BIG NUMBERS
THREE (FORTY PAGES)

PAGE 1

PANEL 1

“ONLY ON PAPER HAS HUMANITY YET ACHIEVED GLORY, BEAUTY, TRUTH, KNOWLEDGE, VIRTUE, AND ABIDING LOVE.” – GEORGE BERNARD SHAW.
HELLO, BILL. THE RECURRENT VISUAL THEME RUNNING THROUGH THIS ISSUE IS THAT OF PAPER GETTING SCREWED UP. IN THIS LIGHT, I’M NOT ENTIRELY SURE OF THE RELEVANCE OF THE ABOVE SHAW QUOTE..IT WAS JUST THE ONLY ENTRY UNDER “PAPER” IN MY DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS. PERHAPS ITS MEANING WILL BECOME LESS OPAQUE AS WE PROGRESS WITH OUR NARRATIVE. LET’S HOPE SO.
THIS FIRST PAGE HAS TWELVE PANELS, IN WHICH E ARE BASICALLY LOOKING AT CHRISTINE’S SISTER JANICE AS SHE SITS IN HER CHAIR BY THE WALL OF THE HOSPITAL SIDE-WARD DURING HER VIGIL OVER THE AS YET UNSEEN FORM OF HER COMATOSE BOYFRIEND KEITH. I WANT YOU TO IMAGINE WE ARE LOOKING AT JANICE FROM THE FRONT AS SHE SITS AGAINST THE WALL FACING US, AND THAT SHE IS READING FROM AN ILLUSTRATED AND LAVISHLY PRINTED SURVEY FORM. THE FORM CONSISTS OF A SINGLE SHEET, PRINTED FRONT AND BACK, IN WHICH BRIGHT, SIMPLE IMAGES OF CONSUMER LIVING SURROUND A LIST OF QUESTIONS THAT ARE BRIGHTLY NUMBERED. AS JANICE SITS READING, THE TOP OF THIS FORM HAS FLOPPED OVER BACKWARDS SO THAT IT IS VISIBLE UPSIDE DOWN AS WE LOOK AT HER. NOW, FOR THIS FIRST PANEL, I WANT YOU TO IMAGINE THAT WE HAVE ZOOMED RIGHT IN UPON THE UPSIDE DOWN FOLDED FLAP OF THE SURVEY FORM. MORE PRECISELY, WE HAVE ZOOMED IN UPON THE COLUMN OF BIG, RINGED NUMBERS THAT MARK THE QUESTIONS, ALTHOUGH WE ARE SO CLOSE TO THESE THAT WE CANNOT SEE THE QUESTIONS THEMSELVES. ALL WE SEE HERE ARE TWO OR THREE BIG, UPSIDE DOWN NUMBERS, PROBABLY BEING NUMBERS BETWEEN ONE AND FOUR SINCE THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO RELATE TO THE QUESTIONS AT THE VERY START OF THE SURVEY. THESE INVERTED DIGITS FILL THE ENTIRE FIRST PANEL, LEADING US INTO THE ISSUE FROM THE FIELD OF NUMBERS THAT FILLS THE INSIDE FRONT COVER. JANICES SPEECH BALLOON ISSUES FROM OFF PANEL ABOVE.

JANICE (OFF, ABOVE): ...gave Mum two extra forms, but Chris was sulking about her novel,
                                 so she wouldn’t DO here.

PANEL 2
NOW WE PULL BACK A LITTLE FROM THE INTENSIVE CLOSE UP OF THE UPSIDE DOWN NUMBERS. IN THIS SHOT, WE CAN SEE THE QUESTIONS (ALSO UPSIDE DOWN) THAT ARE APPENDED TO THE RINGED NUMBERS, THESE BEING SIMPLE THINGS LIKE NAME? ADDRESS? DO YOU OWN THE ABOVE PROPERTY? AND SO FORTH, WHICH NEEDN’T BE LEGIBLE HERE UNLESS YOU WANT THEM TO BE. WE CAN ALSO NOW SEE, PULLING BACK, THAT WE HAVE BEEN LOOKING AT THE FLOPPED OVER TOP OF A SURVEY FORM, AND WE CAN PERHAPS GLIMPSE A LITTLE OF JANICE’S HAND..HER THUMB OR SOMETHING..ENTERING THE PANEL FROM OFF TO ONE SIDE AS SHE HOLDS THE PIECE OF PAPER. HER BALLOONS STILL ENTER THE PANEL FROM OFF PIC ABOVE.

JANICE (OFF, ABOVE): Anyway, this spare form, I thought “Oo! Keith would like that. I’ll…”
JANICE (OFF, ABOVE): Keith? Are you listening?

PANEL 3
PULL BACK A LITTLE FURTHER, SO THAT WE CAN NOW SEE THE WHOLE OF THE SHEET WITH ITS TOP FOLDED BACK AND A LITTLE OF JANICE AS SHE SITS THERE IMMEDIATELY BEYOND IT, HOLDING IT UP BEFORE HER AS SHE READS IT OUT TO THE OFF-PANEL KEITH. SHE’S PROBABLY SITTING THERE IN HER RAINCOAT, AND IF WE CAN SEE ANY OF HER FACE ENTERING THE PANEL FROM ITS UPPER REACHES THEN WE SHOULD ONLY SEE THE LOWER FACE, WITH HER EYES NOT YET VISIBLE.

JANICE (FROM ABOVE): Good.
JANICE (FROM ABOVE): Well, anyway, it’s to do with a new shopping centre and I’ve filled
                                    in the first four already..

PANEL 4
OKAY, IN THIS PANEL WE PULL BACK JUST A LITTLE FURTHER SO THAT WE NOW HAVE A COMFORTABLE HALF FIGURE TO HEAD AND SHOULDERS SHOT OF JANICE AS SHE SITS FACING US IN HER HOSPITAL CHAIR, HOLDING THE SURVEY FORM UP IN FRONT OF HER, HER EYES DOWNCAST TOWARDS IT AS SHE READS FROM IT. HER EXPRESSION, AS USUAL, IS FAIRLY NEUTRAL. ALSO, WE STILL CAN’T GET MUCH IDEA WHERE SHE IS FROM HER IMMEDIATE VISIBLE SURROUNDINGS, JUST LIKE ON THE PREVIOUS OCCASIONS WHEN WE’VE SEEN HER SITTING WITH KEITH AT THE HOSPITAL. KEITH, AS EVER, IS OFF PANEL SOMEWHERE IN THE FOREGROUND..ITS ALMOST AS IF WE WERE LOOKING AT JANICE THROUGH HIS COMATOSE EYES, ALTHOUGH WE WON’T REALIZE THAT UNTIL LATER ON IN THIS ISSUE.

JANICE: “Name: Keith Peach
              Address: Hospital
              Do you own the above property?: No I don’t.
              Job or trade: Plumbing.”

PANEL 5
OKAY, NOW FOR THE REST OF THIS TWELVE PANEL PAGE WE HOLD ON THE SAME SHOT OF JANICE, JUST SITTING THERE FACING US IN A HEAD AND SHOULDERS TO HALF FIGURE SHOT. ONLY JANICE MOVES THROUGHOUT THIS PAGE, AND THEN ONLY SLIGHTLY. HERE, SHE STILL ISN’T LOOKING AT US, BUT STILL HAS HER LOWERED EYES FIXED UPON THE FORM. HERE, SHE IS FROWNING SLIGHTLY AS IF IN MILD PUZZLEMENT AT THE WORDING OF THE NEXT QUESTION.

JANICE: Then it says “Are you currently functioning in the above trade?”
             So that’s, like, “Are you in plumbing?”

PANEL 6
SAME SHOT. HERE, HOWEVER, JANICE LOOKS UP FROM THE FORM AND DIRECTS A COOL AND QUESTIONING GLANCE DIRECTLY AT US, LOOKING DIRECTLY INTO OUR EYES. OH, INCIDENTALLY, I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED THAT JANICE IS HOLDING A BALL-POINT PEN IN HER OTHER HAND. SORRY ABOUT THAT. HERE, THE PEN IS PAUSED, POISED ABOVE THE FORM AS JANICE DIRECTS HER QUESTIONING GLANCE TOWARDS THE OFF PANEL KEITH BEFORE CONTINUING.
No Dialogue

PANEL 7
SAME SHOT. HERE, JANICE HAS RETURNED HER GAZE TO THE FORM, AND IS WRITING UPON IT WITH THE BALL-POINT. HER EYES ARE ONCE MORE LOWERED, AND SHE IS NO LONGER LOOKING AT US OR KEITH AS SHE CONTINUES TO FILL OUT THE FORM.

JANICE: I’ll put “Sort of”, shall I?

PANEL 8
SAME SHOT. ALTHOUGH SHE HAS ONCE MORE STOPPED WRITING, JANICE STILL HAS HER EYES LOWERED TO FOCUS UPON THE FORM AS SHE READS FROM IT, STILL WEARING THE SAME NEUTRAL EXPRESSION.

JANICE: Now, following on, are you VERY interested, QUITE interested or
             NOT AT ALL interested in purchasing the following items…

PANEL 9
SAME SHOT. AS SHE FINISHES READING HER LIST OF ITEMS FOR PURCHASE SHE LOOKS UP AT BOTH US AND KEITH WITH A POLITE AND INQUIRING SMILE THAT SHE HAS PRESUMABLE LEARNED DURING HER TENURE BEHIND THE DESK AT THE SOCIAL SECURITY OFFICES.

JANICE: Luxury bathroom fittings, Do-It-Yourself power equipment, freshly-blended coffee,
             or sporting accessories?

PANEL 10
SAME SHOT, WITH JANICE IN MORE OR LESS EXACTLY THE SAME POSITION AND STILL LOOKING AT US. HERE, HOWEVER, THE LITTLE SMILE THAT SHE HAD ON HER FACE LAST PANEL DIES AWAY, TO BE REPLACED BY A LOOK OF DULL AND RESIGNED DISAPPOINTMENT AS SHE STARES AT THE OFF PANEL FORM OF HER COMATOSE BOYFRIEND.
No Dialogue

PANEL 11
SAME SHOT. STILL WITH HER EYES LOOKING DIRECTLY TOWARDS US, JANICE STARTS TO TUCK THE SURVEY FORM ABSENTLY INTO HER HANDBAG, STARTING TO RISE SLIGHTLY FROM HER SEAT AS SHE DOES SO. AS SHE LOOKS TOWARDS US, HER EXPRESSION IS FAIRLY NEUTRAL, BUT STILL TINGED WITH THE RESIGNED AND DISAPPOINTED LOOK THAT WE GLIMPSED LAST PANEL. SHE JUST LOOKS ROUTINELY FED UP WITH LIFE IN GENERAL AS SHE BEGINS TO RISE FROM HER SEAT, LOOKING TOWARDS US.

JANICE: Well, look, I’ll leave you to mull that over while I fetch meself a cup of tea
             out of the machine, alright?

PANEL 12
NOW WE JUST SEE THE EMPTY CHAIR STANDING AGAINST THE WALL, PERHAPS WITH JANICE’S HANDBAG RESTING UPON IT. JANICE HAS GONE, AND OTHER THAN THE CHAIR, THE HANDBAG AND THE WALL, THE PANEL IS COMPLETELY EMPTY. IT IS THE EVENING OF SATURDAY, THE 24TH OF SEPTEMBER, 1988.
No Dialogue

PAGE 2

PANEL 1
THERE ARE TWELVE PANELS AGAIN ON THIS SECOND PAGE, BUT HERE WE CHANGE SCENES AND JUMP BACK IN TIME TO SHOW CHRISTINE ATTEMPTING TO GET STARTED ON HER NOVEL, ON THE MORNING OF SATURDAY THE 24TH. ALL THE PANELS ON THIS PAGE ARE FROM A STATIC SHOT, WHICH I WILL ATTEMPT TO SET UP AS FOLLOWS: WE ARE IN THE UPSTAIRS BEDROOM AT AUDREY GATHERCOLE’S HOUSE THAT WE SAW BRIEFLY TOWARDS THE END OF ISSUE ONE, THIS BEING THE ROOM THAT CHRISTINE IS USING WHILE SHE STAYS AT AUDREY’S. I FIGURE THAT CHRISTINE HAS A SMALL TABLE SET UP SOMEWHERE TO ONE SIDE OF THE ROOM, UPON WHICH SHE HAS A SMALLISH MANUAL TYPE WRITER, A BOX OF CROXLEY SCRIPT TYPING PAPER AND A BOTTLE OF CORRECTION FLUID RESTING. THERE IS ALSO A SPIRAL BOUND NOTEBOOK AND A BALL-POINT PEN. CHRISTINE IS DRESSED SLOPPILY AND CASUALLY, AND WE SEE HER IN PROFILE HERE, PROBABLY FULL FIGURE, AS SHE SITS THERE AT HER MAKESHIFT DESK WITH THE TOOLS OF HER TRADE ARRAYED BEFORE HER. SHE WEARS A NEUTRAL EXPRESSION HERE HAS SHE REACHES OUT TO WIND A SINGLE SHEET OF CROXLEY SCRIPT INTO THE ROLLERS OF THE MANUAL TYPEWRITER, AND AS WE LOOK BEYOND HER INTO THE NEAR BACKGROUND WE CAN SEE THE OPEN DOOR TO HER ROOM, WHICH LEADS OUT ONTO AUDREY’S SMALL UPSTAIRS LANDING. THE DÉCOR IN THIS ROOM, INCIDENTALLY, IS NOTHING THAT CHRISTINE WOULD HAVE CHOSEN FOR HERSELF, CONSISTING MAINLY OF AN INAPPROPRIATE WALLPAPER DESIGN AND A CONTRADICTORY PAINT SCHEME UPON ALTERNATING WALLS. CHRISTINE LOOKS COMPOSED AND PROFESSIONAL AS SHE ROLLS THE PAPER INTO HER MACHINE, READY TO BEGIN.
No Dialogue

PANEL 2
SAME SHOT, ONLY HERE CHRISTINE SITS BACK SLIGHTLY IN HER CHAIR, HAVING SUCCESSFULLY FITTED THE PAPER INTO THE ROLLERS OF THE MACHINE. AS WE SEE HER HERE SHE HAS REACHED OUT AND PICKED UP HER SPIRAL BOUND NOTEBOOK FROM THE DESK TOP, FROWNING SLIGHTLY IN CONCENTRATION AS SHE READS FROM IT, CHECKING HER NOTES ONE LAST TIME BEFORE SHE EMBARKS UPON THE FIRST CHAPTER. THE TEXT THAT CHRISTINE IS READING LETTERED IN A LOOSE BUT LEGIBLE BALL-POINT SCRAWL IS MAYBE LETTERED UPON RULED LINES UP AT THE TOP OF THE PANEL SOMEWHERE, TO SUGGEST THAT THIS IS WHAT CHRISTINE IS READING AS SHE READS THROUGH THE SPIRAL BOUND NOTE-PAD. UP TO YOU WHETHER THE SIMULATED BALLPOINT WRITING IS ENCLOSED IN A CAPTION BOX OF ANY KIND…MAYBE IT COULD JUST BE FLOATING IN THE AIR IN A VAGUELY CLOUDY AREA OF THE PICTURE. SEE WHAT LOOKS BEST AND DO ACCORDINGLY, ANYWAY. THE CROSSINGS OUT AND ROUGH UNDERLININGS IN THE BALL-POINT TEXT IMMEDIATELY BELOW SHOULD BE LEFT INTACT, BY WAY OF VERISIMILITUDE, INCIDENTALLY.

BALLPOINT WRITING (UPPER PANEL): THE NEW ELECTRIC HEART
                                                        Chapter 1: Establish Cynthia, post-Terry: Age 34;
                                                        despairing; devastated. Make funny, not depressing!

PANEL 3
SAME SHOT. HERE, CHRISTINE HAS REPLACED THE PAD UPON HER DESK-TOP AND HAS NOW TURNED HER ATTENTIONS TO THE TYPEWRITER ITSELF. LEANING FORWARD OVER THE KEYS SHE STARTS TO PECK AT THEM, TWO-FINGERED. UPON HER FACE THERE IS AN ALMOST CHILDISH LOOK OF CONCENTRATION. THE TEXT THAT SHE IS TYPING APPEARS, IN A SUITABLE TYPEWRITER TYPE-FACE, UP IN THE SAME CLOUDY AREA OF THE UPPER PANEL REACHES THAT THE BALL-POINT WRITING APPEARED IN LAST PANEL. HERE, OBVIOUSLY, THE TYPE IS AGAINST AN UNLINED BACKGROUND, JUST FLOATING IN NEAT LINES ABOVE CHRISTINE’S HEAD AS SHE TYPES.

TYPE (UPPER PANEL): CHAPTER 1
                                Named after her father’s favourite aunt and her mother’s favourite chocolate,
                                Cynthia Praline Pike had not been an

PANEL 4
SAME SHOT. CHRISTINE CONTINUES TO TYPE, HER CONCENTRATION DEEPENING. SHE DOESN’T MOVE MUCH FROM HER POSITION OF LAST PANEL, EXCEPT THAT HER BEHIND SHIFTS FAINTLY UPON THE HARD CHAIR THAT SHE IS SITTING UPON AND HER FINGERS MOVE UNCERTAINLY OVER THE KEYBOARD. OTHER THAN THAT THE IMAGE IS ALMOST IDENTICAL. THE CONTINUING TYPE STILL APPEARS IN THE MURKY AREA ABOVE CHRISTINE’S HEAD.

TYPE (UPPER PANEL): optimist since her christening, some thirty-four years earlier:
                                An optimist would say that the bad was half full. Sprawling

PANEL 5
SAME SHOT. HERE, CHRISTINE’S FINGERS SEEM TO PAUSE OVER THE KEYS IN MID SENTENCE AND SHE LOOKS UP FROM HER WORK WITH A LOOK OF SURPRISE. AS IF SHE HAS HEARD SOMETHING. IN FACT, SHE HAS HEARD THE TELEPHONE RINGING DOWNSTAIRS, BUT SINCE WE DON’T HAVE ANY SOUND EFFECTS IN THIS STRIP, THIS WILL NOT BE CLEAR UNTIL THE DIALOGUE MAKES IT OBVIOUS IN A COUPLE OF PANELS TIME. HERE SHE JUST LOOKS UP AND SWEARS BENEATH HER BREATH. THE TYPED WORDS THAT SHE IS JUST COMPLETING HERE STILL FLOAT ABOVE HER HEAD HERE, IN THE CLOUDY AREA TOWARDS THE MIDDLE OF THE PANEL’S UPPER REACHES.

TYPE (UPPER PANEL): alone, what Cynthia said mostly consisted of “Oh Terry”, or “Oh shit.”
                                This went on for months. Occasionally
CHRISTINE: Oh shit.

PANEL 6
SAME SHOT, ONLY HERE CHRISTINE HAS PUSHED HER CHAIR BACK FROM THE DESK AND HAS RISEN FROM HER SEATED POSITION. AS WE SEE HER HERE SHE IS JUST RUNNING OUT OF THE ROOM AND ONTO THE SMALL LANDING THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR. I DON’T KNOW HOW MUCH OF THE LANDING WILL BE VISIBLE HERE, BUT IF WE CAN SEE THE TOP OF THE STAIRS THEN CHRISTINE IS RUNNING OUT OF THE ROOM IN SUCH A WAY THAT IT’S OBVIOUS THAT SHE IS RUNNING TOWARDS THEM, ABOUT TO RUN DOWNSTAIRS AND ANSWER THE PHONE IN THE HALL. SHE LEAVES THE TYPEWRITER AND THE PARTLY-TYPED PAGE THAT STICKS OUT OF IT RESTING ON THE TABLE UP IN THE FOREGROUND.

CHRISTINE: HANG ON! Hang on. I’m coming..
CHRISTINE: Shit.

PANEL 7
SAME SHOT, BUT HERE CHRISTINE HAS RUN DOWN STAIRS AND IS NO LONGER VISIBLE. WE JUST SEE THE NEGLECTED TYPEWRITER UP IN THE FOREGROUND AND THE EMPTY LANDING VISIBLE THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR BEHIND IT. CHRISTINE’S BALLOONS, VISIBLE THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR, SEEMS TO BE ISSUING UP INTO VIEW FROM DOWNSTAIRS SOMEWHERE.

CHRISTINE (OFF, DOWNSTAIRS): Hello?
CHRISTINE (OFF, DOWNSTAIRS): Yeah, speaking. The Hampton..? Oh, the ADVERTISER.
                                                  Yeah, I know it. What do..?
CHRISTINE (OFF, DOWNSTAIRS): Hmm. Well, if it isn’t a LONG interview..

PANEL 8
SAME SHOT EXACTLY AS OUR LAST PANEL. THE SEAT IS STILL VACANT IN THE FOREGROUND AND CHRISTINE IS STILL NOT VISIBLE THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR THAT LOOKS OUT ONTO THE CRAMPED LANDING. HER BALLOONS STILL ENTER INTO THE PANEL FROM OFF-PIC AT THE BOTTOM, DRIFTING UP FROM THE HALL DOWNSTAIRS.

CHRISTINE (OFF, DOWNSTAIRS): Yeah, yeah, later this morning’s fine.
                                                  Incidentally, how did you know I was back in .?
CHRISTINE (OFF, DOWNSTAIRS): Yeah, yeah, small town. I suppose so.
CHRISTINE (OFF, DOWNSTAIRS): Okay. See you later.

PANEL 9
SAME SHOT, ONLY NOW, THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR, WE SEE CHRISTINE TRUDGING BACK UPSTAIRS AND ONTO THE LANDING. HER FACE LARGELY EXPRESSIONLESS AFTER HER BRIEF PHONE CONVERSATION. THE EMPTY SEAT AND THE TYPEWRITER WAIT FOR HER IN THE FOREGROUND.
No Dialogue

PANEL 10
SAME SHOT. HERE, CHRISTINE IS ONCE AGAIN SEATED BEFORE HER TYPEWRITER. LEANING FORWARD AND PULLING THE TOP OF THE PARTLY TYPED PAGE UP A LITTLE WITH ONE HAND SHE SQUINTS AS SHE READS WHAT SHE HAS WRITTEN. IN THE CLOUDY SPACE ABOVE HER HEAD WE SEE THE WAY HER WRITING LOOKS TO HER NOW AS HER EYES SCAN ACROSS IT, JUST PICKING OUT WORDS HERE AND THERE. THEY WAY WE REPRESENT THIS IS TO CUT UP THE LINES OF TYPE THAT WE USED EARLIER AND SET THEM AT SLIGHTLY JUMBLED ANGLES TO EACH OTHER TO SUGGEST THE DISJOINTED QUALITY OF CHRISTINE’S RAPID READ-THROUGH. THE DIFFERENT PHRASES AND DIVIDED BY SPACES BELOW, AND IN THE FINISHED PANEL THEY SHOULD BE SHOWN AS SEPARATE CUT-UP STRIPS OF TYPE, SET SLIGHTLY AT ANGLES TO EACH OTHER TO SUGGEST A MENTAL JUMBLE OF PHRASES. HOPE THAT MAKES SENSE TO YOU. THE ORDER OF THE PIECES SHOULD BE SOMETHING LIKE THE ORDER BELOW, WITH “SHIT” BEING ONE LITTLE WORD ALONE ON THE BOTTOM ROW, SO THAT THE CLUTTER OF TYPED PHRASES LOOKS SOMETHING LIKE AN INVERTED TRIANGLE. CHRISTINE STARES AT THE PAGE WITH A NEUTRAL EXPRESSION AS SHE RE-READS WHAT SHE’S WRITTEN AND TRIES TO PICK UP THE THREADS AFTER HER PHONE CONVERSATION.

JUMBLED TYPE (UPPER PANEL): her father’s favourite
                                              chocolate         Pike          had not been
                                                  since     four years earlier  :  An
                                                         optimist would say that
                                                                   was half full
                                                                          of
                                                                           shit

PANEL 11
LOOKING DISGUSTED WITH WHAT SHE HAS WRITTEN CHRISTINE YANKS THE PAGE FROM THE TYPEWRITER AND STARTS TO CRUMPLE IT INTO A BALL. INCIDENTALLY, I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED IN MY DESCRIPTIONS FOR PANEL ONE THAT THERE IS A METAL WASTE-PAPER BIN STANDING SOMEWHERE NEAR CHRISTINE’S DESK, ALREADY FAIRLY FULL OF SCRAP PAPER. THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN VISIBLE THROUGHOUT THE PREVIOUS TEN PANELS, BUT I FORGOT TO TELL YOU ABOUT IT. SORRY. ANYWAY, IT’S VISIBLE IN THIS PANEL AS WE SEE THE PISSED OFF AND SCOWLING CHRISTINE START TO CRUMPLE HER MANUSCRIPT, WRENCHING IT FROM BETWEEN THE ROLLERS AS SHE DOES SO.
No Dialogue

PANEL 12
IN THIS LAST PANEL, WE JUST HAVE A SHOT CLOSING IN UPON THE WASTE-PAPER BIN. THE BIN ITSELF ENTERS FROM THE RIGHT OF THE PANEL. NOT ENTIRELY VISIBLE HERE, AND LYING ON THE CARPETED FLOOR NEXT TO THE BIN WE SEE THE CRUMPLED BALL THAT IS ALL THAT REMAINS OF CHRISTINE’S MANUSCRIPT. THE WORDS “CHAPTER 1” ARE PERHAPS STILL VISIBLE UPON ONE OF IT’S CRUMPLED SURFACES. IT JUST RESTS THERE ON THE FLOOR WHERE CHRISTINE HAS THROWN IT, INERT AND MOTIONLESS NEXT TO THE METAL WASTE-PAPER BIN. UP TO YOU WHETHER WE SEE A GLIMPSE OF CHRISTINE’S SNEAKER-GARBED FEET IN THE BACKGROUND OR NOT HERE, BUT THE CRUMPLED BALL OF TYPING PAPER SHOULD BE THE MAIN FOCUS OF ATTENTION IN EITHER EVENT.
No Dialogue

PAGE 3

PANEL 1
THERE ARE NINE PANELS ON THIS THIRD PAGE, WITH FOUR PANELS UPON EACH OF THE UPPER TWO TIERS AND THEN ONE BIG WIDE PANEL ON THE BOTTOM-MOST TIER. IT IS STILL THE MORNING OF THE 24TH, AND WE CUT ACROSS TO BRAMBLE HILL ESTATE AND THE HOME OF COLIN AND HILARY WORDSWORTH WHERE WE FIND HILARY SUBMITTING TO SOME DOORSTEP RESEARCH BY ANSWERING A NUMBER OF QUESTIONS FOR ONE OF THE YOUNG WOMEN EMPLOYED BY THE MALL’S ADVANCE MARKET ANALYSIS TEAM. ALL WE SEE IN THIS FIRST PANEL IS AN EXTREME CLOSE UP OF THE COLUMN OF LARGE RINGED NUMBERS THAT ARE SET OUT OF THE FORM TO INDICATE THE DIFFERENT QUESTIONS. THIS PANEL IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE FIRST PANEL ON PAGE ONE, EXCEPT THAT HERE THE TWO OR THREE NUMBERS THAT WE CAN SEE ARE RIGHT WAY UP. THE RESEARCHER’S BALLOON ISSUES FROM OFF PANEL ABOVE.

RESEARCHER (OFF, ABOVE): “Hilary…Anne…WORDSWORTH.” Lovely. Now, I’ve got your address, lets see…
RESEARCHER (OFF, ABOVE, SEPARATE BALLOON): “Do you own the property?”

PANEL 2
WE PULL BACK A LITTLE SO THAT WE CAN SEE SOME OF THE QUESTIONS APPENDED TO THE NUMBERS AND MORE OF THE ILLUSTRATED AND LAVISHLY PRODUCED FORM THAT THEY ARE SET UPON. WE CAN ALSO SEE ONE OF THE RESEARCHER’S THUMBS AS SHE HOLDS THE FORM UP IN FRONT OF HER WHILE SHE READS. FOR YOUR INFORMATION, WE ARE READING THE FORM OVER THE RESEARCHER’S SHOULDER, BUT WE HAVEN’T PULLED BACK FAR ENOUGH FOR THIS TO BECOME APPARENT YET. THE RESEARCHER’S BALLOON IN OUR LAST PANEL SHOULD HAVE ISSUED FROM SOMEWHERE TOWARDS THE UPPER RIGHT CORNER OF THE PANEL WHILE IN THIS CURRENT PANEL HILARY’S RESPONDING BALLOON ISSUES FROM THE UPPER LEFT CORNER.

HILARY (OFF, UPPER LEFT): Course not, else we’d have repainted the front door.
RESEARCHER (OFF, UPPER RIGHT): “We”. Married, then. Is he in work, your husband?

PANEL 3
WE CONTINUE TO PULL BACK SO THAT HERE WE CAN SEE THE WHOLE OF THE FORM, SOME OF THE HAND OF THE RESEARCHER ENTERING FROM OFF PANEL AND A LITTLE OF HILARY WORDSWORTH AS SHE STANDS ON HER DOORSTEP, FACING US FROM THE IMMEDIATE BACKGROUND. WE CAN’T SEE MUCH OF HER HERE, ALTHOUGH WE CAN PERHAPS SEE PART OF HER PERPETUALLY SCOWLING LOWER FACE AS SHE STANDS THERE WITH HER ARMS FOLDED DOGGEDLY, ENDURING THE STREAM OF QUESTIONS AND GRUFFLY SUPPLYING HER ANSWERS. THE RESEARCHER STILL ISN’T VISIBLE, OTHER THAN HER HAND HOLDING THE FORM AND PERHAPS ANOTHER HAND HOLDING A PEN, BOTH ENTERING FROM OFF PANEL TO ONE SIDE OF THE FOREGROUND.
 
HILARY: Yeah..building. His firms’ after that Yank shopping centre contract. That what this survey’s about?
RESEARCHER (OFF): Well..yes, actually.
RESEARCHER (OFF): Hilary, do you have children?

PANEL 4
NOW WE CONTINUE TO PULL BACK SO THAT WE CAN SEE JUST A LITTLE MORE OF THE RESEARCHER IN THE FOREGROUND BUT SO THAT WE CAN MOSTLY SEE THE STOICAL AND GRIM FIGURE OF HILARY AS SHE STANDS ROUGHLY HALF FIGURE FACING US FROM THE BACKGROUND WHILE SHE SPEAKS. HER FACE IS SULLEN AS SHE REPLIES. IF WE CAN SEE THE RESEARCHER’S HANDS THEY ARE BUSY SCRIBBLING ANSWERS DOWN UPON THE SURVEY FORM IN RESPONSE TO WHAT HILARY IS SAYING.

HILARY: Three. Damien’s thirteen; Sigourney, she’s ten; and William Henry, he’s two.
HILARY: Contraceptive failure.

PANEL 5
WE CONTINUE TO PULL BACK NOW SO THAT WE ARE STILL LOOKING AT HILARY BUT SO THAT WE CAN NOW SEE MORE OF THE BACK OF THE RESEARCHER UP IN THE FOREGROUND..SAY THE HEAD AND SHOULDERS AS SHE STANDS THERE FACING AWAY FROM US AND PATIENTLY READING THE FORM TO HILARY. HILARY STANDS THERE WITH HER ARMS FOLDED AGGRESSIVELY ACROSS HER CHEST, BUT THE EXPRESSION ON HER FACE IS SOMEWHAT SOFTER THAN THE SCOWL WE SAW LAST PANEL, GAINING A SLIGHTLY WISTFUL QUALITY AS SHE TALKS ABOUT HER CHILDREN (WHO, YOU’LL REMEMBER, WE LAST SA MAKING MOLOTOV COCKTAILS IN ISSUE TWO.) THE RESEARCHER, IF WE CAN SEE ANY OF HER FACE, LOOKS UP AT HILARY WITH FEIGNED SIMPERING INTEREST AT HILARY’S MENTION OF CHILDREN.

HILARY: Smashin’ kids: I’d all these empties, ready for the bottle bank,
             they said “Don’t worry, Mum. We’ll take ‘em.”
RESEARCHER: They DIDN’T!

PANEL 6
WE CONTINUE TO PULL BACK SO THAT NOW WE SEE HILARY AND THE RESEARCHER, BOTH ROUGHLY THREE QUARTER TO HALF FIGURE AS THEY STAND THERE FRAMED BY HILARY’S FOUNT DOOR, THE RESEARCHER WITH HER BACK SLIGHTLY TOWARDS US AND HILARY STANDING FACING US AND THE RESEARCHER FROM HER DOORSTEP. THE RESEARCHER SIMPERS AS HILARY CONTINUES TO BRAG MILDLY ABOUT HER CHILDREN.

HILARY: And her next door, they took her bottles too. AND Mr. Oldshaw’s, down the street.
RESEARCHER: Aaa.

PANEL 7
SAME SHOT BUT WE PULL BACK STILL FURTHER SO THAT WE ARE NOW SOME DISTANCE FROM HILARY’S FRONT DOOR, LOOKING BACK AT HER AND THE RESEARCHER AS THEY STAND THERE, THE RESEARCHER IN HER RAIN COAT AND HILARY IN HER SKIRT AND CARDIGAN. THE RESEARCHER IS A FAIRLY SMART YOUNG WOMAN OF ABOUT TWENTY FIVE. SHE SMILES AT HILARY AS SHE SPEAKS TO HER. HILARY’S FACE IS FLAT AND EXPRESSIONLESS AS A NAIL HEAD AS SHE REPLIES.

RESEARCHER: They sound lovely. Now, would your family be VERY interested, QUITE interested or
                      NOT INTERESTED AT ALL in purchasing the following items…
HILARY: No.

PANEL 8
SAME SHOT, BUT WE CONTINUE TO PULL BACK. WHEREAS IN OUR LAST PICTURE WE COULD ONLY SEE A GLIMPSE OF THE IDENTICAL HOUSES SURROUNDING HILARY’S, IN THIS PANEL WE HAVE PULLED BACK FAR ENOUGH TO SEE A FEW MORE OF THEM. THEY STAND, IDENTICAL AND HOMOGENEOUS, IN THEIR ORDERED ROWS, WITH HILARY STILL STANDING FRAMED IN THE DOORWAY OF HER OWN HOME, FACE SET AND ARMS FOLDED. THE RESEARCHER, STANDING FACING HILARY WITH HER BACK TO US, LOOKS UP AT HILARY WITH AN EXPRESSION OF EXTREME PUZZLEMENT ALTHOUGH WE’RE PROBABLY TOO FAR AWAY TO SEE EXPRESSIONS HERE. THE FIGURES ARE BOTH VERY SMALL HERE, GRADUALLY BECOMING LOST IN THE HOUSING ESTATE LANDSCAPE THAT SURROUNDS THEM.

RESEARCHER: No?
RESEARCHER: No what?

PANEL 9
NOW WE HAVE A WIDE, PANORAMIC SHOT WITH WHICH TO END THE PAGE AND THE SCENE, STRETCHING THE PAGE’S FULL WIDTH. THE SHOT CONCLUDES OUR GRADUAL PULL-BACK BY SHOWING A WIDE ANGLE VIEW OF THE ESTATE IN ALL ITS MONOTONOUS AND OPPRESSIVE GLORY, WITH THE CLONED HOUSES SPREADING OUT ALL AROUND LIKE ENVIRONMENTAL CANCER. WE NEEDN’T EVEN BE ABLE TO SEE HILARY AND HER HOUSE HERE, UNLESS YOU WANT TO SHOW THEM VERY SMALL. THE WAY I SEE IT, WE’VE PULLED BACK SO FAR THAT WE JUST SEE A LONG SHOT OF THE ESTATE WITH HILARY’S SOLITARY BALLOON ISSUING FROM SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, FLOATING WEIGHTLESSLY ABOVE THE DRAB COUNCIL HOMES BELOW.

HILARY (FROM ESTATE): No thank you.

PAGE 4

PANEL 1
THIS PAGE HAS TWELVE PANELS, AND WE CUT ACROSS TO A LOCAL DEPARTMENT STORE, PROBABLY SOMEWHERE LIKE BOOTS THE CHEMISTS. THE BASIC SHOT ONCE MORE REMAINS THE SAME FOR THE WHOLE PAGE, AND IS SET UP AS FOLLOWS: WE ARE BEHIND THE COSMETICS COUNTER OF THE STORE, LOOKING OUT ACROSS IT AT ROUGHLY COUNTER-TOP LEVEL. RIGHT UP IN THE FOREGROUND WE SEE AN ARRAY OF COSMETICS STANDING UPON THE GLASS COUNTER-TOP, INCLUDING SOME YARDLEY EYE-LINERS AND LIPSTICKS OVER TO THE LEFT AND SOME EXPENSIVE LOOKING INDIVIDUAL COMPACTS OVER TO THE RIGHT. THE STORE’S STRIP LIGHTING GLINTS ROMANTICALLY UPON THE GLASS OF THE COUNTER AND THE SILVER CAPS OF THE VARIOUS COSMETICS. LOOKING ACROSS THE COUNTER-TOP AND ACROSS THE CARPETED AISLE BEYOND WE CAN SEE THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT, PERHAPS WITH A HANGING SIGN THAT READS COMPUTERS TO LABEL IT AS SUCH. PERHAPS THE FIGURE OF A MALE ASSISTANT IS OCCASIONALLY SEEN DRIFTING ABOUT BEYOND THIS FAR COUNTER, JUST DOING SOME MINOR TASK THAT IS TOO FAR AWAY HERE TO PROPERLY DISCERN. THE COMPUTER COUNTER AND THE SOMETIMES-VISIBLE MAN BEHIND IT ARE REALLY ONLY USED AS BACKGROUND DETAIL THROUGHOUT THIS PAGE, BUT WE CLOSE IN UPON WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE COMPUTER COUNTER ON OUR NEXT PAGE, SO IT WOULD BE NICE TO ESTABLISH THEM HERE BEFORE-HAND. IN THIS FIRST PANEL ALL WE SEE IS THE SCENE AS DESCRIBED ABOVE, WITH THE COUNTER IN THE FOREGROUND, THE EMPTY AISLE BEYOND THAT AND THEN THE COMPUTER COUNTER RIGHT IN THE BACKGROUND WITH THE INDISTINCT FIGURE OF THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT MANAGER FUSSING ABOUT BEHIND IT. ALL THIS PANEL REALLY TELLS US IS THAT WE’RE IN A STORE, AND THAT WE’RE IN THE COSMETICS DEPARTMENT.
No Dialogue

PANEL 2
SAME SHOT. IN THE FOREGROUND, THE COUNTER WITH ITS ARRAY OF COSMETICS REMAINS UNDISTURBED. LOOKING PAST THIS AT THE AISLE BEYOND WE NOW SEE THE RAIN-COATED FIGURE OF MONICA BEARD, THE SHOP-LIFTER, AS SHE ENTERS FROM THE RIGHT OF THE PANEL. SHE WALKS SLOWLY AND WEARILY, LIKE ANY OTHER SHOPPER, AND HER EXPRESSION IS, AS USUAL, COMPLETELY DEADPAN. AS SHE SHUFFLES INTO THE PANEL FROM THE RIGHT SHE SEEMS TO BE DIRECTING HER EXPRESSIONLESS GAZE TOWARDS THE YARDLEY COSMETICS IN THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND. BEYOND HER, IN THE BACKGROUND, WE PERHAPS SEE THE MANAGER TURNING AND STARTING TO WALK OFF PANEL, AWAY ON SOME MINOR ERRAND. WHATEVER LOOKS WORKABLE TO YOU, BASICALLY. HERE, THE MAIN FOCUS IS UPON THE SUDDEN ARRIVAL OF MONICA ON THE SCENE, ENTERING STAGE RIGHT AND GLANCING TOWARDS THE COSMETICS IN THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND.
No Dialogue

PANEL 3
SAME SHOT, ONLY HERE, MONICA HAS DISCREETLY CROSSED TO THE COUNTER IN THE FOREGROUND AND IS STANDING FACING US ACROSS ITS LEFT-MOST SIDE. SHE LOOKS DOWN AT THE YARDLEY COSMETICS BEFORE HER WITH SEEMING DISINTEREST UPON HER DEADPAN FACE. LOOKING ACROSS THE AISLE BEHIND HER TOWARDS THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT IN THE BACKGROUND WE CAN PERHAPS JUST SEE THE BACK OF THE MANAGER AS HE VANISHES OFF-PANEL RIGHT, AWAY ON HIS ERRAND. MONICA LOOKS AT THE YARDLEY COSMETICS AND THEY GLINT RIGHT BACK AT HER.
No Dialogue

PANEL 4
SAME SHOT. IN THE BACKGROUND, THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT MANAGER IS NOW COMPLETELY OFF PANEL AND THUS NOT SEEN HERE. AS IF TO CONFIRM THAT THERE IS NO-ONE WATCHING HER, MONICA GLANCES ROUND TO ONE SIDE, LOOKING BACK SLIGHTLY OVER HER SHOULDER. OTHERWISE, NEITHER HER POSITION NOR HER EXPRESSION CHANGE, AND SHE REMAINS STANDING EXACTLY WHERE SHE WAS LAST PANEL WITH THE SAME DEADPAN LOOK UPON HER FACE. ONE OF HER HANDS BEGINS TO REACH CASUALLY OUT TOWARDS THE YARDLEY COSMETICS BEFORE HER.
No Dialogue

PANEL 5
SEEMINGLY SATISFIED THAT SHE IS NOT BEING WATCHED, MONICA RETURNS HER GAZE TO THE JOB IN HAND. WITH ONE HAND SHE IS GATHERING UP ON IMPRESSIVE FIST-FULL OF THE ASSEMBLED EYELINERS AND LIPSTICKS, SO THAT THERE ARE ONLY A FEW LIPSTICKS REMAINING AND NO EYE-LINERS AT ALL. WITH THE OTHER HAND, SHE STARTS TO PULL OPEN HER RAINCOAT, TO FACILITATE TRANSFERRING THE COSMETICS TO AN INSIDE POCKET. SHE IS UTTERLY ENGROSSED IN WHAT SHE IS DOING, AND HER EXPRESSION REMAINS DEADPAN AND PROFESSIONAL. LOOKING PAST MONICA INTO THE MID-GROUND, WE SEE THE FIGURE OF THE RENTBOY, KEVIN SORRY, AS HE ENTERS FROM THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE PANEL JUST AS MONICA DID BACK IN PANEL TWO. ALTHOUGH MONICA HASN’T NOTICED KEVIN’S ARRIVAL, KEVIN HAS NOTICED HER. HIS SHARP AND INTELLIGENT EYES GLANCE ACROSS AT HER TURNED BACK, STUDYING HER SHREWDLY. MAYBE KEVIN WALKS ALONG WITH HIS ARMS FOLDED IN FRONT OF HIM, TAKING SMALL, QUICK STEPS, UNLESS THAT LOOKS WRONG TO YOU, IN WHICH CASE JUST DEPICT HIS GAIT AS WHATEVER SEEMS NATURAL FOR THE CHARACTER TO YOU. HERE, HE JUST GLANCES SHREWDLY ACROSS AT MONICA AS SHE PREPARES TO POCKET THE COSMETICS.
No Dialogue

PANEL 6
SAME SHOT. TOWARDS THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND, ACROSS THE NOW PARTIALLY-DENUDED COUNTER-TOP, WE SEE MONICA. KEEPING HER EYES DOWNCAST AS SHE BECOMES AWARE OF THE PRESENCE STANDING NEXT TO HER. MONICA IS SEEN HERE REMOVING HER NOW-EMPTY HAND FROM INSIDE HER OPEN COAT. THE COSMETICS HAVE VANISHED. KEVIN SORRY HAS BY NOW ALSO CROSSED TO THE COSMETICS COUNTER AND IS STANDING NEXT TO MONICA. OVER TOWARDS THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND. HIS HEAD IS TURNED SLIGHTLY AND HE IS QUITE OPENLY WATCHING MONICA WITH DISAPPROVAL AS SHE REMOVES HER HAND FROM HER COAT. MONICA DOES NOT LOOK AT HIM, AND HER EXPRESSION REMAINS DEADPAN. LOOKING PAST THEM AND INTO THE BACKGROUND WE CAN PERHAPS SEE THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT MANAGER RE-ENTERING THE PICTURE FROM THE RIGHT, HIS ERRAND COMPLETED. THIS IS JUST BACKGROUND DETAIL, HOWEVER, AND SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO DETRACT FROM THE SILENT INTERPLAY BETWEEN MONICA AND KEVIN IN THE FOREGROUND.
No Dialogue

PANEL 7
SAME SHOT. HERE, KEVIN IS NO LONGER LOOKING AT MONICA, ALTHOUGH HE OTHERWISE IS STANDING BY THE COUNTER IN JUST THE SAME POSITION AS HE WAS LAST PANEL. HERE, HE HAS SWITCHED HIS GAZE TO THE EXPENSIVE LOOKING INDIVIDUAL COMPACTS ARRANGED BEFORE HIM ON HIS SIDE OF THE COUNTER. HIS EXPRESSION IS ICY AND DISDAINFUL AND SNOTTY. NEXT TO HIM, ON THE LEFT, MONICA HAS FINISHED POCKETING THE MAKE-UP AND HAS SLOWLY TURNED HER HEAD TO LOOK AT KEVIN, WITHOUT OTHERWISE CHANGING HER POSITION MUCH. AS SHE COLDLY REGARDS THE RENTBOY HER EXPRESSION IS DEADPAN, FILLED WITH NO MORE OR LESS DISDAIN THAN SHE OFFERS THE REST OF THE WORLD, ALTHOUGH THAT’S GENERALLY QUITE SUFFICIENT. SHE LOOKS AT KEVIN HERE, HER FEATURES MASK-LIKE, WHILE HE LOOKS AT THE COMPACTS, PERHAPS ALREADY STARTING TO REACH HIS HAND OUT TOWARDS ONE IN THE CASUAL AND OFF-HAND MANNER OF A CUSTOMER PICKING UP GOODS TO INSPECT THEM BEFORE POSSIBLE PURCHASE. CONTEMPTUOUSLY, HE IGNORES MONICA AS HE SPEAKS.

KEVIN: Tt.
KEVIN: I suppose that was the LAST of the Yardley eye-liner, was it?

PANEL 8
SAME SHOT. NOW MONICA HAS RETURNED HER GAZE TO THE COUNTER TOP BEFORE HER AND IS NO LONGER LOOKING AT KEVIN. SHE RE-BUTTONS THE TOP BUTTON OF HER COAT AS SHE SPEAKS, OTHERWISE IGNORING THE YOUTH BESIDE HER. KEVIN, ON THE OTHER HAND, HAS TURNED HIS HEAD TO GLANCE AT HER WITH SOME SURPRISE, THE HARDNESS AND DISLIKE IN HIS FEATURES MELTING AWAY. ONE OF THE COMPACTS IS NESTLED IN HIS HAND, HALF RAISED FROM THE COUNTER. LOOKING BEYOND THE PAIR, WE CAN PERHAPS SEE THE SMALL FIGURE OF SAMMY PORTUS ENTER THE PANEL FROM ONE SIDE. HE APPEARS TO BE HEADING IN THE GENERAL DIRECTION OF THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT AND DOES NOT SO MUCH AS GLANCE AT THE COUPLE IN THE FOREGROUND, NOT THEY AT HIM.

MONICA: Y’wanna try the end of the counter. They’ve got Charles of The Ritz down there.

PANEL 9
SAME SHOT. HERE, MONICA HAS TURNED AND IS STARTING TO WALK OFF THE LEFT OF THE PANEL, UP IN THE FOREGROUND. PROBABLY HER FACE IS ALREADY OFF PANEL HERE AND WE CAN ONLY SEE HER BACK AS SHE EXITS. KEVIN SORRY, OVER TOWARDS THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND, IS LOOKING AT HER WITH A NEW LOOK OF RESPECT AND GRATITUDE AS SHE LEAVES WITHOUT A BACKWARD GLANCE AT HIM. KEVIN, AS HE SPEAKS TO MONICA, IS SLIPPING THE COMPACT INTO THIS COAT POCKET, APPARENTLY WITHOUT BEING AWARE OF WHAT HE IS DOING..OR AT LEAST, NOT BETRAYING THAT AWARENESS WITH ANY CHANGE OF EXPRESSION. HE SEEMS GENUINELY GRATEFUL TO MONICA FOR THE INFORMATION AND ANXIOUS TO MAKE UP FOR HIS EARLIER COLDNESS.

KEVIN: Ooh, well, thanks very much. I’ll try down there, then.
KEVIN: Thanks again.
MONICA: You’re welcome.

PANEL 10
SAME SHOT. ONLY HERE MONICA IS COMPLETELY OFF PANEL AND OUT OF SIGHT. KEVIN, STILL STANDING TOWARDS THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND BUT TURNED SO AS TO FACE AFTER THE DEPARTED MONICA, STILL HAS THE SAME CHIRPY AND GRATEFUL EXPRESSION ON HIS FACE AS HE RAISES ONE HAND TO HIS MOUTH IN A PARTIAL-MEGAPHONE EFFECT, CALLING OUT LIGHTLY AFTER MONICA AS SHE EXITS. LOOKING BEYOND HIM AND INTO THE BACKGROUND WE CAN SE THAT SAMMY PORTUS HAS WALKED OVER TO THE COMPUTER COUNTER. THE MANAGER, TURNED AWAY FROM THE COUNTER TO DO SOMETHING BEHIND IT, ISN’T PAYING SAMMY ANY ATTENTION, JUST AS SAMMY ISN’T PAYING ANY ATTENTION TO KEVIN, OVER IN THE FOREGROUND.

KEVIN: Have a look in Dorothy PERKINS. They’ve got some GORGEOUS blouses,
           and the store detective’s near-sighted.

PANEL 11
SAME SHOT. HERE, KEVIN EXITS OFF THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND SO THAT WE CAN ONLY SEE THE BACK OF HIM HERE AS HE WALKS OFF PANEL. THE COUNTER, IN THE FOREGROUND, SEEMS TO HAVE MUCH LESS STUFF ON IT THAN IT DID WHEN WE SAW IT IN IT’S VIRGIN STATE BACK IN PANEL ONE. AS KEVIN WALKS OFF IN THE FOREGROUND WE LOOK ACROSS THE AISLE TOWARDS THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT, WHEN WE SEE SAMMY STILL WAITING PATIENTLY FOR THE DEPARTMENT MANAGER..A MAN IN HIS MIDDLE FORTIES, INCIDENTALLY, TO LOOK UP FROM WHATEVER HE IS DOING. OTHERWISE, THE MAIN FOCUS OF OUR ATTENTION IS STILL KEVIN AS HE WALKS OFF PANEL IN THE FOREGROUND.
No Dialogue

PANEL 12
SAME SHOT, BUT NOW THERE IS NOBODY IN THE FOREGROUND. KEVIN AND MONICA HAVE BOTH GONE THEIR SEPARATE WAYS AND LEFT ONLY THE PARTIALLY STRIPPED MAKE-UP COUNTER GLINTING PLAINTIVELY IN THE FOREGROUND. LOOKING BEYOND THIS AND ACROSS THE AISLE WE SEE SAMMY PORTUS JUST STANDING CALMLY BY THE COMPUTER COUNTER AND WAITING. I SHOULD HAVE MENTIONED THIS BEFORE, BUT SAMMY IS DRESSED HERE IN THE FAIRLY WILD AND LOOSE ACID HOUSE GEAR THAT HE WEARS ON SATURDAYS RATHER THAN IN THE SCHOOL UNIFORM HE WEARS DURING THE REST OF THE WEEK. THIS CONSISTS OF LONG, BRIGHT PSYCHEDELIC SHORTS AND A SORT OF LOOSE, HOODED TOP WITH ETHNIC/PAISLEY/MAYAN/PSYCHEDELIC PATTERNS ALL OVER IT. ON HIS FEET HE WEARS BRIGHT SNEAKERS. I SHOULD ALSO HAVE MENTIONED THAT BENEATH HIS ARM HE IS CARRYING THE BIZARRE, DECORATED SKATEBOARD THAT WE’VE SEEN HIM WITH PREVIOUSLY. AS HE WAITS BY THE COMPUTER COUNTER HE IS GAZING COOLEY AT THE MANAGER, WEIGHING HIM UP EXPRESSIONLESSLY. FINALLY THE MANAGER LOOKS UP FROM WHATEVER PETTY TASK HE’S BEEN ENGAGED IN BEHIND THE COUNTER AND GIVES SAMMY A CONDESCENDING SMILE. WE MAY WELL SEE THIS MANAGER AGAIN. ALTHOUGH HE ISN’T A FEATURED PLAYER IN THE WAY THAT OUR OTHER CHARACTERS ARE. AS I SEE HIM, HE’S IN HIS MID FORTIES, PERHAPS SLIGHTLY BALDING AT THE FRONT, AND IS PROBABLY QUITE A BIG, SOLID, RED FACED KIND OF GUY WHO WILL SUCCUMB TO HEART DISEASE IN HIS MIDDLE FIFTIES. HERE, DRESSED FOR WORK, HE WEARS A SOBER AND DARK TIE AGAINST HIS PLAIN WHITE SHIRT, THE CUFFS OF WHICH ARE ROLLED UP TO THE ELBOWS IN A BUSINESS-LIKE AND HARD WORKING FASHION. LOOKING UP HE GIVES SAMMY A GRUFF, BARELY-PATIENT LOOK.

MANAGER: Yes, son, what can I do you for?


PAGE 5

PANEL 1
OKAY, NOW THERE ARE TWELVE PANELS ON THIS PAGE, WITH THIS FIRST TIER BEING A CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND SHOT. I SHOULD POINT OUT BEFORE WE GET TOO FAR IN THAT THIS PAGE REQUIRES SOME TECHNICAL INFORMATION AND POSSIBLY SOME VISUAL REFERENCE THAT WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL I CAN CONTACT THE GUY I KNOW WHO WORKS IN A COMPUTER SHOP. WHAT I’VE DONE, THEREFORE, IS TO MAP OUT WHAT THE PANELS WILL LOOK LIKE GENERALLY, LEAVING THE FEW FINE VISUAL DETAILS UNTIL WE CAN GET THE PROPER INFORMATION. THE RELEVANT DIALOGUE I’VE LEFT BLANK, BUT I’LL INCLUDE PROVISIONAL DIALOGUE IN WITH THE PANEL DESCRIPTIONS SO THAT YOU AT LEAST KNOW ROUGHLY WHAT THE CHARACTERS ARE SAYING AND SO THAT YOU CAN GIVE THEM APPROPRIATE FACIAL EXPRESSIONS. OKAY THEN..IN THIS FIRS TIER WE HAVE CLOSED IN UPON THE COUNTER OF THE COMPUTER DEPARTMENT THAT WE SAW A LITTLE OF IN THE BACKGROUND ON OUR LAST PAGE. THE COUNTER HERE RUNS FROM LEFT TO RIGHT FOR ALMOST THE FULL WIDTH OF THIS CONTINUOUS-BACKGROUND TIER, WITH THE LEFT-MOST END OF IT OVER IN PANEL ONE AND THE RIGHT-MOST END OVER IN PANEL FOUR. WE SEE THE GLASS COUNTER/DISPLAY-CASE WITH VARIOUS SMALL COMPUTER-RELATED GOODS DISPLAYED INSIDE IT. BEHIND THE COUNTER THERE ARE SHELVES UPON WHICH STAND VARIOUS LARGER PIECES OF COMPUTER HARDWARE, EITHER IN THEIR LABELED CARDBOARD BOXES OR UNPACKED FOR DISPLAY PURPOSES…PROBABLY A MIXTURE OF BOTH WOULD BE MOST REALISTIC. OVER IN THIS FIRST PANEL, STANDING IN THE FOREGROUND BETWEEN US AND THE GLASS COUNTER WE SEE SAMMY. HE STANDS THERE IN HIS EYE-BRUISING GARB, LOOKING TOTALLY COOL AND RELAXED AND DIGNIFIED WITH HIS SKATEBOARD BENEATH HIS ARM. HE IS FACING SLIGHTLY AWAY FROM US SO THAT WE SEE HIM ROUGHLY HALF-PROFILE AS HE GAZES TOWARDS THE MANAGER WHO WE SEE BEHIND THE COUNTER. THE MANAGER, BULKY AND FLORID IN HIS SHIRT-SLEEVES, IS NOT LOOKING AT SAMMY AS THE BOY SPEAKS, BUT IS CONCENTRATING UPON PICKING UP A LARGE AND HI-TECH PIECE OF COMPUTER HARDWARE (THIS IS WHERE THE VAGUENESS COMES IN, AS I DON’T YET KNOW WHICH PIECE OF COMPUTER HARDWARE THE MANAGER IS PICKING UP) FROM THE SHELVES IMMEDIATELY BEHIND HIM. HE GRUNTS A LITTLE WITH THE EXERTION AND GENERALLY LOOKS SORT OF BAD TEMPERED AND HARASSED, AS IF THERE ARE THINGS HE’D MUCH RATHER BE DOING ON A SATURDAY MORNING THAN HUMPING BITS OF COMPUTERS ABOUT. SAMMY SEEMS TOTALLY UNRUFFLED BY THE MAN’S DEMEANOR.

SAMMY: Well, it’s more what I can do for YOU.
SAMMY: I wondered if you had any Saturday jobs going?

PANEL 2
NOW WE PAN ACROSS OUR CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, FOLLOWING THE MANAGER AS HE RUDELY TURNS HIS BACK UPON THE MOTIONLESS SAMMY, AND STARTS TO CARRY THE PIECE OF COMPUTER HARDWARE ALONG FROM LEFT TO RIGHT BEHIND THE COUNTER TOWARDS THE OTHER END, OVER IN PANEL FOUR. SAMMY, WHO REMAINS STATIONARY BACK IN PANEL ONE, IS NOT VISIBLE HERE. ALL WE SEE HERE IS THE GLASS COUNTER-CUM-SHOWCASE UP TOWARDS THE FOREGROUND AND THEN THE MANAGER IN PROFILE BEHIND IT AS HE WALKS FROM LEFT TO RIGHT ACROSS THE TIER, AWKWARDLY HOLDING THE BULKY PIECE OF HARDWARE IN FRONT OF HIM AS HE DOES SO. HIS FACE ASSUMES A SORT OF SNOTTY AND INDIFFERENT LOOK..THE EYELIDS ARE LOWERED CONDESCENDINGLY, THE NOSE IS TILTED UPWARDS DISMISSIVELY AND THE LIPS HAVE A SLIGHTLY PURSED AND SNOBBISH LOOK TO THEM AS THEY FORM AROUND THE WORDS THAT THE MANAGER IS SAYING. HE SPEAKS WITHOUT SPARING SAMMY A BACKWARD GLANCE, CARRYING ON WITH HIS WORK HUMPING THE COMPUTER PARTS AROUND.

MANAGER: Job? What ARE you, thirteen? Fourteen?
MANAGER: Nah. I need somebody older, who could pull their weight.

PANEL 3
WE CONTINUE TO TRACK ACROSS NOW, FOLLOWING THE MANAGER AS HE PROGRESSES FROM LEFT TO RIGHT ACROSS OUR CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND, STILL WITH THE GLINTING GLASS COUNTER BETWEEN HIM AND US. HE STILL DOES NOT LOOK BACK AT SAMMY AS HE TRUDGES ALONG BEHIND THE COUNTER, CARRYING HIS CHUNK OF HARDWARE, WHICH HE SEEMS TO BE ABOUT TO PUT DOWN UPON A SECTION OF GLASS COUNTER OVER TOWARDS THE RIGHT OF THE PAGE IN PANEL FOUR. HIS FACE STILL WEARS THE SAME DISMISSIVE EXPRESSION, COLOURED BY HIS GENERAL LOOK OF OVER-WORKED HARASSMENT.

MANAGER: Besides, I can’t waste time training somebody up.
MANAGER: I need somebody who could SAVE me time.

PANEL 4
WE COMPLETE OUR PAN ACROSS NOW, AND SHOW THE MANAGER STANDING STILL AT THE RIGHT MOST END OF THE COUNTER AS HE ATTEMPTS TO CONNECT THE PIECE OF HARDWARE THAT HE HAS BEEN CARRYING WITH ANOTHER PIECE OF HARDWARE THAT IS ALREADY SITUATED AT THE COUNTER’S RIGHT-MOST END. LIKE I SAY, I DON’T KNOW WHAT PIECE HE’S CONNECTING TO WHAT, OR HOW HE’S CONNECTING IT, BUT WHATEVER HE’S DOING HIS BASIC POSTURE AND EXPRESSION HERE IS THE SAME: AS HE FUMBLES CLUMSILY WITH THE CONNECTION OF THE TWO PIECES OF HARDWARE HE SORT OF FREEZES, PAUSING SIGNIFICANTLY IN THE MIDST OF WHAT HE IS DOING AS HE HEARS SAMMY SPEAK FROM OFF PANEL TO THE LEFT BEHIND HIM. HIS EYES WIDEN SLIGHTLY IN AFFRONT AND SURPRISE AND HE SEEMS TO SWIVEL THEM BACK AS IF IN A FUTILE ATTEMPT TO GLANCE BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER AT THE SOURCE OF THE SUDDEN VOICE FROM BEHIND HIM. SAMMY’S BALLOON ISSUES FROM OFF PANEL LEFT, WITH SAMMY HIMSELF NOT VISIBLE.

SAMMY (OFF, LEFT): You’re setting that up wrong.

PANEL 5
THIS SECOND TIER HAS FOUR SEPARATE PANELS THAT ARE ALL SHOT FROM THE SAME ANGLE: WE ARE NOW DOWN AT THE MANAGER’S END OF THE COUNTER, BEHIND THE COUNTER WITH HIM AND LOOKING ACROSS AND ALONG THE LENGTH OF THE COUNTER TOWARDS SAMMY, AS HE STANDS OVER THE SIDE OF THE COUNTER AT THE END FURTHEST AWAY FROM US. UP TO THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND WE SEE THE MOTIONLESS BULK OF THE MANAGER (OR AT LEAST PART OF IT) AS HE TURNS TO LOOK INCREDULOUSLY AT SAMMY, WHO IS OVER TOWARDS THE LEFT OF THE NEAR BACKGROUND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTER’S FAR END. TO THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND, RESTING ON THE GLASS COUNTER-TO BEFORE THE MANAGER WE SEE AT LEAST PART OF THE TWO COMPUTER UNITS THAT HE IS TRYING TO CONNECT TOGETHER. LOOKING BEYOND THIS, AS WE SEE SAMMY HERE HE IS LOOKING TOWARDS US, STILL WITH THE SAME COOL AND DIGNIFIED EXPRESSION DESPITE HIS RIOTOUS CLOTHING. HE IS JUST PROPPING HIS SKATEBOARD AGAINST THE COUNTER HERE, PREPARING TO COME DOWN TO OUR END OF THE COUNTER AND SHOW THE MANAGER HOW TO FIT HIS COMPUTER UNITS TOGETHER. UP IN THE FOREGROUND WE NEED ONLY SEE A LITTLE OF THE MANAGER AS HE FACES ROUGHLY AWAY FROM US..JUST HIS SHOULDER OR A LITTLE OF THE BACK OF HIS HEAD OR SOMETHING. HE DOES NOT MOVE THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE FOUR PANEL SEQUENCE, AND OUR ATTENTION MOVES PAST HIM TO THE MOVING FIGURE OF SAMMY, FURTHER INTO THE PANEL. I’VE LEFT SAMMY’S BALLOONS BLANK BELOW, BUT A ROUGH APPROXIMATION OF WHAT HE IS SAYING COULD BE CONTAINED IN TWO SPEECH BALLOONS, THE FIRST READING “EASY MISTAKE TO MAKE. THAT’S THE AMSTRAD 1512, ISN’T IT? ONLY OUT A COUPLE OF WEEKS?” AND THEN A SMALLER SECOND BALLOON LINKED TO THE FIRST THAT READS “FUNNY MODEL.” THIS IS APPROXIMATELY WHAT SAMMY IS SAYING AS HE PROPS HIS SKATEBOARD UP AGAINST HIS SIDE OF THE GLASS COUNTER, LOOKING TOWARDS US AND THE HARDWARE THAT RESTS ON THE COUNTER IN THE FOREGROUND AS HE DOES SO.

SAMMY:
SAMMY:

PANEL 6
SAME SHOT AS PANEL FIVE, BUT NOW SAMMY HAS STARTED TO WALK DOWN THE LENGTH OF THE COUNTER TOWARDS US, LEAVING THE SKATEBOARD PROPPED UP AGAINST THE FAR END WHERE WE SAW HIM PROP IT LAST PANEL. AS HE WALKS TOWARDS US HE REMAINS CALM AND WITHOUT A TRACE OF ARROGANCE. WITH ONE FINGER HE POINTS TOWARDS A CONNECTING POINT UPON ONE SIDE OF ONE OF THE COMPONENTS AND SAYS SOMETHING ALONG THE FOLLOWING LINES: “Y’SEE, WITH THESE, THE CONNECTION FOR THE MODEM IS OVER THERE, NEAR THE MOUSE.” I KNOW THIS IS GIBBERISH, BUT I’LL BE ABLE TO REPLACE IT WITH MORE ACCURATE AND AUTHENTIC COMPUTER REFERENCES ONE I’VE TALKED TO THE NECESSARY PEOPLE. THE ABOVE SHOULD GIVE YOU THE ROUGH FLAVOUR OF THE EXCHANGE THOUGH, AT LEAST FOR THE MOMENT. AS SAMMY COMES TOWARDS US, THE BULK OF THE MANGER, PARTLY VISIBLE TO THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND, DOES NOT MOVE AT ALL. NOR DO THE COMPUTER PARTS THAT SAMMY IS POINTING AT, RESTING ON THE COUNTER-TOP TO THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND IN FRONT OF THE MANAGER.

SAMMY:

PANEL 7
SAME SHOT, WITH THE MANAGER AND THE COMPUTER PARTS STILL UNMOVED UP IN THE FOREGROUND. FROM THE BACKGROUND SAMMY HAS WALKED RIGHT UP CLOSE TO US SO THAT HE’S NOW ONLY ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COUNTER. WITHOUT ASKING FOR PERMISSION HE REACHES OUT AND STARTS TO CONNECT UP THE TWO PIECES OF HARDWARE IN A DIFFERENT WAY TO THAT ATTEMPTED BY THE LESS-ADEPT MANAGER. AS HE DOES THIS HE REMAINS TOTALLY COOL AND COMPOSED, AND DOES NOT GIVE THE IMPRESSION OF BRAGGING OR SHOWING OFF. HIS DELIVERY IS VERY PLEASANT, INFORMATIVE AND MATTER OF FACT. THE MANAGER JUST STANDS MOTIONLESS, WATCHING HIM, AND MAKING NO MOVE TO INTERFERE. SAMMY HAS TWO BALLOONS IN THIS PANEL, WITH THE FIRST READING SOMETHING AS FOLLOWS: “IT’S TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE SECOND DRIVE, WHICH IS A NEW FEATURE.” THE SECOND BALLOON READS “YOU JUST CONNECT IT LIKE THIS…AND LIKE THIS…” HE IS LOOKING DOWN AT WHAT HIS HANDS ARE DOING AS HE SPEAKS, RATHER THAN UP AT THE MANAGER.

SAMMY:
SAMMY:

PANEL 8
SAME SHOT. IN THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND THE MANAGER’S PARTLY VISIBLE FORM HAS NOT MOVES, STILL FACING MOSTLY AWAY FROM US AND ACROSS THE COUNTER AT SAMMY. UPON THE COUNTER TOP TO THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND, THE TWO PIECES OF HARDWARE ARE NOW CORRECTLY AND EFFICIENTLY FASTENED TOGETHER. LOOKING BEYOND THIS WE SEE SAMMY. HAVING FINISHED CONNECTING THE PIECES OF HARDWARE HE LOOKS UP AT THE MANAGER AND SMILES WARMLY, GESTURING TO THE CONNECTED COMPUTER COMPONENTS AS HE DOES SO. THE MANAGER DOESN’T MOVE OR RESPOND IN ANY WAY.

SAMMY: There.

PANEL 9
NOW WE CHANGE ANGLES, SO THAT WE ARE OVER ON SAMMY’S SIDE OF THE COUNTER NOW. WE SEE PART OF SAMMY OVER TO THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND AS HE STANDS THERE FROM BEFORE THE COUNTER. I FIGURE WE ONLY SEE A LITTLE OF HIS MID SECTION, AS IF WE WERE LOOKING UP PAST HIM SLIGHTLY FROM A SLIGHTLY DEPRESSED ANGLE. WE CERTAINLY CAN’T SEE HIS HEAD OR SHOULDERS HERE. OUR ATTENTION IS FIXED UPON THE BULKY MANAGER AS HE LEANS UPON HIS COUNTER TOP WITH THE SUCCESSFULLY CONNECTED COMPUTER PARTS BEFORE HIM. MAYBE HE LEANS ON THE COUNTER WITH HIS BEEFY ARMS FOLDED, AND HIS EXPRESSION IS SET INTO A BELLIGERENT SCOWL OR GLARE OF RESENTMENT AS HE STARES ACROSS THE COUNTER TO THE POINT OFF PANEL ABOVE WHERE SAMMY’S HEAD AND SHOULDERS ARE PRESUMABLY SITUATED. HE DOESN’T LOOK AT ALL PLEASED WITH SAMMY’S PERFORMANCE. NEITHER HE NOR THE PARTLY VISIBLE SAMMY IN THE FOREGROUND MOVE EVEN SLIGHTLY. NOBODY SAYS ANYTHING.
No Dialogue

PANEL 10
SAME SHOT EXACTLY AS PANEL NINE: NOTHING HAS MOVED. SAMMY IS STILL PARTLY VISIBLE UP TO THE LEFT OF THE FOREGROUND AND WE ARE STILL LOOKING PAST HIM AT THE MANAGER AS HE GLOWERS AT US ACROSS HIS COUNTER TOP, HIS BURLY ARMS FOLDED RESENTFULLY AND HIS FACE SET INTO A SCOWL. THE ONLY SLIGHT DIFFERENCE HERE IS THAT THE MANAGER’S SCOWLING AND RESENTFUL MOUTH IS HERE OPEN SLIGHTLY AS HE SPEAKS. OTHER THAN THIS NEITHER HE NOR SAMMY MOVE A MUSCLE.

MANAGER: You can start next Saturday.
MANAGER: Only for Christ’s sake smarten yourself up!

PANEL 11
SAME SHOT, WITH SAMMY REMAINING MOTIONLESS IN THE FOREGROUND. THE MANAGER, VISIBLE ACROSS THE COUNTER TOP, HAS MOVED ONLY SLIGHTLY: HE IS NOW LOOKING DOWN WITH A WARY AND SUSPICIOUS SCOWL AT THE LINKED PIECES OF HARDWARE IN FRONT OF HIM, PRODDING AND POKING AT THE CONNECTIONS PERHAPS TO SEE IF THEY’RE LOOSE OR PERHAPS TO WORK OUT HOW SAMMY DID THEM. HE IS GLARING AT THE MACHINERY RATHER THAN AT SAMMY AS HE SPEAKS, LOOKING GRUDGING AND SURLY. SAMMY DOESN’T MOVE OR SPEAK.

MANAGER: And think yourself LUCKY. It’s only because we’ll need staff for that American shopping centre.
MANAGER: We’re opening a branch there.

PANEL 12
NOW ALL WE HAVE IS A HEAD AND SHOULDERS CLOSE UP OF SAMMY AS HE REPLIES TO THE MANAGER. HIS FACE IS UTTERLY DEADPAN AND EXPRESSIONLESS…SO MUCH SO, IN FACT, THAT THE READER WILL KNOW THAT SAMMY IS LYING. HIS EYES HAVE A SORT OF LIDDED AND SECRETIVE AND SHREWD LOOK IN THEM AS HE REPLIES TO THE OFF PANEL MANAGER.

SAMMY: Really?
SAMMY: I had no idea.

PAGE 6

PANEL 1
THERE ARE NINE PANELS ON THIS PAGE, AND THIS FIRST ONE IS A BIG WIDE ONE THAT RUNS THE FULL WIDTH OF THE UPPER TIER. WHAT WE SEE IS A GLORIOUSLY HAPPY AND EXHILARATED SHOT OF SAMMY AS HE SKATES HOME DOWN THE ROLLING, SLOPING PATH THAT RUNS THROUGH THE PARK. STANDING UPON HIS MOVING BOARD HE LOOKS HAPPY AND GRACEFUL, ARMS SPREAD OUT FOR BALANCE AND A BIG WIDE GRIN ON HIS FACE. HE’S ALMOST DANCING WITH DELIGHT UPON HIS BOARD AS IT MOVES. LOOKING BEYOND HIM AND UP THE PATH A LITTLE WE CAN SEE THAT HE HAS JUST PASSED BETWEEN A COUPLE OF VAGUELY SURPRISED AND STARTLED-LOOKING PENSIONERS WHO LOOK AROUND AT US AND AT SAMMY AS HE ZIPS BY THEM. UPON THEIR FACES THERE ARE STILL VAGUE EXPRESSIONS OF MILD ALARM, BUT SAMMY DOESN’T APPEAR TO PAY THEM ANY ATTENTION, WRAPPED UP IN HIS OWN WORLD OF SPEED AND EXUBERANCE. AROUND THE PATHWAY THAT RUNS FROM BACKGROUND TO FOREGROUND THE PARK STRETCHES AWAY TO EITHER SIDE WITH ITS ROLLING AREAS OF GRASS AND ITS ELDERLY ROWS OF TREES GATHERED ABOUT THE PARK’S EDGES.
No Dialogue

PANEL 2
THIS SECOND TIER IS A CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND SHOT DIVIDED UP INTO FOUR PANELS. WE CUT TO THE INTERIOR OF SAMMY AND HEALDIE’S HOUSE NOW, TO SHOW SAMMY AS HE ARRIVES HOME WITH HIS SKATEBOARD NOW TUCKED BENEATH HIS ARM. TAKEN AS A WHOLE, THIS CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND TIER SHOWS US A WIDE-ANGLE VIEW OF THE PORTUS FAMILY LIVING ROOM, WITH SAMMY JUST BURSTING THROUGH THE DOOR OVER ON THE LEFT IN THIS FIRST PANEL OF THE TIER. AS HE BARGES INTO THE ROOM SAMMY LOOKS HAPPY AND UNCHARACTERISTICALLY EXCITED, HIS BRIGHT SKATEBOARD TUCKED BENEATH HIS ARM. THE ROOM, AS USUAL, IS FAIRLY DARK AND GLOOMY, TO FIT THE MOOD OF SAMMY’S FATHER, WHO WE CAN’T SEE IN THIS PANEL. SAMMY IS ADDRESSING HIS COMMENTS TO A POINT OVER IN PANEL FIVE, AT THE OTHER END OF THE TIER, WHERE HEALDIE IS SITUATED.

SAMMY: Dad? Hey, guess what?
SAMMY: I got a Saturday job, in Berringham’s computer department.

PANEL 3
TRACKING ACROSS NOW, WE FOLLOW SAMMY AS HE TAKES A COUPLE OF PACES INTO THE ROOM, BOARD STILL BENEATH HIS ARM, AND THEN STOPS IN HIS TRACKS. THE HAPPY AND EXUBERATE LOOK FADES FROM HIS FACE AS HE REALIZES THAT THERE IS SOMETHING UPSETTING HIS FATHER, WHO IS STILL OFF PANEL RIGHT AND NOT VISIBLE HERE. HEALDIE’S BALLOON ISSUES INTO THE PANEL FROM OFF-PIC ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE.

SAMMY: They’re opening a new premises soon, at the..
SAMMY: What’s the matter?
HEALDIE (OFF): Aa, it’s just dis letter a got…

PANEL 4
WE TRACK ACROSS STILL FURTHER TOWARDS THE RIGHT AS SAMMY TAKES A COUPLE MORE UNCERTAIN STEPS, FURTHER INTO THE ROOM. AS WE SEE HIM HEAR HE IS JUST PROPPING HIS SKATEBOARD UP AGAINST THE WALL OR THE TABLE OR SOMETHING. AS HE DOES SO HE IS LOOKING ROUND TOWARDS THE FOREGROUND, WHERE WE SEE ONE OF HEALDIE’S BIG BLACK HANDS REACHING INTO VIEW FROM OFF PANEL RIGHT, HOLDING A SHEET OF COUNCIL-HEADED PAPER UPON WHICH A LETTER APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN NEATLY TYPED. AS SAMMY PROPS UP HIS BOARD HE LOOKS ROUND IN PUZZLEMENT AT WHAT HEALDIE IS HOLDING, UNCERTAIN WHY IT SHOULD UPSET HIS FATHER SO. HEALDIE’S BALLOON STILL ISSUES FROM OFF PANEL RIGHT.

HEALDIE (OFF, RIGHT): De Social Services, dey found me a new social worker.
                                   Dey comin’ here in t’ree weeks time..

PANEL 5
COMPLETING OUR PAN ACROSS, WE FINALLY COME TO REST ON HEALDIE AS HE SITS THERE MOTIONLESS AND DEPRESSED IN HIS BAGGY ARMCHAIR. I KNOW HEALDIE ALWAYS LOOKS DEPRESSED WHEN WE SEE HIM, BUT HERE HE LOOKS ANXIOUS AS WELL, ALMOST SWEATING WITH WORRY AT THE PROSPECT THE LETTER HAS ALERTED HIM TO. FRANKLY, AS HE SPEAKS TO HIS OFF PANEL SON, HE LOOKS SCARED SHITLESS. SAMMY IS NOT VISIBLE HERE, BEING OFF PANEL TO THE LEFT OVER IN PANEL FOUR. THIS IS WHERE HEALDIE’S GAZE AND DIALOGUE ARE DIRECTED AS HE SPEAKS.

HEALDIE: It’s a woman.

PANEL 6
THIS NEXT FOUR PANEL SEQUENCE IS SORT OF A GRADUAL CLOSE-IN UPON SAMMY. IN THIS FIRST PANEL WE SEE BOTH HEALDIE AND SAMMY. HEALDIE, RISING AGITATEDLY FROM HIS CHAIR, IS SLIGHTLY CLOSER TO US HERE THAN SAMMY, WHO WE SEE FULL FIGURE IN THE NEAR BACKGROUND, STARING WITH A SYMPATHETIC GAZE AT HIS FATHER. HEALDIE, RISING FROM HIS CHAIR, IS STILL CLUTCHING THE ACCURSED LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL SERVICES IN HIS SUDDENLY-CLAMMY HAND, AND HIS EYES ARE STARTING OT TAKE ON A WILD, TRAPPED, FRIGHTENED LOOK. HE LOKS NEAR TO TEARS, BARELY ABLE TO LOOK AT SAMMY AS HE SPEAKS AND TALKING DOWN AT THE FLOOR INSTEAD. SAMMY WATCHES HIS FATHER, PITYINGLY AND WITH REAL CONCERN.

HEALDIE: Aa, Sammy, I don’t know what am gonna do.
HEALDIE: A can’t talk to no woman; A get meself embarrassed..

PANEL 7
NOW WE START TO CLOSE IN UPON THE PAIR, SO THAT HEALDIE IS ABOUT HALF FIGURE IN THE FOREGROUND AND SO THAT SAMMY IS ABOUT THREE QUARTER FIGURE IN THE BACK GROUND AS HE STANDS THERE STARTING SYMPATHETICALLY TOWARDS BOTH US AND HIS FATHER. HEALDIE, NEARER TO US, HAS TURNED AWAY FROM SAMMY AS HE BEGINS TO PACE UP AND DOWN, WAVING THE LETTER IN HIS HAND AGITATEDLY TO UNDERLINE THE POINT HE IS INARTICULATELY TRYING TO MAKE. SAMMY JUST LOOKS ON FROM THE BACKGROUND, FULL OF SYMPATHY AND UNDERSTANDING FOR HIS FATHER’S CONDITION.

HEALDIE: It’s like, since y’Mam passed away…
HEALDIE (SEPARATE BALLOON): A mean, LOOK at de place! A can’t ‘ave nobody ‘ere…

PANEL 8
CLOSE IN STILL FURTHER, SO THAT NOW ALL WE CAN SEE OF HEALDIE IS ONE OF HIS HANDS ENTERING THE PANEL FROM THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND, STILL WAVING THE LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL SERVICES. HIS BALLOONS ISSUE FROM OFF PANEL RIGHT. LOOKING PAS HIS HAND AND THE WAVING PIECE OF PAPER WE SEE SAMMY AS HE STAND THERE, HIS EYES FULL OF SYMPATHY BUT HIS FACE OTHERWISE EXPRESSIONLESS. WE HAVE CLOSED IN UPON SAMMY SO THAT HE IS ROUGHLY HALF FIGURE HERE. HE STANDS WITH HIS EYES FIXED UPON THE PIECE OF PAPER THAT HIS FATHER IS WAVING IN THE FOREGROUND.

HEALDIE (OFF, RIGHT): A don’t WANT nobody ‘ere! Nobody but y’Mam, an’ she’s...
HEALDIE (OFF, RIGHT): Aa, a wish a’d not opened dis bloody t’ing.

PANEL 9
IN THIS LAST PANEL WE HAVE CLOSED RIGHT PAST HEALDIE’S OUTSTRETCHED HAND AT THE PIECE OF PAPER TO COME TO REST UPON SAMMY IN A HEAD AND SHOULDERS SHOT AS HE STANDS FACING US, GAZING AT HIS OFF PANEL FATHER. ALTHOUGH THERE IS SYMPATHY AND CONCERN IN HIS EYES HIS FACE IS OTHERWISE CALM AND EXPRESSIONLESS AS HE SPEAKS.

SAMMY: Dad?
SAMMY: Did you ever hear of the second-and-a-half dimension?

PAGE 7

PANEL 1
THIS PAGE ALSO HAS NINE PANELS, AGAIN WITH A BIG WIDE ONE TAKING UP THE TOP TIER AND THEN FOUR PANELS ON EACH OF THE TWO TIERS BENEATH THAT. IN THIS FIRST WIDE PANEL WE HAVE A FAIRLY SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD SHOT OF HEALDIE AND SAMMY, WITH A WIDE-ANGLE VIEW OF THEIR GLOOMY FRONT ROOM STRETCHING OUT AROUND THEM IN THE BACKGROUND. HEALDIE, MORE TO THE LEFT HERE AND FACING RIGHT, IS HOLDING UP ONE HAND IN PROTEST AND FROWNING IN CONSTERNATION. IN THE OTHER HAND, HE STILL HOLDS THE LETTER. SAMMY HAS ALSO TAKEN HOLD OF THIS LETTER AND IS ATTEMPTING, NOT WITHOUT SUCCESS, TO WREST IT FROM HIS FATHER. WITH THE HAND THAT ISN’T HOLDING THE LETTER, SAMMY IS GENTLY PRYING HIS FATHER’S FINGERS LOOSE FROM THEIR GRIP UPON THE PAGE. SAMMY IS SMILING QUIETLY AND REASSURINGLY AS HE DOES THIS, EFFORTLESSLY DEFLECTING HIS FATHER’S PROTESTS WITH SHEER CHARM.

HEALDIE: Aa, c’mon, you know am not up to your mathematics an’ your figurin’. A got too much to t’ink about at de moment…
SAMMY: Aah, come on, it’s EASY.
SAMMY: Look, gimme that letter and I’ll send it into the second-and-a-half dimension for you.

PANEL 2
THIS SECOND TIER HAS FOUR PANELS THAT ALL HAVE THE SAME COMPOSITION AND ARE SHOT FROM THE SAME ANGLE. WHAT WE SEE, BASICALLY, IS A HALF TO THREE QUARTER FIGURE SHOT OF SAMMY AND HEALDIE, WITH HEALDIE SLIGHTLY CLOSER TO US AND MORE TOWARDS THE LEFT OF THE PANEL, FACING SLIGHTLY AWAY FROM US AT ANGLE TOWARDS SAMMY, WHO IS JUST SLIGHTLY FURTHER AWAY AND FACING US FROM OVER TO THE RIGHT OF THE PANEL. HERE, WITH THE CALM AND PROFESSIONAL EXPRESSION OF A STAGE CONJURER, SAMMY HOLDS UP THE FLAT SHEET OF PAPER FOR HIS FATHER’S INSPECTION, HOLDING IT BY BOTH EDGES AS IF TO DEMONSTRATE ITS PERFECT FLATNESS. HEALDIE JUST STARES DOWN AT THE PAPER WITH AN ALMOST COMICAL LOOK OF BLANK INCOMPREHENSION UPON HIS FEATURES. HE DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL SAMMY IS TALKING ABOUT, BUT THE VERY STRANGENESS OF SAMMY’S STATEMENT SEEMS TO HAVE TAKEN HEALDIE’S MIND OFF THE IMPENDING VISIT FROM A WOMAN SOCIAL WORKER THAT HE WAS SO ALARMED ABOUT A FEW PANELS AGO. SAMMY, COOL AND UNRUFFLED, LAUNCHES INTO HIS FRACTAL SPIEL.

SAMMY: Now, this sheet of paper’s got LENGTH and WIDTH, but no THICKNESS. So we say it’s TWO DIMENSIONAL, right?

PANEL 3
SAME SHOT. NOW, STILL WITH THE SAME CALM AND UNRUFFLED EXPRESSION, SAMMY STARTS TO CRUMPLE THE PRISTINE SHEET OF PAPER UP INTO A BALL. HEALDIE WATCHES HIM DO THIS, STILL WITH THE SAME LOOK OF ABSOLUTE BLANK BEWILDERMENT UPON HIS FEATURES. I FIGURE HEALDIE REMAINS MORE OR LESS MOTIONLESS THROUGHOUT THIS FOUR PANEL SEQUENCE, WITH SAMMY AS THE ONLY MOVING ELEMENT AS HE STANDS THERE DEMONSTRATING FRACTAL MATHEMATICS WITH A SHEET OF PAPER ON WHICH IS INSCRIBED A LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL SERVICES.

SAMMY: But a BALL, on the other hand, that’s got THREE dimensions.
SAMMY: So, if we take our paper and we do THIS…

PANEL 4
HEALDIE STILL STAND STARING BLANKLY AT WHAT SAMMY IS DOING. SAMY NOW STANDS WITH ONE HAND RAISED IN FRONT OF HIM, THE PALM UPWARDS. RESTING IN SAMMY’S PALM IS THE CRUMPLED BALL THAT IS ALL THAT REAMAINS OF THE SOCIAL SERVICE’S LETTER TO HEALDIE. SAMMY LOOKS AT THE BALL IN HIS PALM WITH INTEREST AND SATISFACTION. HEALDIE LOOKS AT IT WITH INCOMPREHENSION.

SAMMY: There.
SAMMY: Now it’s got more than TWO dimensions, but it hasn’t quite got THREE:

PANEL 5
SAME SHOT AGAIN, BUT HERE, SAMMY NONCHALANTLY FLIPS THE BALL OF CRUMPLED PAPER BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER WITHOUT SPARING IT A GLANCE. HIS EYES ARE FIXED CALMLY UPON HIS FATHER’S FACE, WATCHING FOR ANY REACTION. HEALDIE, FOR HIS PART, HAS MOVED HIS HEAD SLIGHTLY TO FOLLOW THE TRAJECTORY OF THE WADDED=UP BALL WITH ITS EYES AS IT SALES BACK OVER SAMMY’S SHOULDER INTO THE GLOOMY AND CLUTTERED DEPTHS OF THE ROOM BEYOND.

SAMMY: The second-and-a-half dimension.

PANEL 6
NOW, THIS LAST TIER IS ANOTHER CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND SHOT. TAKEN OVER ALL, WHAT WE SEE IN THIS TIER, ALBEIT DIVIDED UP INTO FOUR PANELS, IS A SHOT OF HEALDIE’S FRONT ROOM AS SEEN ROUGHLY FROM FLOOR LEVEL, LOOKING UP, DOWN IN THE BOTTOM FOREGROUND, LARGE AND LOOMING AND SPREADING OVER AT LEAST THREE OF THE FOUR PANELS HERE WE SEE THE CRUMPLED LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL SERVICES THAT SAMMY DISCARDED LAST PANEL. IF YOU NEED ANY DUMMY TYPE-WRITTEN TEXT TO MAKE THE LETTER LOOK AUTHENTIC THAN I SUGGEST SOMETHING LIKE THE FOLLOWING: FIRST, THE SOCIAL SERVICES HEADING AT THE TOP FO THE PAGE (WE’LL SEE IF WE CAN GET YOU A COPY OF THE RELEVANT LETTER HEADING) AND THEN THE LETTER AS FOLLOWS:
“ Dear Mr. Portus,
           Following our letter of August 19th, we are pleased to inform you that a new social worker has been assigned to deal with you personally. She will be calling on October 17th at approximately 3:00 p.m.
           If for any reason you are unable to keep this appointment, please do not hesitate to contact the department at the above number so that a subsequent date can be arranged.
Yours sincerely,
Joyce Wilcox”
PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO FIT ALL THAT IN..IT’S JUST IN CASE YOU WANT TO HAVE SOME OF THE TYPE ON THE CRUMPLED LETTER STILL VISIBLE AND WONDER WHAT WORDING TO USE. ANYWAY, IN THIS FIRST PANEL OUT OF THE FOUR THAT COMPRISE THE CONTINUOUS BACKGROUND HERE WE ARE LOOKING UP FROM FLOOR LEVEL AT SAMMY AND HEALDIE. CALMLY AND GENTLY, SAMMY PLACES ONE HAND UPON HIS FATHER’S SHOULDER AND STARTS TO GENTLY STEER HIM TOWARDS THE RIGHT OF THE TIER, HEADING TOWARDS THE DOOR THAT LEADS OUT INTO THE HALLWAY AND THE KITCHEN BEYOND, VISIBLE OVER IN PANEL NINE AT THE RIGHT-MOST END OF THIS TIER. AS SAMMY ATTEMPTS TO LEAD HIS FATHER AWAY, HEALDIE IS STILL LOOKING DOWN AT THE FLOOR IN THE FOREGROUND. I DUNNO IF THE CRUMPLED PAPER WILL BE VISIBLE IN THIS FIRST PANEL…PROBABLY NOT, IN WHICH CASE HEALDIE’S FASCINATED GAZE SHOULD BE DIRECTED TOWARDS THE BOTTOM OF PANEL 7, WHERE ONE EDGE OF THE CRUMPLED BAL IS ACTUALLY VISIBLE. HEALDIE FROWNS SLIGHTLY AS HE GAZES, LOOKING INTERESTED AND INTRIGUED DESPITE HIMSELF WITH WHAT SAMMY HAS JUST DEMONSTRATED TO HIM, EVEN IF HE CAN’T QUITE FIGURE IT OUT YET. AS HE GENTLY STEERS HEALDIE AWAY, SAMMY APPEARS TO HAVE PUT THE BALL OF PAPER COMPLETELY OUT OF HIS MIND, RESUMING HIS NORMAL CALM MANNER.

SAMMY: Now, you come and sit down and I’ll make you a cup of tea. How’s that sound?

PANEL 7
NOW, AS WE TRACK ACROSS, WE SEE SAMMY LEADING HIS DAD FURTHER AWAY FROM US, HEADING DIAGONALLY ACROSS THE ROOM TO WHERE THE DOOR WAITS OVER IN THE BACKGROUND OF PANELS EIGHT AND NINE. NEITHER OF THEM ARE LOOKING BACK AT THE FLOOR HERE, BUT RIGHT UP IN THE FOREGROUND WE CAN SEE THE LEFT-MOST EDGE OF THE CRUMPLED BALL OF PAPER LOOMING IN CLOSE-UP. LOOKING UP PAST THIS WE SEE HEALDIE AND SAMMY AS THEY WALK AWAY FROM US. HEALDIE LOOKS MUCH CALMER NOW, HIS EARLIER AGITATION FORGOTTEN. HE LOOKS DOWN AT HIS SON WITH SAD AND LOVING EYES. SAMMY’S ONLY VISIBLE RESPONSE IS A SORT OF SELF-DEPRECATING SHRUG, BOTH PHYSICAL AND FACIAL AS HE WAVES AWAY HIS FATHER’S APOLOGY.

HEALDIE: Sounds pretty good t’me.
HEALDIE: Sorry about all de frettin’ an’ mopin’.
SAMMY: S’okay. We all have bad days.

PANEL 8
CONTINUING TO TRACK ACROSS WE CAN NOW SEE THE MIDDLE OF THE CRUMPLED BALL OF PAPER LOOMING UP CLOSE IN THE BOTTOM FOREGROUND. LOOKING UP PAST THIS WE SEE HEALDIE AND SAMMY AS THEY REACH THE OPEN DOOR WAY, THE BULK OF WHICH IS OVER IN THE NEXT PANEL. THEY ARE ABOUT TO GO THROUGH IT HERE. AS THEY DO SO, HEALDIE SHOOTS ONE LAST THOUGHTFUL AND WONDERING GLANCE BACK OVER HIS SHOULDER TOWARDS THE CRUMPLED BALL OF PAPER ON THE FLOOR IN THE FOREGROUND. SAMMY, AS HE CASUALLY REPLIES TO HIS FATHER, IS NOT LOOKING AT EITHER US OR THE CRUMPLED PAPER, SO THAT WE CANNOT SEE HIS FACE AS HE SPEAKS. ALL WE CAN SEE IS THE BACK OF HIS HEAD AS HE STARTS TO ENTER THE KITCHEN THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR.

HEALDIE: Y’know, dat’s a useful place, dat secon’-anna-half dimension.
SAMMY: Oh, it’s more than just a PLACE.

PANEL 9
IN THIS LAST PANEL WE COMPLETE OUR PAN ACROSS SO THAT UP IN THE BOTTOM FOREGROUND WE NOW SEE THE RIGHTMOST EDGE OF THE CRUMPLED BALL OF PAPER, LOOKING UP BEYOND THIS WE CAN JUST GLIMPSE HEALDIE AND SAMMY AS THEY DEPART OUT OF THE DOOR IN THE BACKGROUND, PERHAPS PULLING IT CLOSED BEHIND THEM AS THEY DO SO, SO THAT WE ONLY CATCH A GLIMPSE OF THEM AS THEY VANISH THROUGH THE CLOSING GAP, SAMMY BALLOONS ISSUING BACK TO US AS THEY DO SO. IN THE FOREGROUND, THE CRUMPLED BALL OF PAPER LIES MOTIONLESS.

SAMMY: More like a new planet. Perhaps one day we’ll go there, eh?
SAMMY: Just for a holiday.

PAGE 8

PANEL 1
THERE IS ONLY ONE BIG PANELS FILLING THIS ENTIRE PAGE, THIS BEING OUR SPLASH PAGE FOR THE ISSUE. ALL WE SEE IS A CLOSE UP OF THE CRUMPLED BALL OF PAPER RESTING THERE ON THE FLOOR, IT’S FOLDS AND CONTOURS BUNCHED TOGETHER IN CRUMPLED COMPLEXITY, A PIECE OF SPONTANEOUS AND ABSTRACT ORIGAMI STRANDED SOMEWHERE BETWEEN THE SECOND DIMENSION AND THE THIRD. WHATEVER TYPING MAY BE VISIBLE UPON THE CRUMPLED SURFACES IS SO TWISTED IN UPON ITSELF THAT THE SNATCHES OF WORDS AND PHRASES THAT WE CAN DISCERN NOW READ MORE LIKE ONE OF WILLIAM BURROUGHS’ WILDER CUT-UPS THAN AN INNOCENT LETTER FROM THE SOCIAL SERVICES. THE BALL OF PAPER JUST RESTS THERE, WHITE AND CRUMPLED AGAINST THE DARKNESS, A CHAOTIC PAPER ROSE. THIS ISSUE’S TITLE IS SUPERIMPOSED SOMEWHERE UPON THE PAGE EITHER TOWARDS THE TOP OR BOTTOM, WHICHEVER LOOKS BEST. FOR THE BALL OF PAPER ITSELF , PLEAS FEEL FREE TO ZOOM RIGHT IN CLOSE AMONGST THE PAPER CREVASSES AND CANYONS, IF THAT LOOKS MORE INTERESTING.

TITLE: THREE

 

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