"A Day to Remember" was written by Rob Schmidt and drawn by Rob Davis. The theme: Native people reflect on the tragedy of 9/11. The finished art is below, followed by the script. All pages are in black-and-white except the color version of page 1.
Page 1 (color)
PANEL 1. The scene is a street in a well-traveled tourist section of town. In the foreground is a kitschy establishment called the Big Chief Bar and Grill. It has a giant big-chief Indian statue and sign out front. Beyond it, down the street, are other kitschy establishments: the Silverado Motel, Kachina Gallery, Thunderbird Trading Post, Lucky Nugget Pawn Shop, etc.
1. CAP: Gallup, New Mexico.
2. CAP: The anniversary of 9/11.
3. CAP: Four old friends—Billy Honanie, Drew Quyatt, Pearl and Al Masayesva—are in town for a concert at the nearby Red Rock State Park.
PANEL 2. Panning shot of the interior as the four walk through it. The interior is decorated with a mix of Indian designs and patterns, kitschy Indian displays and paraphernalia, and genuine Indian art on the walls. A TV over one end of the bar is on and shows a figure speaking.
The four are dressed casually, in jeans and boots and so forth. Drew has on his usual t-shirt. This one says "Never Again."
The sotto voce comments are rendered similar to whispers—in a smaller font than the normal text. When two characters talk to each other sotto voce, they presumably lean toward each other so they don't interrupt the main speaker.
Throughout this vignette, the TV appears occasionally in the background, with shots of Osama Bin Laden and other 9/11-related images. A young Indian waitress, slightly overweight, also appears occasionally as she brings food or drinks.
4. AL: Why do we always eat here?
5. PEARL: The Indian kitsch...disgusting.
6. BILLY: I know, but Drew insists.
7. DREW: Yes. The burgers are to die for.
8. DREW (sotto voce): Not to mention the waitresses.
PANEL 3. They sit at a round table with the TV centered behind them. The sequence is Pearl, Al, Billy, and Drew. They settle in and look at menus. A young Indian waitress hovers behind Drew, ready to take their orders.
9. SPEAKER ON TV: The intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful, that honor the memories of those we lost that day.
10. AL (sotto voce): The usual?
11. PEARL (sotto voce): I imagine so.
PANEL 4. Billy speaks to the waitress and orders for the group. Drew leans back, smiles at her, and hands her a slip of paper surreptitiously. The TV shows the speaker before a New York skyline.
12. SPEAKER ON TV: The physical damage and loss of life took place here. The emotional carnage and the attack on freedom really took place around the world.
13. BILLY: ...a #1 combo, a #4, hold the mayo, a #7 with extra fries...
14. DREW (sotto voce): ...and here's MY number.
PANEL 5. Closeup of the four. Their orders placed, they sit back to talk.
15. BILLY: We've never really talked about that day.
16. BILLY: I'm curious. Where were you all when it happened?
17. AL: <groan>
18. AL: Must we do this?
19. BILLY: Why not? We've got an hour to kill.
20. AL (sotto voce): I dunno...because it's depressing?
21. PEARL (sotto voce): Oh, humor him.
22. DREW (sotto voce): Trust me, it's the only way to go.
PANEL 7. Billy looks at Pearl.
23. BILLY: Pearl, how about you?
PANEL 1. Head shot of Pearl as she introduces her flashback. Next to her is a scene of a typical classroom. Indian children are seated at their desks as she stands in the front, teaching.
1. PEARL: I was at the Day School, of course.
PANEL 2. Another flashback panel shows her rushing into another typical classroom with her students behind her. In this room the kids are watching a TV, wide-eyed, as the WTC twin towers billow with smoke.
2. CAP (upper left): "When we heard, we ran for information."
3. CAP (upper left): "Mrs. Shupla had the TV and VCR, so we crowded into her room."
PANEL 3. Shot of the group around the table. Pearl speaks sorrowfully.
4. PEARL: My first thought—my only thought—was the people.
5. PEARL: The plane passengers, the folks trapped in the towers...and, ohmygod, the ones who jumped!
6. DREW: Oh, the humanity.
7. PEARL: Yes, just like the Hindenberg.
PANEL 4. Pearl is teary-eyed. Next to her, Al lovingly wipes a tear from her eye.
8. PEARL: It was so sad. The kids were staring wide-eyed. Some were whimpering and crying.
9. PEARL: I was whimpering and crying too.
10. AL (sotto voce): You're still crying.
PANEL 5. Pearl continues narrating. Al pats her arm to comfort her.
11. PEARL: After a little while we had to shut it off. It was just too horrible.
12. PEARL: Besides, the parents were starting to call, so we sent the children home.
13. PEARL: When I think of the husbands calling their wives one last time, knowing they were doomed...<choke>
14. AL: Don't think about it.
PANEL 6. Al glares at Billy next to him.
15. AL: Whose bright idea was this again?
16. BILLY: Calm down.
PANEL 7. Shot of Pearl and Drew. Pearl wipes her nose with a tissue. Drew looks solemn for once.
17. PEARL: No, it's okay. <sniff> It's good to remember.
18. PEARL: The victims need our thoughts and prayers.
19. DREW: 9/11 was a bad day to die.
PANEL 1. Al narrates his story. Again, there's a head shot of him next to a flashback scene. The flashback shows a low-slung white building that stretches from one side of the panel to the other. It's nondescript and partially obscured by the cars and trucks in the parking lot.
1. AL: I was in Kykotsmovi delivering some papers.
PANEL 2. In a typical government office with desks in an open area, a group of casually-dressed Indian employees gather around a TV set against one wall. The TV shows another scene from 9/11.
2. CAP (upper left): "We all gathered around a set. My first thought was...WAR."
3. CAP (lower right): "What do you mean?"
PANEL 3. Shot of the group around the table.
4. AL: I knew someone had declared war on us—probably the damn Arabs. I felt like heading to the nearest recruiting office and enlisting.
5. DREW (sotto voce): It's not too late.
6. PEARL (sotto voce): Please. Don't get him started.
7. BILLY: Enlist...against an unknown enemy? What were you planning to do...shoot at random until you hit someone? What if it had been another Tim McVeigh?
8. DREW (sotto voce): That patriotic American.
9. AL: Get serious. We knew who "they" were.
10. AL: These people were threatening everything I've worked to achieve. I would've done anything to stop them.
11. BILLY: You've worked to achieve two monolithic skyscrapers in New York City?
12. AL: I don't need to tell you our people have always loved this country. We've served in the military far out of proportion to our numbers. One of my clan uncles was a codetalker.
13. AL: You can talk about a connection to the land or whatever, but the bottom line is: This land is our land, not some camel-loving towelhead's.
PANEL 6. The others react to this comment. Billy appears annoyed, Pearl wistful, Drew playful. Drew does an imaginary tomahawk chop with a knife in his hand.
14. BILLY: Well, God bless America.
15. PEARL (sotto voce): America the beautiful....
16. DREW (sotto voce): Land of the free, home of the Braves.
17. SFX: CHOP
18. BILLY: Did you think about how the US government has terrorized "our people"? Stolen their homelands, herded them into concentration camps, practically wiped them off the face of the earth? I'm amazed you still don't see the parallels.
19. AL: I'm amazed you're still trying to rationalize the atrocity. The terrorists murdered thousands of us in cold blood. What else do you need to know? We had to stop them from doing it again.
20. AL: I'm glad we invaded Afghanistan and bombed them into the Stone Age. I'll admit it: I wanted revenge on the friggin' bastards. We taught them a lesson they'll never forget.
PANEL 8. As Billy and Al debate, Drew examines his burger.
21. BILLY: So kill or be killed...is that it? The law of the jungle?
22. AL: If you want to put it that way, yes. Survival of the fittest. Us or them and let God choose the winner.
23. BILLY: Which was precisely the point of Manifest Destiny.
24. DREW (sotto voce): Revenge is a dish best served cold...like this burger.
PANEL 1. Billy narrates his story. Again, there's a head shot of him next to a flashback scene. The flashback shows a corporate-style law office. Glass walls separate the lawyers' offices around the perimeter of a open area, where well-dressed workers toil at computers.
1. BILLY: Well, I was at the office working on a motion.
PANEL 2. Billy and the other lawyers, in their business suits, crowd into a conference room with a TV set on one wall. The TV shows another scene from 9/11.
2. CAP (upper left): "My secretary called us all into the conference room. We watched in mute horror."
3. CAP (upper left): "My first reaction was...WHY? Why did they do this to us? Why do they hate us so much?"
4. CAP (lower right): "Because we're better than they are?"
PANEL 3. Shot of the group around the table. Billy and Al look pointedly at each other.
5. BILLY: Yeah, we're "better" because we can finance the Israeli occupation of Palestine to the tune of $3 billion a year. Because we can prop up repressive Muslim regimes who deny their people democracy. Because we can export our holy values of greed, amorality, and self-gratification.
6. DREW (sotto voce): I think self-gratification is, um, gratifying.
7. BILLY: "The problem is much deeper than Osama bin Laden, or any other particular terrorist," said one political scientist who specializes in Islam. "Osama bin Laden represents a trend, a confrontation between civilizations."
8. AL: Lord Almighty. Is there anything you can't turn into an intellectual exercise? We're talking THREE THOUSAND...DEAD...AMERICANS!
9. PEARL (sotto voce): Why does everyone seem to argue with Billy?
10. DREW (sotto voce): He's a lawyer. He attracts arguments like flies.
11. DREW (sotto voce): It's the nature of the beast.
12. AL: How about if we hold hands, sing "Kumbaya," and try to "understand" each other AFTER we stop the lunatics trying to kill us?
13. BILLY: How about if we stop the endless "war," which didn't bring much of anyone to justice, but did kill a lot of innocent people?
14. BILLY: How about if we pursue economic and intelligence measures against the terrorists instead? While also pursuing long-term change in our shortsighted foreign policies?
15. BILLY: Where are the results the president promised? Looks to me like the Bush-league war failed to accomplish his stated objectives.
16. DREW (sotto voce): We use the term "president" loosely, of course.
17. BILLY: Hell, police actions have prevented more attacks than military action did.
18. PEARL: But how did you FEEL, Billy? You've told us how you analyzed the situation, but not how you FELT about it.
19. AL: Yeah, man. Did you have any GUT reactions? Or were you too busy drafting a legal brief for Bin Laden?
PANEL 8. Billy tries to restrain himself. Pearl puts a hand on Al's arm, trying to reduce the rancor.
20. BILLY: I felt numb, wise guy. Still do. Numbness is a normal reaction to an overwhelming tragedy.
21. AL: Sure, if you're a cold fish.
22. DREW (sotto voce): Oooh, score one for the right-winger.
23. PEARL (sotto voce): Now behave.
PANEL 1. Pearl addresses Drew.
1. PEARL: Drew, you've been uncharacteristically "quiet."
2. BILLY (sotto voce): No pun intended.
3. PEARL: How about you?
PANEL 2. Drew narrates his story. Again, there's a head shot of him next to a flashback scene. In the flashback he's in a shed-like structure that's a chaotic mess of artistic tools and supplies for painting, jewelry making, and kachina carving. Light shines through the open door and window. Drew stands before a canvas on an easel, painting.
4. CAP (upper left): "I was working in my studio—"
5. CAP (upper left, slightly offset): "You call that shed a studio?"
6. CAP (upper left): "—when Nickie came screaming at me."
PANEL 3. Drew's sister Nickie drags him out the door of his studio shed. She points up a short, shallow slope toward a row of pueblo homes. There's an open door and a window with light flashing out of it, as if from a blaring TV set. Others, including children and dogs, are running toward the doorway to see what's happening.
7. NICKIE: They're attacking! Attacking!
8. CAP (upper left): "I thought she meant my girlfriends, or maybe some stray dogs."
9. CAP (lower right): "Oh, that's crude."
10. CAP (lower right): "Rude."
11. CAP (lower right): "Lewd."
PANEL 4. Shot of the group around the table.
12. DREW: Like Pearl, I was shocked and saddened. Like Billy, I wanted to know why they attacked. Like Al, I wanted to kill the bastards.
13. BILLY: Unfortunately, they killed themselves first.
14. DREW: I wanted to castrate Osama and put him in a burka, to teach him a lesson, but I eventually cooled down. I remembered the Hopi are supposed to be the guardians of the planet.
15. AL: Here we go again. Get out your Thomas Mails guide.
PANEL 5. Drew and Al gaze at each other.
16. DREW: You're part Navajo, Al. You're supposed to "walk in beauty." I'm not sure how you can do that while you're bombing the bejeezus out of people.
17. AL: Bomb now, walk in beauty later.
18. DREW: Our name means "people of peace." Our culture stands for persevering in the face of hardship. For doing what's right for future generations, not for ourselves.
19. DREW: Sure we've fought in wars. And we've fought to defend ourselves against invaders, including—ahem—the Diné. Self-defense is a valid principle.
20. AL (sotto voce): We didn't invade. The land was empty.
21. BILLY (sotto voce): That's what Columbus said, too.
22. DREW: But it's our job to set an example. To show people how we've survived so long. To keep the Fourth World from going up in flames.
23. DREW: Blessed be the peacemakers, someone once said. An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind.
24. PEARL (sotto voce): I think that was Yogi Berra.
25. AL (sotto voce): Or Stevie Wonder.
The panels here take up only 2/3 of the page, leaving room for text at the end.
1. BILLY: Has anyone ever said you have a messiah complex?
2. DREW: Not recently, but I remember one woman who exclaimed "Sweet Jesus" when—
3. PEARL: So what would YOU do about terrorism?
4. DREW: As I've said before, catch the crooks, lock 'em up, throw away the key. Isn't that what true heroes would do?
5. BILLY: Yes. Justice, not revenge.
PANEL 3. Drew finishes the debate as Pearl leans toward Al, holding his arm.
6. DREW: Exactly. With great power must come great responsibility.
7. DREW (sotto voce): Good line, eh? I just made it up.
8. PEARL: If we hate people and hurt them, we're no better than they are.
9. AL (sotto voce): <sigh> Typical bleeding-heart claptrap....
PANEL 4. Drew takes a bite out of his burger.
10. DREW: Now, can we talk about something more pleasant while I finish my Buffalo-on-a-Bun?
11. PEARL: Yes, anything but this gloom and doom.
12. BILLY: Okay, okay. SORRY.
13. BILLY: How about the Indian trust fund scandal?
14. PEARL, AL, and DREW: <GROAN>
15. CAP: End.
Text to finish the page
Native Intelligence: The Long View
For more "Native" reactions to 9/11, see the PEACE PARTY Political 'Toons.
Terrorism: "good" vs. "evil"
Why don't "they" like us?
America's exceptional values
. . .
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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
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