Desperadoes: Ruins is a short script I wrote for an Homage Comics special that ended up not happening, and will probably never happen. It was originally to be drawn by Steve Lieber (Whiteout), but then Carlos D'Anda was brought in instead. Carlos did pencils for most of it, maybe all of it--but rights problems with some of the other Homage properties confused the issue, so the book was cancelled. Rather than let the script languish indefinitely, I thought I'd post it here...you can see what my script format is like, and Desperadoes fans can read the story that won't see print.
by Jeff Mariotte
A large panel, maybe the top third of the page. Inside the kitchen of a New Mexico farmhouse. Our four heroes are sitting around a big plank table with John Block, the owner of the place. His wife Susanna stands nearby. John is in his sixties, white-haired but robust. Susanna is a small woman, about the same age, but shrunken-looking, her hard years showing on her lined face. There are cups of coffee on the table, and empty breakfast dishes. Warm morning sun streams in the window.
1. Gideon: ...appreciate you shelterin' us while that posse snooped around. Ever anythin' we can do for you folks--
2. John: Now you mention it...
3. Title: Ruins
4. Credits box: Jeff Mariotte, writer
John Layman, editor
Desperadoes created by Jeff Mariotte and John Cassaday
A different angle, mostly on Block and Susanna. She tries to shush him. From her expression it's clear she knows what he's about to talk about, and doesn't want it said.
5. Susanna: No, John. Don't let's bring that up again.
6. John: (a) Now, Susanna. These four who I think they are...
(b) ...well, you've heard the stories, same's me.
On the four Desperadoes. Gideon is poker-faced. Abby's surprised. Race and Jerome are smiling, but kind of trying to hide it.
7. Jerome: Stories? We famous, Gid?
8. Gideon: (a) Best hope not, Jerome.
(b) What are these stories, Mr. Block?
On Block. Maybe we can see Susanna behind him, determinedly ignoring him now.
9. John: (a) They say there's four fugitives, desperadoes, can go up against things most folks can't even see. Or would want to.
(b) Spirits, and such.
A view showing Block indicating the four of them.
10. John: Two white men, one black one, and a woman. Names of Gideon Brood, Race Kennedy, Jerome Betts, Abby DeGrazia. Sound familiar?
11. Gideon: I ain't sayin' yes or no, Mr. Block. But if'n we was them...
Outside, a little later. The four of them, and Block, are standing outside a small cabin, set off by itself on a rarely-traveled wagon track. This is desert country, so there's not much foliage, but a few plants stand around the cabin. It's tiny, one door, a window, probably just one room inside. It's not adobe style, more European-design, slanted roof, and so on, but made from local rock.
On the ground, as if they rolled off the roof, are dozens of stones, about baseball-sized. And oddly uniform in size and shape.
1. Gideon: (VO) "...what is it you'd want of us?"
2. John: Looks like it happened again.
3. Abby: What did?
Block picks up one of the stones, shows it to the others.
4. John: (a) These, Abby.
(b) Once, mebbe twice't a year, these come down on the roof.
5. Race: From where?
John raises a hand to the heavens.
6. John: (a) Up there, Mr. Kennedy. Somewheres.
(b) Makes a terrible thunder.
(c) This's a lot of 'em, too. More'n usual. Mebbe they knowed you was around.
Abby holding one of the stones, John next to her.
7. Abby: Who did? And who's inside this place? Why stay here with rocks falling on the roof?
8. John: I'll show you.
Looking through the door into the small cabin. There's nothing inside except a man sitting in a rocking chair. He looks like he's about thirty, clean cut, dark hair. He is utterly still, eyes open but unseeing. He hasn't moved in a very long time, but he's dusted regularly, and his clothes are changed when they start to decay on him.
1. John: Meet Harry Block.
They all have come into the cabin and are looking at the still man in the chair.
2. Gideon: Your son?
Close on John. A pained look on his face.
3. John: My grandfather.
A wider shot -- they're all looking at John, at Harry.
4. Jerome: Ain't possible. He's half your age, if that.
5. John: He's eighty-nine. His son, my pa, died at sixty. Same age I am now.
John puts a hand on his grandfather's shoulder.
6. John: (a) Old Harry here hasn't moved since 1835. Don't eat, don't sleep, don't mess hisself. Just sits there.
(b) He ain't dead. We keep him clean, change his clothes a couple times a year.
(c) There's three others just like him in Grant's Camp. Reckon the rocks came down on them last night too.
This page is mostly flashback. In this panel, we see Harry Block, looking much like he does now, only moving around. He's with three friends, also middle-aged men. They're moving carefully through the ruins of an Anasazi village (I'll provide reference), carrying shovels and picks.
1. John: (VO) "Four of them had gone to explore the ruins of an old Indian town, few miles up the road."
2. John: (VO) "They were gone five days."
The dusty main street of Grant's Camp, new Mexico. It wasn't much of a town in those days, more of a crossroads on the way to somewhere else. Not much of a town now, either. There are a couple of adobe buildings, a wood frame livery, a church.
Lying in the dust of the road are four bodies -- Harry and his three friends. They're just there, as if they were dead. Of course, they're not, exactly.
3. John: (VO) "Morning of the sixth day, they were found on the road in Grant's Camp. No one seen 'em come in, or put there. No tracks around 'em. Road dust wasn't disturbed. They was just there."
Closer on the men. Eyes open. Maybe a couple of flies on them. Not moving.
4. John: (VO) "They wasn't dead, but not exactly alive neither. To this day, they're the same, the four of 'em."
Out of the flashback now, a long shot looking at the cabin, off by itself.
5. John: (VO) "Nobody wants 'em stayin' in their house, on account of the stones. So each man's family built 'im a cabin somewhere's quiet. They just stay there, in a chair or a bed."
Inside the cabin, John is looking into Gideon's eyes.
6. John: Reckon mebbe the four of you could go into the ruin, see if you can make whatever did this go away. Let our folk rest in peace.
7. Gideon: Saw that comin'.
The Anasazi ruins. The ancient village is tucked up under a sweep of sandstone cliff, and blends into the rock. There are smaller outbuildings in the foreground, and circles of stone indicating the roofs of a couple of underground Kivas. It's still daytime, but later, and the air is perfectly still.
The four are approaching the ruins, on foot. They're wary, but haven't drawn weapons.
1. Abby: Sure is quiet. Like Mr. Block said, folks seem to want to stay away from this place.
2. Jerome: And them that do come here never come back. Them horses sure didn't want to get too close.
3. Gideon: Can't say as I blame them.
4. Race: Think we'll need our guns in there, Brood?
A small inset. Gideon has a grim expression on his face.
5. Gideon: Story that Block feller told, don't sound like lead would do us much good.
...on to PAGE SIX