EXTRA SENSORY-The Plot by Matt Wagner
Welcome aboard! Just a quick note to explain my working methods. I tend to work in Plot-and-Dialogue fashion, which means that what you read here is not the final script. I like this method best as it treats the writing process as something akin to a visual art structure, progressing in stages from idea to sketch, to design/layout and then to a final rendering. I feel that it also gives my artists a bit more say in how the story is visually paced and, thus, provides more of a collaborative spirit. The written plot is broken up into numbered “moments” per page—sprinkled with some examples of potential dialogue just to add to the atmosphere of what I’m describing. These moments don’t have to be individual panels, per se. If you feel like you can combine things or need to stretch things out a bit, please feel free. Send us your thumbnail breakdowns so that I can give them a peek and see that we’re on the same track. Then, once you’re done with the pencils, I do the final script over top of what you’ve drawn. Like I said, my feeling is that this keeps the whole thing collaborative…and fun!
Hope you enjoy!
Welcome, one and all, to what I think is going to be a unique and creatively fertile run of this book. I’m VERY excited to have the chance to work with such a vibrant and diverse set of talented women! I’ve been in this business a long time and I think it’s just wonderful that the once-restrictive walls that maintained the “boys’ club” nature of the comic-book field have fallen to a more equitable pool of artistic talents. BRAVO!
I don’t know if Shelly has filled you in on the overall nature of this story arc but, as noted above, the collective title is “EXTRA-SENSORY”—a six-issue run that will feature stories that focus on some supernatural aspect of the five primary senses. In each chapter of this first quintet of tales, Mdm. X herself plays a somewhat subdued role, acting mainly as an advisor to those characters who find themselves plagued with the various mystical dilemmas. The order of the senses are; SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TOUCH, TASTE—in reference to the old (and loved by me) XTC song, “SENSES WORKING OVERTIME”! The sixth chapter deals more directly with MDM. X and her clairvoyance (her extra-sense).
As many of you know, I’m a pretty seasoned hand when it comes to working with other artists and so rest assured that I’ll really try to style each narrative to your individual visual strengths. I think it’s gonna be a blast!
So, let’s begin…
Madame Xanadu #24
Matt Wagner & Marley Zarcone
1) NEW YORK CITY, 1963—a young African American woman walks thru Harlem.
This is our main character, ROSALYN MAYS; she’s 19 years old and dressed very neatly, on her way home from where she works at a downtown department store. We can see the tower of NYC City College’s Shepherd Hall looming above the rooftops in the background.
[Marley—City College is located right on the edge of Harlem. Here’s a reference shot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:CCNY_tower_W139_jeh.JPG ]
2) A STREETCORNER GANG—call out to Rosalyn, ribbing her to come hang out with them. [Remember…it’s 1963, dress these guys accordingly.]
3) DELIVERING—a snappy retort, Rosalyn gives as good as she gets. The corner boys hoot and laugh as she continues down the street.
4) ON THE STOOP—of her apartment building, she greets an old man (“CLYTUS”) who sits on the steps, smoking a cigarette, a bottle of beer in hand; his all-day ritual.
1) SHE ENTERS—her family’s apartment (very modest but not shabby) and her mother calls to her from the kitchen.
MAMA: ROSY? THAT YOU?
ROSALYN: YES, MAMA. ITS NOT THE COMMUNISTS, COME TO STEAL YOUR BISQUIT RECIPE!
MAMA: OHHH…YOU JUST HUSH-UP, MIZ SMARTY-PANTS!
2) IN THE KITCHEN—Rosalyn greets her mother who stands stirring a pot on the stove. Her little sister (age 5) sits at the table, working on a coloring book.
ROSALYN: I GOT THAT HAND CREAM YOU WANTED, MAMA. 10% OFF, EMPLOYEEEEEE DISCOUNT!
MAMA: LEAST SUMTHIN’ COME O’ YOU STANDIN’ ROUND, ‘TENDIN’ ALL THEM RICH FOLKS DOWNTOWN! THANK’Y, DARLIN’.
3) BENDING—over the back of her sister’s chair, Rosalyn checks on her progress.
ROSALYN: WHAT ‘CHU WORKING ON THERE, PORTIA?
SISTER: COLORIN’ A GIRAFFE AN’ A MONKEY!
ROSALYN: I SAY! YOU SURE ARE THE LIL’ ARTIST! MAYBE GO AN’ STUDY IN PARIS SOMEDAY!
4) HER MOTHER—scoffs at this, laying aside her spoon.
MAMA: HUNPH! YOU ONE TO TALK! YOU D’ONE SHOULD BE STUDYIN’! YOU HAD GRADES GOOD ‘NUFF TO GET INTO COLLEGE! ‘STEAD, YOU JUST ANOTHER CLERK IN SOME BIG STORE WHERE COLORED FOLKS CAN’T EVEN AFFORD TO LOOK IN D’WINDOWS!
5) ROSALN POURS—herself a glass of milk as she rolls her eyes.
ROSALYN: OH, MAMA…NOT AGAIN! I TOL’ YOU! I JUST WOULDN’T FIT IN AT COLLEGE! B’SIDES…WE NEED THE MONEY.
6) SHE LEAVES—the room as her mother continues.
MAMA: ‘CHU MEAN NOT FIT IN?! AND WE GET BY, JESS FINE, YOU NOT WORK! WE ALWAYS GET BY!
YOU MEANT FOR SOMETHIN’ BETTER, GIRL!
ROSALYN: YEAH, YEAH, MAMA…
1) NEXT MORNING—Rosalyn sits among the other commuters on the subway. It’s rush hour and the car is crowded.
2) SUDDENLY—she notices one man (a typical businessman with briefcase in hand) standing several yards away from her, holding an overhead strap, his head turned away from her. He has blood all over the front of his shirt.
3) PUZZLED—she looks around but no one else seems to notice the blood.
4) NERVOUSLY—she looks back; his shirt is definitely bloody.
5) SHE TURNS—to alert the people seated next to her but they’re deep in a casual discussion, laughing, unawares.
1) SHE LOOKS AGAIN—but now the man is turned to face her and notices her looking at him. The lower half of his face is horrifically mangled, as if he’s been shot at close range; he doesn’t seem the least concerned over his wound.
2) HE SMILES—at her and a fresh gout of blood comes pouring out of his shattered teeth.
3 ) ROSALYN RECOILS—horrified by what she sees.
4) AT THE NEXT STATION—she rushes from the train, staggering across the platform, staring over her shoulder as she pushes through the other passengers.
5) ON THE STREET—she leans against the side of a newsstand, fanning herself with a magazine.
NEWSVENDOR: HEY, SISTER…THIS AIN’T NO FAN STORE! DAT’LL BE 5O!
1) ARRIVING—at the department store where she works, Rosalyn is still wide-eyed; did she really see that?!
[Marley, Big NYC department store.]
2) IN THE BACKROOM—her supervisor (middle-aged white woman, slightly chunky) gives her some grief as Rosalyn hangs up her hat and coat.
SUPER: YOU’RE TWENTY MINUTES LATE, MISS MAYS. AND YOU’LL BE DOCKED FOR EVERY MINUTE!
ROSALYN: I’M SORRY, MRS. DANIELS. I…I ACCIDENTALLY GOT OFF AT THE WRONG SUBWAY STOP. HAD TO WALK—
3) SHE WORKS—in the shoe department. A CUSTOMER sits in a fitting chair as Rosalyn helps her try on a pair of pumps.
WOMAN: YES, THOSE FEEL FINE. I’LL TAKE THEM.
ROSALYN: YES, MA’AM.
4) AT THE CASH REGISTER—Rosalyn rings up the customer’s purchase as the woman opens her purse.
ROSALYN: THAT’LL BE $4.75, MA’AM.
WOMAN: HONESTLY! NEARLY $5 FOR A PAIR OF LEATHER SHOES! WHAT’S THE WORLD COMING TO?!
5) ROSALYN FREEZES—staring at…
1) THE WOMAN—holds out the money for her shoes. The skin of her wrist is laced with long ragged gashes that peek out from the sleeve of her coat and blood freely drips onto the checkout counter. Like the man on the subway, the woman doesn’t seem to notice her wound.
WOMAN: WELL? WHAT IS IT? WHAT ARE STARING AT?
2) FRANTICALLY—Rosalyn reaches out and grabs the VERY SURPRISED woman by her elbow, cradling her forearm, wrist upwards, so as to stem the flow of blood.
ROSALYN: OH MY GOODNESS! MA’AM! HOW DID Y--?! WE…WE’VE GOT TO GET YOU A DOCTOR!!
3) THE WOMAN—loudly protests and struggles to free her arm from Rosalyn’s grasp.
WOMAN: WHAT--?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! LET GO!!
4) THE RUCKUS—attracts the attention of Rosalyn’s supervisor, Mrs. Daniels.
SUPER: WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?! ROSALYN! ENOUGH!