Atrophy is the end result of any muscle that doesn’t receive sufficient exercise.

With this realization coupled with the fact that my existence benefits from some manner of loose routine, if only to provide additional irritation when life causes deviation, it’s only natural that I’m consistently instituting a scheduled regimen that keeps the words committing themselves to paper on a regular basis. Ambidextrous helps naturally, keeping a degree of the creative juice flowing, but progress is best measured by pages in the notebook often at my side coated in black ink, offering conclusive proof that if dreams fade into nothingness, it won’t result from lack of effort. You’re only as good as your last idea, and I like to keep things fresh, harnessing the manic state of development that accompanies the latest concept, providing life until something else more interesting comes along to occupy the consciousness.

The frantic pace at which an idea gains form differs from one notion to the next. The Syndicate dominated my attention for nearly four weeks in some shape or form, constituting of character sheets, issue summaries, and a few pages of script. Alternately, Rush, the story of the boy who never wanted to save the world, only kept me busy for about a week. It’s controlling this random circling of the attention span that inspires unease. Some weeks I’ll put five pages into the notepad…and other weeks’ progress slows to a trickle as life intrudes and inspiration fades.

The point of this lengthy diatribe is meant to clarify the reasons that as of April 25, 2002, I promised to myself to write at least one page of script per day. The subject matter was un-important to me…only the end result. One night I would write a page that had absolutely nothing to do with any concept in development, existing as somewhat of a one-page story, followed the next afternoon by something chronicling a conversation between Batman and Robin that’s been in my head recently.

The fruits of my first week’s labors are presented below, with commentary that explains exactly where this stuff is coming from. Also check out my slightly re-formatted scripting technique that’s a hell of a lot cleaner and straightforward than previous attempts that relied on bizarre centering and justifications that only served in distracting the reader from the story itself. At least…that’s what I thought when I changed it.

There’s some cool stuff in here…take a look and see if you agree.

 


April 25- “Downpour”

(1) Full page splash. A man looks up at the gun firmly placed on his temple by an unseen party as a violent storm forces water into his pores. The look on his face conveys a sense of utter exhaustion and loss that suggests the bullet soon to explode from the chrome barrel will provide a welcome conclusion to this very bad day.

CAP: SOMETHIN’ REALLY FUCKED HAPPENED THIS MORNING…
CAP: …AND I HONESTLY DON’T GIVE A SHIT.
CAP: NOT ANYMORE.
CAP: NOT AFTER HER.
Commentary: Apparently I began with something simple, tearing a page from the Chuck Dixon School of Comic-Book Writing that implores a writer to start strong and convince that reader to quickly flip the page like a curious lemming. If it works you’re both attracted to the visual and the interior monologue that makes you wonder, “Shit, what happened to this guy today that makes him anxious to take this bullet? And who’s feeding it to him?” The hell if I know…I just write the shit.


April 26- “The Accident”

(1) We’re in Wayne Manor. Shot of the grandfather clock in Bruce’s living room/study that doubles as an entrance into the Batcave.

(2) Maintain shot as the clock begins to swing open.

BATMAN: ALFRED?
(3) Batman emerges from the darkness badly beaten with his left arm hanging limp. It’s been a rough night apparently.

BATMAN: ALFRED??
(4) Close-up of Batman as he gazes upon something truly horrifying.

(5) Panoramic shot of the Joker standing in front of the immense picture frame that contains the prized portrait of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The portrait has been ripped from the frame and lies at the Joker’s feet, alongside an unconscious Alfred. Joker is pissing on the canvas nonchalantly.

JOKER: “DON’T GO CHASIN’ WATERFALLS…”
JOKER: “PLEASE STICK TO THE RIVERS AND THE LAKES THAT YOU
USED TO…”
(6) Shot of the Joker as he spots Batman.

JOKER: IT WAS AN EMERGENCY…
JOKER:…I SWEAR.
JOKER: HEH. HEH. HEH.
(7) Batman pounces the clown instantly, throwing his hands around the Joker’s neck.

(8) Close-up of Bats as he chokes the life out of the clown.

JOKER: KAKK!! KAKK!! KAKK!! KAKK!!
(9) All black panel.

SFX: SNAP!!!
Commentary: This offering was written while watching Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker on DVD. (I’ve had a bootleg video of it for months, but there’s just something about a DVD with a fifteen-dollar price tag.) Anyway, I’m watching this spectacular animated flick and the mind travels back to a conversation I’d had with one of my roommates about the inherent level of insanity driving something like the Batman. How Joker can shoot, kill, and maim as many people as he wants (many in Batman’s tight circle of friends) and Bruce refuses to “accidentally” snap his neck. Then I remembered an arc of the JLA that had Batman going on a cross-country jaunt to recover the dead bodies of his parents that had been exhumed by Ra’s Al Ghul as an effective distraction. I realized what needed to be done to end this ridiculous cycle.

One more thing…I’m sitting next to my other roommate while scribbling this thing down and I say, “Mike man…I’m writing this page where Joker is pissing on the picture of Batman’s parents. The one is his living room. What’s the Joker saying? Is he singing? What you think?”
“He’s singing Waterfalls.”
“By TLC?”
“Yeah.”
“Hmm. How does it go? Wait I got it. That’s cool. That’s cool.”

The next morning the internet is buzzing with news of the untimely demise of TLC member Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, killed in a car accident overseas. Spooky.


April 27- “Generation Gap”

(1) Close-up of the Batman

BATMAN: ROBIN?
BATMAN: ROBIN…WHAT ARE YOU DOING?
(2) Pull out for a shot of Robin standing in front of the Batcomputer, furiously pounding at the keys with Bats in the background.

ROBIN: I THINK YOU KNOW BRUCE.
(3) Robin is walking towards a small podium that has risen from the floor of the cave. Something atop it glows a hideous green.

BATMAN: DON’T DO THIS TIM.
BATMAN: DON’T MAKE ME STOP YOU.
(4) Close-up of Robin and his right glove that has the kryptonite ring wrapped around the index finger. The green glow takes on a haunting clarity in the darkened cave.

ROBIN: I’M SORRY.
ROBIN: BART…SOMEPLACE WARM.
(5) A red blur rips through the cave as Impulse evicts Batman from the premises.

(6) Impulse arrives back on the scene.

IMPULSE: THEY’RE GONNA COME AFTER US AREN’T THEY?
THEYAREAREN’TTHEY?
IMPULSE: WHATAREWEGONNADOMAN? THEY’RETHEJL—
ROBIN: I DON’T CARE. I DON’T CARE. WE PUSH THEM ASIDE. ANY
MEANS REMEMBER?
ROBIN: ANY MEANS.
Commentary: I would like to see Young Justice take on their older counterparts in the JLA. I would like for the two teams to disagree on an issue so passionately,
so vehemently, that the kids throw punches to make their point. The catalyst for these events would revolve around a few dead teammates on YJ, taken out violently and torturously by a corrupt government agency. The JLA wants to advance carefully in bringing the G-men to justice, and the kids disagree, sparking a war with a segment of the government, with the JLA finding themselves caught in the middle. YJ, believing their mentors too hesitant in taking on “the man,” and too stupid to realize they should be, strike out of their own, even securing a piece of Kryptonite to handle the big guy in the red cape. How long would Young Justice last against the JLA? Longer than you think.


April 28 – “Widescreen I” (Syndicate pg.3)

(1) Panoramic shot of Cameron Ricks as he abandons his hiding spot and limps across the dock, bullets spraying in every direction.

(2) Pan shot. Another man appears literally from nowhere brandishing a rocket launcher.

(3) Pan shot. A shell is fired and travels across the panel.

(4) Pan shot. Extreme close-up on the eyes of Ricks as they widen in shock.


April 28 – “Widescreen II” (Syndicate pg.4)

(1) Splash page as a massive explosion propels Ricks through the air and into the waiting arms of the water below in typical Michael Bay fashion. This is a still from an action movie, a visual that will instantly sell a summer blockbuster when included on the trailer.

Commentary: Two pages of script from the first issue of the Syndicate, which spotlights Cameron Ricks and begins on the set of Ricks’ latest blockbuster Annihilation. The first five pages don’t include any copy and are framed in a style imitating the widescreen format found in your local cinema and special edition DVDs. I wrote two pages this day because, as you can see, they were fairly short.


April 29 – “First Person”

Every shot is viewed from a first-person perspective that puts the readers in the shoes of the main character.

(1) A large man dressed in the uniform of a security officer and wearing a name tag saying “Walker” stands before us.

WALKER: YOU THE NEW DUDE?
POV: YEAH, YEAH…I’M SORRY…
WALKER: YOU’RE LATE.
POV: YEAH MAN, MY CAR…
WALKER: WHATEVER.
(2) The man turns around and the POV character follows him.

WALKER: GET HERE ON TIME. THREE TIMES AND THEY FIRE YO ASS.
NO ONE GIVES A SHIT WHAT YA NAME IS.
WALKER: THREE ‘REDS’ AND YOU’RE OUT.
(3) Walker places his arm in front of the character to halt his progress.

WALKER: HOL’ UP.
(4) POV peers into the distance as a shackled man (bound in restrictive Hannibal-style gear) and flanked by four guards carrying cattle prods is led through a hallway crossing the duo’s path.

POV: WHO THE F—?
WALKER: SHHHH.
(5) Pull in closer as the prisoner’s face turns and stares at the approaching pair.

WALKER: QUIET ON THE BLOCK.
(6) We can see through the grill on the prisoner’s mask as a grin crosses his face.

WALKER: SHIT.
POV: WHAT?
(7) The hallway is now empty, but Walker’s arm remains in place.

WALKER: HE SAW US.
POV: SO?
(8) Walker turns around and glares sharply at POV.

WALKER: EYE CONTACT IN HERE IS KEPT TO A FUCKIN’ MINIMUM.
WALKER: GOT IT?
POV: YEAH, YEAH. COOL.
(9) Same shot.

WALKER: THIS IS ARKHAM ASYLUM SON.
WALKER: AIN’T SHIT COOL ABOUT IT.
Commentary: Arkham Asylum by way of HBO’s OZ series. I have no idea why this isn’t already in production at Vertigo yet, but this would be a nice addition to their line-up. The first-person perspective has been accomplished to varying degrees by a variety of storytellers, and the question remains if it could remain in place for the duration of a monthly series and still remain interesting. I think with the right artist it would work fine, as I believe something to further immerse the audience in this bizarre environment would be a narrative supported by the fact you’re looking through the eyes of the main character. Maybe in the last issue you’d actually see what he looks like…perhaps not. Anyway, this would be a hard-edged dark and depressing, yet uplifting series that would cause me to do tremendous research on prison culture. Sounds like fun to me.


On April 30, I wrote one last page of Syndicate script before the regimen fell to pieces in the approaching shadow of graduation. Any day now it will begin again for an undisclosed amount of time…

Peace,
Brandon Thomas

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