Books: calamity jack
  Sample script

Writing a graphic novel is a lot like writing a screenplay. Dean and I write the dialog, captions, and any other text that will appear, as well as descriptions for Nate about what's going on in each panel. You can compare these first few pages with the final version to see how Nate interpreted our script and gave it his own style. As well, you can see late changes Dean and I made. Once we get in the page proofs (Nate's final colored illustrations) we make more text changes. Sometimes we can cut text that is no longer necessary because the illustration is clear, or sometimes the text just isn't appropriate based on the picture. In this first section, I think most of the changes we made were for clarity. Dean and I were worried that the way we'd written these first scenes might be confusing to nascent graphic novel readers, so we added text to clarify.

Part 1: The Beanstalk Bonanza

[full page scene of the aftermath of the beanstalk incident. Collapsed tenement, angry neighbors, angry giants, dead giant, chopped-down beanstalk lying on the ground. Jack in the foreground holding an ax. Maybe we see him from behind as he surveys the scene?]

CAP (top): I think of myself as a criminal mastermind...

CAP (bottom): ...with an unfortunate amount of bad luck.

[turn of the century hospital (so we know right off that we're urban), bassinets with various names, one with baby Jack. Though a newborn, he already has an expression of scheming on his little face. His parents stand by, looking at him as if they're a little concerned about their cunning infant. Jack's Poppa is wearing the jacket Jack later wears. Starting here until the beanstalk, perhaps we could do it in sepia tone to show flashback]

CAP: I was born to scheme. See? You can tell just by looking at me.

[In their apartment, toddler Jack scurrying around, gathering twine, rolling wooden toys, blocks, anything that might be within reach, beneath the notice of the adults]

TITLE CAP: The Sugarbowl Gambit

CAP: With a head plum full of ripe ideas, what choice did I have?

[Intricate contraption to reach the bowl of sugar on the countertop--string on a pulley, weighed by a teaspoon, etc.]

CAP: My early years are measured by great plans...

[Sugarbowl on Jack's head, covered in sugar. Contraption in ruins. Maybe something indicating unforeseen happenings - a cat looking guilty with feathers in its mouth. Maude stands by with hands on her hips, and Jack's father looks amused, or as if he'd like to laugh but is afraid of being told off by his wife.]

CAP: ...and unexpected consequences.

[A younger version of Freddie, snobby and rich in his youth, prances into a school lunchroom with an overstuffed lunch pail. 7-year-old Jack watches.]

TITLE CAP: The Great Sandwich Caper

CAP: Which isn't to say my plans didn't work.

[Jack sketching out a plan to get the contents of lil' Freddie's lunch pail. It involves a tripwire calculated to fling the contents out of the mark's hands, bounce off two walls, and into jack's hands]

CAP: They worked! They did!

[Jack watches events unfold just as he planned. Deftly catches an apple and a sandwich, and starts to walk away]


[Freddie's fancy puffy shirt (or something) catches a table edge, and spins him awkwardly.]

CAP: But you can't plan for everything.

[Freddie falls hard on his face on the ground]

CAP: Sometimes stuff just happens.

[SRK's nose is bleeding, and he cries. Jack sees the scene, looks uncomfortable.]

CAP: Right?

[Jack, Prudence, and Ogrish kid crouching behind a box across the street from a grocery store. Jack has sketched a figure of someone barfing, and is looking questioningly at the ogre kid. OK gives the thumb's up. ]

TITLECAP: The Grocery Job

CAP: Of course, the key to the success of any plan is to get the right people involved, on both sides.

[Single shot or series of panels showing OK throwing up in front of the store, distracting the burly-looking owner with a perma-scowl. Behind her, Prudence pushing top-shelf items off, Jack catching them in a bag.]

CAP: The takers...

[owner chases the three kids, yelling as they run away]

CAP: And the takees.

[Jack running away from an "urban corral" housing livestock with a pig under his arm. There is a piggy-looking child in underwear on hands and knees in the corral w/ owner looking confused. The idea here is that Jack concocted some plan to swap a piglike kid for an actual pig and be away before anyone notices.]

TITLECAP: The Purloined Pig

CAP: Or the, uh, taken.

[Jack making off with the brass-topped cane he's just taken from a crotchety old man, who looks to be well off. Prudence is flying around his face, distracting him.]

TITLECAP: The Cane Mutiny

CAP: Takee,, the took, maybe?

[Jack and Prudence watch a mobile ice cream vendor in the park laugh cruelly at a child's recently purchased fallen ice cream cone]

TITLECAP: The Ice Cream Con

CAP: Whatever. Us and them. More and more, the "us" became me and Prudence, my favorite partner.

[Vendor sneers at Jack as he makes a production of trying to find enough money for ice cream. Meanwhile, Prudence sneaks into the cart.]

CAP: I don't know that I ever thought twice about the folks we swindled back then.

[Jack, feigning horror, grabs one of the serving bins of the ice cream vendor and points inside, in which a seemingly dead, Prudence lies, half-covered in ice cream as if she fell in and died when the ice cream had been made. Vendor looks genuinely horrified.]


[Jack, looking at the vendor as if he is a murderer, points at a policeman across the park and says something to the vendor.]

CAP: I figured, if they were dumb enough to fall for our schemes, then they deserved to lose.

[Vendor runs off, pushing his cart. Jack is still holding the ice cream bin.]


[Jack and Prudence elsewhere, eating a pot of ice cream, grinning at each other]

CAP: And no harm done. Right?

  [Jack and Prudence fleeing for their lives as they're chased out of the zoo by several zoo workers carrying rakes and brooms. It's cold weather, and Jack is wearing his father's cow-hide jacket]

TITLE CAP: The Failed Flamingo Filching

CAP: Some of our adventures were downright risky, but I felt invincible in my poppa's cow-hide jacket.

[closer on Jack as they continue to flee. He pulls the jacket around himself closer.]

CAP: It was the only thing of his we didn't hock after he died of the fever. I wore it like armor.

[in the bakery, 16-year-old Jack watching a customer leaving in a hurry, trying to get out of paying. Maude chases after him to the door. The customer looks well off--he wears a bowler hat and carries a distinctive bag, like a red briefcase. The bag isn't significant, just so we can recognize it later when he steals it. NOTE: Aunt Gwen from part 2 works in the bakery as well, so we might see her working here whenever appropriate.]

CAP: I mostly tried to keep my shenanigans from my Momma. She had enough to worry about.

MAUDE: Hey! You didn't pay for lunch yet!

CUSTOMER: For that hash? You should be paying me, cookie.

[out the door of the bakery, Maude yelling after the fleeing guy. Jack stands behind her scheming. We may see an elderly customer eating inside and a stray dog chewing on a bone beside the door, to illustrate the type of person Maude is]

CAP: She took care of me, half the neighborhood, and a few stray animals besides.

MAUDE: Get back here, you hobgoblin!

CUSTOMER (dismissive): Ha!

[Maude resting her head and arm against the door jamb, looking tired and discouraged. She can't afford to give out free lunches. Jack slips by her, going after the customer]

MAUDE (under breath): Third free loader this week. Don't know how I'm going to afford fixing that oven.

CAP: But folk disrespecting Momma? Well, that chapped my hide.

[Jack stalking the rude customer. Sees horse-drawn carriage approaching the mark, going same direction]

TITLECAP: The Bowler Hat Heist

CAP: This wasn't just about making sport of someone I didn't like or scoring a bit of food and glory. Now I was feeling the rush of justice, the elation of making things right.

[Jack clinging to the back of the carriage, approaching the mark from behind, one arm outstretched at hat level, the other right at briefcase level, ready to swipe them as he passes]

CAP: I felt sure I'd found my calling.

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