Monsieur mech by Matthew Craig

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© Matthew Craig MONSIEUR MECH


By Matthew Craig
A half-built French android who enjoys Beat poetry and lives with his Corsican girlfriend above a cafeteria.
Panel One
Hondletown by night. The streets throb with light, like capillaries lacing the cells of some great alien titan. The power station squats in the far corner, like a huge concrete frog.
CAPTION (very small font): “01101000 01101111 01110111 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110111 00100000 01100010 01110010 01100101 01110010 00100000 01100010 01101111 01110100 00001101 00001010 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101101 01100001 01101110 01111001 00100000 01100110 01101100 01110101 01101001 01100100 01110011 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01100011 01101100 01101111 01110100
Panel Two
Traffic is lighter along this side street. A staircase leading down to an underground club between a baker's (closed) and a pub is lit by a single dim bulb. Almost as if it is trying to remain invisible.
CAPTION (very small font): “01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101101 01100101 01110100 01100001 01101100 00100000 01110011 01101011 01101001 01101110 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01100010 01101100 01110101 01110011 01101000 00001101 00001010 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101101 01100101 01110100 01100001 01101100 00100000 01100011 01101000 01100101 01100101 01101011 01110011 00100000 01100011 01100001 01101110 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01100110 01101100 01110101 01110011 01101000
Panel Three
Stepping down the stairs, we pass ancient ratty posters advertising acts such as “Les Soeurs Ginsbourgh” and “Beat-Me Oeuf.”
CAPTION (very small font): “01110011 01101111 00100000 01110111 01101000 01111001 00101100 00100000 01110111 01101000 01100101 01101110 00100000 01101001 00100000 01100011 01110010 01110101 01110011 01101000 00001101 00001010 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01101000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01101101 01111001 00100000 01100010 01110010 01100101 01100001 01110011 01110100 00101100

Panel Four
The cellar at the bottom of the staircase turns out to be a small bar, filled with smoke and patrons. The customers are young to young middle-aged, and of the contemporary dandy/beatnik variety. Like Franz Ferdinand, perhaps. All eyes are directed to the stage, which is just off-panel, illuminated by a spotlight.
CAPTION (very small font): “01100100 01101111 01100101 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100111 01101100 01101111 01110111 00001101 00001010 01100001 01110010 01101111 01110101 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100101 01111001 01100101 01110011

Panel One
The person on stage isn't a man, but an android. MONSIEUR MECH, a half-finished work of French genius. He reads from a notepad as he declaims into the microphone: his beret is cocked at a stern angle. A bongo player at the back of the stage is transfixed. A beautiful young girl, PATRIZIA BONIFACIO, sits at the mechanical man's feet, dangling her legs over the stage and chain-smoking through her affected ennui. A group of beatniks scowl at him from the bar.
M'SIEUR M: 01100001 01110010 01101111 01110101 01101110 01100100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 01110010 00100000 01100101 01111001 01100101 01110011 00001101 00001010 01110111 01100001 01110010 01101101 00100000 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110011 01101111 00111111.


By Matthew Craig

Panel Two
Monsieur Mech bows slightly and flips his notebook closed as the customers (except Patrizia) politely applaud.
M'SIEUR M: Thank you, hep cats, thank you. That was for my father.
Panel Three
Close-up on a disgusted barfly, NICK-KNACK KEROUACK, who crushes his pipe in disgust.
M'SIEUR M (off-panel): Au revior, my friends! Good night!

Panel One
Shortly thereafter, Monsieur Mech and Patrizia (who leaves a smoky trail in her wake, like the steam trains of old) leave for home, walking up the street at a leisurely pace, arm in arm.
M'SIEUR M: I really felt the audience were starting to dig it, this week. Father would have been proud.
Panel Two
They stand still for a second while Patrizia lights a new cigarette off the old one.
M'SIEUR M: What'd you think, pussycat? Were the kiddies swayed by my themes of paradox and filial devotion?
Panel Three
Patrizia looks up at Monsieur Mech, and makes the “more or less” motion with her hand.
Panel Four
Monsieur Mech shrugs and turns away.
M'SIEUR M: Ah, well. Close enough.
Panel Five
A large rock bounces off the back of Monsieur Mech's metal cranium. (dialogue & sfx from left to right across MM's head)
M'SIEUR M: I guess I'll try again nex –


M'SIEUR M: -- eh?

Panel One
The beatniks from the club – three of them is a good number – stand behind Monsieur Mech and Patrizia. The leader, Nick-Knack Kerouack, advances on the pair, beret cocked menacingly.
NICK-KNACK: What the fuck was that?
Panel Two
The lead beatnik jabs Monsieur Mech in the chest.
SFX: tank

NICK-KNACK: You fake! The Beat Generation spent their lives trying to free our minds from your kind of ones-'n'-zeroes thinking!

Panel Three
Monsieur Mech takes a step back, shocked.
M'SIEUR M: Hey, brother, there's no need --

NICK-KNACK: Shut up! You ain't no brother of mine, Dusty Bin! No soulless machine is gonna take the Beat away from me!

Panel Four
Monsieur Mech shrugs his shoulders in resignation.
M'SIEUR M: *sigh* Then I guess you leave me no choice...
Panel Five
Small panel: the beatniks look confused.
Panel Six
Monsieur Mech declaims proudly:

Panel One
The set-up: on one side, Nick-Knack Kerouack, flanked by his sidekicks (sideniks?); on the other, Monsieur Mech, brandishing his notepad. Patrizia stands behind him, disaffected. In the middle, an elderly Beatnik (white hair, long beard) sits with his bongos, a BEAT BUDDHA. In fact, that's his name.
CAPTION: The BEAT-OFF! Ancient Beatnik Arbitration!
Panel Two
Hovering over the gutter between Panels Two and Three, Beat Buddha first gestures towards the

Badniks --

BEAT BUDDHA: Nick-Knack Kerouack, do you agree to abide by the rules of the Beat-Off?

KEROUACK: Right on.

Panel Three
-- then towards Monsieur Mech.
BEAT BUDDHA: Monsieur Mech?

M'SIEUR N: Just name the game, Daddio.

Panel Four
Beat Buddha dramatically chops down with the two first fingers on his left hand, setting the game in motion.

Panel One
Splash page: the combatants face off, improvising simultaneously. Full-length shots of both Nick-Knack and Monsieur Mech. Head shots of the sideniks looking worried and Patrizia, smoking and stony-faced. In the middle of the bottom of the page, Beat Buddha slaps his skins, and beats his bongos, as well...
The Big Bad Wolf

And the Woodsman's Axe

The Political Drone

And his fear of Facts

The Tabloid Rag

Time to Free Your Mind

From the lifestyle, lie style

Styled after somebody else's dreams

Some bloody editor's dreams

With a backhander and a freebie

For every room in the house

Don't You Believe It.

Fishburne said “Free Your Mind”

The fish are borne on a stream of

Conscience where the mind reaches

High like the other man, the brother man,

The Brotherhood of Man,

But not the band

You understand.
The Beat Goes On

Like the crack of age-old vinyl

A final metaphor

For we've never met a'fore

Is that life, like records,

Is only worth something when it's


Panel One
The two opponents stand angry-face-to-implacable-metal-grill. In the background, Beat Buddha sits with his arms akimbo, meditating.
BEAT BUDDHA: Mmm. Very good, my hippest of hep cats. Like, moving like Bran.

BEAT BUDDHA (cont.): But the winner is...

Panel Two
Beat Buddha points at Monsier Mech, who punches the air. Patrizia merely takes a deeper drag of her cigarette.
BEAT BUDDHA: ...Monsieur Mech!
Panel Three
Nick-Knack can't believe it. He shakes his fist at Beat Buddha, shouting in his face.
NICK-KNACK: What are you talking about?! His poem went nowhere! It was a random collection of puns! Where was the message?! My poem meant something, man!
Panel Four
Beat Buddha attempts to calm the belligerent beatnik.
BEAT BUDDHA: Hey, now. Let's not lay a brick, slick. Our metal cat here, his poem was closer to the stated theme than yours, which was all about the harsh.
Panel Five
Nick-Knack pulls a knife, and advances on Monsieur Mech, who is oblivious to the man's rage.
NICK-KNACK: This is bogus. I ain't losing to no aluminium abacus!

Panel One
Nick-Knack slashes at the hydraulic hoses on Monsieur Mech's arm, severing them. Viscous hydraulic fluid sprays everywhere.


Panel Two
Monsieur Mech's arm goes limp at his side. He can't believe it: neither can anyone else. Patrizia hardly reacts.
M'SIEUR MECH: Hey, now that's not cool, brother!
Panel Three
Nick-Knack pushes at Monsieur Mech. The sideniks move to join him.
NICK-KNACK: I'm not your brother, you preprogrammed fake! The Beat is about more than just diodes and databases! It's about heart, and soul and --
Panel Four
Patrizia steps between the two Beatniks. Nick-Knack pulls a face.
NICK-KNACK: And what do you want, Chattercat? You want some of this?
Panel Five
Small panel. Patrizia flicks her cigarette straight up in the air --
Panel Six
-- then scuffs her foot back, and --
SFX: skf


Panel One
-- kick straight up, cheerleader-style, catching Nick-Knack under the chin and sending him flying.
Panel Two
As Nick-Knack sails past them, his sideniks look at each other, realising that they've backed the wrong horse.
Panel Three
Sure enough, Patrizia delivers a Donnie Yen-style double kick to the thugs' heads.

SIDENIK 1: Gaah!


SIDENIK 2: Guhh!

SFX (off-panel): KRSHH!
Panel Four
Inset panel: Patrizia catches the cigarette before it hits the ground.
Panel Five
Monsieur Mech, holding fast to his hydraulics to stem the bleeding, joins Patrizia. Nick-Knack and his gang nurse their wounds.
Panel Six
Monsieur Mech turns to his ladyfriend. She takes a drag on her cigarette.
M'SIEUR MECH: we go?

Panel One
Some time later, at the Café Delon, we see a light on in the first-floor apartment.
CAPTION: “Ah, that's it. Merci, mon chere --
Panel Two
Patrizia wipes oil from her hands. She's still wearing her sunglasses, even though she's in her pants and vest. And she's still smoking. Monsieur Mech sits on the edge of the bed, his left arm repaired. Tools and broken hose lengths lie strewn about the bed.
M'SIEUR M: ...I'm none too hip to the drip!
Panel Three
Patrizia scoots into bed, and Monsieur Mech turns to speak to her.
M'SIEUR M: But how can I ever repay you?
Panel Four
Patrizia looks over the top of her sunglasses, smiling warmly, and raises a single eyebrow.
Panel Five
Monsieur Mech suddenly gets it. Patrizia reaches up to yank on a light switch cord.
M'SIEUR M: Ohh...
Panel Six
A black panel. Best left to the reader's imagination.
M'SIEUR M: Oh, 01100110 01110101 01100011 01101011.

Monsieur Mech © M.P. Craig 2006

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