Last week Fiction Friday featured a radio script and today, the opening five pages of a comics script of an untitled project which was set in British controlled Egypt in 1884. In which we meet three of the protagonists of the book (well, sort of).
A splash page. There are many photographs and sketches of el-Armarna from this period. The important thing to remember is the sense of abandonment. The eerie atmosphere of a place where except for tomb robbers, people generally gave it a little distance. The hills are further from the Nile than much of the area, creating a fairly low and wide plain for the city and the villagers that sprung up since. Late afternoon, so there is both the oppressive brightness and long, deep shadows, which should convey a sense of dread. This is an unholy place, a well-preserved city that remains in such condition because it was given such a wide berth for so long. It should feel like such.
CAPTION: The ruined city of EL-AMARNA
CAPTION: Home of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaten. It was here that one man abandoned the centuries old religion of his ancestors to instead worship a single god. Who loved his wife so much that the imagery of Nerfertiti is unique amongst the wives of all the Pharaohs. Who was so hated and feared that his very name was erased from the tombs and walls of the city after his death.
The page is divided into three panels. Think widescreen. The panels may be literally wide but we need to convey a sense of the hugeness of the story. These shouldn’t be crowded images, but should have a sense of the vastness of scale and the emptiness of the desert that is just over the hill from the populated strip of land around the Nile.
Three mummies. Yes, the classic image of the undead. Go with the old school horror look from those old 20s movies. Almost comic in the sense that they’re no longer terrifying, but they can barely be made out trudging their way towards the ruins in what passes for rage, or at least an almost instinctual reaction similar to that emotion.
It’s not just three. There’s many of them. We pull back from those three and convey the sheer number of them which are coming over the hill, while simultaneously showing them dwarfed by the landscape.
From a perspective just above the sandy floor, an image of a mummy’s foot about to trigger a lengthy trip wire placed just above the surface between two rocks.
The top two thirds of the page show that the trip wire wasn’t a simple explosive, but now with a wide screen shot of the hillside, a series of seven explosive caches are triggered and erupting.
A figure on horseback approaches the area where the explosions are taking place at full gallop. The perspective is from the side and rear so we can see the hillside in the distance, now partially obscured by the dust and sand raised in the ruckus.
Dressed head to tow in flowing robes. Her gender can’t be noted from the outfit. She’s armed to the teeth. You probably won’t want to make all this obvious in this particular panel but for reference she’s carrying a saif, two revolvers, one side by side action express rifle.
Shifting focus to now behind the mummies. We’re looking through the hole that’s been opened up in the chest of one through our unknown rider, who we see is holding a rifle. The mummie heart has been blown to bits. The heart was one of the organs left in the mummies since that was the center of the body. The brain was pulled out because the ancient Egyptians thought smarts came from the heart, so that’s where it would make sense to shoot them if that would even do anything.
From similar perspective as the second panel of the last page we see her stuff her rifle into the holster built into the saddle having no time to reload, and reach for the saif in the holster built into the opposite side of the saddle.
She jumps from the horse with a colt revolver in one hand and a saif in the other, mid-air about to slash at one creature nearby.
The top two thirds of the page. Two well dressed gentlemen are descending the stairs from their rooms on the third floor to the first floor of Shepheard’s Hotel for high tea on the terrace. This is one of the world’s most elegant hotels and this is Victorian opulence at its best. The men are the same age but they cut very different figures. The physically smaller of the two is Sir Jonathan Dent, CB Order of the Bath. Every bit the aristocrat and former military man he has the bearing of a man who is impeccably dressed and feels that wherever he is, he belongs there. He is also profoundly uneasy, which he rarely shows, but he would be a horrible poker player and here his expression does not match his bearing.
The other man, slightly taller and broader, is Abel Pirrip, who served with Dent in Africa and has joined him on this expedition. He is a bit more uncomfortable in formal wear and moving amongst the sorts of people he meets at a place like Shepheard’s. This is not the world he was born into.
DENT: I’m quite certain it didn’t happen in that manner.
PIRRIP: Oh no. I have it on good authority, sir.
DENT: The Howard Easton expedition, you say?
The bottom third of the page is cut into two panels.
Dent does have a tendency at times to be pompous, a skill he learned at a young age and occasionally find himself doing so with Pirrip though he makes an effort not to. He owes Pirrip too much from their years at war to treat the man like that. He thinks of Pirrip as an equal, Dent is just naturally something of a jackass. Pirrip is also one of the only people in the world who can call out Dent. And so while Dent knows the answer, he tries to be careful about how he speaks.
DENT: Everyone died in that expedition.
Pirrip is uneasy at this news.
PIRRIP: What do you mean everyone died?