A backstreet bar; a crummy dive. A man, a writer, sits alone in a booth, head in his hands, an array of empty glasses on the table before him. He doesn’t look up when a tall stranger approaches. The stranger is wearing a dark coat with a large trilby hat pulled down over his brow. We can’t see his face; the writer doesn’t even look. The light is dim and there are blinds in the window which cast horizontal shadows across the faces of our protagonists. When we can see them.
Stranger: Is this seat taken?
Writer: No, go on, knock yourself out, pal…
Writer: Just don’t expect no joie de vivre or bonhomie or… none of that stuff, French or otherwise.
Writer: I’m all out.
The stranger takes his seat. The writer doesn’t lift his head, he just stares down at the table in desperation, running his hands through his hair like he might be about to pull it out.
Stranger: What’s the problem?
Writer: I blew it - that’s the problem. All I ever wanted was to write comics. All my life, I’ve been waiting for someone at one of the big companies to give me a chance – just one… just to let me show them what I can do…
Writer: And when finally it happens… who do they want me to write? Superman!
Close on the writer, head still down, feeling majorly sorry for himself.
Writer: It’s just not fair.
Stranger (off-panel): Why can’t you write Superman?
The writer lifts his head and rolls his eyes, throwing his arms about and knocking over glasses as he rants.
Writer: Because he’s too powerful. With his super-hearing and his super-vision and his super-invulnerability and his super-barn-dancing and his super-shorthand-typing and…
He continues to rant.
Writer: And he’s too good. Truth, justice and the American way! There’s no moral complexity. No self-doubt. No depth. Just smug, self-righteous, bleeding heart…decency! How do you write an interesting story about a character like that…?
The stranger takes a pen and begins scribbling on a napkin. We see this from above, his head bowed forward over the table as he writes. The writer stares at him with suspicion.
Stranger: Well, you could try… I mean, how about if…? Just off the top of my head…
The stranger hands the napkin to the writer. The writer’s eyes widen as he reads it.
Writer: Wow – man, that’s brilliant. Genius! What an idea! I can’t believe nobody’s ever…
Writer: How did you even come up with that?
Stranger: Oh, I, guess you could call it… super-inspiration.
The writer clutches the napkin to him, not wanting to let it go… but the stranger reaches to take it back.
Writer: Say, do you mind if I use this? This could be just what I was looking for!
Stranger: Oh… no… I was merely trying to show you what could be accomplished if you really applied yourself. But I couldn’t let you use that idea. It just…
Close on the stranger’s face, still mostly in shadow… but a bar of light from the blinds now falls on his forehead, just below the brim of his hat. A familiar curl of dark hair drops down…
Stranger: Well, it just wouldn’t be ethical, would it? I’m sorry.
Stranger: Still, keep at it, eh? I’m sure you’ll come up with something…