PDA

View Full Version : Court of the Air (First scene-3 pages)


Beardywriterface
10-16-2015, 04:30 AM
This is a graphic novel adaptation of The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt I'm working on for fun and practice. I've estimated the final script would have to be at least 200-300 pages so I'm curious how the pacing will be received.


Court of the Air

Every page will have a 9-panel grid layout.

Chapter One
Page One

Panel 1, establishing shot of the two-story Sungate Poorhouse from above, but not directly over. This is mid-afternoon. We're in the slums of Middlesteel, so rat-nest like alleys and detritus swept to the sides of the street is a must. The buildings should be scummy and coal-dirty, as well as built of wood and stone. Ill-repair is good. Put a high wall around the poorhouse, very prison-esque, and a black cab attached to horses out front. Emma Fairborn is walking the path from her cab to the entrance of the poorhouse.

CAPTION:
Sun Gate Poorhouse, Sun Gate District, Middlesteel

BEADLE (OP):
Reading this time, Molly. Honestly. That's the fourth job you've been chucked from in as many months.

MOLLY (OP):
Better to take your cane and learn a little than lose my fingernails to the chemical bleaches of Damson Snell's laundry.

Panel 2, Beadle is sitting behind a shining teak writing desk, his furniture at odds with the crappiness of his building. He should look annoyed. There should be an oil painting of Guardian Hoggstone flanking the grimy window right behind him. There should be a cane leaning up against the side of the desk, the type that a gentleman would hook over his forearm as he went walking. Standing straightly in front of the desk is Molly Templar, arms at her sides. At the right side of the panel is a small sofa and on the opposite wall is a bookshelf.

BEADLE:
She runs a business, Molly. Not a library. Damson Snell did not send for a lady of letters.

MOLLY:
A fine lesson in business from the Damson too, isn't it, she who slips you twenty bob a month to get her poorhouse labor free? She forgot about a fair wage for those who only have labor to sell--

Panel 3, a closeup of Beadle, furious, clenching his hands on his desk.

BEADLE:
You're turning into a right little Carlist, you are, Molly Templar! If I sent you back I'd expect to hear you organizing a damned worker's combination!

Panel 4, Molly, standing stoically, her face drawn in determination.

MOLLY:
My ward papers have only a year on them, sir. And it wasn't Community and the Commons I was reading, just a penny dreadful, that's all.

MOLLY:
You go ahead and send me to another Handsome Lane laundry. I've got the vote soon enough.

Panel 5, Beadle is standing, both his palms on the desk as he leans toward her, still angry.

BEADLE:
A fine little madam you've become. What's it for you then, Molly? Running with the flash mob on the street, dipping wallets only to be arrested by crushers? And they'll have you on a transportation hulk to the Concorzian colonies, working all the same.

BEADLE:
No, I've something more for you. Or less, I suppose.

Panel 6, Beadle has begun walking around the side of the desk towards the bookcase, his arms behind his back, trying to affect an air of control and dignity.

BEADLE:
Damson Darnay filled your heads with nonsense like teaching the poorhouse children their letters and giving them a good Circlist upbringing. As if your lot needs that to scurry up the vents of the pneumatic towers or hunch over a loom.

Panel 7 is a double wide panel, closeup of Molly's face, frowning. The door to the office can be seen behind her.

BEADLE (OP):
I run the poorhouse as it should be run, whether our young damson finds it fair or no. Besides, you're free of me much sooner than you thought.

MOLLY:
What do you mean?

Panel 8, a side shot of this scene. On the left, the Beadle is gesturing with his arm out straight at the door behind Molly. Molly is turning her body towards the door but still frowning unsurely at him. That couch should be against the wall we're looking at.

BEADLE:
Would you let our guest into the room? She's waited quite long enough, I think.


Page Two

Panel 1, Molly, having opened the door, is standing to the inside of it to let Emma Fairborn into the room. She is walking stately and tall with her chin in the air, a small smile on her face. Molly should be looking at her a bit suspiciously.

MOLLY (thought):
Dressed awful smart. She's quality and no mistake. Too rich for some inspector of schools.

BEADLE (OP):
Come in, please.

BEADLE (OP):
Now, Molly. Let me introduce you to the Damson Emma Fairborn. She's one of Sun Gate's most... prominent employers.

Panel 2, Emma has sat on the couch, her smile still in place. Molly is pushing the door closed (pose her mid-walk) while they regard each other.

EMMA:
Molly's a lovely name. Have you a last one, dear?

MOLLY:
It's Templar, for the Lump Street temple I'm told they found me abandoned at, wrapped in a silk swaddle.

EMMA:
A silk swaddle, hm? I suppose that puts a twist into dwelling on the identity of your parents.

Panel 3, closeup of Molly's shocked face.

EMMA (OP):
No, Molly. I'm not your mother, though I suppose I'm of an age.

BEADLE (OP):
I'll warn you of her mein. The little grubber can't seem to keep her--

Panel 4, looking from the bookcase side of the room. Beadle is frowning at Emma but she's still facing Molly. Emma has a hand out towards the reader. Molly is frowning in confusion again.

EMMA:
That's quite enough, Beadle.

EMMA:
Molly, would you mind grabbing that volume on philosophy from the top shelf? And have you enjoyed your time in the house?

MOLLY:
I have found it... Somewhat wearisome, damson.

Panel 5, a view from opposite the desk of Molly reaching towards the high shelf. Emma has both her hands in her lap again, the smile back on her face. Beadle can now be frowning at Molly.

EMMA:
Fine balance and poise, and a mind for diplomacy, no matter the warnings otherwise. You've no idea the number of pretty girls I see who clump around like mules. I think you're workable. And I presume you've received no salary?

MOLLY:
No, damson, it all goes to the Sun Gate Board of the Poor.

Panel 6, Emma frowning quite sternly at Beadle. Beadle should not meet her eyes, maybe even look embarrassed, as he's heading for his chair again.

EMMA (put this bubble above them):
I'd likely be amazed at how expensive the ward's Victualling Board can buy in the slops.

EMMA (this bubble below):
But I'm sure the suppliers have their overheads.

Panel 7, shot from opposite the desk again. Emma has stood, Molly is standing shocked with the book at her side. Beadle should be writing at his desk.

BEADLE:
She's an orphan so--

EMMA:
Only a year before your voting rights, I understand. Well, a year with me and your tastes will be too expensive to return to Handsome Lane. You'll have a decent stipend once the board's dues are paid.

Panel 8, a shot outside and from above the poorhouse again. The cab is still there, and Emma and Molly are walking towards it.

MOLLY:
Damson Fairborn...

EMMA:
Yes, my dear?

Panel 9, a shot of Fairborn's retainer holding the door to the cab open for her, bowing his head as he hands her up. Emma has placed a foot on the step and one hand on the handle on the side of the opening, her other hand, as mentioned, in the retainer's. Molly is waiting her turn and looking back at us (towards the poorhouse) a bit confused.

MOLLY:
Paying the poorhouse's dole and a salary for a boarder? That's a first for a Sun Gate ward.


Page Three

Panel 1, the retainer is locking the door to the cab from the outside.

EMMA (from inside cab):
You came as rather highly regarded, Molly. I was surprised, since it came from Beadle, until I met you. I think even he was surprised to speak so highly.

SFX:
snick

Panel 2, a high shot of the cab pulling away from the poorhouse, which should be further into the bottom right of the frame.

Note to Letterer: We need some sort of unique style of balloons for the Observer (and the Shadow Bear, later).

RETAINER (small):
Hyup.

OBSERVER (OP, thought, from the poorhouse):
Yes, I think that was one of my better interventions. No abbatoir for you, Molly Templar.

Panel 3, back in Beadle's office. He is standing at his desk, sliding some papers into a folio. The Observer is in the corner behind him to the right, transparent. She should be squinting at Beadle.

OBSERVER (thought):
I think I got the last of it. No more dwelling on her for you. Go back to thoughts of that twelfth cottage you'll never live to purchase, monkey brain.

OBSERVER (thought):
Sometimes I'm glad I can only intervene so much.

Panel 4, another aerial view of the cab, this time we're off the street the poorhouse was on. Go ahead and make buildings look a little nicer and cleaner. There can be some traffic, horses drawing other coaches or carts.

MOLLY (inside the cab):
The Holy Empire of Kikkosico is northeast, Quatérshift is east, the Steamman Free-State southeast, and Cassarabia dead south.

EMMA (inside the cab):
Well your most general geography isn't bad, Molly. And I'm sure you know every hiding hole of your immediate surroundings. What's your grasp on politics?

MOLLY (inside the cab):
Well I know First Guardian Hoggstone's a Purist...

Panel 5, a shot straight on of Molly inside the cab. It should be plushly cushioned and decorated inside with nice wood paneling and maybe some gilt around the edges of things like the window. Molly should be looking forward with a questioning frown.

EMMA (OP):
Do you know who leads the Roarers, the Levellers, and the Heartlanders in the House of Guardians?

MOLLY:
That steamman leads the Levellers doesn't he? Am I to be a domestic for--

EMMA (OP):
What are we stopping for? Did they start the promenade early?

Panel 6, a shot from beside and behind the cab, we see the back of Molly's head as she is sticking it out of the left side window. There is a crowd in front of them, blocking the street, and we should be angled enough we can see the parade making it's way by.

MOLLY:
How could I forget the march was today?

EMMA (from the cab):
Just the king, then?

MOLLY:
Even better. The Special Guard's with him!

Panel 7, we should be closer on the parade, centered on the king's open carriage. To front and rear of it march Special Guardsmen and -women in their pristine uniforms and shining neck torcs, all muscley and impossibly athletic looking. Captain Flare should be marching by himself directly in front of the king's carriage. The king should be wearing his iron face gag and bent crown, his robes fitting him to accentuate that he has no arms in some way, but also a bit worn as if they've been rarely cared for. If you can, show him with rotting fruit stains on and around him. I think we should have room for a small inset panel of Capain Flare's bust, or maybe overlay a transparent (heroically poised) image of him over part of the crowd or something.

MOLLY (OP):
There's Captain Flare. I swear, he could crush a whole battalion of Cassarabian raiders between his thighs!

EMMA (OP):
Mmm, yes, I wouldn't mind the People's Shepherd paying call at my place of business a time or two...

EMMA (OP):
Speaking of which, Molly. You were saying something before we were stopped.

Panel 8, a side view from inside the cab of both of them. Emma is sitting primly with her hands in her lap and her back straight. Molly should be pulling her head back inside, sheepishly grinning at Emma.

MOLLY:
Only that I was a bit confused, damson. The Sun Gate Poorhouse is hardly a place to recruit a domestic.

EMMA:
Hm, I thought that was it. Didn't you recognize my name, Molly? I'm Emma Fairborn, of Fairborn and Jarndyce.

Panel 9, same view, Emma leaning a bit forward now, a small smile on her face and her eyebrow up. Molly is fully in her seat, a horrified look on her face. The bottom right of this panel should be broken up a bit to really show the end of this scene.

MOLLY:
That's--

EMMA:
Yes, a baudyhouse, dear. And I'm who you may have heard referred to as the Queen of the Whores.

EMMA:
I think you'll do quite nicely for one of my girls, Molly.

SamRoads
10-16-2015, 07:35 AM
Re: pacing. This feels a little dense. With 8/9 panels per page, each with a couple of lines of dialogue, you have a lot to read on each page. Throw in the repetitiveness of the 'always 9 panels a page' decision and this is starting to sound like a sandwich with no filling - edible, but a bit chewy.

If you want feedback on any other aspect, ask. Otherwise, good luck!

Beardywriterface
10-16-2015, 03:11 PM
Heh, if you think THIS is dense, you should read the novel. The learning curve in his world is crazy steep, and I've torn out about half of the dialogue and three characters to make this more palatable.

Part of the fun I've had with this little project is trying to solve the (admittedly many) problems the source material had: pacing and characterization. He poured so much into the setting that it was by far the best part, the plot is incredibly tight after the first chapter, but its also a bit convoluted, and because of size constraints (the paperback is 500+ pages for a first time novel) I imagine he felt like he just had to pack everything in as tightly as he could.

That's the reason for the 9-panel pages because--and I'm no Frank Miller--but I know something even denser can be done (of course, I'm aware he did that with a franchise where everyone is already familiar with the universe).

I changed a bit of the dialogue a little and the rest made up entirely (almost the whole 3rd page, which originally didn't exist, but I had to introduce the weirdness of their king somewhere in the first chapter and nowhere else fit.) The next scene introduces the other main character but is several pages longer. Should I even bother posting it or is this a restructuring rewrite just based on the pace you've seen so far?

SamRoads
10-17-2015, 08:37 AM
In my view, by saying 'we're always 9 panels' you're restricting yourself. Have you read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics? It's a must read.

Different page layouts give you a pretty palette of colour to paint with.

Schuyler
10-17-2015, 11:53 AM
In my view, by saying 'we're always 9 panels' you're restricting yourself. Have you read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics? It's a must read.

Different page layouts give you a pretty palette of colour to paint with.

I agree with Sam. I love the nine panel grid because it limits my options. But those limitations then fall on my chosen artist as well.

I did notice that you have two pages with eight panels and the rest have nine. That is extra dense compared to what I remember about the nine panel grid. Nine panels are often used but I feel like six would be a good average to shoot for overall. Otherwise it is just too dense, in my opinion. No room to set a scene.

-Sky