Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Superman - Writers' Block Is My Kryptonite - Rol Hirst

Panel One.

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.

Panel Two.

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!

Panel Three.

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?

Panel Four.

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…

Panel Five.

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…?

Panel Six.

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…

Panel Seven.

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.

Panel Eight.

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…

Panel Nine.

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…


  1. Rol, you might want to crack out an e-mail to everyone today, it's your character choice up next

  2. Or AFTER next even (forgot my own starts this sunday).

    Anyway, nice stuff, and a good way to throw out an author surrogate story without it being too painful to read. pacing and length certainly help ease the use of the trope.

  3. Is it? Cheers for the tip off!

  4. Rol, great script man. I love me some meta-existential story. You handle this quite well, but now you've used this card and can't do it for another character in this site, ha.

    I like that you have the hair curl fall down, I thought you were going to go with the red eyes but didn't, classy move.

    Now I want to know what idea he wrote. Probably a deep dark secret of Supes playing D&D or something.

    Excellent work, man, even when you think your mind isn't working it works just fine. Can barely hear the squeaks.

  5. Maaaaaan I want to know what was on that piece of paper. It's just a picture of a unicorn, right?

    Once again Rol, great script. Only thing I don't get - why does Supes want to give the comic book writer some help. All I canthink of is that Supes has developed a bit of an ego. Or is that the point and I missed it completely?

    Either way, great stuff.

  6. Ryan & Ben... if I knew what Superman's story was, I'd have written it myself. (You're right, Ryan, I've used my obvious Get Out Of Jail Free card already... what do I do next time?)

    As to why does Supes want to help the writer...? Because that's just the kind of guy he is. He just wants to help everybody. As long as it's all kosher, nothing dodgy or immoral, nosiree...

  7. Haha, I love how Supes denies the writer the use of his idea not because he'd feel ripped-off, but because it's unethical. That's Superman in a nutshell. And I mean that in a good way.

  8. Nice idea, even if it does seem suspiciously like "I openly don't like this character."
    Personally I would have liked to have seen more from the other side from the stranger. For me the challenge is justifying the character.
    Quite simply, he's the one that keeps certain characters in line and that's quite honourable.

  9. It's also a matter of opinion, and I guess the writer in this story (though not necessarily the writer OF this story) just doesn't share that opinion.

  10. I think I'm being a bit harsh in my previous post. I love the concept I'd just like to see it explored a bit more.

  11. No worries - but we'd all need more than one page for that! ;-)


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