Monday, 7 October 2013

The Undead Story

Some stories will never ever be read. They might not please their creators, or they may simply be too convoluted, forever evading completion. So many stories unfit for the world. Pity these lost fables, these thrown away epics, because all were crafted to inspire wonderment in the mind of you, the reader.

What about those myths that lie half-made? Those feral creatures denied the sustenance of an intrigued readership? Where do they go, and should we be bidden light and a map to follow them? All that hard work caged within the memories of the story gods that birthed them. Wouldn't that be a crying shame?     

So then, here is a dog without a tail, a guitar without its strings...a beginning without an ending. 

Face of Chaos was an attempt to scale back the meta elements that often graced the tales of the anti-hero Spiderfingers. 
    An obvious test shot. We hadn't worked out the finished design for Spiders' fire for a fringe. We were getting close though.
When minions of jealous gods eventually found their way through the God-Hex - a barrier erected to protect humanity, Gaia awoke the chaos idol - Boleraam - from his centuries long slumber.

Should this last demigod die, then the God-Hex will crumble and his estranged family would make slaves of all life on Earth. To aid Boleraam's integration with twenty first century life, Gaia spliced his soul with the egotist, John Clay. John Clay and Boleraam are no more; now there is only Spiderfingers.

Perhaps in the hands of another writer, this rather detailed mythos might prove an easy and fun read. Thankfully, I knew someone who was no stranger to the streamlined mystery tale, a form that I neither had the temperament nor ability to pull off. Enter Simon.

Simon Quayle had written a rather interesting yarn called Creator-Man. The plot featured Spiderfingers' search for a magical object of some kind. It's been so long that I can't quite remember what this talisman could do, but the story of a man-god's search for identity was deemed viable for a pictorial overhaul. Renamed Face of Chaos, Simon and I decided the plot would be simple. An absolute 'way in' for new readers.

After many long walks and detailed discussions revolving around the cast and their entwined histories, Simon and I decided that using photos rather than illustrations would be the best route to take. 

It was cheaper. 

It was novel.
    Spiderfingers' mission would be centered upon the retrieval of his long red trench-coat (mystically charged and important, of course), and that his nemesis would be Bareb.

Bareb was to be introduced as a bumbling side-kick. Shortround to Spiderfingers' Dr Jones. It would transpire however that Bareb desired Spiderfingers' status as the god of chaos. That meant putting Spiderfingers out of commission. 

Akanke was more of a plot device than a character, in the beginning anyway. Later, this outreach worker would be instrumental in convincing Spiderfingers that he was mentally ill, that his job as a protector of the earth from greedy deities was all in his head. At this point the story P.O.V would switch from the chaos gods' to Akankes'.

Perhaps all these myths and monsters were all in Spiderfingers' head? 

What were the exact details of the heavy crisis that had undeniably crushed the sanity out of the man that would adopt the god-like persona? 

And how could someone be forced into creating a persecution complex so vivid, so insurmountable, that its minute by minute ferocity might end in an abrupt fatality? 

If there is one merit I brought to the story, it would be that we would focus upon making Spiderfingers/John Clay's backstory seem plausible, a reality that rivaled his fantasy world in the race for validity...

Simon and I chatted with great enthusiasm about how we would shoot the scenes with Spiderfingers living at Akanke's house in black and white. Or was it in a more natural shading, a stark contrast to the amped up-primary-colour blitz that hangs here? I must confess, I can't remember, although I am sure that we had a colour scheme for different parts of the narrative.  

I felt it important to highlight Spiderfingers' day to day existence, that his continual fights with minions sent by various gods was relentless. 
And so Simon created the Obsolentiant! 
This minion was made up of abandoned mechanical parts, all junk and refuse - a poor man's Terminator sent to kill Spiderfingers and thus allow the gods return to Earth. Simon modeled their appearance on the tall Masai warriors of Africa. Cool. There would be many Obsolentiant's, constantly updating their martial acumen using data accrued from previous 'units' that Spiderfingers had defeated. I was rather looking forward to the motif, that Spiderfingers would keep dissected limbs to utilise as weapons on his adventure. 

    Another character was The Glutton. Played by Simon himself, the Glutton acted as the first stage of inquiry that one finds in your hard-boiled detective drama. An informant with a supernatural twist.

With a suitable skeleton of the entire plot typed up and the first issue more or less ready, Simon and I spent much of 2012 snapping the pictures that have been assembled here.

Some desperately require explanation. For instance (after big debate), we decided that some of the text on Spiderfingers' T-shirt ought to be airbrushed as its presence was cluttering/not warranted.

The photos given the most care are therefore easy to distinguish from those yet to be 'touched-up' as the Nordic text above Spiderfingers' S shield is still visible. Which is fine given their appearance here: The artistic licence of any work-in-progress is a certain lack of continuity! 

Many photographs communicate the stressful and downright dangerous life Spiderfingers leads. All of them have been given a great amount of care in post production, although I am sure that Simon's deft approach to colouring was never good enough in his eyes. His was the vision of a consummate perfectionist. Always working long hours. Always sanding down my nonsense to reveal the strange sculpture I prayed was hiding far within. 

Simon not only brought his post-production skills to the table, his choice of shots reveal the inherent potential for any comic to be cinematic. Indeed, Quayle's direction of the acting resulted in many different 'takes' to choose from.  

I hope - we both hoped - that we could find a suitable graphics artist to render the Obsolentiant the frightening mechanical antagonist we imagined him to be. Alas, reliable/talented artists were in short supply. The many projects that grew up around us began to take our attention away. Like many a polymathic crew before us, Simon and I found more achievable less time consuming activities to pour our creativity into. 

That is not to say that we fell out of love with the story and its mode of telling. We simply decided that we ought to leave it for the time being. After all, Eraserhead took seven years for Lynch to complete. Face of Chaos could wait a while, right?

And so, here we are with what we achieved. This story could easily be left on the hard drive of the relevant computers, never to be paraded before comic enthusiast's or the like. An unfinished tale, abandoned to the decaying mercy of recollection. And after the passing of lives who bore the narratives twists and turns - the undead story would be no more. Not shared. It's zombie life, over. 
Here are the incomplete comic book panels of SPIDERFINGERS: Face of Chaos. I give you the opportunity to read this fun and rather incomplete story. 
Read it so that it may live.
Sarah Edwards Fall 2013

Spiderfingers: Foley Edwards
Akanke: Lauren Brown
The Glutton: Simon Quayle