Marc steps through the door inside the pyramid we are introduced to a new alter - a literal Moon Knight, protecting the Earth and lunar landscape from a horde of werewolves, all beautifully rendered by James Stokoe’s scratchy, kinetic artwork. He also brings in the colour red to highlight danger as the hordes chase the Moon Knight towards another door.

Those with DID are said to switch identities when threatened psychosocially. Here, the threat is imagined, but no less real to Marc and he heads through the door and into another alter - the Hollywood bigwig, Steven Grant. The art switches up again, morphing into a classic style by Wilfredo Torres with lush, rich colours by Michael Garland.

Here Grant/Spector are met by Marlene, completely cloaked in red, acting as a herald to warn Marc about his pursuers as he runs through another (red) door into a third identity - Jake Lockley.

Lockley’s world is drenched in sleaze, beautifully brought to life by Francesco Francavilla’s art and noir-ish colours that give the world a neon glow. But, it’s only a brief stop, as Marc’s pursuers continue their chase, prompting Marc to come full circle and escape through another door that leads him back to where he started once again - the pyramid.

Here he comes face to face with the Moon Knight he stabbed in the gut before entering the pyramid. He unmasks to reveal…Khonshu! The mirroring of the wound as discussed earlier suggests Khonshu is very much a part of Marc and vice versa. They are inextricably linked.

Marc, having none of this, begins another descent, this time throwing himself off the side of the pyramid. The panels decrease in size, as before, but this time the page ends not with a close up on Marc or black, but a shot of happier times as Marc jokes with all of the allies he has now lost. This is coloured in the same diffuse style as the other flashes’ of the past and due to its placement it suggests it is a place Marc desperately wants to return to.

As he lies battered and bloodied at the foot of the pyramid he suddenly awakes to find himself in the shoes of Steven Grant, wholly accepting of this reality and his placement in it. Marc is hiding, deluding himself once again. More tests are on their way.

///

June 18, 2017 · analysis · comics

Aspects and Alters - Psychology, the Hero’s Journey and the descent into hell in Moon Knight - Part One

During the Ellis/Shalvey/Bellaire run on Moon Knight there’s a sequence where the titular hero battles through a mushroom-induced dreamscape, fantastically rendered in rainbow-like colours before he crashes through what looks like a brain and faces the force behind it all.

The more recent run by Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire takes this idea of Moon Knight fighting on a metaphorical landscape and extrapolates it into an internal struggle within the mind of Marc Spector himself. By doing so, as well as using recurring visual motifs, they produce a shattered, fragmented version of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey’.

Mix this in with overt references to Marc’s DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) and an undercurrent of good old Jungian Ego-Death and you have a story that is no less dramatically loaded than one taking place in the physical plane.

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Page OnePage One

We start, of course, with the moon. Straight away we notice Smallwood’s linework is looser, coarser even, with Bellaire’s diffuse colours giving the opening page the feel of a dream. Marc hears a voice, rendered in a hieroglyph style font by Corey Petit. The letters are balloon-less. Khonshu is everywhere.

Directly beneath the moon is our first full look at Marc, glancing upwards in reverence. Further down is a shot of Marc dwarfed by a temple and statue of Khonshu. Again, Marc is at the feet of the deity. We’re on Page One and we already have two examples of Marc beneath, or in supplication to, the moon and/or Khonshu. This will recur again and again as the story continues.

The moon, Marc, the temple and Khonshu are all aligned down the central axis of the page. Everything is in balance, in order, as it should be. Khonshu’s voice beckons Marc onwards, marking what Campbell refers to as The Departure’ with the protagonist receiving the call to adventure (usually from a mentor-like figure).

In Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey’ (a kind of marriage between a how to’ book and a primer on Campbellian structure) he names The Shapeshifter’ as one of seven archetypes that occur in fiction. The rub is that The Shapeshifter’ can change roles throughout the narrative, becoming a different archetype as the protagonist moves through the narrative. Khonshu has the hallmarks of the mentor figure here, but it won’t always be that way. As Marc uncovers the truth the sands will shift.

On the second page Marc enters what looks like a graffiti-laden subway. He’s descended into the temple into the bowels of a city to be met with a doorway of glowing yellow light. The idea and physical act of descent is a recurring visual motif, directly linking to Campbell’s idea of the descent into the underworld. Again, Marc is aligned with the door, his goal, and Khonshu’s voice, down the centre of the page. One other thing worth keeping in mind is that Marc is injured, clutching a stomach wound and complaining that he feels like his guts are slipping out”. Marc continues towards the light.

Next, Marc comes face to face with Khonshu, standing before the seated deity before conceding his stance and lowering himself to be at the God’s feet. It’s here we learn Marc and Khonshu have the same goal, rebirth, but their methods and proposed end games are entirely different. As Marc pulls the Moon Knight mask over his face he is subject to a flood of memories of his disparate identities as Smallwood’s diffuse style gives way to something more solid and traditional.

As Marc attunes to this new reality, Bellaire dots the pages with tiny splashes of yellow and red. Yellow often has positive aspects (warmth and happiness), but can also signify deceit, our first hint all is not as it seems.

Yellow & RedYellow & Red

Red though? Red is not good either. The orderlies, Marc being punched and kicked, his bloodied nose and even the syringe he receives are all accentuated by red. By rooting the page in a simpler pallette than what’s come before, Bellaire gives the reader the impression of a more tangible reality than the one we opened with. It’s a clever way to fool the reader into thinking this is reality and Marc has finally cracked.

ExclamationExclamation

As the syringe delivers its payload we get a series of wide panels that diminish in size as we move our eyes downward, watching as Marc descends into the white void. As he regains consciousness the structure holds with the panels decreasing in size to a circular panel with the voltage switch on the shock therapy machine serving as a visual dot on this exclamation mark style visual. The room, tiled in yellow, is offset by the tiny splashes of red on Marc’s bloodied nose and the dial on the machine.

As the current surges through Marc’s body we see a shot of him arching his back in pain, as if awaking from a slumber or nightmare. This pose and visual will also be repeated throughout the story, often marking a departure point or passage into another reality for Marc. Pain is what’s guiding him.

PainPain

When Marc awakens he is sat, posed almost like Khonshu surveying his domain - a severely decrepit looking mental hospital. Smallwood gives the room an art deco look that has gone to seed, hinting at past glories now wilted, a nice visual tie to Marc’s current status. It’s here we also meet Marc’s allies - Gena, Crawley and Marlene (but no Frenchie yet). As he sees them for the first time each are accompanied by a panel harkening back to days gone by using the hazy dreamlike style of the opening pages.

Dr Emmet, in charge of Marc’s treatment, is introduced soon after (dressed in red of course). She tells Marc the Moon Knight mythos is all a lie, a narrative sat atop the one true reality, blinding Marc from seeing things as they really are. She stands at one point and Marc, with his head bowed, seems smaller than those who seek to control him.

EmmetEmmet

As night falls, Marc lies still in his bed, the stark whites and blacks making him look a sarcophagus. When he attempts to break out his cell we see a shot of the orderlies entering and then Marc standing before them in a makeshift Moon Knight costume. In the central panel he is framed by the orderlies arms, framing him, but giving a downward triangular shape, a pyramid that also serves to lead the eyes downward to a reveal of the orderlies as mythical creatures. Marc is literally standing between two planes of reality.

Two PlanesTwo Planes

As Marc launches himself at the orderlies the yellow, so prominent up until now, is overwhelmed by whole panels bathed in red. They all show Marc lashing out violently. It hints that violence, Marc’s default mode of thinking, may not be the answer.

Marc then attempts to escape the hospital by ascending a staircase leading to the roof. As he does, the panels decrease in size again, creating a sense of descent. However this time , due to mark moving upwards, the panel size creates a sense of dissonance. This path is not the right one.

Ascent/DescentAscent/Descent

As Marc looks out over the rooftops he’s met with the sight of a New York buried beneath sand, as a gigantic pyramid dominates the skyline. As Marc grapples with what he’s seeing the page is laid out into fifteen panels, dividing Marc and giving us a metaphor for his fracturing psyche. The page also places Marc directly beneath the moon once more as Khonshu’s voice rings out.

The location may have changed, but we are right back where we started. This is Marc crossing the First Threshold’ as Campbell coined it, but failing to progress any further. There is still too much internal conflict.

It becomes apparent that to win this battle, maybe his most important battle, Marc is going to have to adhere to another Jungian idea - the death of the ego.

///

June 15, 2017 · comics · analysis

Fifty Nine

Fifty NineFifty Nine

Here we are, the final picture from the original link. If you’re interested I talk about the series of scripts here in my latest newsletter.

1. Tight shot on a folded newspaper sitting on a dresser. ABUSERS SLAIN screams the headline. A sub heading beneath tells of former staff members of a disgraced children’s home being slain. A number of BULLETS are strewn across the newspaper.

CAPTION: The bullets all have their own purpose.

2. Static shot. A pair of hands begin to load the bullets into a REVOLVER.

CAPTION: They are my little story-tellers.

3. CUT TO a shot of a WOMAN looking into the mirror sitting atop the dresser. She’s in her early 30s with dark, closely cropped hair. She’s wearing a plain white t-shirt as she stares into the mirror intensely.

CAPTION: They close the loop and give me peace of mind.

4. A view from inside an open wardrobe as the stands before it. There’s nothing in there but a row of adult versions of the black dress seen in the picture above.

CAPTION: They are the final act…

5. CUT TO the woman walking down the driveway of a beautiful house somewhere in a picturesque suburb. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, all offset by the woman walking down the driveway, the revolver handing limply from her right hand.

CAPTION: …and the start of something new.

May 21, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Eight

Fifty EightFifty Eight

1. A small rotund MAN in his early 40s sits at a desk in a small, cramped study. A lamp blazes its beam down onto a piece of parchment that the man is writing onto furiously. The man peers at the manuscript as he writes, a pair of oval glasses perched on his long, beak-like nose.

CAPTION: There was once a writer from Nantucket…

SFX: Creeeeaaak.

2. We’re looking at the MAN from behind as he turns to face us accusingly, startled at the noise.

CAPTION: …who wouldn’t stop until he’d reached the summit.

MAN: Who is it? Who’s there?

3. A shot of the study door, slightly ajar, nothing beyond it but the shadows of the night.

CAPTION: So he made a deal with the devil…

4. The MAN goes back to writing furiously.

CAPTION: …and became something quite special…

5. The MAN hunched over this writing, his eyes facing towards us. He’s aware something else is in the room with him. Behind him the shadows from the open door have begun to envelop the room. A pair of glowing eyes peers back from the darkness beyond the door.

CAPTION: …before paranoia made him kick the bucket.

May 14, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Seven

Fifty SevenFifty Seven

1. On VICTOR, deep in angry thought. He’s in his 40s, scrawny but with a bulbous nose. He’s wearing an orange space suit, the helmet removed but with a black helmet cap on. We’re in the cramped surroundings of

He’s sitting hunched over a small table, an empty bottle of non standard issue vodka in his hands.

VICTOR: It's done. Okay? 

VICTOR: If she had just stopped asking questions then -- 

2. Tight on LEONARD. He’s sat hunched on the opposite side of the table, nursing his own hangover and train of thought.

LEONARD: I liked her.

VICTOR (OFF): Leonard.

3. On VICTOR, his lips curled into a snarl.

Maybe the lettering of the VOICE/WOMAN here should be amplified somehow. It’s not a human voice for sure.

VICTOR: You were part of this too. 

VOICE (OFF): Hello.

4. As the picture above, both men turn to see a WOMAN, naked save a pair of dark boots floating in zero gravity across the room from them. They both look on in astonishment as tiny balls of white light swish around the woman in curved arcs.

VICTOR: We threw you out of the air lock! 

WOMAN: No. 

5. On the WOMAN, young and puckish looking. Her face is devoid of emotion, her eyes brimming with pure white energy.

WOMAN: Just this body.
May 7, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Six

Fifty SixFifty Six

1. A WOMAN in her late 20s sits in a simple wooden boat on a dark, grey looking pond. She’s thin and wiry with a huge shock of curly hair sitting atop her head giving her a frazzled look. She peers over the edge of the boat cautiously, peering into the water below.

VOICE (TAILLESS): — because you’ll never amount to anything.

VOICE (TAILLESS): In fact, why even bother starting?

2. Tight on the WOMAN, her face a picture of frustration and confusion as she peers at the surface.

VOICE (TAILLESS): I think maybe you were always like this.

VOICE (TAILLESS): Obviously, whatever they’re giving you isn’t working.

VOICE (TAILLESS): Yeah, I think you were always like this.

3. The surface of the water, nothing but the WOMANs reflection peering back at her.

VOICE (TAILLESS): There’s no shame in mediocrity.

VOICE (TAILLESS): Millions of people do it every day.

VOICE (TAILLESS): All you have to do is let go.

VOICE (TAILLESS): It really is that sim –

4. She looks up hopefully, as if hearing something for the first time.

Note: The dialogue’ here would be in the form of SFX, permeating on the image of the panel somehow rather than being separated by a word balloon.

SFX: SHUT UP

5. As the first panel. The WOMAN sits alone on the boat on the dark, grey pond. Behind her, just out of sight is a white dove, cast in a brilliant bright light.

April 30, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Five

Fifty FiveFifty Five

1. Thin, wide, panel. A lush forest sits on the side of a beautiful rolling hill. The morning mist lingers above the trees and the sun has just begun to stir in the sky. It’s already a beautiful day.

CAPTION (GIRL): Says here the local wildlife were revered as manifestations of the Gods and –”

CAPTION (GUY): It really says that?”

CAPTION (GIRL): Why is that shocking?”

2. Cut to two young HIKERS walking down amid the trees. Both wear the usual North Face equipment that looks like it’s never been used. They’re both in their early 20s. He has kind of a preppy look about him while she seems much more laidback and down to earth. She’s thumbing through a guidebook of some sort. Both are chatting and smiling as they ascend the hill.

GUY: Well, animals are kind of dumb, no?

GIRL: I guess.

3. CLOSE on the GUY as he begins to recall something, smiling a little at the mental flashback.

GUY: Okay, take my mum’s cat. That thing was driven by its stomach to the detriment of everything else. GUY: In fact, I once managed to trap it in a box for an hour with a half eaten tuna sandwich.

4. Tight on the GIRL, a little puzzled, but smiling too.

GUY (OFF): Yeah, let’s worship that.

GIRL: Well, things were different then.

5. Pull out. The GIRL, on the left, looks at the GUY. The GUY is looking up slightly, eyes wide, completely terrified.

GIRL: Also, I think you’re taking it a bit too literally –

GUY: Holy fuck.

6. Large panel. A large CAT sits above the forest on the highest peak. It’s head is turned towards us, it’s eyes piercing through the mists and looking right at us.

CAPTION (GUY): Mr Kibbles?”

April 23, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Four

Fifty FourFifty Four

1. An old retro looking lava lamp sits on a cluttered workbench. The contents of the lamp look pallid and yellow like old wallpaper. The metal of the lamp is rusting at the edges. It’s seen better days.

BLUE CAPTION: "So, it's magic?"

RED CAPTION: "I don't -- I mean, I guess so."

BLUE CAPTION: "You said it grants wishes."

2. Cut to an OLD MAN, peering down at the lamp. He wears clothes fit for a man twenty years his junior. A t-shirt. Jeans. He looks a little bit dishevelled. Like the lamp, he’s seen better days.

RED CAPTION: "I said it grants the heart's desire."

BLUE CAPTION: "What's the difference?"

3. The old man places his hands on the lamp reverently.

RED CAPTION: "Buy it and find out."

BLUE CAPTION: "Anyone ever fall for this?"

4. Wide panel. We pull out a little, seeing the lamp on the workbench, the old man and the cluttered, half falling down shed he’s in. We can see bits of motorbikes strewn everywhere or bursting out of containers. The old man seems constrained by all this mess and clutter.

RED CAPTION: "I got other customers. Have a nice --" 

5. Wide panel. Static. Everything the same. But the old man is gone.

BLUE CAPTION "How much does it cost?"
April 16, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Three

Fifty ThreeFifty Three

Panel 1: Wide panel. A beautiful cityscape. A wondrous combination of modern architecture and nature - an ideal future made real. People traipse down the open boulevards, smiling and laughing.

  1. DOCTOR (CAPTION): Did you know we haven’t had a murder in over 8 years? Odd, right? Like we just forgot it was something that happened.”

  2. PETE (CAPTION): Where are you doing with this, Doc?”

  3. DOCTOR (CAPTION): We live in an age of wonder, Pete. Unlimited possibility.”

Panel 2: Cut to: PETE. Pete is in his 40s, bald, a little bit overweight, a man mountain turned to wet play-doh. He faces us, perched on the end of a hospital type bed, a sad look on his face.

  1. DOCTOR (OFF): And yet here you are, in my office, in the same old rut.

Panel 3: Pan to a DOCTOR sat on a stool a few feet away from Pete. We can see we’re in the curtained off area of a doctor’s office. The Doctor is a similar age to Pete with a mop of curly blonde hair and a sparkly demeanour.

  1. DOCTOR: We’ve tried everything and still you’re despondent.

  2. PETE: None of it matters.

Panel 4: Back on Pete, still sad.

  1. PETE: I don’t mean life, before you start.

Panel 5: Cut to life in the city once again - a young family in the town square, walking hand in hand towards wherever it is they’re going, all impossibly happy.

  1. PETE (CAPTION): The buildings, the tech, living until you’re a hundred and twenty.”
  2. PETE (CAPTION): There’s still that voice telling me I don’t deserve any of it.”
  3. PETE (CAPTION): It tells me not to bother getting out of bed today, or not to go into work.”

Panel 6: Cut back to Pete, trying to smile, failing as he points towards his own head.

  1. PETE: None of that is out there, Doc. It’s all in here.
April 9, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty Two

Fifty TwoFifty Two

Somehow I made a shot of a sentient hairball into a strip about toxic relationships.

///

Four wide panels stacked atop each other.

1. A woman in her early 20s, oval face, classically beautiful, stands in front of a bathroom mirror. She’s smiling at herself as she brushes a beautiful head of perfect, straight, almost waist length black hair.

CAPTION: No, I like your hair.”

CAPTION: I just think it might look cool shorter.”

CAPTION: I mean you’ve had it that way since forever, right?”

2. The same woman, the same pose, the same bathroom. She’s in her mid-twenties now. Her hair is a lot shorter, down to her shoulders now. She brushes it, smiling slightly though not with the same enthusiasm.

CAPTION: Yeah, no, I like it.”

CAPTION: I do! What’s wrong? Why are you being like this?”

CAPTION: It’s just hair. It’ll grow back. What’s the big deal?”

CAPTION: You’re projecting. I didn’t make you cut your hair.”

3. The same woman, the same pose, a different bathroom. It’s smaller, cramped and a little bit drab. She’s in her early 30s now and her hair is even shorter now. She’s just about able to tuck it behind her ears. She fusses and toys with it, a blank expression on her face.

CAPTION: You cut it again?”

CAPTION: Is this you trying to make a point?”

CAPTION: No, I listen to you all the time.”

CAPTION: I’m not talking over you.”

CAPTION: Fine. Have some space. I’m going out.”

4. The same woman, the same post, the same bathroom. She’s in her mid 30s now, though she looks older. Her hair is shaved and her hands grip the basin as if to steady herself. She looks with resentment and anger back at her reflection.

Note: At this point maybe the captions should be larger, almost overpowering the image.

CAPTION: I’m sorry too.”

CAPTION: No, we can go back to how it was.”

CAPTION: Yeah. We can do all of those things.”

CAPTION: The past is the past, baby.”

CAPTION: Hey, you should grow your hair again.”

CAPTION: I always liked your hair long.”

March 26, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty One

Fifty OneFifty One

1. TIGHT on A YOUNG WOMAN, wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and a pair of Converse sneakers as she lies sprawled out and face down on a dusty road lined with yellow cobblestones. A small white Jack Russell licks her ear, trying to get her to wake up.

CAPTION: Gosh it would be awful pleasin’…”

YOUNG WOMAN: Cuht it aht

2. The young woman groggily looks up, swatting the dog away half-heartedly with her hand. She looks up towards us.

CAPTION: …to reason out the reason…

YOUNG WOMAN: I said cut it out.

3. We pull out, seeing her surroundings for the first time - a rolling, vast desert. Running through it and across the dunes is the cobblestone road, lined on either side by a grey stone wall. The road, the wall and the young woman all look frightfully out of place.

YOUNG WOMAN: Worst hangover ever.

CAPTION: …for things I can’t explain.”

4. We’re now looking at the young woman from an angle high up and behind her, as if from the POV of someone watching her from atop one of the dunes.

CAPTION: Then perhaps I’ll deserve yuh and even be worthy of yuh.”

5. CUT TO: the thing/creature in the photo at the top. It rides a large beast that looks like a shaggy-haired gerbil. Both of them look towards the young woman (off panel), as the rider grins its grin.

CAPTION: If I only had a brain.”

March 19, 2017 · 1page1shots

Fifty

FiftyFifty

1. On DEE, sitting across a table from us. She looks towards us sternly, all business. She’s in her early 30s and looks like a punk rock librarian with her pixie-ish hair cut and thick rimmed glasses.

DEE: You'll find no sympathy from me, Bassett. I'm not like your last worker. 
DEE: I'm a professional. 

CAPTION (DEE): I'm not. I'm a mess. I lost my best friend yesterday. 

2. On BASSETT, sitting opposite Dee. He’s chained to the table with a pair of handcuffs. He’s thin and sinewy, like a beef jerky left out in the sun. Despite that, he’s kind of handsome.

BASSETT: That's probably a good thing, Doc. I'm kind of a lost cause. 

CAPTION (DEE): Mr Squiggles did not answer back. He just listened and cuddled. He was a good dog. 

3. DEE, leaning forward in her seat.

DEE: Good. If you listen to me, we can get you out of here. 

CAPTION (DEE): As far as I'm concerned, the world can go to hell. 

4. BASSETT, starting to sit up and take notice of the strange lady sitting across him.

CAPTION (DEE): All I want is something cute and obedient by my side...

5. Wide panel. DEE, sitting on the left, peering across at BASSETT on the right.

BASSETT: So, uh, what next? 

6. Wide panel. CUT TO the pair, dressed in combat fatigues as they kick through the front doors of the bank.

CAPTION (DEE): ...and to rain down shit for Mr Squiggles.
March 12, 2017 · 1page1shots

Nothing fancy this week, I’m afraid.

Forty-Nine

Forty NineForty Nine

1. The exact same shot as the picture above. A small, spindly lizard-type creature leaps into thick green water, somewhere in a murky swamp. In the background we see the grim, cold visage of what looks like a giant grey piranha.

2. The same swamp. The piranha creature is dragged into the depths by huge tentacles attached to what can only be described as an octopus crossed with a bull. The piranha creature doesn’t even struggle, quietly accepting its fate.

3. The bull-octopus is carried writhing off into the sky by a creature that looks like a griffin made out of living stone. It has incredibly long talons with stone barbs up and down them. The more the bull-octopus struggles, the more it hurts itself on the barbs.

4. The stone-griffin jerks its head upwards and begins to fall from the sky with its prey as a long bullet-shaped projectile punches through its neck, sending chips of stone and blood out of the exit wound.

5. Back on the ground, amid the undergrowth of the swamp is a man, a HUNTER dressed in dark overalls festooned with leather belts and pouches. He holds a large, sleek rifle towards the sky and has his foot up on the neck of the stone-griffin, beaming widely.

6. Same shot. A tremendous bolt of lightning strikes the HUNTER directly, burning him to a crisp and killing him instantly.

7. Insert panel inside Panel 6. The small lizard creature from the first panel munches on the still smoking flesh of the hunter.

March 5, 2017 · 1page1shots

Forty-Eight

Forty EightForty Eight

1. Wide. A four piece punk/hardcore band plays on a shoddy stage somewhere in the dark depths of a dive bar - the kind of place that doesn’t turn the lights on in fear of revealing exactly how bad it looks. In the middle of the panel stands the singer, SHERROD. He’s in his mid 20s with wild hair and a Roman nose that has been broken at least once. He wears skinny jeans, a pair of pale blue Chuck Taylors, and a faded Bad Brains t-shirt. The rest of the band whirl about the stage with restless energy whilst Sherrod stands solemnly singing into the microphone. Below them the small crowd weave around and crash into each other. Those near the stage clamour to try and touch Sherrod, their hands thrust upward like starving children.

SHERROD (NARRATION): Through the crowd, I know you're there. 

SHERROD (NARRATION):  Cutting your way through the dervish...

2. Tight on Sherrod, somehow looking bored amongst all this chaos. He looks off into the distance, looking past the crowd.

SHERROD (NARRATION): ...like a hot knife through butter. 

3. From Sherrod’s POV we see a woman standing at the back of the room. This is FRANCES. She’s in her early 20s, a bob haircut and dark makeup. Theda Bara in ripped jeans and a Fugazi t-shirt. She holds a single hand up in a creepy wave towards Sherrod.

SHERROD (NARRATION): You wave like you haven't been missing for a year. 

4. Back on Sherrod, similar to panel 2, but his head is tilted quizzically.

SHERROD (NARRATION): Like this is what normal people do. 

5. Nothing but black.

SHERROD (NARRATION): Then it hits me...

6. Wide. Similar staging to the first panel, but now Sherrod is dressed in a strange looking armour (as per the picture) and cloak. He’s slumped backwards in a steampunk-looking boat as he cruises through a throng of the clamouring undead, firing a PISTOL at the figures beneath him. The only piece of normalcy in this grim tableau is Sherrod’s pale blue Chuck Taylors peeking out from beneath his cloak.

CAPTION: 2 hours later.

SHERROD (NARRATION): ...the worst is still to come.
February 26, 2017 · 1page1shots

Forty-Seven

Forty SevenForty Seven

1. Wide panel. A silver, dart-shaped SPACESHIP sits on high-tech landing gear amidst a clearing in a thick jungle.

SHELLEY: Doug, I am imploring you not to be an asshole about this.

DOUG: Harsh words, Shel. I’m wounded.

SHELLEY: This is not about who’s right and who’s wrong.

2. We CUT TO inside the spaceship. A small, but well-equipped, field laboratory. We’re focused on a strange mushroom-looking PLANT as it sits on a cold-steel tray atop a work bench.

SHELLEY (OFF): This is life or death. Tag it, bag it. But do not touch it.

3. Zoom out. Either side of the work bench stands a man and a woman - DOUG and SHELLEY. DOUG, on the left, is all puffed chest, possessing the kind of machismo that breaks at the slightest touch. SHELLEY, on the right, has wispey hair, has a mousey manner about her and slightly hunched over. She usually takes DOUGs shit. But not today. Both are wearing dark blue jumpsuits.

DOUG: Readings indicate it’s not toxic.

SHELLEY: Don’t care. Just follow the damn protocol.

DOUG: No.

4. Tight on DOUG, smirking. A know it all.

SHELLEY (OFF): This is about the movie, isn’t it? Jesus, Doug.

5. On SHELLEY. Sick of this. Pointing, spitting bile and barbed truth.

SHELLEY: It was a difference of opinion. We won’t have to agree on everything. SHELLEY: Grow up!

6. DOUG, a painted smile, hiding his hurt, as he reaches his hand towards the PLANT on the table.

DOUG: Ease up, Shel. Come on…

7. Inset panel in the bottom right of Panel 6. Nothing but black.

CAPTION/DOUG: …lets grab our suits and go for a stroll.”

February 19, 2017 · 1page1shots

Up against it this week. Talk about an easy target.

Forty-Six

Forty SixForty Six

1. Wide panel. Tight on the window of an electronics shop somewhere in the middle of a city. Could be New York or Chicago. We just know it’s America. Every television set in the window shows the same man. He’s in his 70s, wears an ill-fitting suit, has the peroxide infused, thinning hair of a man you wouldn’t buy a used car off, and his skin has the timbre of what can only be described as a Cheeto. Somehow, inexplicably, this man is standing behind a podium that bears the seal of the President of the United States.

LYRICS (TAILLESS): I get the same old dream, same time every night. LYRICS (TAILLESS): Fall to the ground and I wake up.

2. Wide panel. We push in a little more on the window and all the television sets. The ORANGE MAN is smiling smugly as he continues his speech, no doubt saying something he thinks sounds clever.

LYRICS (TAILLESS): So I get out of bed, put on my shoes, and in my head thoughts fly back to the break-up.

3. Wide panel. Cut to a small crowd that has gathered by the window - an assortment of citizens from all walks of life. One of them wears headphones, currently around his neck, music wafting from them through the cold air. Standing in the middle of them is a bearded, robed figure standing about eight feet tall. He has a bright yellow halo hovering over his head and he’s bathed in ethereal light, a stark contrast to the slate grey sky and rain all around him. The ROBED GIANT is frowning, his head tilted slightly.

LYRICS: These four walls are closing in.

4. Wide panel. The ROBED GIANT continues to stare at the TV/us. He pulls a large green glass bottle, seemingly out of thin air and has begun to take a giant swig from it. The bottle if full of a clear liquid and small, pink fleshy bits float in it.

LYRICS: Look at the fix you’ve put me in!

5. Wide panel. Nothing but black.

LYRICS (TAILLESS): Since you’ve been gone, since you’ve been gone, I’m outta my head, can’t take it.

February 12, 2017 · 1page1shots

Forty Five

Forty FiveForty Five

1. Wide panel. We’re looking through a sniper’s scope. A strange, TWO-LEGGED BIRD, ostrich-like in appearance, thunders across a flat desert landscape. Sitting atop it is a RIDER wearing white robes.

CAPTION (SPOTTER): There. Exactly where they said she’d be.”

CAPTION (SNIPER): I’m curious.”

CAPTION (SPOTTER): I’ve told you about that.”

CAPTION (SNIPER): Indulge me.”

2. CUT TO: a man, the SPOTTER. He’s weather beaten like old leather and peers over the edge of a sand dune, lying on his chest. He clutches a pair of binoculars. Next to him, also belly down on the cusp of the dune, is a woman, the SNIPER. She’s much younger than the man, but her eyes indicate she’s seen just as much. She peers through the scope of what can ony be described as a mix between a Barratt sniper rifle and a pneumatic drill. Both figures are swathed in dark robes to shield themselves from the desert’s elements.

SNIPER: Money was no object here. No negotiation. No bullshit. Just the job.

3. Back in the sniper scope. The BIRDs vigorous movement across the desert has kicked up clouds of sand, obscuring the sniper’s view.

CAPTION (SNIPER): What the fuck did she do?”

CAPTION (SPOTTER): Nothing. It’s what she has. Look closer. Clipped to her belt.”

4. A small inset inside Panel 3. CU on the SNIPER as she opens her closed eye, peering up from the scope slightly.

SNIPER: The hell? Is that…?

5. A small inset on the left of Panel 6. A small flask clipped to the RIDERs belt. Clear liquid inside. Water.

CAPTION (SNIPER): That’s water.”

6. An aerial shot of the TWO LEGGED BIRD continuing on its journey. Nothing but desert as far as the eye can see.

CAPTION (SPOTTER): Only water on the planet. Once she gets to someone with a replicator, the sky’s the limit.”

7. A small inset on the right hand side of Panel 6. The crosshairs of the sniper’s rifle rest on the determined young face of the RIDER.

CAPTION (SPOTTER): Do you understand now?” No more questions.”

February 5, 2017 · 1page1shots

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