Well, we’ve reached the end of Legacy’s first act, and before I get into my thoughts about managing a project like this I’d to thank everyone who’s read, subscribed, liked, upvoted, commented or supported the series on Patreon thus far as its been a hell of a ride and its taught me more about an artist’s relationship to their work then I ever wanted to know. Seriously, when people say writing a book is easy, publishing it is the hard part, there is more truth to that statement then even I care to admit as no matter how much you study or how long you practice, the passage of time is relentless, and no matter how fond of an idea or familiar with a concept an author might be there’s no guarantee that the audience will share those same sentiments let alone be invested enough to read through to the end. And this is coming from a guy who used to read serialized works day in and day out on a fairly regular basis. Now with the majority of my time being taken up by the logistical challenges of developing a webcomic, managing collaborations with another artist, and wearing as many different hats as possible, I can say with no small amount of conviction that life happens, and the fact that people are willing to spend their hard earned leisure time reading my work of all things is nothing short of awe inspiring. Long story short, you guys are most excellent. (Insert air guitar riff from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey here)
Now as for what my thoughts are on managing a project this size . . . sweet holy mother of expletive, expletive, EXPLETIVE! Do you know how tempting its been to respond to people’s comments only to have to keep my damned mouth shut because as the author of this work anything I say to someone could potentially be construed as a freaking spoiler! Seriously, I’ve had to debate even saying this much because one of the essential elements of reading a mystery is the frigging mystery! Being able to come up with crazy theories, or trying to figure out the villain’s motivations only to have those suspicions proven or disproven is a key part of the core experience, and having the author hanging around in the background confirming or denying those suspicions is like taking that experience, throwing it into a dumpster and lighting it on fire. The instant I realized that was a holy crap moment let me tell you. And since a narrative like this was never intended to have the author’s fingerprints all over it, let alone be doled out in weekly chunks, I’ve had to seriously watch what I say lest I ruin the impact of the reveal or inadvertently send any future readers off on a wild goose chase. Which isn’t something I was exactly prepared for as not only has the artist’s relationship to the lifecycle of the media industry changed dramatically from the time when I was a kid, but the artist’s relationship to the audience has as well. Which is to say that running commentary such as this is a new experience to me and not one I’m entirely certain of as it can come across as either self-congratulatory or downright pedantic, but then again I’m from a generation that lived in a world before the advent of the internet and I can still remember a time when encyclopedia’s were a thing you bought whenever you wanted to fix your favorite chair so, live long enough and you become the very thing you fought against growing up I suppose. Either that or I’ve watched enough of the world change that I no longer care about which generation claims to be the greatest (it was the eighties) and am far more concerned with preserving whatever techniques and aesthetic values from my developmental years as I can. Seems a worthwhile enough goal right? Right. That said, beyond this point is where I’m going to talk start talking about things like metanarrative and the events I personally consider to be significant in terms of literary theory, so if you haven’t read or finished reading the first act, consider yourself warned.
Epigraphs, the limits of linear narrative and closing the circle.
To say that Legacy as a whole leans heavily on metanarrative in order to convey its ideas and concepts to the reader would be a gross understatement. You see part of what got me into writing epigraphs in the first place was the fact that a great many of the stories I was exposed to in my formative years were speculative science fiction or humanist fantasy that dealt with ideas too fantastic to simply talk about outright or completely cluttered up the page with nonsensical jargon, techno-speak and whatever made up nonsense language the author felt like throwing in for good measure. I swear only one author has ever made me want to hit myself in the face with their book and that was after trying to pronounce gtst, gtste, and gstso for the umpteenth time. (And if you know what that’s a reference to congratulations, your tastes in fiction are probably as strange as mine.) And since I adore tangential learning more then words can ever describe I soon found myself falling into the habit of trying to come up with ways to expand my own narrative abilities without having to type up an entire dissertations on subjects that would either bore the reader to tears or completely derail the narrative. The problem with this as I’ve discovered is that using epigraphs as a source of vital information or even a second parallel narrative has the unintended consequence of lessening their impact on the reader as linear narrative tends to emphasize causality over circumstance and when dealing with a mystery, the circumstances are only ever emphasized at the end of the narrative, or when the author needs a convenient way of distracting the reader while they narrow down the list of potential suspects. This also means that when you mix multiple genres together, it can leave the audience wondering where the hell certain concepts essential to understanding the plot were even introduced as some readers will outright skip the epigraphs altogether or if they aren’t yet familiar with an author’s narrative voice, treat them as they would an interesting if unnecessary aside. This is of course a bone of contention for me as I find the limits of linear narrative to be too constricting and so tend to prefer, French, German and even Japanese narrative philosophies to the ones that are predominantly used in the west. But hey, I’m not here to argue for or against one artistic ideology or the other, I’m simply trying to reconcile my position as the author with the reading habits of potential audience members because when it comes down to it, stories stop being told when they cease to be interesting, and a big part of my job is to make the story as interesting and engaging as possible. Now having said that, one of the underlying themes espoused by the epigraphs scattered throughout the narrative has to do with the nature of identity as well as being symbolic representations of the thoughts, attitudes and opinions of many of the major characters, only one of which is actually referred to by name as all of the others are deliberately left ambiguous because they are intended to reflect a constantly changing political landscape. The character I am referring to of course is King, who only takes forty-five chapters to finally show up for all of two sentences. Man, the setup for that reveal alone still blows me away. Mostly because its intended as a total mind screw for the reader but also because it goes even further then that by combining the elements of an epic tragedy with existential nihilism, surreal symbolism and a jigsaw puzzle plot that will have even the most devoted of readers calling me an absolute bastard when the final piece falls into place. Something to look forward to I know. But hey, at least now that I’ve learned that there’s an audience for this sort of thing I can focus on turning the ambiguity up to eleven without fear of turning my own psyche inside out in the process. Which is something that learning to draw has me doing in spades. IN SPADES!
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