Dear Matt, #01

Hey Matt-

I've been busy on that new project and wanted to tell you where I'm at. I've found a structure I think, and am at the point where I want to force it to become and remain interesting for myself, and hopefully for readers too. I hate writing/drawing a basic story. I want to play with tone, rhythm, POV, etc., in a way I haven't really since New Hat or The Sands.

My main idea is: lots of small chapters, every other chapter being odd or unique somehow, formally unlike the traditional storytelling in between.

I've posted a long blog posting about where I'm at now, here. It seems the most compelling options right now to me for this next section are:
-Silent (I've done a lot of considering of silent comics in my teaching)
-No main character (Barney Banks out of it, recuperating, and anyway, abandoning your main character is a way to force yourself to see your story differently (Brian Eno: abandon the most important thing (I think!)))

Other options:
-List making
-2nd person narration, any narrative POV shift
-No faces
-Word heavy, narration separate from pictures, on two different tracks
-Jump drastically back in time or forward in time
-Fast fast fast or slllooowwww
-Chords and harmonies (duel tracks)
-Recaps, summaries, simplifications. Fairy tale.

If you've got any suggestions for particularly fun or useful or compelling short forms for a section, please let me know.

Pretty sure this next section will be silent and feature character after character acting strangely after interacting with a little meter-machine. Almost a list format in that it will introduce a number of new characters, one after another.

I'd love to hear what you think so far, and feel free to offer some suggestions. I don't think I'm going to do any drastically Oubapian strategies like palindromes or cyclical passages, but why not? I'll put those two on the list.

Best

Tom

Comments

Matt Madden said…
Hey, Tom,

I'm so excited that you are moving forward on this project, I know it's going to be something great. Flying Banks is a fantastic opening! I feel like I missed a page where he lands in the woods but anyway I think it's a successfully non-realistic yet compelling way to move Banks around and to move the readers into the story.

I love this observation of yours: "AS YOU GO, ideas arrive, but more importantly, half-ideas develop further. You absolutely have to start." This is a fundamental truth about creativity. Even in a very pre-structured work like my Drawn OnwarD, I keep discovering new ideas or nudging along those "half-ideas" in the process of refining and drawing each panel and page.

I'm intrigued by the idea of scenes that don't necessarily go along with the main story line but I'm a little too unclear on where you're going with it to be of much help right now, I think. Are you still using the three acts of: Banks walking, in a ditch, a ghost? One notion that occurred to me is that all three of those states of being could be sources for these extra scenes. I mean, if Banks is lying in a ditch you can go the Beckett direction (you should read/re-read Texts for Nothing) and find the rhythm of Banks's existential tedium; or you could make him a kind of spectator in his own story: these different sections might be his dreams, his fantasies, his imagined visualizations of conversations he half-overhears in the distance.

In any case, yes, definitely have fun with those sections, surprise us and yourself. If it were me I think I would plan out a series of interconnected rules and themes that would unite the scenes to each other, however obliquely, and also to the main arc. For a random example, say every section has to use the word or the idea of "honey" at some point. But we work fundamentally differently at that level and I think what's going to be exciting for you is to go into it without the safety net (those index cards may pad your fall just a little...). So remember the stuff you've learned doing improv and run with it.

I love the ticker tape meter and the notion that it might spout wisdom. Here's an idea I had that you are free to use b/c I don't think I'll ever use it: I had an idea for a kind of soothsayer who speaks long, baffling pronouncements. As the work progresses the pronouncements get shorter and shorter until the attentive reader realizes that he/she is uttering anagrams of really banal clich├ęs like "waste not, want not" and so on.

That's all the scattered notes I have for now. I'll keep following your progress and make the occasional comment.

keep at it,

Matt

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