Monday, April 1, 2024

Back From The Dead (or something)

Ahem. Well this is awkward.

Look, it’s not you - it’s me. I’ve been distant. It’s just. I’ve had a lot going on. You know?

But seriously, I’ve had a lot going on. I directed the fall play and the spring musical, and then I just kind of went into a stupor for a month or two as I have recovered. And now I’ve recovered. I guess. But also, I use this blog to talk about my creative process, and I’ve had no creative process to talk about. I mean, the play and the musical were very creative endeavors, but the whole process was about being there and collaborating. It’s a fundamentally different process. With the blog, I post things I don’t have people to collaborate with, and this becomes a form of collaboration in lieu of meeting with the vocal director or set designer…if that makes sense.

Also, it’s April 1, which is usually when I get the idea for my big summer project. But the thing is that I’m kind of burned out on some of my go-to sources. Star Wars is pretty meh right now for me. Same with superheroes.

But I never really burn out on fantasy. I’ve been looking over my rules and expansion materials for Hack’D, and it’s pretty much exactly what I’d want it to be. I went through the various sourcebooks I started last year (links are over to the left there under Hack’D resources), and there’s not much to change, although there’s a lot of room for expansion. I’ll probably tinker with those a bit this week… so I already knew that whatever project I might do is not going to be a new RPG. At this point, I’ve written the RPGs I want to write. Hack’D is the mousetrap that I wanted to make for four decades. So, it would seem that I have nothing left to prove.  

But I also sort of got dragged back into being at least marginally creative in this realm - I forgot that I promised several months ago to contribute to a jam comic book a bunch of small press comic guys like me are making. I’m not on FB, but my wife is, and everyone thinks it’s me, so we just go with it. She got a message that basically said, ‘hey, is your page done? It’s due tomorrow’, and she was like ‘do you know what this is about?’ and I was all ‘oh poop’.

Or something like that.

Anyway, I knocked out a page, and it was both more fun and more relaxing than I expected. There was zero stress involved, and I just noodled away on it until it was done. I have no idea how long this took. An hour? Two? I lost track of time. I started it on Saturday morning, and I figured I would just keep working on it until it was done. Here it is…

Why am I talking in circles? Um… because that’s how my creative collaborative process works. But also because I’m getting to a point. I think. I have historically beat myself up for not finishing projects I start - because I start a LOT of projects that never get done (see my Cupcake Scouts story from last summer). 

So, I have an idea for a project. It would never get done. Or, at least, it would probably never get done. It’s a huge LOTR level fantasy story, but in graphic novel form. I figure that I can use the blog to brainstorm this until I get bored and give up 127 words from now, or in a week, or a year, or maybe twenty-eight years from now when I complete the last page of a 7,452 page epic beyond the scope of anything anyone has ever attempted. 

Probably not that last one. Dave Sim did 6,000 pages of Cerebus, so the bar is set pretty high.

Okay. I figure that I’ll use the blog for the next bit to set some foundation. I have created a process that I teach to my 8th graders, so if it’s good enough for grade 8, it’s good enough for me! We use an acrostic for ‘poem’ (very clever, I know) to both analyze creative writing (primarily poems) and to compose them. Here’s the idea:

- P stands for purpose. Why did the writer sit down to do this thing anyway? What’s it ‘about’? (not plot necessarily, but big-idea wise). It might be to describe a sunset, or to share a moment with a friend, or to apologize for something the writer did wrong. 

- O stands for organization. How is this thing even set up? Does it follow any established rules or structures? Is it highly-structured? How so?

- E stands for elements. This is things like symbolism, irony, figurative language, setting…

- M stands for message. What is the author trying to say to us through the work? What’s the ‘theme’ of the thing? You have to see how the other three work together to get to this one. 

So, I’m going to just do P for now, and stew on the others for a bit. My purpose is to compose an extended, grand fantasy narrative in graphic novel form. It has to be ‘big’ enough in breadth to include anything I’d want to put in there. It’s a story you would spend time in. 

Related: I’ve often thought of pacing from an ‘as fast as possible’ sort of philosophy. I generally want things to MOVE. When I direct, I’m looking to pick up the pace, to cut anything that slows down the action, and to drag the audience from event to event. When I’m creating comics, I want to have a lot of ‘story’ on each page. I suppose the operative word would be ‘tight’. The purpose for this is just the opposite. I want it to feel like building a huge LEGO set - I know it’s going to be a slow burn, and I spend a lot of time sitting and marveling at the small engineering feats as they happen. Some of my favorite LOTR movie moments are the small moments where characters are just sitting and eating breakfast or tying their shoes or whatever tiny thing is helping to build the verisimilitude of this fantastic world. So my purpose would, from a creative perspective, be to spend time in this world. “Getting things done” or “keeping it moving” would then run counter to my basic purpose. I want to Samwise Gamgee this mother.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back. Your epic idea sounds very interesting.