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In the Mood of Short
An edition about the virtue of concision and wonderful absurd "mood boards"
WELCOME TO A NEW EDITION OF MY NEWSLETTER
Here we go again, with plans and plans… Life tries to change them but we hold the helm stronger and try to do our best…
UMKB SECOND ARC
The first arc of Until my knuckles bleed titled “Extremely Damaged”, three issues, have been published and the people of Behemot informed that the entire print, the three issues, have been sold out. Not bad for this little experiment which was previously rejected in different places. Sometimes projects need the time to find their place. So thank you very much to buyers and retailers for their support to this indie book.
So if you didn’t get a copy, don’t worry because the softcover of these three issues will be released, if I’m not wrong, this July. The editors want more, and I want to write and draw more too. My plan for the series is to structure it in short arcs of three issues, maybe with one-shots between arc and arc. I want every issue of the series to count. Nothing of “decompressive storytelling”. Every issue will tell a lot of events.
Right now I’m working on the script of a new three issues arc and on a one-shot which will serve as a prologue of this new arc, but both could be read separately. This is another of my goals: Every arc should be read as a typical crime novel where you have a main character in a different case.
Stay aware! More info about my progress with the good old Gabin Hart here!
One of the reasons I follow newsletters and read a lot of interviews to comic authors, filmmakers and writers is because I love to learn about the creative process. I first discovered this concept of the mood board while reading interviews to crime novelists but then I noticed it is very common in visual areas of work like design, fashion and decoration. The concept is really simple: To build a board (not necessarily physically) of the references, influences… All the things you want to use in your story, or the kind of feeling you want to rouse to the reader.
It’s easier to explain with an example. This is the Mood Board I made for Ginger revenges. I noted a lot of concepts, without thinking if they fit together:
BRITISH PULP/ 2000 AD/ BUTTON MAN
CHAV CULTURE/ GIRLS WITH TRACKSUIT
AVENGEMENT/ ACCIDENT MAN/ SCOTT ADKINS
GARETH EVANS (THE RAID I Y II/ GANGS OF LONDON)/ TIMO TJAHJANTO (THE NIGHT COME TO US)/ GUY RITCHIE (SNATCH, LOCK & STOCK)
KOREAN REVENGE FILMS/ THE VILLAINESS.
COMICS PULP BY WALLACE WOOD/ EC COMICS
YOUNG CHARACTERS FROM THE SHONEN JUMP MAGAZINE IN THE 90S
AMERICAN SUNDAY PAGES
TYPO COURIER/ RICHARD STARK/ TED LEWIS
And I made a visual research of all that mess, something similar to this:
I don’t say I am going to rip-off everything for all these sources (well, maybe a little) but this list of items helps to create a mood for the story. So somebody like me, who is working on a lot of things at the same time, can return to a project and easily “reconnect” with the “vibe” of this particular world. A playlist of music helps a lot, too. The idea is building a sensory skeleton before beginning to write the script and it’s a really funny method to work with. Because we are –in part- the result of our likes and dislikes.
THE VIRTUE OF CONCISION
I have not seen The Batman yet… and I feel really lazy about it. Lately I haven't been in the mood for seeing a lot of movies due to its length, mainly because this length doesn’t seem justified often. I had the same problem with Dune, and it’s not a problem of pacing. I love slow-burn movies, from Takeshi Kitano to the Coen brothers.
I want to make my statement (unsolicited, of course) on the virtues of the short and concise fiction, beginning with the 90 minute films. I think John Carpenter’s Assault on precinct 13, Walter Hill’s The Driver, Godzilla (the first 1954 version), Evil Dead 2, The Mission (the Johnny To’s crime movie, not the Roland Joffé’s film), Airplane, Duel, Dredd or Valhalla Rising are varied (in genre and ambition) examples of movies telling a lot with the just duration.
It seems we need to read real wrist-breakers of 800 pages to demonstrate we love reading. The example in the Fantasy genre is vivid, and it’s something has keeped me apart from it for years. Michael Moorcock’s novels, even forming great sagas, used to be structured in self-contained novels from 130 to 225 pages. And the greatest piece of fantasy ever made (in my humble opinion), Poul Anderson’s The Broken Sword, can be read completely on a rainy Sunday.
Chandler and Hammet are the parents of the hard-boiled novels and they always produced little pocket books. The Richard Stark’s Parker books, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Richard Matheson’s I am legend. Short books with enormous worlds contained inside them.
James Sallis is a master of concision and his Drive novels (Drive and its sequel Driver) are 150 pages wonders (and unfairly looked down by the Drive movie director, Nicolas Winding Refn). Stephen King is famous for his long, immersive books, but he has little short gems like The Gunslinger, The Running man, Carrie or recently Later and Colorado Kid.
And other really really short examples, almost novellas or short stories you can read in few hours: Chronicle of a Death Foretold, the immortal masterpiece of Gabriel García Marquez, The third man by Graham Greene, The postman always rings twice, You were really never been here, the seminal The Heart of Darkness…
And of course, in comics, my field, you can find self-contained stories which have this sense of “big” work but at the end they only need a low account of pages to tell us a satisfying tale. The stand-alone graphic novels made by the Brubaker-Phillips team My heroes have always been junkies and Pulp have around 64 pages. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes has 70. In the superhero mainstream field, Daredevil: Love and war has 64, and the uber-popular Batman: The killing joke GN has only 46 pages!
Some of the best Will Eisner stories, like The Dreamer, have this basic structure of 48 pages.
You can even find single comic-book issues with “big tales” compressed in 22-24 pages: Pax Americana by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, this Mr Majestic issue written by Alan Moore and drawn by Carlos D’Anda (Wildstorm Spotlight #1) or Frank Miller’s Sin City: Silent night and his Daredevil Roulette story (Daredevil #191) could be read as self-contained books. They trap you for years and years and only spent a few minutes reading them.
Please understand me. I don’t want to forbid long fiction. I say: Every story needs its length to be told. And sometimes creation seems to obey commercial and prestige parameters instead of thinking about what's better for that story. Market rules, I suppose.
Thank you for reading my spiel, specially in an edition focused on the virtue of concision. See you in a couple of weeks with a new chapter of Ginger revenges!
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