Captain’s Log 0201027084: Dropping Pretenses

Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Two weeks of wheel spinning. The work on Alpha Test is not nothing, but I’ve made zero progress on Hat Trick 0.

I’ve stated in the past that I have moved from a habit starting and leaving off projects to a habit of getting them done. And that is what 2019 indeed looked like. But 2020, I’ve looked like my old self, minus the emotional disorder.

Doesn’t mean I’m going to give up or lay down in die or stop making things. Just means I gotta stop bragging about traits I thought I’d acquired, but it turns out I haven’t.

I think come All Saints day, I’m going to switch from pretending I’m working on Hat Trick to a smaller project. Take a definitive month off. I may make it just part of my workflow, only to spend a month on any given project. If project A is not done at the end of month A, I switch to B, and then switch back to A at the end of month B. It might be a way to harness my twitchy/flakey instincts and make them work for me.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log 0201027084: Dropping Pretenses”

That sweet, sweet, Gameboy Color Spirit

As stated before, I’ve been mulling over making a sprite comic to prototype my stories. Working name is Public Alpha. Although Alpha Test is a strong contender.

Here’s some images my mulling has produced:

The graphics follow some rules intended to give me hard restrictions that are, at the same time, maximally expressive.

Continue reading “That sweet, sweet, Gameboy Color Spirit”

Captain’s Log 0201019.205: Gap

Lost all of last week. My tent was well suited to my working at a slow but steady rate, but now winter is making overtures.

Image

By the weekend I had settled on converting the basement into an art dungeon. And then I injured my knee, rendering large quantities of stair-climbing inadvisable.

My knee is just about good enough now that I can start building my art dungeon tomorrow. However, I also have a lot of busywork to catch up on unrelated to my comic, so my objective for this week is to catch up on responsibilities, and maybe, hopefully get a page or two done. My ultimate objective is to handle all my potential excuses so that I have no excuses remaining next week.

I’ve done some musing in the mean while.

Continue reading “Captain’s Log 0201019.205: Gap”

Captain’s Log 0201009.224: Deliberate Consumption

Up til now, my policy has been at least two pages a day, Monday through Saturday. Sunday, I am forbidden to work on my current project, every other day I am forbidden to work on anything else until I’ve met some minimum amount of progress.

I am, at this moment, considering designating Saturday as a deliberate consumption day.

That is, part of the creative process is taking stuff in. Reading books. Watching movies. Recharging the creative batteries. Art is a conversation. Listening, as well as talking, is important.

I have not been listening deliberately. I have been listening randomly, and when I’ve gotten burnt out. But I have the latest Dresden Novel queued up, and some old pulp westerns nobody’s heard of as well. And I’m thinking, why not spend every Saturday studying instead of producing? Since I can.

I’m gonna try it for a couple of weeks and see how it changes my momentum.

Captain’s Log 0200925.092: Momentum

This week, from Monday through Friday, I completed 10 pages and paneled/lettered 2 more. Here’s the tail end of that. If you want to see all the pages, you can drop $2 at SubscribeStar or just wait for the book to come out.

That’s an average of one two-page spread a day, although the average is off because I had a birthday to celebrate this week. I’d like to kick that up, but I’m happy to be hitting what I feel is a bare minimum.

Specifically, I’ve gotten in the habit of finishing each session by paneling and lettering a two-page spread ahead. This is a low effort, ‘finishing touch’, and it allows me to begin the next day with pictures (the fun part), and a strong sense of momentum already in place. I’ve heard of authors writing a chapter a day, but each day it’s the second half of today’s chapter, and the first half of tomorrow’s, just to make sure they remain motivated to write tomorrow. And Hat Trick did stall out at a chapter break, so I think I’m going to continue using this trick.

October is coming. I had hoped to have the storyboard done by October so I could run a crowdfund to produce the comic. But it looks like I won’t be.

Anyway, I need to go rescue my chickens from my kids.

Pants on Fire

Or: the Advantage of Pantsing

In writing, it is generally thought there are two approaches, and a writer falls somewhere on a spectrum between the two:

Pantsing and Plotting.

A Pantser “writes by the seat of his pants”. He charges forward and sees what will come out of his pen. A plotter plans ahead, giving himself character sheets and a plot outline.

In general, I have a certain amount of contempt for pantsing. It strikes me as writing by accident. At the very least, a man ought to know how he intends his story to end. Otherwise, how does he know it’s any good? And indeed, the more I use formulas and structures and plots and principles, the better my stories tend to get.

However, there is a certain point where planning is stalling, and you just need to start executing.

I’ve been stalling on the second half of Hat Trick: Night Mare Night Mare for a couple of weeks now. Time to get back on those storyboards.

It is easier, after all, to fix a bad draft than to fix no draft.

Mind is too weak for Matter

Someone I respect, on Twitter, dropped a concept, with which I take issue.

I do not mean to demean his wisdom. Twitter is a format ill-suited to nuance. There is truth to what he says, and if it is not the whole truth, well… there’s not room enough in a tweet for the whole truth.

But let us nit pick because I sense the nit picking may be of use to me and perhaps you.

And the expansion in which I found it:

I responded with fragments from the Abolition of Man.

The Silver Fox, you will note, has accounted for what I wish to draw out in his expansion. He mentions the Will. Let it not be quite said that I am arguing against them. Rather, I am spinning out implications.

Here’s a bit more context from Lewis.

It still remains true that no justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous. Without the aid of trained emotions the intellect is powerless against the animal organism. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat’, than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among sharpers. In battle it is not syllogisms that will keep the reluctant nerves and muscles to their post in the third hour of the bombardment. The crudest sentimentalism … about a flag or a country or a regiment will be of more use. We were told it all long ago by Plato. As the king governs by his executive, so Reason in man must rule the mere appetites by means of the ‘spirited element’. The head rules the belly through the chest—the seat, as Alanus tells us, of Magnanimity, of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments. The Chest-Magnanimity-Sentiment—these are the indispensable liaison officers between cerebral man and visceral man. It may even be said that it is by this middle element that man is man: for by his intellect he is mere spirit and by his appetite mere animal. The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. … A persevering devotion to truth, a nice sense of intellectual honour, cannot be long maintained without the aid of a sentiment… It is not excess of thought but defect of fertile and generous emotion that marks them out. Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.

And all the time—such is the tragi-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’. In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

The Abolition of Man. C.S. Lewis.
Emphasis mine

I grew up a fan of Spock from Star Trek, and my love of logic and reason has earned me the nickname “Logic Monkey.” I did not come up with that name by myself. It was given to me.

But I am a man without a chest. Indeed, thanks to isolation and old books, I am more a product of the Enlightenment than my peers, who are more products of the Counter Enlightenment. My head is swollen; my peers have swollen bellies, but in this I am not more virtuous than they. We both lack for chests.

I’ve said on many occasions that there is a conflict in the arts over whether art is a work of passion or merely diligence. And that I have spent most of my life thinking it was the latter, only to learn that the former is also needful. An artist must put in the work, but he cannot safely ignore the muse.

Lewis’s metaphors draw out what is wrong both with the argument and my current and former positions within it. To enslave oneself to the muse is to be an artist of the belly. To enslave oneself to a formula or a market is to be an artist of the head. What is needed is the chest. Trained emotions.

Like it or not, I have a Style..

So, I just made this post because I wanted to use WordPress’s gallery feature to stick these images side by side.

But I think it’s worth saying I feel like I am about to dive in and finish Hat Trick. No promises today. Gonna try and tinker with the plot, get the ending properly sorted. And I need to talk theology of vocation with my pastor tomorrow. But I feel like it’s about time.

Anyway, my preferred style would be somewhere between Bill Watterson and Johannes Helgeson (warning: Not Safe for Work)

What I do is clearly not that. It’s more like a cross between Mario Strikers and Robert Crumb. Try as I might, I can’t brink myself to ink a picture and not break out the hatching! Maybe after I’m done with my next book, I should take a month or two and just do studies…

Apathy

I grow weary of making the 3D models the moment the sculpting phase is done. When I decided to ditch my current set of rotoscopes for a new set, this was at least part of the motivation, although the rationalizations I came up with were legitimate reasons.

I need to decide whether this is an obstacle to be overcome, or a sign I should sculpt for fun, but continue to illustrate books with drawings.

No matter what you do, there will be parts you don’t like, that bore or discomfit you. Overcoming this resistance is key to accomplishing anything. But! Sometimes you are unwilling to do something because you shouldn’t do it.

Telling these two situations apart is hard.

Possibly, I should sculpt characters, render turn-arounds, and use those to create model sheets.

Well, I’m gonna go feed my face, ponder the question, and maybe look at other stuff I should be examining, such as education related stuff.