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This is a full page of avatar's face, unfolding in both space and time. He is wearing sunglasses, hands folded together covering his mouth, with an expression that reveals nothing. The portrayal of him suggests that despite our intimacy with his visage, he is a man whose true intent remains hidden. The panels splitting his face perhaps suggest something of his fractured mental state as well. In essence, what we're doing is similar to cinematography with discomforting angles, obscuring foreground objects and shadow, etc. which serve make the viewer less comfortable. My basic idea was 1/6th's at the top (separate panels for each eye), and then 2/3 horizontal panels carrying down the rest of the page.
We are in a prohibitively expensive business office -- specifically, Avatar's. He is sitting behind an expensive dark wooden desk, Big, rippled, hazy plate glass window behind him. Heavy, expensive, 40's style furniture. However, this all takes place in a skyscraper in a highly developed western european city. The decor is somewhat of a throwback, and it doesn't extend through the whole building. It advertises the wealth of his company.
At first, I had a rather elaborate vision of what he looked like -- long, straight white hair, strong features, long coats and stylish like the matrix -- but after more time, he's become more similar to a conventional businessman. Simple short haircut, suits, and younger, mid 30's. I'm not sure what kind of mental picture you might have yourself, so feel free to play with his appearance.
The left eye of his mirrored glasses. We can see the light of an open door in the background reflected in the lens.
The figure of a man now casts a silhouette in the doorway. The speech bubble comes from the bottom (off panel), of course, not the small figure we see reflected in the sunglasses.
- Sir? If this isn't a good time --
- Grieve, come in and stand still. (the tail of speech balloon leads to avatar's mouth, in the next panel.)
Horizontal, the rest of avatar's head, including the mouth hidden by his folded hands. This is the most text driven panel of the page -- which makes sense, because avatar is always shielding himself from observation and instead trying to lead others with words, right?
- Your twitching is distracting me -- (i want to minimize this line, so we'd put it next to the rest of the dialog)
- I'm listening, sir.
- Thank you. First, I wish to state how grateful I am to you for making me aware of the board's coup against me. It's been dealt with, and I'll soon deal with them. I assumed I had learned to expect disappointment from human behavior, but it seems life will forever outpace my imagination. The only thing working in the board's favor is that they're too stupid and petty to merit the effort it would take to punish them. They're no better than children, really. And I don't have time for them.
Avatar's elbows on the table, etc. His name plate ("Jonathan Blackwater"), a official-looking file, other junk. The surface of the desk. The file reads: "WCG tier 3 access only" "Projected near-term consequences of the global atmospheric crisis" date 2047 or something, etc. "urgent action"
- A list of the conspirators is outside my office with Christine. As soon as you deliver notice to the individuals involved, control transfers to you as the new executive director. In light of recent developments, I've reconfigured the company to ameliorate what we can. Handling the transition is your certainly within your abilities. I'm also aware you have a young family, and you will need every advantage possible to help them in the times ahead. I wish you better luck than I had.
Upper body reaction shot of Grieve, who looks both pained and slightly stunned. Keep avatar's face off the panel but include the side of his body, so we can see that Grieve is looking at him. It's by reading avatar's body language (and the last spoken line), that Grieve is aware of how unhappy Avatar is in ("in"??? geyser).
Head and shoulders of Grieve from the front. He has brought his hand up to the side of head, which is slightly lowered as if he had a headache. His stunned look is more like tired now (thinner eyes, etc)
- John, man... I dreamed about this. Anyone would. But these circumstances -- maybe nobody's saying anything, but I know you're hurting.
- So you had to sort out the board, but that's finished --
- Avatar (slightly exasperated)
- Ah, Grieve. I didn't get here by being made of glass. I won't be insulted if you're direct with me. If you don't want to spend the rest of the week wondering what I might have said to you, get to the point.
- You built everything here yourself, with your own money, in your own lifetime. There's not a transnational in the world even close to this. It's next to impossible in the global economy. What you've done, in this day and age... it's art. Inspiring. You poured your life into it. Yet you're just going to turn your back on it, like it was nothing --
- I built this company to keep me busy, Grieve. After I met Simone, it gave us a good life. I was happy and there was no reason to leave. With Simone gone, I've lost my reason to stay.
- Bullshit. You're revising. You liked the work here. It was a challenge. You told me that yourself, John! What's so different?
Reaction shot. Avatar is sizing up Grieve, who is more emotional than him despite the circumstances.
I was too lazy to break this one up
- Grieve, I sold military equipment to anyone I legally could under the law. I pressed the WCG on their laws as often I could so I could sell more. I could have cared less where anything ended up. I made a very good living off conflict. I wasn't proud of it, but my personal life offset it. Now -- well, I've been forced to reassess what I've truly accomplished.
- John, we're more legit than anyone in the world. Everyone respects you.
- I'm respected by men I despise, Anthony. Parasites. In a better world, the public would tear them limb from limb for allowing this to happen. The only reason WCG won't collapse is because humanity has lost the backbone to pull them down. And so now, we're all going to drown together, and perhaps we deserve to. The only person I've ever truly cared for was Simone. And I've lost her forever.
- John, that was out of your control. You can't take something like this to heart.
- Everything happens for a reason, Grieve. That's the principle of good science. I was content to grow fat of humanity's appetite for destruction instead of fighting it. I was stupid to think I was untouchable. Hubris. This company will continue to operate, but I've finished with it. There's nothing here I want to remember. Nothing.
- Hi, Tony. Present for you. And congratulations.
- (looking back at avatar's office, in deep thought)
- I don't think he's going to last very long. It's a shame.
- Christine, what happened, exactly?
- You wouldn't have heard, Tony, but Simone lived through the collapse. Her baby lived through the collapse. He knew because they were next to each other the whole time.
- How does that make things any different?
- She died right next to him, Tony. Slowly, and he couldn't do anything. It was bad. I saw him in hospital. Full restraints, hallucination, sedation -- and then, all of a sudden, bam. Nothing. It was like he flipped a switch. He just signed his papers and left. But his eyes, his eyes weren't any different. It's awful to see, and it scares me. And I can't say anything to him. Because it's not like he's doing anything wrong. There's not a question he'll avoid, or not have the right answer for, but at the same time, it's like he's amputating something (emotional courage? empathy?) -- but it's so fuzzy, I can't say what. It's frustrating.
- You know, I've think I've had enough for today. I'm getting rid of those pricks on the board, and then I'm going home to see my kids.
- Tony, there's a lot to take care of today. John wants to refocus the factories on disaster relief. He chose you because you understand the technicalities of this better than anyone else.
- I won't be long. Honestly, I've felt guilty about being here so much this week, with everything that's happening out there. I'm sure you've got priorities yourself, right?
- Me? Oh, Steve and I aren't really serious...
- Has he been on hold this whole time?
- Aheh -- guess so...
- You're not in trouble, Chrissy. Especially not when the world is falling apart around our ears. Don't forget this is only a job, alright? I won't be long.
- Be careful, Tony. I know I don't know you that well, but, I've aged twenty years this week -- so, you know --
- Of course, love.
Grieve leaving the office, looking thoughtful.
Grieve and an exhausted looking bike courier in an elevator
- Pretty bad out there?
- Bike courier
- No shit.
(fast-forward 4 years to HERE)