Sunday, 18 February 2007

FROM HELL: 5/25

The tension mounts as we arrive at the first of the Whitechapel murders, as depicted in FROM HELL, this being from Alan Moore's scripts for the book. It wasn't the first incidence of serious crisis in the story, of course. Alan constructed the work so that each chapter climaxed with one. In Chapter One it was the the abduction in broad daylight of Annie Crook; in Two she was forced to undergo a lobotomy; in Three the blackmail letter to the royal family is delivered. In Four Gull's insane mission is launched and Netley vomits at the realzation of what it is probably going to entail. The narrative has been on a resolute march to Hell since page 1. Alan's script for the final panel on this page was possibly his shortest picture description in the entire book, but I knew what this low angle view of the carriage had to clearly say: this is where the horror begins.

CHAPTER 5. PAGE 25 ( 943 WORDS)
PANEL 1
ANOTHER SEVEN PANEL PAGE, AGAIN WITH THE BIG WIDE PANEL TAKING UP THE BOTTOM TIER AND THREE SMALLER PANELS ON EACH OF THE TIERS ABOVE THAT. IN THIS FIRST SMALL PANEL WE ARE CROUCHING BEHIND POLLY ON THE PAVEMENT, ABOUT WAIST HEIGHT, AND LOOKING UP PAST HER. ALL WE CAN SEE OF HER IS SOME OF HER MID-SECTION OVER TO THE RIGHT OF THE FOREGROUND, HER HANDS CLASPED NERVOUSLY IN FRONT OF HER AS SHE STANDS THERE LOOKING UP AT THE COACH. LOOKING UP PAST HER AT THE COACH, WE CAN SEE GULL AS HE TURNS TOWARDS US AND LOOKS DOWN WITH A FATHERLY SMILE AND A TWINKLE IN HIS EYES. HE TOUCHES THE BRIM OF HIS HAT IN GREETING. BEYOND HIM, NETLEY IS ONLY VISIBLE AS A DARK SHAPE, HUNCHED OVER THE REINS.
GULL: Good morning to you, my child.
GULL: Why, three o’clock’s no time for a young lady such as yourself to be out unescorted. Might I offer transport?

PANEL 2
NOW A SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT POLLY FROM GULL’S POINT OF VIEW AS SHE STANDS THERE IN THE STREET LOOKING UP AT US, A FORLORN AND ISOLATED FIGURE, LIT ONLY BY THE WEAK GLOW FROM THE CARRIAGE LAMP. IN THE FOREGROUND WE CAN PERHAPS SEE GULL’S HANDS, QUIETLY HOLDING HIS OPEN BAG OF GRAPES. POLLY LOOKS GRATEFUL AND RELIEVED AS SHE GAZES UP AT US, AND OFFERS US A WEAK SMILE BY WAY OF A THANK-YOU. SHE’S STILL WEARING HER BLACK BONNET, FASTENED UNDER HER CHIN IN A BOW, AND I SHOULD ALSO POINT OUT THAT DURING THIS ENTIRE EPISODE, WHENEVER WE SEE POLLY’S HANDS IN CLOSE UP, WE SHOULD MAKE SURE TO SHOW THE RING THAT WE FIRST SHOWED IN PANEL FOUR OF PAGE ELEVEN. JUST A SMALL CONTINUITY POINT WHICH YOU SHOULD APPLY WHERE APPROPRIATE, IF ANYWHERE. HERE, POLLY LOOKS UP AT US AND GIVES US A WAN SMILE. THE BREEZE RUSTLES THE PAPER BAG IN GULL’S LAP. THE GRAPES HAVE A PALE AND SICKLY GLEAM.
POLLY: Why… why, thank you, sir. You’re very kind.
POLLY: I’d surely feel safer with you than out ‘ere in the street. You ‘ear so many stories.

PANEL 3
NOW WE PULL BACK A LITTLE FROM THE COACH, SO THAT WE SEE THE FRONT END OF IT, INCLUDING THE HORSES, IN THE MID-BACKGROUND HERE. AS WE SEE HIM HERE, GULL IS JUST CLIMBING DOWN FROM THE COACH, HEFTING HIS GLADSTONE BAG WITH HIM AS HE DOES SO. HE IS ALSO PRESUMABLY STILL HOLDING THE GRAPES, ASSUMING THAT CAN BE DONE IN SUCH A WAY TO LEAVE HIM A FREE HAND TO HOLD THE COACH AS HE DESCENDS. PERHAPS HE’S STUFFED THEM INTO HIS POCKET OR SOMETHING. POLLY STANDS RESPECTFULLY BY AS SHE WAITS FOR HIM TO CLIMB DOWN. NETLEY JUST SITS AND PAYS NO ATTENTION TO THE PROCEEDINGS, STARING AWAY INTO THE DARK ACROSS HIS REINS. GULL IS SMILING AS HE CLIMBS DOWN, A JOVIAL AND BURLY UNCLE. POLLY STIULL WEARS A FAINT SMILE DESPITE HERSELF, CHARMED BY THIS GENIAL OLD TOFF.
GULL: Splendid! Then let me just climb down, that we may ride together, both inside.
GULL: Tell me, what is your name?

PANEL 4
GULL IS NOW STANDING IN THE STEREET LEVEL BESIDE POLLY. POLLY HAS TAKEN THE LIBERTY OF OPENING THE COACH DOOR, READY FOR THEM. BUT LIKE A WELL BROUGHT UP YOUNG WOMAN, SHE IS RESPECTFUL OF HER ELDERS AND BETTERS. AND REACHES OUT WITH HER FREE HAND TO RELIEVE GULL OF HIS HEAVY GLADSTONE BAG. HE GIVES HER A WARM SMILE OF GRATITUDE AS HE LETS HER TAKE IT FROM HIM. SHE GIVES HIM A DAUGHTERLY AND AFFECTIONATE SMILE IN RETURN.
POLLY: It’s Mary, though they calls me Polly.
POLLY: Oh, do let me ‘elp you with that bag. It looks so ‘eavy.
GULL: Ah. Thank you. Set it by the door.

PANEL 5
NOW WE ARE WITHIN THE COACH WITH POLLY, WHO HAS CLIMBED INSIDE AND IS IN THE ACT OF SETTING DOWN THE HEAVY GLADSTONE BAG BY THE OPPOSITE DOOR. LIT BY THE SICK YELLOW GLOW OF THE CARRIAGE LAMP, AN INSECT IN AMBER. LOOKING BEYOND HER AND THROUGH THE OPEN DOOR BEHIND HER WE SEE GULL, ALSO FACING US, AS HE STARTS TO CLAMBER ABOARD THE COACH, HOLDING THE BAG OF GRAPES IN ONE HAND. HE SMILES WARMLY AT HER TURNED BACK, WITH NO GLINT OF THE SARDONIC IN HIS EYES. GULL GENUINELY SEEMS TO BE SHOWING NOTHING BUT FATHERLY AFFECTION TOWARDS THIS YOUNG WOMAN.
POLLY: There, there, that’s better.
POLLY: Now, let’s be introduced all proper, like. I’m Polly, sir, and you, you’re…?

PANEL 6
NOW WE ARE LOOKING AT GULL THROUGH POLLY’S EYES AS HE TAKES HIS SEAT BESIDE HER IN THE CARRIAGE. WE CANNOT SEE HER. ALL WE SEE IS HER VIEW OF HIM AS HE SITS THERE, THREE QUARTER FIGURE, AND TURNS TOWARDS US. HE SMILES, A SMILE OF ALMOST BOYISH PLEASURE AND SATISFACTION. HE’S NOT SIR WILLIAM NOW, OR EVEN DOCTOR GULL. HE’S JUST THE LITTLE BARGE BOY ONCE AGAIN, WHO PLAYED AMONGST THE FLOWERS THERE AT THE RECTORY; WHO MOVED THROUGH TUNNELS SLOWLY INTO LIGHT.
GULL: William.
GULL: My name’s William.

PANEL 7
IN THIS FINAL WIDE PANEL WE ARE LOOKING AT THE COACH. THE DOORS ARE CLOSED, AND AS NETLEY SNAPS THE REINS, IT RESUMES MOTION, TRUNDLING SLOWLY OVER THE COBBLES FROM A DEAD START. A PALE HOSPITAL LIGHT SEEPS FROM THE WINDOWS OF THE COACH, DIFFUSING INTO DARK. GULL’S BALLOON ISSUES FROM THE NEAREST WINDOW AS THE COACH TRUNDLES AWAY.
GULL (OFF, FROM WINDOW): Now, tell me, child…
GULL (OFF, FROM WINDOW): Do you like grapes?

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1 Comments:

Blogger Aaron said...

That last panel is one of my favorites.

Excellent work there, buddy.

20 February 2007 11:27:00 am GMT-5  

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