The whole shebang is laid out an a 9 panel grid, 3 x 3, with exceptions noted where applicable. The plan is to leave the entire thing in black and white, pencil and ink.
Captain Dallaire, a military man in his fifties with silvering hair, enters the governor’s study in his mansion. The room is as dark as the sky, lit only by the stars. The governor gestures to one of his chairs, despite the fact that he himself is too excited to sit.
Governor: Sit down, Captain Dallaire.
Dallaire waves away the suggestion, and the governor relents.
Dallaire: I’d prefer to stand.
Governor: Of course. Given the hour, you probably gather it’s something of import.
Dallaire counts off the time’s he’s been to the governor’s mansion, and holds up three fingers on his right hand, pointing at it with his left pointer finger. His four word balloons are joined together.
Dallaire: I’ve been to the governor’s mansion three times.
Dallaire: when you asked me to lead your joint Narcotics Unit.
Dallaire: when the Unit was presented to the press…
Dallaire: and tonight.
The governor puts his hands on his desk and leans over it towards Dallaire. The first word balloon, “Yes,” is high and to the left, while the second occurs near the center of the panel, giving a pause between them. The third balloon is lower than the second, but can be as close as it needs to be to fit.
Governor: I’ve taken a lot of flak, Captain, over the way I run things.
Governor: But nothing has Bit me harder than sending you after Husayn in Komara.
Dallaire’s expression is stern; he knows his team didn’t perform up to expectation, but he’s still defending them.
Dallaire: I know that operation was a disappointment. We were given bad intel that Husayn was collaborating with terrorists, and assembling WMDs.
The governor stares out the window, at the horizon.
Governor: Too many civilians ended up dead, Captain.
Governor: And the only reason none of us were held accountable were the drugs.
Dallaire has circled around behind the Governor’s desk, on the other end of it, not quite looking at the horizon or at the governor. His chest is puffed out, and he’s getting ready for an argument.
Dalliare: I told you from the beginning I didn’t want Janis on my team. He was involved in that mess under Pierson everyone said was water under the bridge.
Dallaire is riled, and defending himself and his unit. The governor relents without tearing his gaze from the window; his word balloon is small and low, almost orphaned.
Dallaire: It wasn’t.
Governor: I know.
The governor relents again, wearily this time, looking at Dallaire.
Dalliare: And that wasn’t our fault.
Governor: I know.
Dallaire calms down, now that he knows a confrontation isn’t coming. The governor drops it into his lap too quickly, without the pause for safety both men might have needed.
Dallaire: So why am I here?
They stare at each other a moment.
Dallaire is a little bit frustrated; he’s tried on many occasions to intervene in Sandy, but without getting the political support for such a move.
Dallaire: What about it?
The Governor is beaten despite himself. His entire body slouches as he reveals that his policy is broken, and his decisions are being overrun even as they speak.
Governor: The press is becoming increasingly agitated. They think we can do more- should do more.
Dallaire straightens up a bit, as he rattles off the state of things to the Governor.
Dallaire: Narc Unit’s posted in Kaddean because Hasen’s people are keeping us out of the city. We can keep the violence contained and help those who manage to leave…
Dallaire leans further, staring down the Governor.
Dallaire: but if you won’t give us the go ahead to enter Sandy, all we’re doing is clean up.
The Governor drops down into his chair, and presses his face into his palms. The governor’s word balloon comes near the edge of the panel, and low, indicating he sits there a moment before saying it.
Governor: I know.
Dallaire, eager, leans toward the mayor.
Dallaire: Are you giving my men authorization?
Same as panel 7, only the governor’s face is obscured by shadow, and he’s lowered his hands to his desk.
Detectives Motangue and Capulet greet Specialist Rodriguez in the hall outside an Interview Room. Rodriguez shakes Montague’s hand. The panel is farther away, to get all three men in frame.
Montague: The Ganja calls himself Marley. It’s an alias, but we’ll have to earn the real name. I’m Montague.
Rodriguez: Victor Rodriguez.
Closer in, as Montague keeps hold of the hand, and cranes his neck while he asks the question.
Montague: Where are you from?
Montague smiles politely, trying to peel the information from him with kindness. Rodriguez gives him only a curt return smile, without budging an inch.
Montauge: I meant what agency.
Rodriguez: You don’t need to know that, but I’m tasked to the Narc Unit.
Rodriguez: Interrogation Specialist.
Montague smiles like a jackass, because he thinks he’s being clever.
Montague: You want bad cop?
Rodriguez: Get me coffee.
Montague: Get him-
Rodriguez: No. You.
Rodriguez enters alone, and sits across from Marley.
Rodriguez: Why are you here?
First full shot of Marley. He’s in his twenties, a true Rasta, complete with dreads and a style of dress influenced by Parliament-Funkadelic, but without betraying his roots in the street. Rodriguez slouches a little, to take it easy, without losing his authoritative presence.
Marley: You a cop?
Rodriguez: Some days.
Rodriguez: Do you want a lawyer?
Rodriguez: I’m assuming your rights have been read.
Marley leans forward, threading his fingers in front of his face. He thinks he’s dropping the Holy Grail into Rodriguez’s lap, but Rodriguez hardly reacts.
Marley: I’m not under arrest. I want to talk. Bout Omar Hasen…
Marley: and the late John Grange.
Rodriguez: I’m listening.
Leona Hawa sits across from an older African American Professor. She’s wearing a Barbara Walters suit. He wears a brown suit, spectacles and a white and gray beard.
Khalel: Commissioner Grange was a father to the community. Unfortunately, he didn’t recognize the danger in the company he kept.
Hawa leans forward, recrossing her legs as she taps a pen on her knee.
Hawa: And you think Hasen had his Deputy Mayor killed?
Khalel treats her gently, despite his passion, as he leans forward, gesturing like a man holding a goblet in his right hand for emphasis.
Khalel: Hasen’s the man who bent the Ganjaweeds from a nonaggressive assembly of marijuana dealers into a violent, sectarian gang.
Khalel, even more composed, adjusts his eyeglasses.
Khalel: David Makonnen and I taught at the state university together. He was a chemically dependent eccentric, but he started them to provide ganja for Rastafari religious bynghis.
Khalel falls back in his chair, satisfied with his response as Hawa leans forward to redirect her question.
Khalel: He’d be as upset by their perversion as we are.
Hawa: But the question of Mayor Hasen’s culpability-
Khalel is almost apologetic. He wishes he knew the answer to her question, but he dances around it very effectively.
Khalel: I don’t know.
Khalel: Grange was the only opposition preventing Hasen from controlling the city’s south side. His death is, at best, a happy coincidence for Hasen.
Back in the governor’s study. The governor is still seated, but he sits up, hopeful.
Governor: What about that precinct we imported from Kaddean?
Governor: What was it the press call them, the “African Union”?
Dallaire: The 53rd. They’re a good group, but they’re undertrained, underfunded, and understaffed. They’re a band-aid on a bullet wound.
The governor is being candid, and his long face shows he’s prepared for the worst of news.
Governor: How bad is it, really?
Dallaire paces on the end of the Governor’s desk as he starts list the problems.
Dallaire: Police blockades prevent residents from leaving the Do. Fir neighborhood at night, and the Ganjaweeds are given tacit approval to rape, burn, or murder anything they find there.
Dallaire struggles to stay dispassionate, despite himself.
Dallaire: About 1% of the population have been killed. 5% have been left homeless. Unemployment is virtually universal. Emergency responders won’t respond without an escort from the 53rd.
The Governor’s face sinks back into shadow.
The Governor’s body slouches in silhouette even further as he speaks from his desk.
Governor: Hasen will make it an issue of race; he’ll make it a matter of religion. He’ll paint us as bigoted conquerors.
Dallaire leans towards the audience (as we see from the Governor’s POV), and he addresses all of us.
Dallaire: It’s not an issue of race. And it’s not an issue of religion. It’s the right thing to do.
Dallaire: More than that, I can’t help you with.
The governor picks up his pen, and he’s writing.
Governor: I know.
In the interrogation room, Marley’s giving Rodriguez a history lesson. Rodriguez knows most of it, but he’s good enough at his job to know it’s best to let Marley tell his story his way before picking at him. Marley sits a little uncomfortably back in the metal chair, but is mostly distracted by his storytelling.
Marley: The Original Ganjas left when Dr. Makonnen passed, been savin for they pilgrimage. Said our generation had no respect for Jah.
Marley: Back then, that was bull.
Rodriguez leans forward to emphasize his participation.
Rodriguez: What happened?
Marley’s words are at the top of the panel, and he looks off, as his words trail away, and Rodriguez’s balloon comes in at the bottom, to complete the thought.
Marley: Stopped bein bout bynghis, started bein bout business. I got nothing gainst a brotha wants to get paid…
Rodriguez: But you developed a problem with the way they went about it?
Marley shakes his head, and looks over Rodriguez’s shoulder.
Marley: Yeah. Burning ganja is a sacrament, but liquor, drugs poison a brothas mind, makes em stupid.
Rodriguez: And how did you feel about the violence?
Marley looks up at the ceiling, which should help clarify that by H.I.M. he’s talking about God.
Marley: H.I.M. professed peace and tolerance. He said respect religion, respect race. We supposed be resistin downpression, not killin our bredren and rapin our sistren.
Marley’s pissed, and his eyes are filling up with tears, and his fists are clenched on the table.
Marley: We ain’t fighting Amagidion, we making it worse, with Omar the Basher fillin our ears with his politricks.
Marley wipes his eyes, trying to look away to hide the fact from Rodriguez, who does him the courtesy of ignoring them.
Rodriguez: Did Omar Hasen direct the Ganjas’ movements?
Marley is now a little more defiant, and a little more in control of himself, and his attitude is back; you wouldn’t be surprised if he called you a punk in this panel.
Marley: The Ganjas don’t move unless someone tells them to.
Marley’s expression hardly changes; he’s gotten a sarcastic shell up, and Rodriguez is very careful not to shatter him.
Rodriguez: Who tells them to move?
Marley drops the name like it’s no thing. Like it doesn’t matter to him, when inside, he’s grinning.
Rodriguez isn’t surprised, but he gives Marley the satisfaction of reacting anyway.
Rodriguez: Adrian Raheem? The Mayor’s Aid?
Marley remains stoic, with the hint of a gleam in his eye.
Rodriguez sits up straighter.
Rodriguez: Why are you here, Marley?
Marley doesn’t look up at God this time, he just points toward the ceiling with one hand. It’s understated, the kind of gesture you might miss on your first read-through.
Marley: The Ganjaweed have forsaken Jah.
Rodriguez: Why have the Ganjas forsaken Jah?
They both know the end of the story, and that it’s a sad one, but they’ve known it a while now, and they say it with a sigh.
Marley: Same reason everyone does, man.
In the interview room, Hawa asks her question sincerely.
Hawa: Members of the Do. Fir gangs have called you their mentor. Would you say you advocate gang activity?
Khalel smiles, nearly a self-satisfied smirk, but his eyes are focused, razor-sharp, and despite the smile, he believes in his answer.
Khalel: I certainly can’t condone the conduct of the Ganjaweeds. But I do advocate resisting oppression, and challenging inequity.
Hawa reads her question from a prepared list, trying to finish off the interview. Khalel responds quite simply and matter-of-factly.
Hawa: In your book, Black, you present a disparaging picture of the power structure in the city, claiming the north side receives disproportionate representation and resources.
Khalel: All true.
These panels are combined to provide a wider shot of Hawa and Khalel. Hawa glances slightly to the side, at her producer, giving her the time signal. Khalel folds his hands and leans forward as he speaks into the camera. His balloon will be large, and may choke out some of the panel, or stretch into the next one if need be.
Hawa: I’m afraid we’re out of time.
Khalel: Then if I’d be permitted, I’d like to end with a quote from Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
Hawa says a sincere goodbye into the camera.
Hawa: Thank you for that, Dr. Abrahim Khalel. I’m Lowena Hawa, Channel 63 News.