Behind the Curtain: FOOLS & MADMEN pp1-2 script and breakdowns
I just can’t seem to quit comics. I thought after finally getting DONE TO DEATH published in its intended format, I’d be taking a break on the comics front in order to pursue Hollywood things. And indeed I have—most of the time I’ve spent not posting here has gone to struggling in a titanic battle with a procedural spec my reps want me to write because they totally despise me with every fibre of their being.
But! The world turns, things happen, and I suddenly find myself with two talented artists who’re interested in working on a couple of projects I’ve had kicking around for awhile that I’d really like to see executed in such a way that more than a handful of friends and editors get to read them.
One of those artists is the soon-to-be-former-but-always-to-be-the-first Happy Harbor Comics Artist-in-Residence, Daniel Schneider. Dan’s started work on the art end of a proposal package for my much beloved comedy/fantasy FOOLS & MADMEN (formerly JEST CAUSE, formerly FOOL’S ERRAND.) And while it’ll be awhile before this book is published (if it ever is), I’m excited and thought I’d share the first couple pages of script with you, along with Dan’s initial page roughs. And so, with apology for the dodgy formatting this sort of thing invariably involves but without further ado, a little taste of FOOLS & MADMEN:
PANEL 1 (BIG)
A downshot of Deerden, capital of magical kingdom of Middlin. An ornately decorated castle looms over the rest of the city, flags waving from numerous spires. Lush green forest surrounds it. It’s twilight—the sun is just about to set, the sky is lit in dramatic purple, yellow, and dark blue. Lights flicker in the windows or window-shaped holes of houses and businesses of people who can’t afford glass.
NOTE: Leave enough dead space for the captions— that’s what the lush green forest is for.
1 CAP: (NF) Welcome to the Kingdom of Middlin. On the surface, it’s a pleasant little realm, happy to quietly go about its business while other, better-known kingdoms get all the attention. I’m looking at you, Camelot…
2 CAP: (NF) But do not be deceived! Middlin has all the prerequisites for a setting of high adventure: a wise old King, a beautiful princess, a handsome champion, to say nothing of the wide assortment of blood-thirsty dwarves, trolls, lawyers, and other unsavory characters.
3 CAP: (NF) It also has more than its fair share of fools, and it’s in one of these that we find the hero of our tale…
4 NOBO: (NO TAIL, O/P) —HOW DID I END UP HERE?
5 NOBO: (NO TAIL, O/P, CONNECTED) MY PARENTS WOULD TURN OVER IN THEIR GRAVES IF THEY KNEW WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING. AND THEY AREN’T DEAD YET.
Exterior shot of The Pig and Whistle—a rowdy public house in a rundown part of town. If we can see the cobblestones, we can see the latest chalk outline of a murdered person a few feet from the door. The sign above the door features a cute, inebriated, drooling piglet with a whistle in its mouth and a pint mug in one hoof.
A sandwich board outside the door indicates that it’s Jester’s Night. The picture of the jester on the sandwich board has had a pair of Groucho Marx glasses and moustache scrawled onto it.
6 SFX: TONIGHT: LIVE JESTERS!
7 NOBO: (FROM TAVERN) WHEN I WAS SIX, THEY SENT ME TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL. Of fish.
8 NOBO: (FROM TAVERN, CONNECTED) YOU WOULDN’T BELIEVE HOW MUCH TROUBLE I GOT INTO BECAUSE I COULDN’T SWIM.
Head and shoulders shot of a painfully uncomfortable NOBO THE JESTER. He’s bombing here and he knows it. A sheen of flop sweat covers his face.
9 NOBO: AT ONE POINT I WANTED TO BE A HERMIT, BUT I COULD NEVER QUITE FIGURE OUT HOW.
10 NOBO: I TRIED TO TAKE A CLASS, ONCE, BUT THE TEACHER WAS NEVER THERE.
Interior establishing shot of the scene—Nobo’s on stage in the corner of the tavern, doing his stand-up routine. Nobody in the audience gets his jokes. A pile of other jesters— some unconscious, some dead, lie in a heap next to the stage.
One enthusiastic “heckler” continues to punch a specific jester that made fun of his wife, in spite of the fact that the jester has stopped responding to this frank criticism of his work.
At least one of the audience members is obviously a clergyman— he’s staring rather lasciviously at the ample bosom of the girl serving him.
In the foreground we have a slightly elevated rear head and shoulders downshot of NOBO THE JESTER. Over his shoulders we can see the crowd in the tavern, most of whom look up at him in expressions ranging from mild confusion to anger.
There’s a wide variety of species in the room, including dwarves (whose table is surrounded by bodies that one hopes are only unconscious), fairies (a few of whom lounge in wooden steins of ale like they’re hot tubs) and a couple of elves. Most of the dwarves carry weapons, which they caress noticeably as Nobo tries to amuse them.
Head and shoulders shot of Nobo, hoping against hope that a few seconds will allow his audience to get the joke. His eyes are wide and earnest as he repeats the punchline.
1 NOBO: THE HERMIT WAS NEVER THERE…
2 NOBO: hahaaa…err…
3 HECKLER: (o/p) HE PROBABLY HEARD SOME OF YOUR JOKES!
Same angle, but Nobo’s wincing visibly at the audience’s response to the Heckler.
4 SFX: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
Long medium shot of Nobo past mostly rear views of the heads of the audience, valiantly soldiering on.
5 NOBO: ER…
6 NOBO: (CONNECTED) I TRIED TO BE A PRIEST, BUT AFTER MY FIRST SERMON I HAD TO DECLARE MORAL BANKRUPTCY.
7 NOBO: NOW I’M NOT ALLOWED TO BE RIGHTEOUS FOR UP TO SEVEN YEARS, heh…
Close-up of Nobo, again daring to hope.
Same angle, of an utterly miserable Nobo. The tassels of his hat hang morosely around his head.
8 NOBO: D-DID YOU HEAR THE ONE ABOUT THE MISERLY PRIEST?
9 NOBO: HE, UH, HE ONLY BURNT BOOKS IN EFFIGY…
Past a rear downshot of Nobo to the crowd, not reacting at all to Nobo’s latest attempt at a joke. The Priest is staring out of the panel at Nobo with an expression that leaves little doubt where Nobo’s going to end up after he dies (which could be in the next few minutes, with the way his act is going). The serving girl has used his momentary lapse of attention to wriggle free from him and is heading back towards the bar.