Thursday, November 5, 2009

Understanding Other Solitudes

As some of you might know I’m at the very beginning stage of writing a superhero team one-shot comic or graphic novel (length to be determined). Sometimes I wish that I could draw so that I could draw the panels myself, because most (not all) graphic novel publishers only accept 6 or more completed comic pages.

Don’t get me wrong, I can do the quick stick figure and, if I had a week, I could even do a cartoony version of a superhero ala Batman the animated series. But to do serious superhero pencilling to the standard of Marc Silvestri or Mike Deodato jr. or Adam Kubert or Jim Lee or Pat Lee?

No way. Btw, does anyone know any up and coming artist whose style is comparable to the above pro artists?

No? Then, I’ll continue to surf DeviantART, PencilJack, and Digital Webbing...

But sometimes I allow myself to dream...Then I find myself seeing hero designs like these and thinking, Why didn’t I draw this first?

Elemental Hero Flame Wingman

In case you’re wondering,  Elemental Hero Flame Wingman is a ‘monster’ from the animated television series, Yu Gi Oh! GX (follow-up series to the original Yu Gi Oh!), which all about the adventures of a boy named Jayden Yugi and his friends, all of whom are students of Duel Academy. This fine institution is dedicated to the theory and practice of the game of Duel Monsters, a turn-based card game which is played between two opponents using their respective card decks and arm-worn devices called duelling discs. Many players have themed decks, such as decks containing many machine-themed cards or dinosaur-themed cards, etc.

Each player starts with 4000 life points and the object of the game is to get your opponent’s life points down to zero.

Cards are divided into three primary categories, namely: Monster cards, Spell cards, and Trap cards. Monster cards, which are played face up in either attack or defence mode, bring monsters (with specific attack and defence points) to the field. Spell cards, which are also played face up, create special effects that affect your monsters, your opponent’s monsters, the field, your life points, or your opponent’s life points. Trap cards, which are played face down, are activated by very specific actions of your opponent.

Clearly, I’ve really gotten into the inner workings of this game, which is really the point of this post.

Growing up, I always wondered what people saw in turn-based card games like Magic: The Gathering. At the same time I was watching and reading many fantasy movies and stories. I viewed Magic: The Gathering and RPGs where elves roam as their own solitudes that were just different from the comic reading solitude, the Fantasy short fiction solitude, and the Fantasy movie watching solitude to which I belonged.

I use the word ‘solitudes’ to denote collectives that have protected and developed distinctly different cultures, languages, and institutions within the same inter-medium super-genre (Fantasy). You could use the word ‘fandoms’ or ‘sub-cultures’, if you want, but I think using ‘solitudes’ is more apt.

In a previous post, I bemoaned the small overlap (at least smaller than it should be) between superhero comic readers and Speculative short fiction readers. What I often find incredible is that many comic readers I’ve encountered are more likely to read SF novels than SF short fiction. Beyond consumer preference, it doesn’t really make sense to me.

Well, until I think of how Yu Gi Oh gave me the answer to the question: What do people see in turn-based card games like Magic: The Gathering?

For me, it’s the skill needed and how strategy and tactics come into play. Coincidentally, this also what I love about team sports (soccer, rugby, cricket).

Having the main characters of Yu Gi Oh GX have superhero-themed cards also doesn’t hurt.

Although, it’s unlikely that I’ll start playing Magic: The Gathering, I won’t be wondering what the attraction to it is anymore...


  1. I like your usage of the word solitudes. But it has kind of a sad connotation to it. It makes fans of non-mainstream genres sound somewhat isolated, which is sometimes the case.

    I wish I could get into turn-based card games (not that I have anyone to play with) but they seem to get quite complicated and reading the directions always made my head spin. Though way back in high school, I remember playing a Star Wars Phantom Menance card game with a friend-of-a-friend and it was quite cool. What I really want to get into is Heroclix, but alas, I'd have no one to play with. (This is the price nerds pay when they have non-nerd friends.)

    If you can't find anyone on DeviantArt to illustrate for you, I wouldn't mind doing it. I recently decided to teach myself how to draw comics after years of traditional art...granted, I'm nowhere near as talented as Jim Lee or even half (okay, probably three-quarters) of the up-and-coming comic artists on DA, but if you're in a pinch I'll gladly do it.

  2. You can draw? Marry me...But seriously, I'm only at the start of it (I'm only done with 14 pages of a possible 45-PLUS-page comic one-shot / graphic novel at this stage).

    I'd have to see samples of your superhero stuff (if you have any), but as I said before I'm only at the very beginning. I've had to teach myself a new form of writing - this is both fascinating and difficult.

    Btw, Jim Lee is probably my least favourite of the artists I mentioned.

  3. lol...well that's the first proposal I've ever gotten! Yep I can draw, though it's always been very traditional pencil/charcoal drawings. After spending years drawing horses and ballet dancers I started teaching myself how to draw in comic style. (And of course, drew a ballerina in comic style.) It's a learning experience for me.

    I'll have to dig through my sketchbook and scan some stuff for you to look at, and draw some new stuff for you, since I haven't had time to draw lately with NaNoWriMo going on. Recently I was asked to illustrate a Superman story so when I get going on that I can show it to you.

    I'm in no way an expert, as this is still somewhat new to me, but I like to learn new things and I'm trying to push myself out of my comfort zone. I think it would be kind of cool if we both embark on learning something new together and see how it turns out. :)

  4. You're going to write a novel in 30 days? That feat is beyond me. Yup, teaching yourself a skill that is parallel to something in which you a bit more experience is strangely awesome.

    My next post is about a similar experience (in terms of short fiction Vs comics/graphic novel RESOURCES).

    It would be cool. Small caveat: I may also submit to a publisher that accepts scipts without art.

  5. It's possible. I got in 50k words last year. The best value of Nano for me is that it teaches me that yes, I can sit down and do something every day rather than procrastinating. I wish there was an equivalent in the art world.

    Submitting scripts without art is the norm, correct?

    Also, have you looked at any web publishers? Or self-publishing online? For the latter, I don't know how the rights issue plays into that. I know with short stories, if you self-publish online and reach a certain number of visitors, some publishers won't accept it.