PAGE ONE (4 panels)
Panel 1. A nameless MAN stands before an open casket inside a church, staring with awe at the dead old man inside. WES, a local news reporter, watches this man with intense and hopeful interest. Wes has a stylus and a tablet in his hands, and he wears the stereotypical “press” hat. He sits in the front row of pews to get the best view of the action. The church is a packed house, and all of the people present are bizarrely cheerful, as far as funerals go. A second nameless DUDE stands beside the first nameless man; he’s only here to be used as a visual gag in the next panel though. The dead man is in a very expensive suit, and the casket looks pretty classy.
1 MAN: I can’t believe he’s really gone--
Panel 2. The nameless man’s expression changes to total elation as he high-fives the nameless dude. But in spite of the high-five, the nameless man is actually facing us, the readers, for maximum silly effect. Wes rolls his eyes and slumps his shoulders with disappointment.
2 MAN: --This is the happiest day of my life!
Panel 3. (This panel and Panel 4 should ideally be side-by-side in a row.) Wes extends his hands out to his sides, frustrated. The tablet is in his lap now, but he’s still holding the stylus in his right hand. The other hand is pointing a thumb toward something in Panel 4. Wes isn’t talking to anybody in particular, though people give him odd stares.
3 WES: Oh, come on! Doesn’t anybody have a fond memory of this chump?
4 WES (connected): And what’s the deal with the photo they picked out for him?
Panel 4. A blown-up photo of the dead man is on display near the casket, from when the man was a little younger. In the photo, he is threatening a child with a knife. A SKINNY GUY next to the photo shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly.
5 SKINNY GUY: It was the best picture we had.
PAGE TWO (5 panels)
Panel 1. NINA, an early 20s young woman, leans forward in her pew directly behind Wes. She has spunky hair but is otherwise appropriately dressed for a funeral. We’ll soon find out she’s the deceased’s granddaughter. Wes tips his hat to Nina.
1 NINA: What’s it to you anyway, pal? If these people wanna make light of the old-timer, it’s no skin off your nose.
2 WES: Maybe, maybe not, miss. The boss says my writing is too sensational.
3 WES (connected): I came here angling to pump a human interest story out of this sad sack.
Panel 2. Bird’s-eye view of the room, looking down on the chirpy funeral-goers. A few shirtless people in shorts are knocking around a beach ball in the pews. Some people are wearing party hats. There is a couple making out against a wall. Feel free to add in any other horrible things you can think of. Wes and Nina just stare at the spectacle.
4 WES: Instead, I show up to find I’m covering spring break.
Panel 3. Nina has a bittersweet smile, eyes narrowed.
5 NINA: Yeah, grandpa always did have a way of bringing out the best in people.
Panel 4. Wes lights up, eyes bulging to inspect Nina.
6 WES: Grandpa?
Panel 5. Wes extends an excited hand to Nina.
7 WES: Hello, meal ticket! The name is Wes.
8 WES (connected): Now get all weepy and tell me about the time he bought you a bunny!
PAGE THREE (5 panels)
Panel 1. Nina crosses her arms and looks Wes straight in the eyes. Wes looks disturbed all of a sudden.
1 NINA: Well, I did watch grandpa bite a bunny’s head off once.
2 WES: You mean, like a chocolate bunny?
3 NINA: No.
Panel 2. Wes is starting to look disheveled as he hangs off the back of his pew. Nina is unconcerned.
4 WES: Jeez, I’m dying here!
5 WES (connected): Surely he must have had a soft side! Please God tell me he had a soft side.
Panel 3. Nina manages a weak smile. It’s a sincere emotion though, no sarcasm. Work your artistic magic to place some extra emphasis on this panel.
6 NINA: Not really. He was the worst, through and through.
Panel 4. Wes points at Nina, his finger so close that it touches the tip of her nose. She looks cross-eyed staring at the finger.
7 WES: But, but, he clearly procreated.
8 WES (connected): Somebody must’ve loved him at some point.
Panel 5. Nina’s GRANDMA walks by, decked out in huge, gaudy jewelry. Rings, chains, bracelets—the works. She wears big shades and is as perky as anyone else at the funeral. Nina waves to her, though she has a puss on her mouth. Wes is only further disturbed.
9 GRANDMA: Nah, I was just a gold digger.
10 GRANDMA (connected): He needed sex. I needed a yacht. It worked out.
PAGE FOUR (3 panels)
Panel 1. A woman dressed like a STEWARDESS comes up on Wes and Grandma, distributing a small card with illegible writing to Grandma. The stewardess has a polite, sterile grin. Wes has reached the limit of his disgust with this whole situation.
1 STEWARDESS: Now, boys and girls, don’t forget that photo ops with the casket begin at noon!
2 GRANDMA: Ooo! How could I forget?!
Panel 2. Wes leaps to his feet, outraged and looking to vent. He grits his teeth at everyone in attendance. Wes is the center of attention now. Nina is enjoying the display.
3 WES: Alright, enough’s enough! A man has died, people.
4 WES (connected): What could he have done in life to deserve treatment like this?
Panel 3. Wes stands before the sea of people in the pews, random people piping up with their responses to his question. Responder #1 is clearly a scruffy homeless bum. Responder #3 sits in the front row close to Wes, because otherwise it will make the lettering an impossible nightmare. Wes probably ought to be staring at Responder #3 too, to make it crystal clear that he is talking to that person.
5 RESPONDER #1: He built a homeless shelter just so he could tear it down!
6 RESPONDER #2: He voted Nazi in the last election!
7 RESPONDER #3: He ran over my brother on purpose!
8 WES: How do you know?
9 RESPONDER#3: Because he backed up to hit him again!
PAGE FIVE (6 panels)
Panel 1. Wes stares blankly. No dialogue.
Panel 2. Wes shrugs.
1 WES: Story checks out.
Panel 3. Nina puts a hand on Wes’s shoulder, now that he is sitting back down in the pew. He is slumped over in depression.
2 NINA: It was sweet of you to do that, even if your motivation was entirely selfish.
3 WES: Yeah, real cotton candy. Maybe I can write a human interest piece on my pending unemployment.
Panel 4. Nina grabs Wes by the chin so that he has to look directly at her.
4 NINA: No, you’re gonna write about my grandpa, because I loved him.
5 WES: Bwuh?
6 NINA: He was a monster. He was so evil that he even makes jerks like you seem considerate by comparison.
Panel 5. Nina extends one hand invitingly and gives a real toothy grin for the first time. She has let go of Wes, who is staring at her with wonder. Nina’s other hand is off-panel.
7 NINA: And I loved him for being able to do that!
8 WES: Toots, that’s the craziest thing I ever heard--
Panel 6. Wes is now scribbling something onto his tablet with renewed excitement and energy. Nina puts a party hat on top of Wes’s press hat. She’s still smiling.
9 WES: --It’s perfect! Touching, yet real. Can I quote you on that?
10 NINA: Of course. Now get back on your feet. The first ten people to take the photo op get a free copy of the death certificate!