Monday, March 8, 2010

ZX Page 37


Pirate Jenny said...

I've been meaning to ask this for some time now (I can't remember if I first saw the light in Page 34 or 35).

Is this the original meaning of ZX? I mean, before this comic? Like, when you used to draw ZX here and there for years? And when I'd asked you to draw ZX for me, a couple of years ago, did you already know who he is? Or did you think of it only later?

Because if it's the former, you broke my heart, mate. Come to think of it, you broke my heart either way.

P.S. Sorry if the question is too personal...

Helm said...

ZX is a name of an old computer (Spectrum ZX). His original full name was ZX-32, a wordplay mixture of Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64, both 8-bit machines. On Memorybot, I named him ZX-64 to denote it was the second 'official' ZX story, or maybe I had just forgotten that I had halved the value on his initial foray and didn't bother checking.

Originally ZX was used mostly as a stand-in for my own anxieties and issues. Besides ZX, I did this earlier with the 'red robot', as seen here:

But for a simple reason I stopped using this robot as a personal vehicle. The reason is, he is not my invention

and as such I was hesitant to 'hijack' him too much, even if he's sorta-kinda public domain. I know that sounds silly and in a black and white comic you can't even see he's red, but I knew.

I came up with ZX personable. He's existed as a scribble since 2005 I think? First put into a comic here:

As I said he was then a stand-in for myself and my anxieties. However at some point I realized he doesn't really *feel* like me anymore (circa around 'Memorybot' comic) and it took a while before I realized why I kept returning to that robot. The main subconscious thing that made me use him as I do now is that he looks like a tall fellow, I suspect.

The story I am doing in 'ZX' has been one I have been struggling to write and draw as a comic for at least 6 years. It was originally going to be a very 'straight' retelling of autobiographical events without much narration or embellishments but twice I tried to draw 'the first page' of this and I was foiled either due to technical inabilities or because I felt I wasn't ready yet for other reasons.

This time it worked because I felt ready to go there and the structure was quickly improvised once the pieces were there. I made a lot of 'important' choices about how to write this very reflexively, page by page. The very very first strip that introduces Mary and Stephan was supposed to just be that: a humourous strip about a girl not knowing when to give up. It was a pitch for a newspaper strip that fell through. After that I decided to use these characters in the story I was struggling with as a 'trojan horse', to achieve some distance and hopefully some illumination. It has worked, it is in the process of working. Once I had decided to not use straight autobiographical presentation of events, ZX fell into a different role pretty naturally. It was a good thing that I decided against strict auto-bio, I feel no shame or regret in that the events described in the comic are not an 1:1 copy of my real life events because the events that lead up to the crux of this comic are not what matters, the end result is always the same.

I hope this answers your questions sufficiently. And I'm sorry if I made you sad. I promise that the comic will end on a slightly brighter note than what pages 34-35-36-37 denote. I mean, I do not make this comic to emotionally blackmail the reader. I am hoping to go a further than the shock of what happened. This is what I need also and why I'm making the comic.