Writing Altruistic Complex
No fun pictures this time, but hopefully some insight!
A bit of background on me first: I definitely started as a visual artist, not a writer. Growing up I would doodle and draw all the time, studying art books and seeking help and direction online. I have seriously bad handwriting and Tendonitis made writing up more than a page a painful chore. I had a very vivid imagination and thought up many stories, but never practiced the craft side of writing; I figured I would wind up doing the art for someone else's creation. (Actually, being kinda skeptical I figured I wouldn't end up in an art related job at all.)
I did however read. I read and read, and as a child I quickly advanced past my "age recommended" reading material. I built a vast vocabulary and really relished the elements of writing (setting, pacing, foreshadowing, rising action, etc.) even if I didn't know of them as such at the time.
When I tried (and flunked) college I had to take a required writing class. I went into it uninspired but I still took my assignments seriously. I was surprised to win the class's "readers choice" award twice. While not really a prestigious award it did awaken me to the thought that "anyone who can communicate can write". Up until then I had figured that without years of classical training I would never be capable of writing a compelling story.
Right about that time the idea for Altruistic Complex started brewing in my head. At first it was a very small scope story, and honestly was just an excuse for cool action scenes. I would draw the characters but I gave little thought to their personalities, desires and lives. Over the next five years I experienced some of the most important (not to mention harshest) times of my life and these travails left me imbued with a better understanding of life and a much more cultured perspective.
I wondered if an action/adventure comic could be fused with my mundane but VERY impactful sensations. It felt crazy at first, but I soon realized this was the key: Whatever stories you tell, no matter how fantastical or experimental are strongest when they draw on your PERSONAL life. By putting my real feelings on characters in surreal situation I found I could much better universalize my own experiences.
So what are some of these feelings and how do they tie into AC? You probably know by now that AC will feature big action, frenzied fight scenes and characters becoming superhuman, but that describes many (most?) comics out there, what makes AC unique?
One of the primary themes I want to convey is that of stress and how it frays our emotions, warps our decisions and threatens to be the undoing of our aspirations.
SPOILER-ISH STUFF BELOW.
One thing that has always bugged me about many heroes is their massive supply of resources readily accessed. From Bruce Wayne to James Bond, heroes operate from a base of flawless support. Batman's personally designed Bat-rope has never misfired (as far as I know, and if it HAS it's probably due to villainous tampering) and after a hard night apprehending bad-guys he can retire to a full rest in his Bat Cave.
We've never seen Bond having to make do with a Q gadget that only half works. And that's all by design, it encourages a feeling of empowerment. You see how smooth Bond works and you wish you could be that. It's empowerment, but it's NOT viewer identification.
I wanted to spin that. Don't get me wrong, my comic has PLENTY of "power-story" empowerment: Suggestion users will begin to grow their abilities exponentially over the course of the books. What starts with Ayame making simply tools and weapons culminates in her basically being able to influence the entire planet as a whole.
But along the way I wanted to "put the pressure" on Ayame and her rag-tag team. The small group winds up hounded by seriously trained, heavily armed military forces. They have no "homebase", just a hand-modified VW Van and a few scattered contacts who might help them (or stab them in the back!). They run short on sleep, they have conflicting ideas on what to do, they suffer loss and must question their own ethics and purpose. I want Ayame to have to prove herself as a hero of fortitude, not just power.
END OF SPOILERS
Some people have been inquiring about the sniper-toting mouse gal who's appeared in some of my production work. She's a CETA support sniper and recon operative. She'll show up pretty early and will be a welcome member of Ayame's small crew. She's pure hearted, free-spirited and generally the heart and warmth of the team.
Any other questions? Just ask!
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