Monday, November 30, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Worryingly the blog is catching up to where I am slowly. This is page 23, I am working on page 26. When I started making this I did two pages a week but the tiredness caught up with me eventually. I need more time to make the pages as good as I want them to be, so I settled on a rhythm of one page a week, and lately I've been having trouble fulfilling even that deadline (otherwise, mathematically, the blog would have never caught up with me). Perhaps I want the blog to catch up so there is a practical deadline of every Monday instead of just a theoretical one I am applying to myself.
The reason I'm going slower is because there's difficult things left to draw pretty much exclusively and also that the rest of the story is very concrete in my mind so there's not much improvisation left to do. I have to see it through, basically. I will, I am certain, but not without my subconscious rebelling on me here and there. There's about 15 pages left and every one of them is going to take a larger toll on my psyche than the opening pages where relations are established and generally 'light' things happen. I want to do this, I keep reminding myself, this is why I started this in the first place.
About the page in question I've had some close friends react with a degree of horror to this and when I asked 'what, haven't you seen more severe dreams than this?' they all said they have had in the past, yes. It seems the page touches on some taboo on "what is allowed" to be discussed about the human psyche in a comic. As Nick told me a while ago, we'll have to revise how we talk about our art-forms eventually, because games aren't very gameish anymore, film isn't shot on film and comics are anything but.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I've found often that people I discuss with are dismissive of philosophy because it seems to be tangential to their real-life concerns. They liken it to mental masturbation, but it is in philosophical - and more precisely epistemological - language that they could address some very real issues that would otherwise keep eating away at their psyche.
Human beings are fundamentally unsure. Unsure of the quality of knowledge available to them, from the topics of ontology and existence up to the results of a mundane assessments of everyday information. But most of all they are unsure about themselves, about their merits and qualities and most of all about their disadvantages. They need the external world to verify or debunk their often silent assumptions. The world is fuzzy and analogue and no truth seems to stick. The more complicated the system the less simplified truths stick and what happens when everything interfaces with everything?
People are fundamentally unsure of themselves because they can't really dependably know anything. The concept of 'objectivity' is a mental trap that has tormented many for thousands of years and on top of its bastardized existence there is staged an elaborate sociodynamic power-play that mirrors the battle for base survival in the wild. Given that the only certainty then, is the uncertainty of all, persuasion is the method through which pressure groups shape the available finite space.
Let's think about what human beings do with certainties like, 'puncturing the chest will kill the heart' or 'suffocation to kill the brain': they turn them into weapons. The way the strong hurt the weak with epistemological despondency - and they are strong as they are weak by making these realizations and having the resolve to put them into action - is by judgment. All judgments are fundamentally not true but that doesn't mean that they are seen by all as false; they are only as true as you can sell them to others. The more people that believe them (or profess to believe them, effectively), the more the one making declarations has established a world around them that operates on their own terms, has adopted their reality or a similar reality that allows for theirs.
Consider a social situation in which two people are engaged in dialogue or argument (as it much happens on the internet) and there is a crowd of mostly silent onlookers, like fauna in the wild. The party that offers judgment and makes the most compelling case for it gathers respect and support. The judgment can be anything, so it often is the judgment that most would appeal to the social dynamics of the specific group that is surveying the conflict. The methods for propping up that judgment are based on familiar empathic tropes, tell them what they want to hear in unexpected ways, surprise them with the truth they already knew, entertain them, intimidate them. Once they are convinced (and the opposition feels that they are out of favor with the silent majority) there is a victory for the strong. This is how the smart and the dumb and the learned and the uneducated all resolve their social conflicts, the words may change and the quality of dressing for the judgment may vary, but the intention is the same. Consider children fighting for the same toy, consider geopolitical summits and consider a lover's quarrel. At the end no Truth is unearthed, no wisdom is accumulated, but a violent game has been played and illuminates a long, similar road, until death counts the final score and laughs at the spectral reward. Persuasion is reality.
The unsure will lose because they cannot convince anyone of anything when they're unsure. Do not confuse with those subversively unsure, where they shape their calculated skepticism into a weapon that solipsistically destroys any counter-argument. In these battles the honest uncertain are terrified limbless targets and it is no wonder that they flee the field to the opinionated and strong. The few structure reality for the many. It is especially sadistic to consider the circumstances in which most personal judgments occur and what they mean in the terms discussed in this text. Imagine some uncertain fellow coming out with a personal experience and then the one discussing with them replying with (the fantastically non-sequitur, but so often employed) cruel knife of "you're weird/stupid/annoying/boring/pretentious". Imagine being in the shoes of the uncertain and being told by an external authority (the outside world!) a possible Truth about yourself. You have to find out if it's true for all around you and how true it is! Imagine how strangely flattering it is to be told anything about your own self from the external world, to be even noticed. Imagine sheepishly replying "oh, you think so?", inviting even further judgment on your unsure self just because you really need some external verification that you have qualities to begin with, that you are in fact, existent. The strong has persuaded you of what you are. Some grow addicted to external verification/vilification, they subconsciously shape what they feel and mean so as to provoke it.
This is perhaps how those equipped at judgment shape the world around them. I am cognizant to some of these processes and I have been on either end of them and as I'm slowly growing older (or perhaps safer, more content?) I am finding it less and less a game and a laugh, and a far-away, spectral reward. I'm a strong person in the sense discussed above, I have my weapons too, but I am also fundamentally unsure and I must keep reminding myself of this. Perhaps the conflict must be transcended, perhaps not engaging is best but there isn't always willpower (or opportunity) for this. So what to do when I have to level persuasion as a spear against the Other?
On a past text I said that I need to claim an ambiguous space to be alive (to effectively also shape the reality around me) so I write this addendum to remind myself that although this will always be a conflict with others that are trying for the same space, that although it will always be a violent resolution, I must not believe my own judgments further than I need to to survive. They are double-edged weapons and as they trap others in my own world, they might also trap myself in it, they will make ambiguity into hardened "Truth" and then I must abide by it, I must be 'consistent' (a neurosis if there ever was one) or lose my own identity. Courage to be always wrong and to let others know it then. There must be no ingrained Truth to what I try, there must be no lesson, only impression and expression.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Don't maximize the above image if you're at work.
Check out the mirrored panel formation. I do this a lot but it's not something that jumps out to the reader. I do it to suggest a constant but odd tempo to the scene, like 7/8 or 5/4. Dancing about the architecture of sequential timing. Also there's a shoe left there.
I finished page 25 yesterday. I've also written a continuation of the "that's interesting" text below, but I'll have to edit it a bit before I'm happy with it and I also don't have a header image for it! I'll either have to scan the archives, or draw a new judgmental dog to go with it, we'll see. Priority is still the comic.
If you have any thoughts you'd like to share with me about the comic, I'd read them in the comments below.
Monday, November 2, 2009
I don't generally suggest copy/pasting backgrounds to comic artists because it makes them look lazy and if the artist betrays the trust of the reader that they're trying to do the best they can at all times, then they usually lose them. The reader might not put the book down in disgust but on some level they're pushed out of the story and they start instead to inspect the artist in his cutting corners.
However there are some advantages. First of all, the reader will read the page faster, focusing on what changes from panel to panel and disregarding what stays the same. This is what you do in real life when you talk to someone, you look at his mouth and body language and what's moving around him and you're interpreting this stuff as a priority. The rest you keep a subconscious secondary watch on, and if something changes, you take account of it also. So static backgrounds have the ability to 'ground' a scene and make the reader use his real-world faculties when reading. This might seem like a banal point to make but it really isn't. Often comics make the reader use completely surreal ways of interpreting movement, space and time (and that is one of their strengths) but sometimes all of that is too extravagant for what the creator needs. I don't want to use wild dolly shots and stuff here. I don't want the viewpoint to be non-standard (meaning, toad's view or eagle's view) I want us, the viewers, to be participatory in a voyeuristic sense. We are looking at the sofa, sitting girl eye-level. We are there and we are listening in on their conversation.
Another aspect that makes this page faster to read is the uniformity of the rendering style. You'll notice that there is a style drift in this chapter (when it's finished, at least) but it happens more on a page-by-page basis than on a panel by panel one. The reasons for this will be apparent later on.
There are visual clues in this chapter for the attentive reader that foreshadow... well, I don't really need to say this again,there's always visual clues in all the pages that foreshadow everything.