Monday, May 4, 2009

NOTES FROM THE EDITOR, part II (1st script)

So as not to fatigue your eyes too much staring at the computer screen, I've been trying to break this up into bite-size morsels. This post, I'm including the script I sent off to the Ape editor at the end of 2008 for their UFO anthology. I was happy with, but did not expect to hear anything (figuring it was late in the game and they probably had filled up the spots at this point), and so I was pushing forward with my prose. But here, for your enjoyment, is my initial UFO script:

Life is Funny
by Chris Beckett

The back-story for this UFO tale is a fairly typical small-town one. Boy and girl date all through high school, and soon after graduation get married and move in to their own trailer or apartment in a less than stellar housing complex. The boy gets a construction/mill job while the girl works register at the local IGA or Wal-Mart. Things are good for a time, but eventually real life – often in the form of a baby – rears its head, straining the marriage and leading to one of many bleak results.

Page 1

Panel 1: We begin at the end, with our protagonist (Jake) holding his three-year-old son up in his arms so the two are face to face. The boy is overjoyed as Jake returns his son’s love, smiling at his boy in the manner only a father can. Jake is wearing a weathered Detroit Tigers hat, an indicator for readers during flashback scenes.

CAPTION It’s funny how things work out sometime.

Panel 2: FLASHBACK, late 70s, early 80s. A similar Detroit Tigers ball cap – not as weathered – is on the head of an 8-year-old sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons. In the background his parents are openly arguing.

CAPTION Prejudices inform our decisions, determining the paths of our lives.

Panel 3: A piece of framed string art (a noted 70s craft, I can get reference if needed) creates a portrait of Jake.

CAPTION Everything mapped out – point A to point B to point Z.

Panel 4: A jigsaw puzzle image – Jake and his wife Tammy wearing their caps and gowns from high school graduation maybe in the familiar form of “American Gothic” by Grant Wood.

CAPTION Like a meticulously planned jewel heist.

Panel 5: Jake fumbling a ground ball hit to him during a beer league softball game.

CAPTION Too bad life isn’t really like that.

Page 2

Panel 1: Jake and Tammy toasting champagne at the head table during their wedding reception in the local American Legion hall. Everyone sitting at the table looks very young.

CAPTION Tammy and I got married just out of high school.

Panel 2: The housing complex where Jake and Tammy live – a fairly mundane and depressing place with overflowing trash cans on many stoops and a general feel of disrepair throughout the place. They are sitting on their own tiny stoop in plastic lawn chairs, each one on a cellphone, intent on their conversations more than each other.

CAPTION We were in love. That was all that mattered.

Panel 3: At a local park where Jake is pushing Tammy on one of the swings, surrounded by parents doing the same with their young children.

CAPTION Those first couple years were good.

Panel 4: At a barbecue where a number of their high school friends are also attending. Talking with one of his buddies, Jake has a beer in one hand while he rests the other on Tammy’s obviously pregnant stomach.

CAPTION But it wasn’t long before things took a turn.

Page 3

Panel 1: In the hospital delivery room. A nurse is handing a bundled newborn to Jake. Jake is wearing the same Detroit cap we saw on page 1.

CAPTION Tate was so small.

Panel 2: FLASHBACK. Jake is at the dinner table wearing his Detroit cap. Only he and his Mom are sitting down to eat. An empty spot where his father should be is across from Jake, a full plate sitting there getting cold.

CAPTION I was excited about being a Dad. Determined not to be like my father.

Panel 3: FLASHBACK. Jake is watching an episode of the Cosby Show on the television as he munches on cereal.

CAPTION But it isn’t as easy as it looks on TV.

Panel 4: Back to the PRESENT. Jake and Tammy are in each other’s faces, screaming unintelligibly at one another. Taking all of this in is Tate, who is sitting on his mother’s hip. Jake is dressed in hunting garb, on his way out for a weekend at camp.

CAPTION We didn’t see our friends as much, but I still had my annual hunting trip with the guys.
Tammy didn’t understand.

Page 4

Panel 1: Jake and Tammy are eating supper at their kitchen table, with Tate in his high chair between his parents.

CAPTION We discussed a separation, and I plan on moving out once I find a place I can afford.

Panel 2: Looking down on Tammy and Jake’s bed as they have sex. Jake is on top of Tammy, bedcovers above his waist. Tammy is looking off, grief-stricken, tears dampening the side of her face.

CAPTION For now, I’m in the guest room.

Panel 3: Jake walking at night through the quiet streets of the town. Trees line the sidewalks and only about half the streetlights are working, giving a hazy, melancholy look to the scene.

CAPTION Evenings I usually go for a walk, just to get away. Give Tammy a chance to think things over.

Panel 4: Tammy sitting in their living room, head in her hand as she cries uncontrollably.

CAPTION It’s good for both of us.

Page 5

Panel 1: This panel takes up the TOP ½ OF THE PAGE. Jake has made his way to the end of a dead end road and is standing at the edge of a large field full of swaying grasses dotted with trees here and there. Maybe on the far end of this field we can see a house where the street picks up once more. In the upper left of the night sky hangs a ¾ full moon and in the air directly above Jake a huge UFO hovers, bathing the scene in hot light.


Panel 2: From behind Jake. His arm is up, shading his eyes from two luminous aliens (almost angelic like) hovering just above the ground in front of him.

CAPTION They spoke to me.

CAPTION Inside my head.

Panel 3: Jake’s eyes, nose and mouth are visible in the middle of A WHITE PANEL, as if he’s being absorbed by the aliens’ radiance.

CAPTION I couldn’t understand what they said, but it left me with a palpable sense of despair.

CAPTION When I woke, I had no idea how long I’d been out.

Page 6

Panel 1: Jake is lying in a heap, rubbing at his temple, at the end of the dead end road where he just encountered the UFO, which is nowhere to be seen. The gibbous moon has traveled across the sky and is now partially hidden by the horizon on the right of the panel.

JAKE Oooohhhh.

Panel 2: Jake is jogging/running down the street heading for home.


Panel 3: From behind Jake as he opens the door to his place in the housing complex.


Panel 4: Jake is sitting on his bed, Tammy is sleeping. No lights are on, and Jake rests his hand on Tammy’s shoulder to awaken her.

JAKE (small) Hey.

Panel 5: Same scene as previous, but Tammy has awoken and she and Jake are now hugging intensely.


Panel 6: SAME AS PAGE 1 PANEL 1. Jake holding Tate up so they are face to face, ecstasy and unconditional love apparent on each of their features.

CAPTION It’s funny how things work out sometime.


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