Aspiring comic writers will find this story useful.
Friday Marvel Comics released a preview of their upcoming "Marvel Knights #1." That in and of itself is not unusual. Most comic publishers release B&W previews of their books well in advance of their street date to drum up interest. What is unusual about this preview is that in addition to B&W artwork from the book they also released the full script used by the artist to work up each page.
"When [series editor] Bronwyn [Taggart] showed me the art by Alberto Ponticelli I saw that the visual grit would be there," Marvel Comics Marketing Communication Director Bill Rosemann said in a release. "But what about the writing? Well, after I read the plot by John Figueroa, I also knew that the words came straight from the street. John knows New York City and the freaks, players, and sad sacks that slink through it's shadows. So for everyone who may be skeptical about this new series, I say only one thing: take a look at the art, take a look at the plot... then look out for issue #1!"
Below is the first 8 pages from the scrip by writer John Figueroa as well as artwork by Alberto Ponticelli. Click on the images for an enlargement of each page. For more on this issue see the solicitation information for "Marvel Knights #1" in the Marvel's March, 2001 Solicitations.
STORY: JOHN FIGUEROA
It Begins! SIX Panels of menace-a moon turning black pulls us in. We are at the Bronx Zoo-the Wild Asia exhibit to be exact. It is a habitat where animals are allowed to roam around freely while people watch them (safely) from a monorail tramcar. It is a very lush area, very green and we can see wind blowing against the trees and grass. SHOCKERS (black-bug outfits SEE Visual Descriptions) are everywhere in this opening carrying AK47 machine guns and standing guard. They should seem bug-like--creeping and crawling.
We also see NIGEL and SKYE (dressed in their earth tone linen suits, no tie; facial tattoos and solemn faces).
The Tigers are Siberian and magnificent animals.
We can start.
PANEL ONE: A full Moon against a black sky. So sharp we can see all the detail. It is surrounded by clouds that look black and seem to be choking everything around it. No stars, no dialogue just the moon. On the top left hand corner we see a tiny piece of black creeping in on the moon; an eclipse is coming.
Wide shot of wooded area. With a path in the middle. On the path we see 5 figures walking towards us panel front: first one is a SHOCKER (who has something in his hand we can't make out yet-a net); in the middle NIGEL and SKYE; behind them two more shockers carrying torches (letting off smoke and light). Now, we can make them all out but barely: this image should not be too detailed…it should seem a bit surreal. A line of people coming towards us-something is primitive about it.The same goes for the rest of the panel.
Left on this panel: we see a sign that reads HABITAT but it partially obscured by large trees-moonlight should be breaking through the leaves.*
(*B-delete if need be-SEE my e-mail attachment)
On the right, the mono-rail track with a tram out of service-Shockers (4 of them, goggles glowing) are on top carrying AK47 machine guns, guarding the figures from front, middle and behind. The wind is blowing and we see its effects on what I described above.
1) CAPTION: Bronx Zoo, New York
2) SHOCKER IN FRONT (speaker-squawk balloon): The entire area is secure-proceed.
PANEL THREE: Wide, high angle and long.Over the shoulder shot of First Shocker, Nigel and Skye approaching Tigers. We are behind them, Shocker in front has a net in his hands; Skye drawing a blade (1/4 out-don't see much of it here) of a side holster (inside suit); Nigel is bowing his head. In front of them: three beautiful tigers on the grass. Two lying down in the background (left and right) and one in the middle looking at us (fangs almost bared). They have just lifted their heads and are aware that someone or something is coming towards them. High trees in the background; moonlight bathes the image with an ominous glow.
3) TIGERS IN STEREO: Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
PANEL FOUR: Wide strip-like letterboxed. Shocker has thrown net on a tiger whose paw is up to attack; Center: behind them Nigel's head is bowed and Skye (calm expression) has a blade out, in the air and ready to come down (it has a pearl handle and is monogrammed MP/G). This is the kill position-we know it is going to come down and take life. The moon is high and left with some glow still coming into the image from the torches)--giving off extreme dramatic light and shadow.
Note: The net is compact and looks very heavy-suggest through posture the Shocker is having some trouble lifting it. Also: run the Chants of the intruders along the top of the page and the roars of the tigers on the bottom as open letters (no balloons-see if that works.
4) NIGEL, SKYE and SHOCKERS: HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE! HAIL GRACE!
5) TIGER: ROARRR!
PANEL FIVE: The eye of the Tiger-extreme C.U. of the its eye, wide in anger and fear-it is COVERED IN THE NET Blood vessels, narrow pupil-we are tight on the this but can make out edges of face. Just the one eye is in the shot. We can see the reflection of a Skye-his eyes are wild with rage; his blade is nearly at the Tiger's eye (pointy end RIGHT IN FRONT US-forced distorted perspective in this reflection).
6) NIGEL, SKYE and SHOCKERS: HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE!
7) TIGER: ROARRRR!
PANEL SIX: Exact same image from Panel One except…more black has come in from the eclipse and we see blood splattered (as if a jugular vein was cut and there was uncontrollable spray everywhere) over the panel. Think: someone's throat was cut over the first image and this is what we are seeing.
8) NIGEL, SKYE and SHOCKERS: HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE!
9) TIGER (OP): ROAAAAAARRRRRRRRR!
I suggest 5 wide panels with the insert panel of the watch face.
We are in Fort Greene Brooklyn. It is a residential area rather non-descript. Just houses (6 story brownstones, narrow streets). This is an odd area because parts have been gentrified but other parts are still dicey. We are in the dicey area but let's not over do it. The street is dark and the building we are interested in is abandoned but there are lights on in some houses and it isn't that bad.
Generic brownstones and street lamps casting dim glows.
An Informer named PEE-WEE is waiting for Punisher. He is short, white and has bad skin. He is old school Hell's Kitchen and has stayed there his whole life and made book. He handles bets and loan sharks. Let's give him an old style fedora with the brim turned up. He is a sad, little and very desperate man with a cheap suit.
Make it a brown cheap suit. In the outside breast pocket: a pack of cigs in a blue and white box sticks out.
PANEL ONE: Tight on Our Moon-more black (coming down left) and no blood, clean-clouds still raging next to it.
PANEL TWO: City Street. Wide and High, we can see both sides of the street (road in the middle) straight down the block of a non-descript neighborhood. On the right we see PEE-WEE craning his neck, as if waiting for someone. He is in the front of a dark building (bldg. Is beat up but we can't see much because it is dark). Not much else going on. Note: Pee-Wee's bldg. Is Panel front, right with a little alley on the far right.
1) CAPTION: FORT GREENE BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
2) PEE (WEAK BALOON): Oh man, I hope he got the message.
PANEL THREE: We move in and see Pee-Wee in front of the building. Medium and very simple. We can see the frame of the front doorway behind him but it is black. Pee's wrist is halfway up as if he is about to check the time. His posture is tense and nervous.
3) PEE (WEAK-TO SELF): Jezz, where is he?
PANEL FOUR: TIGHT C.U. of Pee-Wee's cheap watch-face-it reads 11 PM. It is cracked but still works.
4) PEE (OP): 2 minutes late…he's never late!
PANEL FIVE: Medium shot (we can see down the street)-Pee-Wee is panicked. He has a cigarette dangling from his mouth; he is pulling out matches from his breast pocket. Try to work in some building here even though it is wide, as if Pee is being smothered.
5) PEE (TO SELF): If he don't help me I'm a dead man.
PANEL SIX: Same as above except the match is lit and being raised to Pee's mouth to light his cig. Also: he is shaking uncontrollably. The light from the match is creating a glow.
PUNISHER in the doorway behind Pee-Wee-he has been there the whole time! Pun's right hand is on Pee-Wee's shoulder with a strong-strong grip. Pun is in his normal outfit but also has on his trench coat. It is a DEATH'S HEAD image-the light from the match makes Punisher look terrifying. He swallows the whole panel-from the Front, dead on (maybe tilting up a bit but level so we see from the knee up).
Pee-Wee has a shocked look on his face; holding the lit match with a limp wrist; the cigarette is out of his mouth and halfway down the floor!
We see the doorway they are standing in. Above Punisher is a light socket with a jagged broken bulb sticking out; graffiti on the walls; broken police tape (yellow with black letters reading: DO NOT CROSS ORDER OF POLICE DEPT.); Condemned by New York City Notice-half-ripped; peeling paint; splinters of wood protruding from the frame; bullet holes against the wall; etc.
It looks bad!
1) PUNISHER: Smoking is a filthy habit Pee-Wee--
2) PUNISHER: --It'll kill you!
3) TITLES: ENTER THE BROTHERS GRACE
Eight Panels-don't kill me! The first two can be small insert panels (B-perhaps we can bleed the dialogue balloons over to the first large panel?).
We move in closer. We don't see anything wide until later in the page. Think tension, faces and body parts to start us off. When Pee-Wee buys it we go WIDE and get a sense of space. As always, work the moon in (subtly-in the background, don't call attention). Pun is using two Glock 17 9mm Full Size handguns. The bad guys shoot machine guns (but we don't see them).
PANEL ONE: TIGHT--Punisher swings Pee-Wee around to face him. We see Pun from the side and Pee being turned (let's say he is half there). The match is dropping.
1) PUNSIHER: Turn around-why am I here?
PANEL TWO: Low Angle shot from down below-Pee-Wee's feet are being lifted off the ground. It is as if we are looking up from the ground and can see Punisher lifting Pee (who's feet are dangling).
2) PEE: New Players in town taking over everything--these guys are maniacs
they want my bookmaking business! Said they are gonna kill me if
I don't hand it over.
PANEL THREE: Close on Pun's hands around Pee's neck-Punisher has him in the air with one hand-not quite strangling him, but by the collar of his jacket. Pee is sweating like a pig and is frightened beyond belief. We have some dialogue here, so keep the panel wide, the figures tight (bit a bit right-show the street a little)-space for balloons please!
3) PEE: Everyone is runnin' scared-there's a big sit-down tonight.
4) PUNISHER: Where and when?
PANEL FOUR: Medium C.U. of Pee-Wee's face (sweat, blotchy skin, and bags underneath eyes) with 3 red laser site in the middle of his forehead. It's a sad image.
5) PEE: Flatiron building at Three in the AM.
6) PEE: You gotta protect me man!
7) PUNISHER: I'm sorry I didn't let you smoke that cig' Pee-Wee
PANEL FIVE: From above and slanted (as if we are looking down on him), Pee-Wee's body has been thrown into the air by Pun-underneath, Punisher is unloading his two Glock pistols (one in each hand) in the air and running right (to an alley way). Pee's body is being riddled with gunfire, surrounded with at least 10 laser sights from a triangular angle-it is coming from above. Show laser sites nearly targeting Pun and bullet's strafing at his feet!
We should just see a patch of the sidewalk, the edge of the building and the path to the alley here. TENSE-Pee's arms and legs are outstretched as he is torn apart. Pun is on the move, grace under fire (pun int.).
8) PEE: Unghhh!
9) PUNISHER-CAPTION: Pee-Wee taken out from triangulated crossfire on rooftops.
10) SFX (BAD GUY MACHINE GUN FIRE): BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA- BUDDA!
11) SFX (PUN'S GUN): BAM-BAM-BAM!
PANEL SIX: Medium-3/4 body shot of Punisher far right in an alley, back against wall. Non-descript, garbage cans, dark, and so on. On the left, we see Pee-Wee on the ground, still being shot up. Pun is reloading his guns, not breaking a sweat thought, re-loading his gun and ready to spin out and do business.
12) PUNISHER-CAPTION: Re-load, spin out, grab cover and take out one of the positions.
13) SFX (BAD-GUY GUNS): BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA!
13A) SFX (PUN RELOAD): CLACK-CLACK!
14) PUNISHER-CAPTION: 1,2…
PANEL SEVEN: We are high-Punisher has spun out to the street but his face is shocked (well, as much as he can register that emotion). His guns are up but kind of sagging as he takes it all in. Pee's dead body is on the ground-smoke wafting up from it.
15) PUNISHER-CAPTION: …3-WHAT THE?
16) PUNISHER-CAPTION: They pulled out.
17) PUNISHER (TO SELF): Who would use this kind of firepower to kill Pee-Wee?
PANEL EIGHT: Wide but square-not a massive image. Rooftop looking down on action-MR. TUNE in shadow with a binoculars checking Pun out. We don't really see Tune; we are over his shoulder as he peers down. Moon high above.
We can see Punisher (small figure) standing over Pee's smoking dead bones (good name for band I think). We can also make out quite a bit of the street.
18) TUNE (WHISPER): Someone who wants to send a message to all of New York City.
A change of pace. We are in the Russian community of Little Odessa down south in Brooklyn. Two old friends are talking, drinking and playing chess together on a dark early spring night. We are at a Taxi stand (large window facing the street; garage on the left); -cabs are parked everywhere and let's say there are strings of X-mas lights hanging on the front of the door (giving off a nice little unseasonable glow).
Widow is with POFIRY PETROVICH .He is a fierce man…70 years of age, long white beard, and wrinkles on his face that he earned through a very hard life. He is ex-KGB but was a mole for S.H.I.E.L.D. He wears dark baggy sweaters and his hair is wild creating the impression of a brilliant man who cannot be bothered with such things.
Widow is in her normal outfit.
He and Widow are in front of the bldg. Sitting on folding chairs (across from one another) with a tray in front of them that holds a chess board. Widow's pieces are white; Pofiry's are black. We see (IMPORTANT ) at least 3 empty bottles that may or may not have had vodka in them. Shot glasses are turned upright and upside down. Smoke is in the air (though we do not see them smoking ; ). Lastly, each has candles by their sides because it is night.
The chess pieces look elegant, hand carved with a Russian feel.
That's all we're good I think.
PANEL (SMALL INSERT) ONE: Moon-quarter black
1) Caption: Little Odessa Brooklyn, New York
2) POFIRY (OP): < Your move NATASHA ROMANOV. >
PANEL TWO: EST. Wide shot of Widow and Pofiry in front on his porch with a tray in front of them-a chess board is on it, as are candles and shot glasses.. All the detail from above-a lazy dark night that two friends are making the best out of. We can see there isn't much around save for some old lots and scattered buildings-the focus is the Taxi Stand though. Long strip with the Taxi Stand a bit to the left? Moon is high and left and still turning black.
3) WIDOW: < I am sorry POFIRY PETROVICH-my mind wandered. >
4) POFIRY: < Perhaps The Great Black Widow is rattled by the Lunar Eclipse? >
PANEL THREE: Med. Shot with a nice glow from a candle on the right side-we see WIDOW--She looks lovely but pensive. We also see: chess pieces white and black, shot glasses (some upright, some upside down); and large bottle-we can't read the label but it looks like vodka. Smoke in the air (but no cigs).
5) WIDOW: < The not so great Black Widow has been restless lately… >
5A) WIDOW: < …Besides Young Man, my chess is terrible. >
PANEL FOUR: Wide strip. We are table level as if we lowered our heads to see the game at eye level. Directly in center behind the black and white pieces we see Widow staring intently at what is going on: Two Knights, white, one on the left, the other on the right…with the queen in the middle. This is a deep focus shot, everything has the same detail and the depth of field should be strong.
6) POFIRY (OP): < Your game is fine Old Woman--you just rely on your Knights too much…>
7) POFIRY (OP): < …and forget to use your Queen. >
We have set it up so no need to blather on here. More 'O" the same!
PANEL ONE: Pofiry, just a reverse angle of the same shot above-med. We can see that he is a striking figure. He is staring at Widow with an intense glare.
1) POFIRY: < Our friend from S.H.I.E.LD told me to send his greetings and wants to ask you for a favor. >
2) POFIRY: < There is a folder under your chair-pick it up and read it. >
3) WIDOW (OP): WIDOW: < This is unusual. >
PANEL TWO: Mid-shot above Widow, she has a folder in her hands marked: EYES ONLY. Widow is writing in the folder. We can see some of Pofiry's body-his arms are folded calmly in front of him.
4) POFIRY: < He has a guest coming to town and asked that you might look after her. >
5) WIDOW: < I thought you were retired from the KGB and S.H.I.E.LD Young Man? >
6) POFIRY: < There are moves being made that require me to return to work Old Woman. >
PANEL THREE: Med. C.U. Widow has risen from her chair and is leaning over Pofiry giving him a hug but one hand is placing a slip of paper on the table (next to him).
7) POFIRY: < Will you help? >
8) WIDOW: < Yes, but only because you ask. >
PANEL FOUR: Widow fleeing the scene, we are behind Pofiry's shoulder. She has the folder and is waving and half-turned-BABE SHOT-she looks strong, sexy and wonderful. Porfiry is waving good-bye but looking at the paper she handed him.
9) WIDOW: < Tell the "guest" to meet me at that address in an hour-I must run, I am late! >
10) POFIRY: < Which freak are you meeting tonight Old Woman? >
11) WIDOW: < The one with the Horns Young Man! >
Enter DD! This action (and many pages to come) takes place at St. Paul's Church on 60th street and Ninth (borderline Upper-West Side/Hell's Kitchen). It is a striking structure because it is huge and not gothic. Very clean lines, very square-more like a British church than a gothic French or Spanish one. I am trying to get some digital pictures of it because it would be a hoot if we could get the geography right. For now: BIG church, in front, two stairways left and right that meet on the way and form one entrance into the church.
We know the players here (DD, Shockers, Nigel and Skye). There is a priest-he is 50ish, White, bald with deep set eyes.
PANEL TWO: Est. Shot-wide front of St. Paul's (SEE ABOVE). There are Shockers all around it with guns. It is dark and there is no traffic-around the church there are just generic buildings. The goggles are glowing. Show some black vans parked in front.
1) CAPTION: St. Paul's Church Hell's Kitchen/Upper Westside Border, New York
1A) SHOCKER-SQUAWK BALOON: Area is secure-proceed.
PANEL THREE: Inside-VAST space. Pews for days and stained glass left and right. Typical church with candles, a long center row. We are looking directly at a Priest deep in prayer. He is in the middle and we can see the ALL of the church behind him (3/4 of him). Shockers are streaming down on ropes way in the background-Nigel and Skye are already on he ground (nearly in the middle, as if they are approaching the priest).
2) PRIEST: Hail Mary, full of-
3) SKYE (OP)-WHISPER: -GRACE!
PANEL FOUR: Tight on Priest as he turns to hear the noise, his hand grasps rosary beads; we can make out a great deal of the church's iconography behind him (large cross, altar, etc.). Slanted panel, he is startled.
4) PRIEST: Who's there?
PANEL FIVE: OVERWHELMING! We are behind the Priest, nice wide shot-in front of him we see Shockers streaming down, flares, and Nigel and Skye walking down the aisle. Let's put 10 in here. The priest has his hands up as one Shocker nears.
5) ALL OF THE BAD GUYS: HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE-HAIL-GRACE!
PANEL SIX: Med. Of Shocker grabbing a priest trying to pull him down. The pearl handle knife from the Zoo is in his hand. We see a holy water receptacle with flame on top of it but not much else.
6) PRIEST: My God, Help Me!
7) BAD GUYS: HAIL GRACE-HAIL GRACE-HAIL-GRACE!
We have seen it one billion times before but classics work for a reason. DAREDEVIL comes SWOOPING down and let's be crass about it. Long strip showing him, looking like a Demon in the House of the Lord falling from the ceiling. Exploit his costume, let's try to have some statues behind him when he is kicking ass. Show him in all of his gothic glory!
PANEL ONE: W I D E! DD is COMING down from the ceiling. We are ground level, priest with Shocker holding knife (middle)…Nigel and Skye (left and back) are all looking up. Shockers are firing at DD who is halfway down, flares all around. smoke, DD'S arms extended Christ-like (to help him slow down of course).
Those not shooting looked shocked (pun int.)
1) SFX-GUN: BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA!
1A) SKYE: Intruder Alert-FIRE!
PANEL TWO: Shocker with machine is firing at where he thinks the DD is (show multiple DD's faded figure the more solid one is where he has landed) but Our Man has landed behind the Shocker-reaching for his NECK and his ANKLE. Nice low angle shot, statue of saint (out of focus?) behind them-but not too clearly.
2) SFX-GUN: SFX-GUN: BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA!
3) SFX-DD LANDS: THUMP!
PANEL THREE: DD has lifted the Shocker SIDEWAYS (by back of neck and ankle-the Shocker is shooting with one arm-in a floppy way!) so that he is now FIRING at his own people-they are in the center aisle, nice dead-on shot of him DD isn't even straining, the Shocker's head is jerked back.
4) SFX-GUN: BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA!
PANEL FOUR: WIDE-DD in the middle, Shocker still in his hands, still firing. The others are in retreat, screaming and ducking, Nigel and Skye can be seen running away-the holy water receptacles are hissing, no more fire! Priest is behind DD, ducking! Sharp here, very detailed. Candelabras on both sides of DD?
5) NIGEL: Stop firing you Moron!
6) SKYE: Sound the retreat!
7) SFX-GUN: BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA!
PANEL FIVE: With one (left) hand DD is throwing the Shocker still firing and with the other reaching for the priest. A giant statue of angel behind DD; the priest is terrified.
8) DD: Let's get you out of here Father.
9) SFX-GUN: BUDDA-BUDDA-BUDDA!
PANEL SIX: The Shocker thrown has landed right in front of us-center aisle Deep in the background we see DD with the Priest opening a door (IT IS HALF OPEN!) to the right of the church marked: EXIT. Two points: Shocker lands; DD and priest exit. Diagonal, lined up. Square image, deep focus but not wide.
10) SFX-SHOCKER LANDS: THUMP!
11) DD: You will be fine once you get some air.
PANEL SEVEN: DD and Priest are visible (backs of heads-center of panel) and have opened the door and who is standing there? PUNISHER-BIG and LOOMING like in the Splash! The door is not all the way open, slight ajar--DD nearly swung it fully-opening right to left. The priest is on the right side about to fall down-he is clutching DD's arm like a Koala bear!
Punisher is looking at DD.
12) PRIEST: Dear Lord, I can't take much more of this!