Page 1 – (11 Panels)
Layout: Like the sixteen panel grid format Frank Miller used in DKR – four panels across the top, four panels underneath, one panel in the third row and a larger Panel 10 with an insert in spot sixteen taking up the remainder of the page.
1.1: The cover to the first edition trade paperback of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It’s brand new, right off the shelf.
Caption: Once upon a time there was a book.
1.2: Interior, a small apartment, Christmas Morning. A Boy of ten or eleven holding the book from Panel 1.1, smiling broadly. There is wrapping paper littering the carpet and a decorated Christmas Tree just behind the Boy.
Caption: And on a magical Christmas morning a boy was gifted this book.
1.3: Interior, evening, a private hospital room in a sterile pediatrics ward. The Boy from Panel 1.2 is lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to an IV.
Caption: Shortly thereafter, the boy was imprisoned for what, to a young boy, seemed like an eternity.
1.4: The Boy sitting up in the hospital bed, reading Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. It’s night and the only light source is a lamp on his bedside table.
Caption: And the boy was left with only the book.
1.5: Interior, night, the Boy’s room in the apartment from Panel 1.2. He’s out of the hospital and sitting at a desk, drawing. The desk is lit by a single desk lamp and the boy is wearing pajamas.
Caption: The boy lived inside the book, and knew that he wanted to make a book too.
1.6: What the Boy’s drawing: an extremely crude replica of a Frank Miller style Batman.
Caption: But alas, the book was a force of nature and could never me replicated.
1.7: The Boy, a teenager now, sitting at an old 1990-style word processor. He’s behind the same desk from Panel 1.5, wearing a flannel shirt and blue jeans.
Caption: He learned about words and for what they were meant.
1.8: The Boy, in his late twenties or early thirties, in a business suit, standing before a group of other people in business suits. They are sitting around a conference table, watching the grown-up Boy giving a Power Point presentation.
Caption: But he forgot then what he knows now and was an imitation of a happy man.
1.9: Repeat of Panel 1.1, only a very well-worn and beaten copy.
Caption: Then he remembered his old friend, the book -
1.10: Large panel taking up half of the page of the Boy, now in his late-thirties or early forties, sitting at a desk, typing away on a laptop. He’s wearing a grey t-shirt and black pants. On the desk next to the laptop is the battered book from Panel 1.9.
Caption: Becoming the boy again.
Caption: This will be a good life . . .
1.11: Inset to Panel 1.10, where a sixteenth panel would be if the 4 x 4 grid structure had been maintained for the entire page, and the smirking face of the grown-up Boy.
Caption: . . . good enough.