Last spring, I created my first comic alongside my students. When I created my comic on Lillian Smith, I thought about the script and the layout; however, I did not sit down and type out the script. Instead, I worked within the Comic Book! app to layout the pages and insert the text. I knew what I wanted it to look like as I went along, and I was using pictures for the panels. This led me to start thinking about writing out a script for a comic. I’ve done a couple now, and today I want to share a five page script I wrote for the opening of Frank Yerby’s The Foxes of Harrow, a novel that I think would do well as as a graphic novel. These pages focus on the prologue to the novel, a section I have written about before. There are no illustrations here yet, but hopefully one day that will change. Enjoy!
Two panels (one full page and one inset bottom right)
Panel One: Ariel view of Mississippi River “above” New Orleans (around Poydras or Belle Chase below NOLA) with motorboat, possibly in three or four stages, travelling the river itself. This would be like the satellite view on Google Maps, overgrown foliage, sparse habitation, but some signs of growth.
Panel Two: Small inset panel on bottom right. Front view of boat pulled up on shore. See mud and bow of boat, possibly trees with Spanish moss and maybe silhouette of Harrow in background.
Narration: Multiple blocks moving top left to bottom right, following boat or river.
- About fifteen miles above New Orleans the river goes very slowly.
- It has broadened out there until it is almost a sea . . .
- And the water is yellow with the mud of HALF A CONTINENT.
- At night, the water talks with DARK voices.
- When it passes Harrow, it is silent.
Vertical layout of four horizontal panels, moving closer and closer to inside of Harrow.
Panel One: Facing Harrow, at night. Moss, ivy, and foliage encompass the decaying big house. The picturesque Corinthian columns have cracks and caked on dust covers Harrow. The shadows cast by the trees and other things create images that appear to be apparitions against the façade.
Narration: It is better to see Harrow at night when the sun does not highlight the missing and doors and peeling white paint. The moonlight is kinder.
Panel Two: Zoom into one of the windows, the roof is gone and the stars and moon provide the light. Here, we see a scene reminiscent of a Lost Cause image of the South, a Southern aristocratic ball with men in tuxedos and women in gowns as Black men and women serve them (possibly the latter as shadows not apparitions). Here, I am thinking something like this panel of Rogue from Uncanny X-Men #11.
Narration: When the moon is at the full, Harrow is still magnificent. It brings back the white again, and the shadows hide the weeds between the flagstones.
Panel Three: We see the garden, under the sunlight, in the past with cape jasmine and other plants blooming in the sun (white crepe myrtle, red oleanders, mimosas, cape jasmines, roses, lilies, honeysuckle, and magnolia fuscatas), birds in the birdbath, and garden ornaments. In the distance, the kitchen house, sugar mill, and slave quarters. Possibly have people walking around.
Panel Four: Present. Move towards flagstone path. We see red flagstone curving through the overgrown garden. A birdbath filled with dirt and mud, broken garden ornaments, and in the background, off in the distance, the kitchen house, followed by the sugar mill and slave quarters further on the horizon. Here, can have formerly enslaved as apparitions. This should be similar to previous panel, only decaying and at night.
First panel small in top left with larger panel two behind it (taking up half of the page). Bottom half sequence of three vertical panels.
Panel One: Small panel in top left. Closer to the kitchen house. All of this is first person, so possibly have reader look at hands, covered in dirt, and reader pulls weeds aside.
Panel Two: Larger, maybe half page, sort of like panel one on first page. Outside of the brick kitchen house, no door. We can see inside, shadows playing off the walls.
Panel Three: Inside the kitchen house. We focus on the dust covered fourteen feet across fireplace. Possible shadows of flame and pot on trivet playing on brick at back of fireplace.
Panel Four: We look at rusted over kitchen implements, some pots hanging from pot hooks, some on the ground or decaying wooden counter, game spits, and other utensils.
Panel Five: We look at the wall and see a shadow of an old woman preparing to cook bread. This is Aunt Caleen.
Full page panel showing Aunt Caleen, either in past actually cooking in the kitchen or in current moment, seen in the dark as an apparition. Aunt Caleen looks similar to Ma Etta from Bitter Root.
Narration: History tells us Stephen Fox built Harrow, but history lies. Aunt Caleen built Harrow and Stephen Fox brought about its ruin.
Four panels. Not sure of layout. Could be three as well with panel four being a full page for page six.
Panel One: We leave the kitchen house, walking back towards river. We see sugar mill and decaying machinery, weeds and the earth reclaiming it.
Panel Two: We look and see two slave quarters, off to the side of the road, overgrown with trees and falling apart. You see them from the road. They are leaning, missing doors or even one is missing it’s front. Here, I think about the quarters at River Lake. This is the final one still standing.
Panel Three: Approaching boat. We see Mississippi and possibly a large container ship drifting towards New Orleans. The sky is visible with the full moon and stars, illuminating the waters.
Narration: The river remains silent here. The dark voices drowned underneath the passage of time.
Panel Four: We look forward, from the boat, towards New Orleans. Possibly have lights illuminating the sky as we look in that direction. Could have a big house on side of river, one used for Plantation tourism, kept up and pristine in the moonlight.
Narration: You roar away downstream in the still waters before Harrow. And you don’t look back.
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