Fate has ordained

4 panels, 2 stranded astronauts, 1 alternate history pitch.
What is Yonkoma Pitch?

Yonkoma is a 4 panel comic format popularised in Japan. «Yonkoma Pitch» is a project where through the 4 panel format I explore on possible IP ideas that have been brewing on my mind. An illustrated «I have a great idea for an X» if you will.

Fate Has Ordained

On 1969 William Safire, presidential speech writer, made his famous  «In The Event of Moon Disaster» speech for Nixon to read in the event Armstrong and Aldrin got stranded on the moon.

In it with great sadness and aplomb eulogises the two astronauts and evokes hopeful imagery in the face of great tragedy. Gladly, thanks to human ingenuity, grit, and luck, that speech was never uttered but it remains a beautiful piece of non-fiction writing (or rather of speculative writing).

Here are a few chosen excerpts from it (you can read it in full here or watch Benedict Cumberbatch's rendition of it here).

Nixon addressing the public - Fate has ordained


Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.»


Houston - Fate has ordained


A clergyman should adopt the same procedure as a burial at sea, commending their souls to 'the deepest of the deep,' concluding with the Lord's Prayer.»


Eagle 1 - Fate has ordained

«These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.»


View of the Earth from the Eagle 1 lander

«In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. [...]

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.»


The Pitch: An alternate history IP

What's the pitch? Well, this IP could take many forms, a feature length film or limited series. It should be a mood piece examining mortality, idealism, and tenacity. Focusing on the last speculative moments of alternate history Aldrin and Armstrong. Starting with a scaling disaster and ending «Act I» with the speech and having the following acts examining their lives with each other and facing death in extraordinary circumstances.

The location makes one imagine many possible scenes, many frankly a tad macabre (eg. if I were in their shoes I would immolate through exposure and walk the surface of the moon without any gear); but as any piece made about persons still alive (Aldrin at the time of this writing), it should be done without a shred of sensationalism for it to work, and with a lot of respect for the persons and the science.

The other interesting route would be an anthology series, focusing on such doomsday speeches that were never made (such as these), each season taking shape as an alternate history scenario.

Structure-wise you could either start with the speech and its repercussions or have it at the end as a pay off to a long winding disaster. For example, take Queen Elizabeth's World War III speech that got drafted in the 80's at the peak of nuclear tensions.

One option could be to start with her address and the have the rest of the arc explore what it is to «rule over rubble», or you could go full political drama of the efforts trying to de-escalate tensions between NATO and the USSR only for those to ultimately fail and have her delivery the speech climactically as doomsday comes.

Alternate history has a spotty history of translating well into media outside of publishing, but I think Fate Has Ordained has an upper-hand in that it is grounded in very tangible spots in history where something could've gone wrong but didn't. It is self contained, and doesn't require a lot of alt-history world building for audiences to buy into. It's babies first alt-history.

So this was Yonkoma Pitch. Four panels and some astute commentary on how those could become an interesting piece of media. If you're interested in learning how to elaborate a pitch you can sign up to the newsletter and get notified of when a free workshop is coming up, or you can contact me for a mentorship.