It’s time to stop treating my story like a “precious snowflake” and put it out there for some peer review and criticism. I’d appreciate any input you folks might be able to offer. Thanks.
One-Sentence Summary/Pitch: As a fundraiser for a retired comic book artist stricken with Parkinson’s disease, buried in medical bills, and facing foreclosure of his home—Simon/Superior volunteers to personally draw the never-before-published “last” Superior comic book of the Silver Age.
In the foreground, we see a close-up of an elderly male HAND. The hand belongs to MORTY EISENBERG. The hand is VIOLENTLY SHAKING while simply trying to HOLD onto a drawing PENCIL. In the background, we see stacks of overdue MEDICAL BILLS AND DEBT-COLLECTION NOTICES: “OVERDUE,” “FINAL NOTICE,” etc.
MORTY: You can’t know what it’s like… trapped inside a body that won’t do what you tell it.
This panel is a “montage,” not to be taken literally. In the background, we see an image of SUPERIOR’S UPPER TORSO AND FACE—one side of his body is masked by shadows. Superimposed over the shadows of Superior, we see a FULL-BODY image of SIMON POONI, twelve-years-old, his body ravaged by multiple sclerosis—he’s defiantly propping himself up with his crutches.
SIMON/SUPERIOR: Actually, Mr. Eisenberg, I have a pretty good idea.
TITLE: “MY BODY IS A CAGE” and CREDIT BOX
This is a widescreen-T.V. shaped panel. The image is from a news broadcast. We’re outside of a MODEST SUBURBAN HOME. MADDIE KNOX, the television reporter, is holding a microphone in front of MORTY EISENBERG, a retired comic book artist in his 80’s. Morty has advanced Parkinson’s disease and is WHEELCHAIR-BOUND. His wife, HELEN EISENBERG (also in her 80’s), is standing beside him. SIMON/SUPERIOR is there to help; but because he is still just a 12-year old boy “trapped” in a superhero’s body, he’s obviously STARING AT MADDIE’S BOOBS. At the bottom of the “screen,” the following headline is showing: “CARTOONIST FACES FORECLOSURE.” A logo in the bottom-right corner says: “CBN NEWS.”
MORTY: I saw him and thought: This is it. Parkinson’s Stage Five. My mind’s as BLEEP! as my body.
HELEN: Language, Morty!
MORTY: But if I was having delusions, Superior’d look how I used to draw him. Not some B-list actor.
This is a small panel. It’s a close-up of HELEN whispering into SIMON/SUPERIOR’s ear (reprimanding him for ogling Maddie). Simon/Superior’s face looks rather startled that he was “busted.”
HELEN: Watch those eyes, mister…
The T.V.’s station’s CAMERAMAN is filming as SIMON/SUPERIOR is talking to MADDIE. Simon/Superior is BLUSHING a bit and self-consciously SLOUCHING DOWN—his EYE-LEVEL MATCHES MADDIE’S EYE-LEVEL precisely so that full eye-contact can be maintained at all times (no peeking).
SIMON/SUPERIOR: When I read about Morty and Helen’s house online, I knew I had to do something…
SIMON/SUPERIOR: But what can a superhero do? Punch-out the president of the bank? Lift the housing market with “Superior-Strength”?
Another T.V.-shaped panel. MADDIE is interviewing MORTY and HELEN EISENBERG. Off to one side, we can see that SIMON/SUPERIOR is CRACKING HIS KNUCKLES, getting ready for some astounding superheroic feat, no doubt.
MORTY: In 1986, the publisher asked me to draw “the last” Superior story. Just an “imaginary story.” Someone else was always gonna “reboot” or “reimagine” the character the next month.
MORTY: But by then, my hands had started shaking…
One last T.V.-shaped panel. In the foreground, we see SIMON/SUPERIOR seated at a DRAWING TABLE set up on the lawn of the Eisenberg home. He’s awkwardly hunched over the drawing table, DRAWING COMIC BOOK PAGES. His tongue is sticking out of his mouth a bit—he’s really concentrating on his work. Nearby, MADDIE is interviewing MORTY. The headline, “SUPERIOR DRAWING FUNDRAISER COMIC BOOK,” appears at the bottom of the screen.
MORTY: I could see the story so clearly in my head. Every line. Every detail. I just couldn’t get it down on paper.
MORTY: Anyway, the story’s in the right hands now.
We’re done with the T.V.-shaped panels now. It’s a little later. MORTY and MADDIE are talking informally. The CAMERAMAN is packing up his gear.
MADDIE: Off the record, I have to ask: Do they end up together in the end? Superior and Susie Lee?
Suddenly, we’re out of the “real world” and into a PANEL from Morty Eisenberg’s fully imagined-but-never-drawn 1980’s “SUPERIOR FINALE” COMIC BOOK. In these panels, the coloring should look like newsprint. And the drawing style should evoke a more innocent time in comics. The image in this particular panel is an EXAGGERATED CLOSE-UP of the printed page—so the “newsprint dots” are larger. In this 1980’s comic panel, SUPERIOR CLASSIC’S HAND is gently touching SUSIE LEE CLASSIC’S HAND. A sparkling new DIAMOND ENGAGEMENT RING adorns Susie Lee’s finger.
CAPTION – MORTY: What do they always say about Superior? “Undying and never-aging under Earth’s yellow sun.”
CAPTION – MORTY: But the same would never be said about Mrs. Superior.
It’s the SAME IMAGE as panel four—but we’ve pulled back to see the full picture. The coloring is still made up of “newsprint dots”—but they are normal-sized now. We now see that SUPERIOR CLASSIC is just ADMIRING SUSIE LEE CLASSIC’S RING (not putting the ring on her finger himself). They’re both trying their best to look happy—but it’s obvious that neither of them is.
SUSIE LEE CLASSSIC: Mark Mankiewicz asked me to marry him. I wanted you to be the first to know.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: Mark’s a good man. And it’s a lovely ring. Excellent crystalline structure.
SUSIE LEE CLASSIC: I could still give it back. If I had a reason to…
All of the panels on this page—except for the final one—take place in Morty’s imagined 1980’s “Superior” finale comic. So the drawing style and coloring technique should look of that time.
SUSIE LEE CLASSIC’s eyes are welling-up with TEARS. SUPERIOR CLASSIC cannot bear to look her in the eye. Instead, he’s looking down at the ground, his face shrouded in shadows.
SUSIE LEE CLASSIC: Do you love me, Superior?
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: Of course I do, Susie… I love all of humanity.
CAPTION – MORTY: Lying was not one of Superior’s superpowers.
SUSIE LEE CLASSIC appears to be walking down the aisle, arm-in-arm with SUPERIOR CLASSIC (it’s actually Superior’s ROBOT DUPLICATE) to join the groom, MARK MANKIEWICZ, at the wedding altar.
CAPTION – MORTY: Susie asked Superior to give her away at her wedding. He sent one of his robot duplicates instead.
CAPTION – MORTY: But the way he’d been acting lately, nobody noticed the difference.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC is punching-out ABRAXAS CLASSIC. Abraxis Classic should be depicted as a more Silver Age, more innocent incarnation of the character. Rolling with Superior’s punch, it looks like Abraxas’ head is just about to fall off.
CAPTION – MORTY: Superior rededicated himself to defeating his entire rogues gallery. Abraxas. Professor Mind-Sweeper. Even the Bot-Z Twins.
CAPTION – MORTY: Then he retired to the seclusion of the moon.
We see a close-up of SUPERIOR CLASSIC’S FACE. He’s SQUINTING. Along the bottom edge of the panel, we see a HORIZONTAL SERIES OF TRANSLUCENT, OVERLAPPING IMAGES OF THE PLANET EARTH (an homage to—or rip-off of—the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” logo).
CAPTION – MORTY: You know that scientific theory—how everything that’s possible actually happens on some alternate plane of existence?
CAPTION – MORTY: Well, Superior discovered that if he squinted just right, he could peer into those other dimensions.
We see a TRANSLUCENT image of SUPERIOR CLASSIC (ALTERNATE UNIVERSE) and SUSIE LEE CLASSIC (ALTERNATE UNIVERSE). They are in the same physical pose as page two, panel five. She is wearing a diamond ring; her hand is in his. But their facial expressions now show that they are genuinely happy. Through the translucent couple, we also see a close-up of SUPERIOR CLASSIC’S EYES TEARING-UP (either in joy or in sorrow—or in some combination of the two).
CAPTION – MORTY: He saw parallel realities—call them “reboots” or “reiminginings”—where other Superiors and other Susies did end up together. If only for a human lifespan…
CAPTION – MORTY: He took some comfort from that. But he had made his choices.
We’re back in the “real world” for this panel. MORTY and MADDIE are still talking.
MORTY: Most writers and artists hated working on Superior. “How can a character with unlimited power be interesting?” they’d ask. “What can’t he do?”
MORTY: I’d respond: “Not even Superior can build a wall so impenetrable that he himself couldn’t break through it.”
MORTY: But I was wrong.
EVERY PANEL ON THIS PAGE IS DRAWN BY SIMON/SUPERIOR HIMSELF. All panels on this page will be black-and-white. As we progress through the panels on the page, we take steps through Simon/Superior’s drawing process (from rough breakdowns and loose pencils through tight pencils and finished inks).
This panel is drawn as a ROUGH “BREAKDOWN”—rudimentary figures, little detail. We see SUPERIOR CLASSIC (still identifiable by his flowing cape). He’s walking through a BARREN DESERT (and looks like he has been doing so for quite some time). Footprints stretch behind him as far as the eye can see.
CAPTION – MORTY: Thousands… maybe millions of years later, humanity was forced to leave the Earth. The sun had entered the final stages of its life-cycle.
CAPTION – MORTY: But forever tied to the sun, Superior stayed behind. Alone. Until…
This panel is drawn in a LOOSE PENCIL style, more detailed than the breakdowns, but still not finished. SUPERIOR CLASSIC finally finds what he was looking for. He comes upon the severed (but still quite talkative) HEAD of his old foe, ABRAXAS CLASSIC. The head is partially buried in sand.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: Ah, there you are, Abraxas.
ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY): Look away! I don’t want you to see me like this.
This panel is drawn in TIGHT PENCIL style, significantly more detailed. SUPERIOR CLASSIC picks up the HEAD of ABRAXAS CLASSIC and speaks to it—Hamlet-style.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: The sun will consume the Earth any day now. I thought you should know. And I thought I owed my arch-nemesis…
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: … one last shot at me.
TIGHT PENCIL style again. SUPERIOR CLASSIC and ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY) continue to talk.
ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY): -Sigh.- That’ll be a short fight.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: I wasn’t proposing a physical match. No. For our final apocalyptic battle, I was thinking of something more intellectual.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: Do you like chess?
This panel is FULLY-INKED. We pull back. SUPERIOR CLASSIC is now SEATED in the sand (totally at ease), with ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY) placed carefully in the sand next to him. The SUN is swelling and growing brighter.
ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY): Oh, I know I left my chessboard around here somewhere…
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: Ha! Our fight shall be waged with the board and pieces that we create in our minds.
SUPERIOR CLASSIC: Or if that’s too challenging… we could just sit and play tic-tac-toe in the sand.
This panel is FULLY-INKED again. The SUN continues swelling in its death-throes, getting closer to the Earth. SUPERIOR CLASSIC and ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY) are still sitting. Their backs are turned towards us. Metaphorically, these old enemies are “riding off into the sunset” together.
ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY): I never noticed until now. But even like this, the sun is kind of pretty.
ABRAXAS CLASSIC (HEAD ONLY): White Queen’s Pawn to D4…
We’re back in the “real world” for the rest of the story. SIMON/SUPERIOR is at the drawing table, putting the finishing touches on his inked comic book pages. MADDIE is whispering to HELEN and gesturing in SIMON/SUPERIOR’s direction. But Helen clearly knows something that Maddie doesn’t.
MADDIE: Between us girls, I’ll never forgive myself if I don’t at least try to wrap my legs around that body.
HELEN: Oh dear! You should probably ask his mother first.
This is a small “insert panel” (on the right-hand edge of panel one). It’s a close-up of MADDIE. Her facial expression shows she’s completely flummoxed by Helen’s comment.
NO DIALOGUE/NO CAPTIONS
SIMON/SUPERIOR is holding up some of his art pages for MORTY to look at. On one page, we can see the title of the story he’s been drawing: “THE LAST SUPERIOR STORY EVER (UNTIL NEXT MONTH).” Simon/Superior looks proud of his work.
SIMON/SUPERIOR: What do you think, Mr. Eisenberg?
MORTY: Not bad, son. Not bad.
SIMON/SUPERIOR is placing a drawing PENCIL in MORTY’S HAND and helping him grasp onto it firmly.
CAPTION – ORMON: His week’s almost up. Your report…?
CAPTION – HELEN: It’s one thing for him to be able to fly or lift a bus over his head. But now, he can do anything…
Interior; nighttime. HELEN and MORTY are IN BED. Morty is asleep, looking content. A mysterious figure is lurking in the shadows—it’s ORMON the monkey/astronaut/demon. HELEN’S EYES appear to be GLOWING demonically.
HELEN: …now he can hit a baseball like Babe Ruth. Play bass-guitar like John Entwistle. And draw comics like Morty Eisenberg. Taking it all away now…
ORMON: …would destroy him.
HELEN is now holding ORMON the monkey/astronaut/demon in her flabby old lady arms. They look upon each other with intense, profane desire.
ORMON: So… how about shedding the old lady body and slipping into something more comfortable?