Monday, June 7, 2010

Another Essential Tool

University of St Jerome Dept. of Military Science

The Map

The Spire


Here is my proposal, a collectively written and illustrated narrative comic that utilizes the technology of role-playing games to generate itself. Here is what I would like to do: we play Dungeons & Dragons (in spirit, rules suck but chance and accident are excellent. There will be dice, and so it will resemble D&D) with me as moderator/Dungeon Master. I have a narrative that I think is fairly interesting it has a beginning and a middle and an end I have developed some of the key characters, but what I don’t have is a set of protagonists to navigate all of this.

This is my strength as an artist and as a writer, settings & plot points. I am not so skilled at generating personalities, I work more with archetypes and I think that my strengths are better suited to do so. I am much better at writing a villain, and while I think that it is perfectly suitable for a story to center on a villain, a villain is not a villain without contrast. I come from the school of noir writing. My cities, settings & buildings are themselves characters. Graphic novels are very evocative ways to have this happen, yet illustrated comic books frequently focus on the characters that are involved and the images in the background are treated secondarily, and here too is where my strength lies. It is in drawing these places, trying to give life to these characters who have no human form, but are just as vital to the story (i.e. peoples lives) as anything else. What strikes me as interesting is that both my skills in terms of role-play, acting as a dungeon Master and playing villains, and my strengths as an artist, illuminating places and zones in which things happen can come together in this project. What I need is actors. This is theater in a sense. But I’ll not only need actors, I need writers, producers, and so on.

This is how I see the project unfolding: we would play sessions of this campaign/narrative that I have, making relatively detailed notes about what transpires. The characters that people write to play in this game would look like themselves, and we would function as the models for the graphic novel that would be generated from this process. Using this process we would illustrate collectively by way of some method of collage. Unlike a traditional comic, which also requires many participants, people would not have specific roles within the production. Rather than pencil, inks, letterer, writer, editor, and so on we would fill in as world builder, monster maker, chaotic amoral, truth teller, social critic.

While doing this I think that it would be appropriate for us to occasionally stop and make a drawings or whatever else seem to be the most important thing to do at that time. I think that similar to the unconventional process of creating a comic book that this would be multimedia. We could utilize the photography drawling painting graphic design and so on. Anything that would translate into print media. We play to our strengths.

What I am doing now is starting a series of drawings of the locations these stories would happen in. What I would need is people to create characters to play within the setting, and perhaps generate some drawings – find or make the personal effects that they would have, or whatever else they find interesting. Once that is along I would like to try a session to see if this project is feasible at all.

My interest in sci-fi fantasy of any kind in it its ability to deal with real human issues in a detached way. I think one of the most brilliant examples of this recently has been Battle Star Galactica. Through the matrix of science fiction that show was able to deal with many of the most challenging philosophical questions that the Bush administration raised without necessarily jumping to judgments of the personalities that were at the helm of the administration. I think that this is brilliant because frankly the fact that it was Bush and Cheney was irrelevant to could have been any other two neocons the point was that there was a major structure behind it allowed all those things to happen are. Bush and Cheney would never have been able to do what they did if there were a very powerful engine behind supporting it. What something like Battle Star Galactica is capable of doing is it looking at these engines of power and even the specific details of what’s happening within current events but having the fictional aspect of the show act as a screen which allows them to go into greater depth than even the news media found itself capable of doing. So as much as I love the idea of fantastic characters running jumping climbing trees casting spells performing rituals and the rest of it, it is for me a very beloved screen but the wizard behind the curtain is still a political animal and a citizen of this world. I have heard criticisms of this line of thinking which suggests that utilizing these real human tragedies in order to support fictional storytelling in a sense trivializes what has really gone on and effectively profits from other people’s misery. I believe this is a real danger and if done improperly this can occur. But I do not think that is the end of the story and that in fact this sort of indirect social criticism has great potential. So my interest remains on marginalized individuals and their survival strategies, outcasts and outsiders, and the consequences of wielding power. I have ideas for stories which center on gender dynamics, queer identity, class, military strength and technology.