Lustre Zeal Prologue Page One
This . . . is going to take some getting used to. And I don’t just mean the formatting and editing which is its own thing, but rather the existential anxiety and fear that surrounds the creative process when starting out on a project because if people think writing the first word of a novel is hard, try drawing the first page of a comic. There are a million and one decisions to be made, many of which feel as though they will never be good enough to satisfy the nagging dread that somehow something is missing or that maybe if I tried to draw it again tomorrow I could do it better. There’s also the feeling that if your work isn’t good enough that its that much easier to dismiss, but mostly it comes down to the lack of experience that allows us to feel secure in our sense of our selves because once we put something out in front of others we risk both the pain of rejection and being misunderstood. People’s taste in art being as subjective as it is certainly doesn’t help matters much either as no matter what your intent as an artist may be, the limits of the medium and the visual language that people are familiar with are often used to measure a work’s overall appeal, rather then any objectively definable determinator that can in turn be used to establish value. To put it another way, drawing a comic, writing a book, directing a film, or any creative endeavor really, is a bit like standing between two very different worlds as what the audience wants and what the artist desires to create often stands in direct opposition to each other. It goes something like this; as a writer my goal is to establish a narrative framework as quickly and coherently as possible, where is the story taking place, who is it happening to, why should the audience care, what is the setting and so forth. All of which sounds like advice you’d get in any first year writing course, but as an author, I have to take it a step further and separate those questions into various layers of metacontextual awareness and that means asking what does the writer know, what do the characters themselves know, and what is the audience aware of. By asking these questions, any text or dialogue that seeks to establish the narrative has to be weighed against any present and future context in order to maintain an internally consistent narrative otherwise you get plot holes you can drive a semi-truck through. Its not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do and can run a foul of things like absolute statements and ontological paradoxes but a good writer can work around those things. A bad writer uses them as a platform to espouse their own personal or political ideologies. Anyway, communicating that intent as an artist is a hell of a lot harder because it means I can’t tell you what’s happening without directly spelling it out and removing all sense of mystery or ambiguity, or actually showing you which removes all sense of context, obviates the need for a set-up, and ruins the potential catharsis engendered by a reveal. And suddenly the words ‘show don’t tell’ sound’s like a profoundly idiotic statement due to the fact that its applicability is wholly irrelevant as it removes cause from correlation and renders any anttempt to communicate visually moot. A fan of that particular idiom I am not. So how does narrative structure inform the experience of the audience? Well that’s the flipside of the coin, because if the artist is doing their job well, the audience will never need to question the narrative framework being employed by the artist and simply be able to immerse themselves in the experience. But that means stepping back from a work and recontextualizing our priorities and goals by focusing on satisfying the needs of someone other then ourselves. Which means asking a completely different set of questions such as, who is the audience supposed to empathise with, what makes them a likable character, is the setting familiar enough that they can see themselves in it or does its alienness create a sense of cognitive, emotional, or cultural dissonance. As Walt Disney famously said, “We need to make our characters identifiable enough that a child can recognize them in five seconds. After that we’ve lost their attention.” Which is a tough standard to live up to, but it helps to inform some of the aesthetic decisions that we as artists have to make as whether we’re starting In Media Res or Jo-Ha-Kyu, we still have to work to establish the concept of the world the narrative is taking place in in the audience’s mind. Whether I can do that effectively or not still remains to be seen as all of the narrative techniques I’m used to working with don’t exactly translate well to comics and learning an entirely new set of visual aesthetics is going to take me a while to master. But at least I’ve gotten the process of inking and coloring organized enough now that keeping everything documented and on track is a realistic endeavor, instead of a soul crushing exercise in absolute futility.
If you feel like if you feel like supporting Lustre Zeal or any of the other projects I have in store then check out my Patreon page, the link can be found here: http://patreon.com/user?u=3705901