7.12.2009

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

1 comment:

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