Here's my submission for Mark Miller's script competition for his Chrononauts
comic-book series. Since I didn't win, I've changed the names to avoid copyright issues. Here's a four-page story starring the Time Jerks.
Panel 1/ A convertible sports car bursts through a fiery circle of light. Dark-haired Grizzle frantically drives while light-haired Forst rides shotgun. Behind them, faintly visible in the glare, Zulu warriors hurl spears at them.
The car has emerged onto a broad grassy plain. In the background are small groves of trees and a low line of bluffs. A few Plains Indian tipis stand in the distance on the right. A couple of dark-haired people and their animals—horses and dogs—look at the commotion.
1. TITLE: Time Jerks
2. SUBTITLE: Two white guys romp though history in search of fame and fortune.
3. CAPTION: 1876
4. FORST: Zulus are as tough as their reputation.
5. GRIZZLE: Yeah, recruiting drive didn’t go so well.
Story: Rob Schmidt
Panel 2/ Still dodging a few spears, the car plows into a group of tipis. Indians in a mix of Western clothing and buckskins scatter.
7. FORST: Whoa, watch where you’re going!
8. GRIZZLE: Gotta get out of range.
Panel 3/ An overhead shot shows the car zooming past the first campsites of a huge Indian gathering. It’s an obstacle course of tipis, cooking fires, and people and animals. To the north, a river flows below the bluffs.
9. FORST: Where are we?
10. GRIZZLE: Not sure. Didn’t have time to set the coordinates.
11. FORST: Slow down! You’re gonna hit someone!
Panel 4/ The Indians regroup and attack the car as it barrels through the camp. On foot and on horseback, they shoot at the intruders with rifles and bows. Bullets and arrows fly past.
12. FORST: Speed up! Speed up!
13: SOUND F/X: zip zip zip
Panel 1/ A half-naked warrior leaps onto the car’s hood. With a knife in his mouth, he creeps toward Grizzle and Forst.
1. FORST: Get him off us!
Panel 2/ Grizzle yanks the steering wheel. The car swerves and strikes a tipi, ripping it from its moorings. Surprised, the Indian goes flying in the other direction.
Ahead, just visible in the distance, is a large buffalo hide stretched on a wooden frame.
2. GRIZZLE: Satisfied?
3. FORST: These people … are we changing their history?
Panel 3/ Grizzle and Forst glance behind them. Like a scene from an old Western, angry warriors pursue them on horseback.
4. GRIZZLE: Either we’re creating a parallel timeline or we’re rewriting our own.
5. GRIZZLE: Won’t know which unless we go back to the future.
6: SOUND F/X: yi yi yi yi yi!
Panel 4/ The car slams into the buffalo hide, which envelops the front half of car, blocking the guys’ view.
7. GRIZZLE: Which I don’t plan to—
8. FORST: LOOK OUT!
Panel 5/ As the hide falls away, Grizzle and Forst find warriors surrounding them with weapons aimed to kill. The guys raise their hands in surrender.
9. WARRIORS: Spies! Thieves! Fat takers!
10. GRIZZLE: Whatever they’re speaking, our translators are handling it.
11. FORST: Hey, we’re after fame and fortune, not “fat.”
Panel 1/ As women and children watch, the warriors lead Grizzle and Forst through the camp. With their hands tied in front of them, the guys try to talk to their captors.
1. FORST: Not spies or thieves. We’re, uh, messengers.
2. GRIZZLE: Never thought I’d say this, but ... take us to your leader.
Panel 2/ The warriors push them through a flap into a big, dimly lit tipi. On the far side, sitting on hides, are a middle-aged Sioux and his advisers. The Indians look unhappy to see white men.
3. FORST: Is that … Sitting Bull?
4. GRIZZLE: Looks like it.
5. FORST: Then this must be Little Big Horn.
6. GRIZZLE: And Custer’s about to attack.
Panel 3/ Grizzle and Forst stand before Sitting Bull and the other Sioux leaders.
7. SITTING BULL: Who are you and where did you come from?
8. FORST: We, uh, flew down from the sky.
9. GRIZZLE: Yeah, uh, on the back of a thunderbird.
10. SITTING BULL: You speak nonsense. Why are you here?
11. GRIZZLE: We come with, er—
Panel 4/ Face to face with Sitting Bull, Grizzle has a bright idea.
12. GRIZZLE: A warning from the spirits.
13. GRIZZLE: Beware the Long Hair. Though you will be victorious, many will die. The white man will hunt you until you have vanished like the buffalo.
Panel 5/ Warriors lead Grizzle and Forst away as Sitting Bull and his men discuss what to do with them.
14. ADVISER #1: They’re lying, of course.
15. ADVISER #2: Kill them and take their scalps.
16. SITTING BULL: No, tie them up. I may have questions for them later.
Panel 1/ Just outside the tipi, Forst kicks one of the guards in the gut. Grizzle raises his arms to shield himself from another guard slashing at him with a knife. He positions his hands so the blade slices through his bonds.
1. FORST: Didja hear that?
2. GRIZZLE: Let’s get outta here!
Panel 2/ They run for their car as Indians chase them. With his hands still tied, Forst ducks as a warrior tumbles over him. With his bonds unraveling, Grizzle straight-arms another warrior.
3. FORST: Why aren’t they shooting at us?
4. GRIZZLE: Camp’s too crowded! Go!
Panel 3/ With Indians in hot pursuit, the guys leap into their car. Grizzle guns the engine and the wheels spin in a cloud of dust. A circle of light shimmers into existence before them.
5. FORST: Back to your place in Manhattan?
6. GRIZZLE: Yeah, Lucky Luciano’s girl is waiting.
7. SOUND F/X: rrrrRRWRR—
Panel 4/ In the background, the car sits in front of Grizzle’s luxurious mansion. Grizzle and Forst relate their adventures to men in pinstriped suits and women in flapper outfits. Perhaps a black butler stands by with a tray of refreshments.
8. CAPTION: 1929
9. FLAPPER: Were they all barbaric and savage-like?
10. FORST: Actually, they weren’t too bad—
11. GRIZZLE: Considering we invaded their home.
Filling the foreground is a copy of the New York Herald newspaper—on a table or in a henchman’s hands. Part of the front page is visible: the headlines, a drawing, and a chronology in one or two columns. The main headline is big.
Custer dead at 90
Former president dies in bed
The photo is a drawing of General Custer as seen in photographs just before Little Big Horn. The chronology reads:
His Career in Politics
1876: 7th Cavalry routs Sioux as they break camp
1877: Custer persuades Geronimo to surrender in Ariz.
1879: Custer is proclaimed “The Hero of the West”
1880: Custer runs for president against Garfield, wins
1882: “Learn and Earn” program launched for Negroes
1883: Chinese riot at So. Pacific Railroad ceremony
1884: Custer wins second presidential term
1885: Assassination attempt against Custer fails
1886: France starts to build Statue of Victory for U.S.
1888: Custer wins unprecedented third presidential term
1890: U.S. annexes Panama to begin work on canal
1891: First Hawaiian War ends in stalemate
1892: Custer wins fourth presidential term
1894: Sequoyah admitted to the Union as 45th state
1896: Col. Theodore Roosevelt killed in attack on Cuba
13. CAPTION: End.
For more on the subject, see White Male Privilege in Chrononauts