Tuesday, February 3, 2009

ISLAND (a/k/a "MY ISLAND") the Comic Book


If you're a regular reader of either -- or both -- of my blogs, you'll be all-too-familiar with the story called My Island. It seems like I can't go more than a week without referencing it, either here or in David'Z Rantz.

I suppose that's because I'm rather proud of it. It's also because the subject -- my friend Patty -- was and is that much a part of me.

For the uninitiated, My Island was a 28-chapter tribute to a woman who died almost fifteen years ago. Before she died, I promised her that I would someday tell her story.

Even before Patty passed away, I'd begun going through -- and I'm quoting from an earlier post on this blog -- "an incredible period of creativity. Not necessarily productivity, I hasten to add. But the ideas themselves wouldn't stop coming. I came up with a list of over two dozen concepts. Most of these were envisioned as comic books."

My Island -- actually, as I recently discovered, it was just "Island" at first -- was one of those concepts.

Of course, that project, in that form, never came to be. Instead, I serialized the story on my David'Z RantZ blog. But in the very last chapter of My Island itself, I briefly mentioned the comic book that almost happened. My sometimes-tricky memory had told me that it was going to be pretty much what appeared as My Island in its prose version.

According to some notes I found a few months ago, I was wrong. (Yes, I was actually wrong. Can you freakin' believe it?)

Oh, hell, I'll just reprint what I wrote in the list of story concepts which I was passing around to artists for about three or four years, so you can see what I mean:

Island

This is a limited series, designed for mature readers due to profanity and other “adult” elements. Its duration, however, will be quite lengthy, as the storyline involves two people’s lives over a twenty-year period. Sometimes their lives intersect, and sometimes not.

Island does not tell a story about an island. It does tell the story of the narrator’s close friend, Mary Warriner (the name and some instances are fictitious), from the time he meets her in 1975 until her death in 1994 from ALS (“Lou Gehrig’s Disease”). It is definitely not a linear biography. In fact, the plotlines will meander as much as the narrator’s random memories. The discovery by Mary that she has this fatal disease will be the springboard for the series, provoking various reminiscences via flashbacks, interspersed with modern occurrences.

As this series is based on the author’s unfortunate reality, there is no real need for any storyline suggestions by the artist.

Uh-huh.

Let's just pick that apart, shall we?

Island

Okay, fine. Island, and not My Island. Whatever. That's minor.

This is a limited series, designed for mature readers due to profanity and other “adult” elements.


Well, at least that hadn't changed. It still wouldn't have been an "adults only" story. I would've used the same approach as I did in its prose form, where the reader is kept "outside" of the bedroom -- or the automobile, or wherever -- during any canoodling episodes.

Its duration, however, will be quite lengthy, as the storyline involves two people’s lives over a twenty-year period. Sometimes their lives intersect, and sometimes not.


Ohhh, crap. That implies that there would have been a lot more time devoted to the "David" character. More about my fiancées, my friendships, the "Irish Mafia," etc.

Island does not tell a story about an island.

Ha-freakin'-ha.

It
does tell the story of the narrator’s close friend, Mary Warriner...

I'm guessing that I chose a name like "Mary Warriner" -- sounds almost like "marijuana," dunnit? -- because my sense of closure demanded that some sort of dumb joke be made about her name, and since the whole "Patsy Walker" thing was out...

(the name and
some instances are fictitious)...

Ahhh, the old writer's dodge! I could tell you all sorts of stuff about my personal life, but you'd never know what was real and what was fiction!

It is definitely not a linear biography. In fact, the plotlines will meander as much as the narrator’s random memories.

Heh. What a great idea. I sure could've used that kind of leeway in the writing of My Island itself! But no, I had to be Mr. Chronological as much as possible, and paint myself into a corner...

As this series is based on the author’s unfortunate reality, there is no real need for any storyline suggestions by the artist.

A polite way of telling any and all prospective artists to keep their non-visual ideas to themselves.

* * * * *

Out of a handful of prospective artists who saw my list of "over two dozen concepts," only a guy named Jim -- who was briefly an upstairs neighbor of mine when I moved to Webster in 1995 -- showed any interest in drawing Island.

If I recall correctly, he prepared the following sketches just for the hell of it, with only a brief description of what Patty had looked like.

(Right-click on any of the drawings to open them in another tab or window, and it will give you a much larger image than the one on this page.)



I'll quote from myself again, this time from the last chapter of My Island: "[Jim] was trying to show [Patty] physically wasting away, and frankly, she ended up looking like a crack whore. I'm not just saying that to be crude, or cruel. Even he said it. 'Too much crack whore?' he asked, and I nodded.

Before Jim and I shelved the idea of the collaboration, as we eventually ended up doing, I looked at the three-paneled "page" that he had drawn. Just for the hell of it, I decided to write some sort of captions which could, theoretically, fill the yellow boxes -- or actually, much larger yellow boxes! -- that Jim had included in the drawing. (And if memory serves, I was fueled less by a creative urge and more by a few bottles of Bud Light.)

I stared at the artwork. To me, the middle picture of "Mary" looked angry. But the third picture was that of a faint smile. So I decided that this page could, perhaps, be about a mild confrontation -- and certainly, the real Patty and myself had been through plenty of those! -- but one which was quickly resolved.

This is what I came up with:

Panel One: I don't recall the exact term of disparagement that she used then. But her eyes held mine, and I felt an indominable [sic] will that, paradoxically, cried out for help.

Panel Two: Taken as just a part of the entire face, those eyes looked into me, and through me, with a shrill defiance that struck like a physical slap.

Panel Three: For one of the few times in our intertwined lives, I couldn't stare her down! I quickly and subtly shifted my gaze to her lips. A sneer? A smile? Her expressions, too, were subtle, yet I recognized -- thankfully -- the trust she would always have for me.

Well... I dunno what you thought, but here's what I thought: I'd done it just as an experiment, and frankly, I didn't care for the result. I blame the Bud Light for the "Taken as just a part of the entire face... " line and the fact that I wrote "indominable" rather than "indomitable!" Not to mention... "shrill?"

But even without the influence of... well... being "under the influence," what I'd written was what I myself refer to as "over-writing." If I were ever to attempt a comic series or a graphic novel of My Island again, I'd rely more on dialogue -- which I feel is my strongest point as a writer -- than unnecessarily-wordy captions.

(The great Will Eisner was right. If you can show something in a comic book illustration, that illustration should take precedence over captions and/or dialogue. But dialogue, if necessary, is better than a caption. So, in mathematical terms, ILLUSTRATION > DIALOGUE > CAPTION. I couldn't find the example from Eisner's Comics and Sequential Art online but Eisner did a great sequence about this. More or less, it says that there's no sense having a scene where you show "Bob" being shot, accompanied by a caption saying "Suddenly, Bob is shot!" and/or a dialogue balloon where Bob says "Ugh! I've been shot!" But I digress.)

So there you have it! One of my shorter entries.

You're welcome.

* * * * *

Next time -- probably -- I'll be introducing you to my "mascot," OHO, a character who's been following me around for over thirty-five years! And the OHO story is mainly to lead into a feature about... Well, you'll see. Thanks for your time.


6 comments:

  1. It was nice to see those drawings you were talking about.

    I agree with the idea to write about what is in the drawing is scenceless. Unless it was "You fucking shot me, you ass!" As seen in many movies and telly shows.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey, I'm the first one!

    I'm not Sub.

    He must be sleeping. SHHHHHHH... let's not wake him.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Damn. You must have posted these while my alarm was going off. The first comment gave me a good laugh with which to start my day.

    Full day today, too, and I still haven't had the chance to read Ugly part 5 , so I should have at least one other chapter to read by the time I finally "get there." Lucky me!

    And SubTorp usually checks my blogs when he gets home from work. Maybe he was posting on his own blog, instead. Better check that when I get home, too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ishat-BOOOOO! I'm awake. I never sleep! BWahahahahaaaa! Just kidding. I work third shift and we have no computer to play on during our breaks. Or telly( of which I've no use for ).

    David--I think I vaguely remember something about OHO. But it was so long ago. And I like the first pic(painting).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Happy to be of service.

    Sub,

    Third shift is hard. I have had a mate or two, a relative or two work it over the years. The latest I got was 2nd shift now and again as the need was there.

    Now that I am done procreating, I hope, I shouldn't have to take night shifts again.

    Funny thing, 5 women have turned up pregnant at work. They are do on the same week. I know what they were up to while we were in the shelter during the ice storm. I have to say I applauded their fun time. It's a good thing I wasn't around any viral men at the time, it seems we are all on the same cycle and I get preggers at a drop of a zipper. Or was that hat?

    How about your work, do you have any storm babies waiting to be born there?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I must say, I am happy you went the route that you went with My Island and even more so after hearing that you intended to do a partially non-fiction thing with it as opposed to doing it "warts and all" as you did and giving Patty and Diana and yourself the credit fully for any actions that occurred. I think Patty would have preferred it that way.

    ReplyDelete

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