Poplife: Issue #21

Thu, June 27th, 2002 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Matt Fraction, Columnist

POPLIFE is a collection of excerpts from my work journal. There is no specific form or function the column serves other than to allow the reader to see what my experience in my first year as a comics-writer is like. Some weeks I get work done, so I talk about work. Some weeks I don't get any work done, so I ramble incoherently. POPLIFE's purpose is to provide a glimpse behind the curtain of my specific process.

SANKAMONKITA AIN'T NEVER HAD (part one)

PAGE ONE

[California Governor Gray Davis]
California Governor Gray Davis
PANEL ONE
DETAIL on an airline overhead bin, focusing on the AISLE (Twenty) and SEAT designation (D-E-F). People behind Aisle Twenty, seats D, E, and F are seated or are in various stages of getting-ready-to-sit. This is an EXIT ROW.

NO DIALOGUE.

PANEL TWO
DETAIL on a folded-down tray table. An empty sixteen-ounce Styrofoam cup of coffee sits next to an opened pack of Bubblicious gum (watermelon). An airline ticket sits on the tray, it's VANGUARD AIRLINES flight #101; it's departure airline code is MCI (Kansas City); the arrival airline code is LAX (Los Angeles.)

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
PULL BACK to see MATT FRACTION sitting in his seat, fidgeting. He's too tall to travel comfortably and his knees are jammed into the seatback in front of him. He's checking his watch.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
DETAIL on the watch: it's 10:35 AM.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FIVE
SAME as PANEL THREE, only FRACTION is looking into his empty coffee cup. It's going to be a long flight.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE TWO

PANEL ONE
OVERHEAD DETAIL on Fraction's prodigiously overstuffed portable CD case. It's splayed open in the middle and stuffed to maximum capacity. It sits next to a portable CD player on FRACTION'S tray-table. A CD or two have already come out, been put in, listened to momentarily, and placed in a stack next to the CD case itself.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
SAME; only the pile OUTSIDE of the CD case, the reject pile, has gotten bigger.

NO DIALOGUE.

PANEL THREE
SAME; the pile OUTSIDE is much larger than the pile left inside the case.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
SAME; only FRACTION is now taking the very LAST CD out of the case. The pile of discarded CDs must be thirty-thick.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FIVE
FRACTION slouches in his seat, cupping his face in his left hand, his left elbow on the armrest. He's staring disappointedly at the pile of CDs that just this morning he could've SWORN he'd have wanted to listen to.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL SIX
DETAIL on FRACTION'S WATCH. It's 11 AM.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE THREE

PANEL ONE
DETAIL on the opened cover of Karl Taro Greenfeld's book SPEED TRIBES. FRACTION can be seen behind it, reading.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
OVERHEAD, ANGLE DOWN on FRACTION scribbling notes in a small MOLESKINE notebook as he reads.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
PULL BACK. FRACTION closes the book and stares into space, reeling in the esoteric and surreal data it's bombarded him with over the last two days of reading.

NO DIALOUGE

PANEL FOUR
PUNCH IN, as FRACTION has reopened the book in haste and is running his finger down a column of information.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FIVE
DETAIL on what he's looking for. A single line of text that reads FIRST HARPER PERENNIAL EDITION PUBLISHED 1995.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL SIX
SIMILAR to PANEL TWO. FRACTION crossing out all of his handwritten notes with quick, angry lightning bolts of ink.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE FOUR

[California Governor Gray Davis]
California Governor Gray Davis
PANEL ONE
OVERHEAD, ANGLE DOWN. FRACTION still works in the MOLESKINE notebook. The top of the page reads POPLIFE 21. We can't make out what he's writing below it.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
REVERSE, angling up from the tray-table. FRACTION's eyebrow is cocked, confused.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
DETAIL on what he's writing. The letter "E" in 'POPLIFE' is written like a backwards three.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
DETAIL on some of the script underneath the header (the words are the page and panel descriptions of PAGE ONE above); we see that the letter "E" is written like a backwards '3' each and every time.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FIVE
On FRACTION again, a little disconcerted at this development in his handwriting.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL SIX
FLASHBACK: MATT as a boy of five, practicing his handwriting on fat elementary school-lined paper (the kind with a solid line, a dotted line, and a solid line allowing for kids to perfect their lettering.). He writes like Yosimite Sam draws, with a tongue stuck out of the side of his mouth.

BEHIND HIM, at a desk in front of a blackboard, sits HELEN HELLRUNG, his first grade teacher. She looks very very maternal. Her NAME is written in loping cursive script on the blackboard behind her, FIRST GRADE underneath it in block text, and PENMANSHIP underneath that.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL SEVEN
OVERHEAD on YOUNG FRACTION, mimicking the composition and focal length of PANEL ONE. FRACTION has been writing the letter E, each one a little better and a little straighter than the last.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL EIGHT
CUT BACK to present day. FRACTION'S POV on his notebook, and most importantly, on an the OPEN PALM PILOT next to it.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL NINE
FROM THE AISLE, on FRACTION looking UP. He looks, in a word, busted. A WOMAN stands with her back to us, her hands on her hips disapprovingly.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TEN
LOW ANGLE UP on the woman. It is the ghostly visage of HELEN HELLRUNG, twenty years on, staring FRACTION down with a look of disappointment and sadness. A single tear rolls down her face.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE FIVE

PANEL ONE
OUTSIDE LAX, at the ground transportation exit. A mass of people run hither and yon. BUSSES pull up and depart, cars are loaded, hugs are given to arriving friends and relatives.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
On the SLIDING GLASS DOORS bursting open. FRACTION RUNS though them, a cigarette clenched in his teeth, a computer bag over one shoulder and a backpack over the other. They fly out like fat little wings as he runs.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
FRACTION lights up, inhaling deep.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
PULL BACK. FRACTION smokes in quiet bliss as a bus belches exhaust from its tailpipe, CARS puff out smoke from old, shoddy mufflers, and the air takes on a hazy, LA-smog sort of gauze.

FRACTION:     AHHHHH.

PAGE SIX

[California Governor Gray Davis]
California Governor Gray Davis
PANEL ONE
MEDIUM on a WOMAN, maybe in her early thirties and a little too thin, as she walks lazily along the sidewalk of the ground transportation terminal at LAX. She's wearing a baby-tee and seems oblivious to the world around her. FRACTION can be seen, peeking behind her LEFT SHOULDER, obviously trying to get around her.

A MASS of people are walking the OPPOSITE WAY, their backs to us.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
SAME, only FRACTION is on her RIGHT SIDE. The WOMAN seems to be weaving left to right exactly when FRACTION DOES.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
MEDIUM, from PROFILE. The WOMAN continues drifting along; FRACTION looks frustrated over her shoulder, looking for an opening the in the stream of human traffic that surrounds them on either side traveling in the opposite direction.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
SAME, only FRACTION is looking down at the woman's back curiously. Something has caught his eye.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FIVE
FRACTION'S POV: on the small of the woman's back, visible where her baby tee rides up and her pants sling down, is a small cursive script, arcing slightly. We're too far away to make it out.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL SIX
On FRACTION, squinting and leaning in a bit to better read the tattoo.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL SEVEN
FRACTION'S POV, tight on the tattoo this time. In a gothic-y, cursive script, we see the woman's tattoo reads DIRTY GIRL.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL EIGHT
Similar to PANEL ONE, only we've PULLED BACK to a full shot, revealing the woman is pushing a stroller. FRACTION stands still, the human traffic moving around him.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE SEVEN

PANEL ONE
ANGLE ON a cab driving down a California highway. The 101? Sure, maybe. FRACTION can be seen staring out of the back window.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
CLOSE on FRACTION through the window. Another car has caught his eye.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
FRACTION'S POV. We see a car in front of his cab from behind, a big Lexus sort of luxury car, with the personalized California tag TALL FOX.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
BACK on FRACTION, sitting up in his seat, eager to see what someone bold enough to declare to the world that they are indeed a TALL FOX actually looks like.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FIVE
From OVER FRACTION'S SHOULDER as his cab is passing TALL FOX. The middle-aged and rumpled black woman driving the other car is anything but Tall and Foxy.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE EIGHT

PANEL ONE
FRACTION sits in the back of the cab, looking up and out of his window. A chatty, sunglasses-adorned CABBIE drives and yaks back at him, not looking at the road.

CABBIE:     YEAH, I'VE BEEN HERE FIVE MONTHS.

PANEL TWO
From over the CABBIE'S SHOULDER, FRACTION'S POV on the CABBIE in the rear-view mirror. The CABBIE'S head on PANEL LEFT, half-turned to address his passenger. The corners of his eyes pointing back to FRACTION and not the road. The rearview is all shades.

CABBIE:     I CAME FROM CHILE, AND I DIDN'T SPEAK A WORD OF ENGLISH.

PANEL THREE
REACTION on FRACTION, biting his lip. Dull panic is washing over his face and he tries to hide it, not wanting to be impolite.

CABBIE (OFF-PANEL 1):     LET ALONE KNOW MY WAY AROUND!

CABBIE (OFF-PANEL 2):     AND NOW, I'M DRIVING A CAB!

PANEL FOUR
ANGLE THROUGH the rear window. FRACTION looking up at the roof of the cab as if he's suddenly checking the vehicle for structural integrity.

FRACTION:     …YOU SURE YOU KNOW WHERE WE'RE GOING?

PAGE NINE

PANEL ONE
FRACTION sits in the back seat, nodding off as his head rests against the glass. His PANTS are ringing.

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL TWO
FRACTION digs into his pocket, producing in fact a ringing cel phone.

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL THREE
FRACTION hits a button on the phone.

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL FOUR
CU on FRACTION, holding the phone to his ear.

FRACTION:     HELLO?

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL FIVE
SAME as PANEL THREE, only FRACTION is confusedly hitting another button on the phone.

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL SIX
SAME as PANEL FOUR.

FRACTION:     Uh… HELLO?

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL SEVEN
SAME as PANEL THREE, only FRACTION's hand is hitting EVERY button possible on the phone.

SFX:     RING. RING. RING.

PANEL EIGHT
SAME as PANEL FOUR. FRACTION looks panicked.

FRACTION:     HELLO?!? HELLO?!?

FRACTION:     OH, HEY. ON MY WAY TO THE HOTEL.

PANEL NINE
FRACTION listens into the phone.

FRACTION:     THEY DID WHAT? WHY?

PAGE TEN

PANEL ONE
From the WINDSHIELD of the CAB, FRACTION is leaning up from the back seat, pointing LEFT for the driver to turn. The CABBIE, behind his MATRIX-esque shades, looks very confused.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
SIMILAR, only FRACTION is POINTING RIGHT. The driver obeys hesitantly.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
SIMILAR, only FRACTION points LEFT again.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL FOUR
The CAB is curbside out front of FRACTION'S HOTEL, a big old California-Deco hotel sitting on the beach. Attendants run to and fro outside, opening and closing the doors of other cars, unloading luggage, etc.

NO DIALOGUE

PAGE ELEVEN

PANEL ONE
INTERIOR of a HOTEL ROOM, angling on the door. It swings open as FRACTION rushes in. He tosses his BACKPACK off-panel.

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL TWO
DETAIL on a round wooden table. FRACTION sweeps all the stuff on it-Hotel stationary, complimentary postcards, etc., onto the floor with one hand while .

NO DIALOGUE

PANEL THREE
On a LAPTOP screen, multiple applications open and running. FRACTIONS HANDS on the keyboard, typing.

SFX:     TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK

PANEL FOUR
ESTABLISHING SHOT, from the ocean, up the beach, to the regal old hotel. It's an amazingly ornate building with a large patio covered with white sun umbrellas. Beach life wanders by; people biking or roller-blading or simply laying out and hanging out. From one of the windows, the SFX emerge.

SFX:     TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK TAK.

--end part one--

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