Writing Blog Tour
The other day, Jon Chad invited me to participate in a writing process blog tour. He’s a heck of a cartoonist who I had the pleasure of getting better acquainted with at Heroes Con in June. To pick just one of his books: have you read Leo Geo? If you’re at all interested in innovative comic formats, get on that right away. So:
What am I working on?
I’m afraid to say that aside from my regular work, my projects are all secret or in the earliest of early planning stages. Fortunately, I’ve got a recent comic with a creation process interesting enough to talk about, and that’s STATION 38.
How does your writing process work?
When it comes to STATION 38 - and really, all of this segment of my work - format absolutely dictated content. Sure, they developed at the same time, but considerations of the physical comic were always a step ahead of the story.
To go into altogether too much detail…
Really, everything came from my wanting to make something with fewer moving parts than my Untitled Flashlight Comic. Each page of that sucker was constructed of three separate pieces, not including the flashlight itself, so I wanted to make something out of a single sheet of paper. That meant folding, which led to folding in different directions, which led to folding out of a 3D form. At this point, all I’d decided about the narrative was that it would be set in some sort of labyrinth.
Once I’d settled on the cube shape, I had to consider logistics such as how many layers of paper could comfortably fold onto a side and how small panels could get before becoming illegible. It turned out that I could fit a field of 36 panels at 1.75” to a side on a sheet of 11x17 paper (with some space to spare for extra bits - the panel count does get to 38, after all). To get the maximum utility from the given real estate, I decided to move the text to the outside of the cube. That became narration from some all-seeing entity who would guide or torment the protagonist.
Then I figured I felt like drawing some scifi stuff, so space station AI. That sounds flippant, but I did already admit that this narrative was always a means to play with the format.
From there, I sketched out different narrative tricks I could wring out of this thing, from the basic stuff like revealing an action after a fold to more complicated action like having the protagonist climb on the outside of the cube. These ended up requiring specific panel counts and layouts which had to be pieced together to fit into the station’s 6x6 footprint. Again, which of these fit and in what order dictated the narrative’s flow.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
STATION 38 and UFC are all about interactivity. These are still just panels in sequence, but by physically requiring more than a page flip, the reader seems to play a part in creating the narrative they experience.
Why do I write what I do?
For me, the whole point of these Interactive Comic Things (Sequential Objects? Graphic Doohickeys?) is to try as many different formats as I can think of. Ideally I learn new storytelling techniques and construction processes with each one. They’re puzzles for me to solve, and I dearly love a puzzle.
- - - - -
That’s all for me, but my inbox is open. Next week, look out for a post by the inimitable Kyle Starks, of Sexcastle, The Legend of Ricky Thunder, and spaghetti.