Poplife: Issue #52

Thu, February 6th, 2003 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Matt Fraction, Columnist

THE YEAR MY VOICE BROKE

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.

There's not a pair of headphones in the world that are loud enough for me tonight. My ears can't ring loud enough right now, but god I'm gonna try to make 'em. When I miss my daughter's first words though an inescapable hiss and ringing deep behind my eardrum, I'll look back on nights like tonight as the reason why. This morning, watching Colin Powell talking about all the horrible things we're gonna do to Iraq, an old tune went through my head. Stormy Weather off of the Pixies' fourth record. It is time. For stormy weather. Oh, oh. It is time. Like a surf rock dirge. Then I realized the last time I'd heard Colin Powell talking about all the horrible things we're gonna do to Iraq, I'd just bought the record. I offer this observation up for no other reason than maybe that old familiar feeling in everyone's bones these days isn't such a hard thing to place after all. So tonight it's earsplitting, knobs twisted all the way until the speakers distort, smashing digital clarity until it sounds like a broke-down radio.

ELEPHANT, the new record by the White Stripes, is very good by the way. Except when it's not, but that's okay. Because the rest of it is very very good.

So it's a year later and the pieces are scrambled all over the board: some are where you kinda figured they'd end up, others way the hell in the middle of nowhere and stuck there without maps. Pieces get knocked off the board; change the rules up and add more. As long as you're still standing then everything else is gravy.

Some people got born. Some folks got sick, some folks died, some just plain went away. Some of us got married. Sometimes, we went to rock shows. I got some cats. And I kept on working. At the end of the tour, I guess that's enough sometimes. I don't know how to summarize what I've learned from the last year, be it personally or professionally. I've been all over the country, moved, bought a car, grew my business, got married. I wrote a shitload of comics. The end.

As we're sweeping and turning up the chairs, I want to show you the first three pages of me and Kieron Dwyer's LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS, with the revised script for those pages, different than what ran here several months back. This OGN is scheduled to come out in June, 2003, from AiT/PlanetLar. After the inevitable heartache of watching a dumbass X-Men sequel, me and Kieron will be waiting for you in man country:

PAGE ONE

1.1-EXT. BANK. DAY.


LARGE PANEL, low angle on JUSTINE (or her back, anyway) stalking towards the bank as though we're peaking at her from an open manhole. The bank, an anachronism of architecture and presence, has a front door on its corner rather than against a flat wall-see reference photos. JUSTINE stalks towards it, a large and long bundle under one arm wrapped in newspaper and twine.

It's a bright, beautiful day.


CAPTION (1):       COUPLA DAYS AGO.


CAPTION (2):       SOMEWHERE OUT WEST.

1.2-SAME


JUSTINE, in medium close-up, lights a cigarette. Justine's about 30, give or take, and looks alternately hard as nails and soft as a child. She's fought her entire life to be exactly where she is right now, even if she didn't know where here was while she fought.

She's pretty, but you'd really think twice before telling her.

Behind her is a nice-looking diner, and a white van parked on the street.

NO DIALOGUE.

1.3-SAME


She leans against the corner, just by the bank entrance with the bundle resting against her hip, and waits. Exhaling a plume of smoke, she looks to PANEL RIGHT.

CAPTION:       JUSTINE'S GOT THE GUNS.

PAGE TWO

2.1-INSIDE VAN.SAME


SIMILAR to 1.3, only from far back-the image framed by the van's driver-side door and window. A very large FOREARM rests on the door's ledge, a two-way radio unit held in the hand.

NO DIALOGUE.

2.2-SAME


On THE RADIO:

VOICE:       FIRE IT UP, BILLY.

2.3-SAME


From around front, through the front windshield, we see BILLY for the first time, a shit-eatin' grin on his face as he turns the van over. He speaks into the radio…

BILLY is Our Intrepid Sidekick: dumber than a sack of hammers but loyal like a goddamn dog. If you were to caption this drawing to be indicative of Billy, it'd read NOT SO BRIGHT. BILLY's mouth is always open, even if sound doesn't come out. I kind of see him like... like Pruitt Taylor Vince from NOBODY'S FOOL mixed with Owen Wilson from anything he's ever been in.

CAPTION:       BILLY'S GOT THE WHEEL.

BILLY (INTO RADIO):       I SEE YOU.

PAGE THREE

3.1- EXT. BANK. DAY.


WIDE, from around the corner of the BANK. We see the VAN idling a ways up the street; we're approaching the bank from the side JUSTINE isn't on. We're behind COLE as he walks.

COLE:       LET'S GET THIS SHIT MOVIN'.

3.2-SAME.


On COLE rounding the corner, converging on the point where JUSTINE waits. Etched in the glass of the front door is the stenciled legend FIRST FEDERAL FARMERS SAVING AND LOAN.

COLE's wearing sunglasses and a suit, oddly enough, and the outfit makes him look dressed sorta rugged-formal. The fake moustache he wears is strictly Reynolds-causal. This is the only time in the book he appears without a cowboy hat. God help him, he almost looks respectable: just a guy going into a bank in the morning.

With, you know, a gun stuffed in the front of his pants and a big-ass gym-bag slung over one shoulder.

CAPTION:       AND COLE'S GOT THE PLAN.

Comics are squirrely and unpredictable. I don't think anyone on this side of the fence had any idea what POPLIFE was when we started-and as our assumptions got turned ass over teakettle, we had less and less idea. Until the books I've been jabbering on about actually come out, I don't think it'll make much sense as much other than a journal by some dude, which I've been grateful for the opportunity to write. And still, folks read it anyway. Which was great. So thanks.

I knew each week that the first click each and every time on this page was CBR's Man-In-Charge, Jonah Weiland, always inexplicably enthusiastic in his support. So write and call HIM an asshole for a change.

From here on out, I'll be either on my own site or on the forum, where important polls about pornography and discussions of shit like, I dunno, what's wrong with the French occur as often as people get bored at work.

And that's it. There you go. Keep moving, keep fighting, keep saying yes and getting the work done. Don't listen to anything other than your gut. It is time. It is time. Oh, oh. It is time for stormy weather.

What else? Oh, oh yeah, I almost forgot:

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