Pictonaut Short Story Challenge: ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?’…

It’s time to tell a tale, and that tale is this month’s effort for the Pictonaut challenge. The nature of the challenge is this: every month the very excellent Sir John Steele picks an evocative image and throws down the gauntlet to writers. “See this picture? Write a thousand-word short story based on it. Alright?” Alright, it most definitely is and I duly give it a crack and see what I can come up with. What have we got to work with a February 2014’s image? This photograph taken by, it’s believed, Eric Peterson…

What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?

It’s a picture of a door in a forest. The key question that needles me: ‘What’s behind the door in the forest?‘ I couldn’t decide, so I decided to write a short fiction-bit about that question and spin a yarn with a slight fairytale-ish/olde folk storytelling edge to it. It’s no doubt influenced by my enthusiasm for fantasy, myths and legends and fond memories of my own grandfather. I don’t rate it much at all, as far as things go, but it is what it is and it’s always good writing exercise to have a go at the Pictonaut challenge. I was shooting for a freewheeling, simplistic oral legend feel and I think it works if you read it aloud in an elderly Eastern European accent. In fact, read everything aloud in that accent. Life is more fun when your internal monologue speaks with an exotic and/or ludicrous voice.

The positive thing I take from this month’s Pictonaut trip is that it’s got me looking forward to future adventures in the open outdoors when the bleak winter is behind us and the weather is not unbearable. As I look forward to that future, feel free to have a glance at ‘What’s Behind the Door in the Forest?‘ and keep on opening doors in real life. If you don’t you won’t discover anything and you’ll be stuck in one room for eternity (both metaphorically and literally. You need to get out. Damn. I can’t wait for the weather to get better…)

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day, Lonely Hearts and Timely Tragic-Romantic Links…

The Little Lonely Heart on Valentine’s Day…

Hot damn! (or “damn hot, yes you are!”) It’s Valentine’s DayTo celebrate this I produced a few things related to V-Day, love and romance and put ’em up on the internet. With love, I gave them to thee whoever ye be. They all went live this morning but I’m going to bring ’em all together in a harmonious promo blogpost. I may get a little more love by doing this and really, as a lonely man on Valentine’s Day, I think I need some more love

*Sad face and silent, pathetic weeping…*

But, hey! Valentine’s Day! In an alternate reality, the censorious Cuban government has removed the erotic romance works of bisexual poet Jorge Ignacio Bello from the banned literature list so that’s nice. I also spent a lot of time doodling squigglies for the above sketch of the Little Lonely Heart while cranking the mushy mixtape of the most melancholy, most achey-breaky heart music I could find. I, of course, sang along. It was like beautiful meditative creative karaoke

The final, most vital thing though is this week’s Friday Den of Geek film column. In it I discuss Valentine’s Day, look ahead to seeing the Spike Jonze film Her on Valentine’s Day and then explore romance and love in the dehumanised 21st century. It gets very bleak but the really good news is that I did go and see Her today and found it to be a moving, transcendental experience. It’s beautiful in so many sublime ways and I urge people to see it if they get the opportunity.

That is all. I will now sign off with a bad Valentine’s Day poem and go and find something (nec)romantic to do. The spirits of a lot of passionate, beautiful-but-long-dead people are in the aether just waiting to be channelled, y’know…

I hope it’s not true,

That romance ain’t dead,

Violets are blue,

Roses are red.

I don’t think I understand conventional romance. Ah well. Happy Valentine’s Day… *mwah mwah mwahs…*

Frankenkittie and Film Columns on Frankenstein and Cats…

Oh meow, it’s alive, it’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!

This is Frankenkittie. He’s like Frankenweenie but he’s a dog and he’s not as amiable and affectionate and fronted his own movie yet. Cold-hearted composite cat corpse brought back to life by diabolical electric eel bath science magick? Hmmm. There might not be a multibillion dollar multimedia franchise in this critter after all…

Regardless, what Frankenkittie can do is act as a coherent tie-in to a couple of columns I’ve written for Den of Geek recently. They may be of interest to people who like cats and Frankenstein so I’ll plug them again here.

Last week’s article explored the undying popularity of the Frankenstein story and studied the psychological reasons for its resonance with audiences and repeated adaptation across various media forms. Comments section reviews: “Great article, thank you” and “I like these articles you do dog.

The week before’s article was all about cats and searched out great movie moggies while wondering if the star feline of Inside Llewyn Davis could shift my indifference to the species. Comments section review: “This article was so mind-numbingly trivial I actually physically felt my mind softly disconnect from my eyes about halfway through.”

Meow. Or woof, ’cause a commenter called me “dog” and I write for DoG and the comments section is more enthusiastic when I’m not writing about cats. Something like that. Anyway, they’re there to read and a fresh new column goes live every Friday. I will now finish this promo post and go back to drawing up plans for my next pretty-unoriginal, wholly-unnatural creation that may subsequently spawn a massive franchise of movies, comic books and fast-food chains. Fear the name, ‘Franken-Centaur’!

Hourly Comic Day, Slice of Life Chronicles from a Relatively Unexciting Saturday…

Yesterday it was the first day of February. Hey February! It’s the month of Pancake Day, Valentine’s Day, Groundhog Day and the NBA All-Star weekend. It’s also the month of Hourly Comic Day. That happens on the 1st of February. That was yesterday. Let’s go back to yesterday…

The objective of Hourly Comic Day is simple enough: every hour you’re awake and functioning you produce a comic to document your day. Slice-of-life diary comics on the fly. It’s a nice idea but I’ve never done it because: 1. My comic drawing skills are not up to much and my fingers can’t realise the awesome pictures in my mind, damn those digits; 2. It always seems that February 1st is an ultra-busy day where I couldn’t possibly squeeze in some sketching every single hour; 3. Diary comics are not my preferred brand of jam (as a later taste test described below will confirm).

(Un)fortunately enough, I’d set aside yesterday as a ‘Saturday where you have absolutely nothing to do except rest back at home off the back of some busy days and just get on with some writing having allocated extra space’. I could therefore fill the extra space with a few really crappy little comic panels jotted down on pink post-it notes. Oh, and then I was told I’d be making a curry for a family dinner so that ended up in the mix as well and added some extra spice to a comic chronicle that’s pretty mundane.

It was a challenging thing to do, and not because I had to knock something out every hour. What I found a bit difficult was the nature of diary comics: they’re naturally self-obsessed, solipsistic and prone to neurotic navel-gazing. I do not dig these things at all and try to avoid them, which is partly why I’m not really engaging with Twitter much at the moment. After drawing a few panels I started to realise that questions about how I represented myself and how I accounted for my time(wasting) were surfacing. This creative action was too consciously self-involved and introspective for my personal taste. The fact that I refer to myself in the third-person is pretty telling. As I say, my favourite jam would be different kinds of comics, though I can, have and do enjoy the autobiographical graphic works of certain artists. I think it depends on the individual person and the circumstances they’re depicting, but I do know that I’d personally rather produce far-fetched fictional than work up kitchen sink non-drama diary strips. Less narcissism, more fun, for sure.

What I’ve learned is that diary comics are definitely not going to be a regular thing, but it was still nice to have a crack at Hourly Comics Day. In spite of my feelings, you may find them intriguing or entertaining and I’m glad I participated this time around. Here’s the outcome of yesterday’s scrappy sketch activity: a run-through of my pretty unexciting day but, hey, it was a pretty good day…

Hourly Comics Day, Morning...

Hourly Comics Day, Morning…

Hourly Comics Day, Afternoon...

Hourly Comics Day, Afternoon…

Hourly Comics Day, Evening...

Hourly Comics Day, Evening…