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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spalding Gray

While enrolled in Mark Kneece's Comic Book Scripting class this past winter, I wrote the story seen below, which is entitled Resubmission. I was a 19-year-old, idealistic Long Island kid when the events of 9/11 changed the city forever. Prior to that, I had spent a year at Boston's Emerson College, Gray's alma mater, and also distinctly remember following the 2003-2004 news articles that reported his disappearance, and eventual discovery of his death. Years later, I created the character of Scott Black, and via fiction, decided to change the fate of an individual with whom I'd felt connected. I'd like to thank the estate of Spalding Gray, as well as writer John Boland for posting this script on Spalding Gray's official website.

*The following is an element of fan fiction. It is a means of reflection, and an expression gratitude, and should be perceived as entertainment only.*

Page One

Panel One

Shot of the silhouette of a man, Scott, seated at a table against a gray, unlit background. He is hunched over, with a burning cigarette in his hand, gesturing while speaking.

Scott: It was an old city with its ghosts and crevices, yet a new city, reduced to fear and nothing.

Panel Two

A stage technician is sitting in a lighting booth at the back of the house, looking over a lighting board. He is in the foreground, and we can see the vague figure of the smoking man on the stage in the background. An audience, filling up a small theater separates them. The technician flicks on a stage spotlight.

SFX: FUTOOH!

Scott: I saw the buildings fall; the dust cloud the air, drying tears if only for a moment. I wanted to know why they had struck the heart…

Panel Three

We now see the clear figure of the smoking man seated on the stage. It’s evident that he is in the middle of a performance. He is in his mid-fifties, and dressed modestly. His expression and demeanor are anything but happy. His cigarette has just about burned down to its filter.

Scott: why they had taken the essence of our lives; stolen our city from us. Maybe history took it back as an overdue payment.

Panel Four

A man, Jim, a stockbroker type, who is younger than the one on stage, is seated in the packed audience. He is staring intently in front of him, mouth agape, obviously taken by what he is hearing. Some of the other audience members have similar expressions, others don’t seem to care, and a few are sleeping.

Scott (from stage): It hurt to see her so victimized by outsiders.

Jim (whispering): Geez.

Panel Five

Close up of Scott’s cigarette ash, as it falls into the ashtray.

Scott: And now, every time the subway doors close behind me; every time I buy the Times; every time I open my eyes, really, I stare into a chasm that not even a spectacle of lights can fill.

Panel Six

The curtain falls. The audience claps.

Curtain SFX: SOOOSH!

Audience: TUT-TUT-TUT

PUH-PUH-PUH

Page Two

Panel One

A hallway leading to the backstage of the theater. It is filled with people who are holding coffee cups and martini glasses, wearing VIP badges, and chatting. The air is stuffy with pretension. The focus is on Jim, the man from the audience as he walks swiftly through the hall.

VIP: Blah, blah, Really?

Another VIP: Blah, when I was in Rome, blah, blah.

Panel Two

Closer shot of Jim looking at the different people in the hallway. It is obvious that he is looking for someone. His gaze is intense, and he is clutching his program.

Jim: He’s gotta be…

Panel Three

Shot of Jim from a different angle, looking at different pretentious people. He still hasn’t found who he’s looking for.

Jim: …here somewhere.

Panel Four

Jim has stopped towards the end of the hallway, where he has found who he was looking for. It is Scott, the performer of the evening. We see a bird’s eye view of Jim’s foot in the immediate foreground, and are looking up at Scott, who is holding a martini glass, holding casual conversation with a man in glasses. Scott and the man with glasses are blurred by shadow.

Jim: Mr. Black…I, um, I’d like to speak with you.

Panel Five

Closer shot of Scott and the man with glasses. Scott has stepped forward, and is now half in, half out of the shadows. He looks tired and cynical.

Scott: And who are you?

Page Three

Panel One

All three men are now in the shot. Jim is stepping towards Scott, who is directing his position to the man in the glasses, who is stationary.

Jim: Just a…just a guy who saw your show.

Scott: Please excuse me for a moment.

Man with Glasses: Certainly.

Panel Two

Jim’s expression is somber, yet it is only in reflection. Scott looks innately miserable, and is shaking his head.

Jim: Your speech on 9-11 really hit me. I was on Wall Street when it happened. I saw a lot of people die.

Scott: Que sera, I guess. Terrible thing. Terrible.

Panel Three

Closer shot of Jim’s face and hands. He now has that youthful, idealistic expression on his face that makes you want to vomit.

Jim: But it brought us together. It made us stronger. I swear, even the cabbies were nicer.

Scott (off panel): Did it though? New Yorkers are a miserable lot.

Panel Four

Scott is pulling a cigarette out of a pack.

Scott: They just don’t care. Too busy making deals and catching trains.

Panel Five

Scott lights his cigarette. Jim is positioned slightly behind him, in the shadows.

Scott: What did Shakespeare say about life? It’s a walking shadow. A poor player. A tale told by an idiot.

Jim: Signifying nothing. Yeah, yeah, I don’t buy that.

Panel Six

Wider shot of the two men. They are now surrounded by both men and women who are wearing VIP badges, and carrying coffee cups and martini glasses. The new people seem to want Scott’s attention.

Scott: You should. It’s a crapshoot. Most of the time you lose.

Person A: Mr. Black, I-

Person B: Excuse me, Mr. Black-

Scott: Pardon me. I have to go now.

Panel Seven

Jim has stepped in front of Scott and the others, and is no longer in the shadows. Now, Scott and the others are. Scott’s cigarette has burned down, and is now little more than a really long ash.

Jim: Poor guy. He doesn’t realize how wrong he is.

Page Four

Panel One

Scott is walking down a dark, empty city street. His hands are in his pockets, shoulders are slumped, head is looking down, and there is a cigarette hanging out of his mouth.

Panel Two

He sees a discarded paper advertisement in the gutter of the street that catches his eye.

Panel Three

Close view of the advertisement. It is for the show that he’d just performed.

Panel Four

Scott is walking, reading the advertisement, not paying attention to the street.

Panel Five

He bumps into a woman, who is walking in the opposite direction.

Woman: Watch where yer goin’, asshole.

Scott: Sorry…Sorry.

Panel Six

Scott continues to walk, as he tosses the now crumpled up piece of paper into the street.

Scott: Waste of time. Total waste of time.

Page Five

Panel One

Jim is getting into a cab outside of the theater. Most of the show goers have left already, but there are still a few people hanging around outside.

Panel Two

Inside of the cab. The cab driver is foreign, though not a blatant stereotype. His cab driver’s I.D. is visible on the dashboard .

Cab Driver: Where to?

Jim: Have you ever met someone who was just…so sad, but shouldn’t be?

Panel Three

Different angle inside of the cab. Jim’s face is solemn. The cab driver looks irritated.

Cab driver: Where?

Jim: Do you know who Scott Black is? He’s a writer. Performer. Sad.

Panel Four

Close shot of the cab driver, who is pretty pissed off, but trying to contain himself. He just wants to drop this guy off, so that he can find someone else to transport.

Cab driver: I do not know this writer. I just want to know where you are going.

Panel Five

Jim leans forward, gesturing towards the square hole in the Plexiglas that separates him from the cab driver.

Jim: Sorry…Sorry. Pinto di Blu restaurant. 71st and Lexington.

Panel Six

The cab is driving away from the restaurant. Display signs of the restaurant’s name and menu are visible. There is a doorman outside, and a woman with a fur coat is walking out, arm-in-arm with a man in a suit. Jim is walking inside.

Page Six

Panel One

Scott is standing outside of the same restaurant that Jim walked into. The scene description is similar to the previous panel, however there is no couple walking out, and the doorman is positioned differently so as to denote a passage of time. Scott is smoking a cigarette that is almost down to the filter.

Doorman: Good evening, sir.

Scott: I hate publicity dinners.

Panel Two

Scott stomps out his cigarette at the doorman’s feet, directly in front of the door to the restaurant.

Doorman: SIR!

Panel Three

Interior of the restaurant. A maitre d is standing at a podium, and there are diners seated at tables throughout. A small, but classy bar area is just beyond the podium. The lighting is soft, there are paintings on the wall, and Mediterranean plants decorate the establishment. Jim is standing near the bar holding a wine glass, talking to someone. Scott is speaking to the maitre d.

Scott: I’m here to join the Kistner party.

Maitre d: Follow me, Mr. Black.

Panel Four

Jim has spotted Scott. He looks pretty excited. Scott doesn’t. The maitre d is stopped in his tracks.

Jim: Mr. Black! Looks like we run in the same circles.

Scott: Scott. It’s Scott. I have to be here. What’s your excuse?

Panel Five

Scott is following the maitre d towards a table.

Jim: Well, I…Look, Mr. Black. It’s all really not that bad.

Scott: I just met you. I don’t know if you’re a prophet, or a Mormon or something, but I have to go. Thank you. Good-bye.

Page Seven

*Panels One-Three all show Scott seated at a table with Upper Eastside art collector types. As each panel progress, he looks more and more discontented.

Panel One

Woman: Would you believe that the Guggenheim turned down Matthew Barney’s new project?

Man: Good.

Panel Two

Man: People don’t seem to understand quality these days. Right, Scott?

Panel Three

Scott: Sigh. Excuse me.

Panel Four

Scott gets up from the table. The woman who speaks, whispers the dialogue to another woman sitting next to her.

Woman: What’s his problem?

Panel Five

Scott is walking up a winding staircase towards the door to a balcony. The restaurant and its diners diminish in size. Jim is watching as Scott walks upstairs.

Panel Six

Scott is leaning over a balcony, smoking a cigarette.

Scott: Who is this show for anyway?

Panel Seven

View of Scott looking over the balcony at the distance to the street.

Page Eight

Panel One

Scott climbs onto the ledge, still smoking.

Scott: Not gonna cater to you bastards anymore.

Jim (off panel): HEY! Mr. Black! What are you doing?!

Panel Two

Scott looks at Jim’s shocked expression. He’s gesturing wildly, nearly falling off balance.

Scott: IT’S SCOTT! And I’m sick of it! Sick of these people. Sick of this farce. No one REALLY cares. They only want you if it suits their wallets.

Panel Three

The atmosphere is warped by Scott’s lack of balance. Jim is leaning towards the camera, as if to grab Scott. We see a distorted view of Jim from Scott’s perspective.

Jim: What about people like me? I just liked your story.

Panel Four

Jim grabs Scott by the arm, pulling him downward, and away from sudden death.

Jim: Empathy, Scott! You have it for everyone. That’s why it hurts.

Scott: They don’t care!

Jim: Some people do!

Panel Five

Scott crashes hard on the balcony floor.

Panel Six

Scott is pulling himself into a seated position. Jim is hunched over, with his hands on his knees, catching his breath.

Jim: Most…people…want…money. Some…want…insight. You’re important, Scott. You provide…insight.

Scott: Insight?

Panel Seven

Jim is leaning down, looking Scott right in the eyes. Scott, who is now seated, leans back on his hands, looking at Jim.

Jim: Yes. That’s why I’m here. For insight.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Culprit

As an insomniac child, I used to stay up late watching TV, even though I knew I'd have to wake up for school at the unholy hour of about 6:30 AM. Being what could be considered as a strange child, I also really enjoyed black and white films, so eventually the remote would guide me to PBS (Channel 13 on Long Island). Since beginning a course of study in animation, I've often thought back about animated works that struck me when I was a strange, insomniac child, and always think of the opening sequence of Mystery. It's an animation inspired by the late Edward Gorey's off-color, often morbid, illustrations. As a strange, insomniac adult, I am posting it to this site.


Monday, June 22, 2009

Quality

While spending some quality time on the internet, I came across a few awesome short animations. One is of ridiculous fish singing My Heart Will Go On from Titanic, as cut-outs sink around them. I wish I had come up with something this clever! It made me laugh so much, I had to share it. I'll credit the animator(s) as soon as I find the necessary information.
The other is a piece entitled Collision, by Royal College of Art graduate Max Hattler. He clearly conveyed social/political perspectives using only simple patterns, precise timing and appropriate sound effects. To me, that's brilliant.



Sunday, June 14, 2009

Videos

Since I've been griping about the degradation in quality that occurs when a video is uploaded to this site, I decided to post them via You Tube. For some reason, I still can't get the flying piece of toast to upload well, and it's making me a sad panda.




Saturday, June 13, 2009

In addition




While I'm at it, I figured I'd post some pieces that were created during my stay in John Larison's Materials and Techniques for Sequential Art class.
The first is a work in progress acrylic painting of a mountain range in Utah. The saturation level is still too high, and I feel that two more layers should suffice to tone it down. I will post that image when it's completed.
The second was my way of reflecting upon a negative experience I had in February with a man who was breaking into my roommate's car. Working as a student animator often requires that we keep late hours, and one night, I found myself returning to my apartment at 3 am. Apparently, I wasn't the only one outside. A man, who I so lovingly described as a "crackhead," was there as well. We had a conflict, which mainly involved me yelling at him to leave the premises. I have never been both so grateful for, and so afraid of, my loud New York mouth. Anyway, when it was time to create a 3 panel scratchboard comic, I decided to revolve my story around the characterization of a crackhead. Instead of conveying negativity with text, I chose to include lyrics from the gospel song Farther Along.
The third image is a watercolor, involving a cranky humanesque character, who really wants his toxic piece of toast. Alas, his breakfast manages to escape, yet reaches a sorry end on the kitchen floor. I have to admit that, mixing some of those blues and greens, was absolute torment.
I was oddly obsessed with toast during the quarter, and if you flip through to one of the earlier posts, you will see a simple animation I created in Flash, which also involves a flying piece of toast. Sometimes, I don't even understand my sense of humor.

I love the smell of 928 GB of free space in the morning...


So, I have finally arrived in my home state of New York. I need a job. Pronto. Wish me luck. As of now, I am living on Weight Watchers microwave meals (they're on sale at the grocery store), and watching reruns of The Golden Girls. It really is a well written show. When I'm that old, I'd like to be a combination of Sofia Petrillo and Blanche Devereaux.
Aside from the thrilling existence described above, I have also been making alterations to Transmissions, while as always, listening to Brazilian music. I still have more of it to work on, and am aiming to have it completed enough within the next few days, as I have other projects to get started on. So, here I am posting the new introduction, as well as a still image of what the ending will look like. What am I going to do with all of those buildings? You'll find out sooner than later. The sound isn't quite correct yet in the intro, but what else is new? Enjoy!


video