Dead Men Tell No Tales Script Sample

You Asked For It

First off, a special shout out to my buddies on Twitter for their feedback. I wasn’t sure how most folks felt about reading scripts on the internet, so I thought I’d ask. True, I read several script by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Mike Baron and Brian Bendis before attempting to write my first comic book (Dead Men Tell No Tales), but I’m an anal retentive research hound.

But you’re not here to hear about my toilet training.

I’ve posted the first 5 pages of script from Dead Men Tell No Tales #1 for your perusal. I hope you enjoy it and can glean something from it.

Lastly, as a caveat, I should point out that this is the very first comic script I wrote, so please be kind. If you continue reading and commenting, I’ll continue posting so you will be able to see the evolution (maturation) of my scriptwriting style and ability.

End Disclaimer.


Dead Men Tell No Tales Issue 1 Cover by Ben Templesmith

Dead Men Tell No Tales Issue
Issue 1: The Albatross of Ill Fate
©2010 Dwight L. MacPherson

PAGE 1 ( 4 Panels )

Panel 1. Long interior shot. Kibble’s bungalow. In the foreground, a white-haired Kibble lies stretched out in a rickety chair, neck snapped back resting on the top of the back of the chair. His right arm is to his chest cradling an empty rum bottle. His left hand hangs limply over the worn arm of the chair. In the dimly lit background, we can see a table with the map box sitting prominently on the “desk”… which is little more then a board propped up on a stool at one end and a coconut tree stump at the other. The desk is also littered with empty rum bottles of every shape and color, several nautical tools and books (which a large island rat is feasting upon). Also, featured PROMINENTLY over the table is the weathered and torn JOLLY ROGER from the Quedagh Merchant, affixed to the wall. Once the captain of a much-feared pirate ship, today Kibble lives in a shambles that could only be made hospitable if it were burnt to make way for something better. It is 3 AM in the morning and shadows like demons play upon the scantly lit room.

CAP: New Providence Island, 1719.

CAP: An aggrieved and aged Tobias Kibble slumbers after a lifetime of drink. But the rum does nothing to drown Kibble’s Hell…

Panel 2. (Dream panel… show this differently than the previous panel to denote that it is indeed a dream. Mess with the panel outline. Give these dream panels a red surreal hue.) Medium shot of Henry Sinclair (featured in the Hurricane Relief Fund short story) holding the Holy Grail triumphantly over his head. In the background, we see several other Templar Knights looking through large stone chests for holy treasures. These great containers are more than a thousand years old during the Crusades! Each is PROMINENTLY marked with a Hebrew Star of David and Menorah. The chests are filled with gold items from Solomon’s temple. One of them holds up the spear that pierced Christ’s side. Also, there are golden Egyptian items in the chests and the Ark of the Covenant can be seen as well. (NOTE TO ARTIST: IMPRESS THE READER WITH THE SHEER AMOUNT OF TREASURE IN THIS PANEL!!)

CAP: … Of glory…

Panel 3. (Back to the “real” world.) Medium shot of Kibble. Sweat beads from his forehead. He is asleep, but he appears to be having a nightmare, frowning, mouth slightly opened. (SHOW MOTION HERE. HE’S HAVING A NIGHTMARE!)

KIBBLE (Small): … Hell of glory…

Panel 4. (Dream panel.) A long shot of Hell. Demons fly around a FLAMING sea of fire , filled with the skeletons of sunken ships jutting from the fiery sea at odd angles, tormented half-decomposed people are seen through the flames, demons fly around with their prodders, randomly attacking the tormented. Millions of hands are raised, pleading for mercy. In the foreground, we see a zombified Kibble, reaching toward us. Maggots drop from his eye sockets. His flesh is peeled away, rotting in other spots. (MAKE THIS LOOK F*****G SCARY!!!) [Mike – Make Kibble have the same wound as Page 22 so the astute will realize that he is foreseeing his own fate.]

CAP: … and a Hell that awaits Kibble beyond his final resting place.


Page 2 ( 3 Panels)

Panel 1. (Show these panels like in strange angles to emphasize the rocking motion of the ship.) Long shot of the Adventure galley with the pale moonlight behind her. The sea is gently swaying and splashing against her prow. We see a flag blowing in the light wind, but we can not tell what is on it due to the darkness. We see the masts of two ships behind the large ship.

CAP: But there was a time when Kibble was going to Hell… yet, not a reserved ring of it…

CAP: …until that blusterous summer night in 1698.

CAP: Tobias Kibble was first mate for the nefarious Captain Kidd. That fateful evening, Captain Kidd’s ship, the Adventure Galley, lay off the Indian coast like a shark in search of blood.

Panel 2. Medium shot of the Adventure galley with our view panning to the sails and the flag flying high and proud. But we still cannot see what is on the weathered flag.

CAP: The blood’s scent came with the sighting of the heavily laden British merchant ship, which evoked a frenzy that took hold of the man and his crew like a foul spirit.

Panel 3. Tight shot of the Jolly Roger flying high above the ship. It is a wind weathered and evil looking specter that twitches like an undead thing in the breeze.

CAP: A frenzy seemingly inspired by the grim grin of the Jolly Roger flying high above the deck of the Adventure Galley.

PAGE 3 ( 3 Panels)

Panel 1. (Smaller panel.) We see the deck of the Adventure galley as if looking down from the Roger’s point of view. We see pyrates running everywhere, and a lone figure dressed in regal clothes standing on the quarter deck behind the immense ship’s wheel.

KIDD: On me mark, lads!

Panel 2. (This panel is superimposed on the large third panel.)

Close up of Kidd’s weather beaten, evil looking face. His mouth is wide open as he screams the order cannoneers live for.


Panel 3. (Large Panel) We see from behind Kidd as smoke erupts from the starboard side of the Adventure Galley. Kidd is still grasping the wheel and is turning to the starboard side. His eyes are glued on his quarry.


PAGE 4 ( 5 Panels )

Panel 1. Long shot off the starboard side of the Adventure Galley as cannon balls explode onto a merchant ship. People are blown to pieces as well as the deck of the merchant ship. People and wood are flying everywhere.


Panel 2. Medium shot of Kidd from the waist up, looking into his gold spy glass. He has a look of complete rapture on his face. He is relishing the attacked ship’s crew’s suffering and confusion.

KIDD: ‘Tis sufficient! She’s lowered her jack… she’s ours!

Panel 3. Upward angle shot of the quarter deck from behind the heads of some of the crew who have their cutlasses drawn. Kidd is still looking into the spy glass, but has his other hand raised with his open palm out, his elbow resting on the wheel.

KIDD: What spoils have ye, my lovely?

Panel 4. We see as through the looking glass, the bronze marker with the ship’s name upon it. It reads “The Quedagh Merchant,” and the single words “New World” below it.

KIDD: Me hold’s already brimmin’ with booty…

Panel 5. Medium shot from just behind the ship’s wheel. Kidd has the spy glass at his side and one hand on the wheel. He is smiling an evil grin. We see his two other ships behind him in the distance.

KIDD: … But let it not be said that Captain Kidd’s a fool who’d scuttle a prize as this! HAHAHAHA!!

PAGE 5 ( 6 Panels )

Panel 1. (Make the panels kind of erratic to show the confusion.)
Medium shot of the black smoke of cannons coming from the port side of the Quedagh Merchant. We see this from behind the head of a pirate standing on the starboard deck.

Panel 2. Medium shot of the pirate on the starboard deck from the waist up. He has one hand to his mouth to yell and the other raised in the air. We can see the Merchant in the background with smoke around her like a haze.

PIRATE: She’s firin’ on us, Cap’n!!

Panel 3. From same view as the pirate’s raised arm is ripped from where it was. Blood explodes everywhere. We see a couple canon balls whizzing past the man.


Panel 4. Over the shoulder shot of Kidd, looking onto the deck which is being damaged by a couple of canon balls. The injured pirate is holding his stump. Several other pirates are on the deck. Kidd still has one hand turning the wheel, and the other holding his spy glass.



Panel 5. Tight shot of the deck as several pirates with large grappling hooks in their hands ready to pitch them. Their muscles are tense, and sweat flows from their bodies in the warm air.

Panel 6. Tight off ship view of the starboard side of the Adventure galley as many, many large grappling hooks with their ropes sprawling in the wind fill the sky.

Thar She Be, Mateys

As you will see, the format will change considerably over the course of my comic writing career from Dead Men to the present. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s for the better!

Thank you for reading. I’ll see you soon with another script.


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