Yes, Tyrone, There Is a Santa Claus

Here, by popular demand, is the original Kelley Puckett script to what I think is one of the truly great comic book short stories ever, "Yes, Tyrone, There Is a Santa Claus." I used to send this to writers to illustrate how much thinking can be put into shot descriptions—what angle to use when and why—and just how much can be done in a mere 10 pages, two of which are splash pages. (Or, as my old boss Denny O'Neil would point out, not actually splashes, but full page panels.) And also because it's just hysterically funny. (We won't mention Kelley's unfortunate penchant for needlessly double-spacing after periods.)

Kevin Nowlan, one of Kelley's four biggest fans, cursed me for sharing this script with him—or, at least, he did once he discovered it was already in the process of being pencilled, as he said he'd have walked across broken glass for the chance to draw it, had he known it existed. (The great Pete Woods did an absolutely fantastic job with the art on this story.)

Kelley Puckett

Panel One
  This story is drawn in an old-school, 1950's-era style.  We begin inside the bedroom of TYRONE, a red-haired, freckle-faced seven year-old straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  His room's straight out of a Rockwell painting, too, and we start here with a close shot of his wall, showing baseball pennants (Matt – what's the Metropolis team's name?), baseball cards, a glove, a bat, a mitt.  It's dark, with a faint glow coming from the right.  We're reading the text of the letter Tyrone's writing.
  LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  Dear Daily Planet,
  LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  Is there a Santa Claus?

Panel Two
  Pan over to the right as the glow grows stronger, still coming from off-right.  We reach the edge of Tyrone's desk, on which sits a plate with a half-eaten piece of homemade apple pie, a glass of whole milk next to that.  More stereotypical 1950's boy paraphernalia in the bg.
LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  My friend Billy says there isn't.  He says Santa Claus is for babies.  
LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  He says it's all made up and big kids know better.

Panel Three
  Pan over some more and now we're behind Tyrone.  He's sitting at his desk, writing a letter by lamplight in his pajamas.
  LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  That's not true, is it?  Can reindeer really not fly?  Is nobody checking if I'm good or bad?
  LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  Is it all a big lie?

Panel Four
  Reverse for a front shot of Tyrone writing his letter by pencil, looking at the page, concentrating, his tongue sticking out.  Fresh-faced, a tuft of hair that stands up at the back of his head, he's Opie.
  LETTER TEXT CAPTION:  I'm asking you because my Daddy says everything in your paper is true.  Except the parts about the Mexicans.

Panel Five
  ECU of his signature at the bottom of the letter with his hand in the shot as he finishes it.
  LETTER TEXT:  Tyrone Jenkins III

  Cut to PERRY WHITE's office at the Daily Planet, daytime.  We have Perry, CLARK, JIMMY and LOIS standing next to each other, facing us, the letter held out in front of them.  They're all staring at it, shocked and alarmed at the loss of innocence.  Something must be done!  Everyone's drawn the way they would be in the '50's: Clark in a blue suit, Jimmy with bow tie, Lois in a business dress and Perry in white shirt and loose tie, sleeves rolled up.  I say we give him a cigar.  I have no idea if Perry White ever smoked cigars in the books, but I think it's funnier if he didn't.  Put a large Daily Planet logo/sign/something in the bg somewhere so stupid people know where we are.
  TITLE:  Yes Tyrone, There Is a Santa Claus
  CREDITS:  if you dare

Panel One
  CU Perry reaction shot.  Energized, practically shouting, a gleam in his eyes.
  PERRY:  Now this is what I call news!

Panel Two
  From behind Perry with Clark in bg.  Perry right fg, Clark left bg.  Perry starts barking orders to the troops, pointing his left hand index finger out at Clark like a conductor.  Everyone's dead serious.   Clark's on the case.
  PERRY:  Kent!  Gimme an editorial.  I want it wise, I want it funny, I want it heartwarming.
  PERRY:  I want it to touch me, but not in a bad way.  Got it?

Panel Three
  Again behind Perry, this time left bg with Jimmy in right fg, Perry pointing his right hand finger at Jimmy.
  PERRY:  Olsen!  Hit the streets.  I want background on this kid – what he eats, where he sleeps.
  PERRY:  I want to know his next move before he makes it.  Before he thinks it!

Panel Four
We continue over to our right for Perry left, Lois right, standing at the side of his desk.  Perry looks down at his desk and gives Lois a right hand, thumb-up gesture, shaking it.  Lois, hurt, protests.
  PERRY:  Lane!
  PERRY:  Be a peach and get me a cup of coffee, will you sweetheart?
  LOIS:  But...Perry, I'm your number one reporter!

Panel Five
  Lois and Perry left bg, then Jimmy and Clark in right fg (going left to right).  Perry picks up a piece of paper from his desk, engrossed in it and gives Lois a condescending smile.  She's either still standing there, shocked, or storming off-left petulantly.  Jimmy's holding the letter as he and Clark look down at it, walking towards us.
  PERRY:  You sure are, doll-face.  Cream, two sugars.
  JIMMY:  You know who this looks like a job for...
  CLARK:  I think I do, Jimmy.

Panel Six
  CU Clark as he turns away from Jimmy, brings his hand to his glasses and lowers them just enough for us to see his Superman eyes over the top of them, a private smile forming on his face.
  CLARK:  I think I do...

Panel One
  Cut to an est. shot of the Fortress of Solitude.

Panel Two
  Close on a table full of wrapping paper, ribbons, etc. and SUPERMAN's hands as they blur back and forth, wrapping Christmas presents at super-speed.  Don't show us the rest of him yet.

Panel Three
  Shot of a red sleigh covered in Christmas trappings as several presents fly in from off-panel, one after the other in a perfect line, piling up perfectly in the sleigh.

Panel Four
  CU of Superman's chest as he closes a red Santa coat over it.  Only this one has a Superman-like “S” emblem on the front (red S on a white background).

Panel Five
  ECU Superman's face as he looks right at us, explaining the S.
  SUPERMAN:  For “Santa”.

Panel One
  Cut to the big reveal of Superman in full Santa outfit (minus the beard), hovering above Tyrone's house in the night sky on Christmas Eve.  There is, inexplicably, a red Superman cape coming out the back of the outfit, fluttering in the wind.  He's hold the present-laden sleigh off to the side with one hand, looking down at Tyrone's house far below.

Panel Two
  Three small panels across the bottom of the page.  CU Superman, still looking down as he smiles, anticipating.
  SUPERMAN:  Magic time.

Panel Three
  Same angle, but Superman senses something coming up behind him.  His eyes dart to the side, but he doesn't turn his head.

Panel Four
  Same, but now Superman closes his eyes and sighs with a pained, exasperated look.
  SUPERMAN:  What?

Panel One
  Two-shot, Superman left with BATMAN right.  Batman's hovering next to Superman, using one of those old astronaut jet-packs (with the big arms sticking out that you rest your elbows on).  It is, of course, painted black with some kind of bat-emblem on it.  He's in his normal 50's era outfit.  He's looking at Superman with barely-concealed disgust, slowly shaking his head.
  BATMAN:  Pathetic.

Panel Two
  Just Batman.
  BATMAN:  For God's sake, man.  Look at yourself.
  BATMAN:  What are you doing out here?

Panel Three
  Focus on Superman, Batman in right fg.  Superman turns towards Batman, holding his hands up and shaking his head as if to say “Ever heard of any of this?”.
  SUPERMAN:  Restoring a child's sense of wonder?  Teaching him that the world can be a magical place?
  BATMAN:  Yeah, well, my parents taught me a different lesson...

Panel Four
  ECU Batman as he gets sidetracked, looking away, going off into his bad place...
  BATMAN:  ...lying in the alley...
  BATMAN:  ...twitching...

Panel Five
  The two of them again as Batman snaps out of it, back to business.  Superman rolls his eyes with a slight sigh.
  BATMAN:  Sorry.  Look...

Panel One
  Medium Batman, looking at us, making sense, persuasive.
  BATMAN: point is that you've got to take yourself seriously.  You're the hero!
  BATMAN:  Any calamity, any disaster, any great wrong and people look to the sky.  For you.

Panel Two
  The two of them, Superman left, Batman right.  Superman's facing us, looking down, thinking seriously about what Batman's saying.  Batman's turned toward Superman, making his case.
  BATMAN:  The idea that you could take a night off playing dress-up for some kid?
  BATMAN:  It's patently ridiculous.

Panel Three
  Zoom in for a CU Batman as he turns and looks us directly in the eye for a complete break in the fiction of the story, addressing us, the reader, directly.
  BATMAN:  It's like something out of a comic book.

Panel Four
  Back in the story.  The two of them, focus on Superman as he looks down at himself, frustrated.
  SUPERMAN:  I do feel a little silly in this outfit...
  SUPERMAN:  But that poor kid.  I just wish I something for him.

Panel Five
  CU of the two of them as Batman puts a manly hand on Superman's shoulder and they share an affectionate manly look.  It's not what you're thinking.
  BATMAN:  That just shows what a true hero you are.

Panel Six
  Superman flying up, up and away towards us, looking down at Batman, waving as Batman pumps his fist in the air encouragingly.
  BATMAN:  Now get out there, tiger.  Save the world!
  SUPERMAN:  You're right.  Thanks, Batman.

Panel One
  Cut to Superman flying off through the night sky, Santa suit off, still holding that sleigh, thinking out loud.  Maybe don't show the sleigh here, only when he thinks about it next panel.
  SUPERMAN:  I suppose I should do something about that whole Middle East thing...

Panel Two
  Sleigh and presents in fg as Superman stops, looking at it, realizing he never gave the kid his presents.
  SUPERMAN:  Wait – the presents.  I should at least leave him his presents...

Panel Three
  Cut to the inside of Tyrone's house, an open window in the bg and Superman sneaking down the dark hallway, a pile of presents in his arms.

Panel Four
  CU Superman as he rounds a corner, looking towards us, his face suddenly bathed in warm light.  What's this?!

Panel One
  Big, big shot of the living room with Tyrone, his LITTLE SISTER, MOM and DAD all gathered around Batman in a Santa Claus outfit (but with the Bat-mask and gloves still on).  Include or leave out the beard, whichever looks more ridiculous.  Batman stands there, a roaring fire behind him, handing out presents left and right, laughing jollily.  The place is completely decked out, the very picture of warm holiday cheer, the kids' faces alight with the glow of childlike wonder and glee.
  TYRONE:  Bat-Santa, you're the best!
  LITTLE SISTER:  I love you, Bat-Santa!
  BATSANTA:  Ho ho ho!  Merry Christmas!

Panel Two
  CU Superman as his jaw hits the ground.

Panel Three
  CU  Batman as he spots Superman and flashes him a wink and a Mentos smile.  Gotcha, buddy!

  Okay, this is my favorite shot of the story, but I have an alternate page ten if people deem it inappropriate.  Superman, overcome with fury, plows into Bat-Santa at hyperspeed, a red and blue blur, demolishing the fireplace behind them and surely crushing every bone in Batman's body.  The family looks on, horrified, the children traumatized for life.


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