Friday, April 02, 2010

The Twilight of our lives

So, that story I mentioned a while back that I didn't want to talk about during Christmas.

You've seen some previews of this tale, A Twilight's Promise, before as it reached completion - it's a one page story on the cruel and fleeting nature of life. It's been released in Futurius' excellent hidden gem, the Tales from the Plex series, and available to buy here (http://www.indyplanet.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=2962&osCsid=0hfph2dpeu3e9npdut05ocvvi7)


To be honest, it was both one of the easiest and hardest things I've written. I try to write stories to the medium and format I'm in, as I've painfully found out recently when trying to reformat a 50 issue series into three graphic novels; it didn't work. The reason why it didn't work was because all the plot, style and format of the story were designed to function within a series format, with the cliffhangers, storylines and even the way the characters progress in the story, all geared to a long running series. Condensing that into three graphic novels created all sorts of problems with the above and there was no time to adapt it fully, so I stopped trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

It's easy to misunderstand, but adapting material from one source and format to another isn't a case of saying "well, this book should work well as a film, so why did they miss things out or change my favourite part" and so on. Stories rarely work that way. Just because it works in one medium, doesn't mean it will work in another simply because it seems like a perfect fit - it's a bit like saying a Porsche engine will work well in a Ferrari because they're both cars and drive fast. Nine times out of ten, something will have to change to make the story work and comfortably in its new form, because while you may live in a house, no one moves into a new property without making some adjustments to make it a home. Otherwise it's just you sitting in a place which doesn't quite feel right for you. Same with adaptations of most kinds, whether it's from book to comic, or even from a short story to a larger form.

So when it came to A Twilight's Promise, I thought about what would make a good one page story. Big problem = there's little space for what I would like a great, engaging story to have (not so much it being impossible, more that I'm not sure I had the scope in my tastes to make it work). Action, character development and such... no room. It's difficult enough for a prose one-pager, but a comic one-pager? Nope, not going to work. So after a long think, I realised that if this story is going to be brief, why not make that the point of the story and its main metaphor? Start it up, and before we even get a chance to know the characters, their aims, their thoughts, we lose them again. A person in their cruel twilight, as it were. I wrapped that up in a setting which we'd all be able to relate to, imagine and sympathise with, not to mention a theme and topic close to me, and that's what ended up on the page.

Ariyana Vidya, the talent behind Butterflies and Moths: Fragile, did the artwork and captured it all perfectly - the pace, the emotion and even some of the visual effects I described in the script. All in one page. It's not the most pleasant of stories and certainly my most depressing to date (however, my graphic novel, Butterflies and Moths, may take that crown this/next year) but it's meant to be bleak. It's meant to catch you in your gut and make you ask 'why'. It's meant to be far briefer than it is fair.



Given it's only one page, you can read the whole thing in the preview section of the site where you can purchase the comics from the series. Take a look and let me know your thoughts - and I'd also recommend picking up an issue or two of Tales from the Plex as well. There's a lovely range of styles and stories there for everyone and worth the rather small cover price (especially given how pricey mainstream comics are getting these days).

Catch you on the bounce and thanks as always for stopping by.

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