If there is a magic in story writing, and I am convinced there is, no one has ever been able to reduce it to a recipe that can be passed from one person to another. The formula seems to lie solely in the aching urge of the writer to convey something he feels important to the reader. If the writer has that urge, he may sometimes, but by no means always, find the way to do it. You must perceive the excellence that makes a good story good or the errors that makes a bad story. For a bad story is only an ineffective story.— John Steinbeck
Working on something set in an established continuity today, and I found myself grinding to a halt when I realized I was going to have to have words come out of these characters’ mouths. And those words were going to have to sound RIGHT.
So instead of writing, I’m reading again.
Which is nothing to complain about, really.
For anyone wondering what I actually do on Greg Rucka’s and Michael Lark’s Lazarus comic series (published by Image comics, go buy consume thanks):
In addition to some fairly basic layout chores on the letter column, I’m designing a lot of the computer-screen “interface” things. Because I’m nuts, I actually developed a working model of how the UI works on Carlyle corporate/military systems, and then altered it into a more consumer-friendly “shell” for The Post.
Because I’m not at all obsessive.
I’ve also been doing designs of the various Family “crests” and heraldry. (Michael did Carlyle, for the record, and thanks buddy for setting the bar so goddamn high.)
As these Families are, in most cases, also business concerns, the heraldry ends up being derived from corporate logos.
So, if one Family started out as a 19th century Australian mining concern, I end up having to design what that kind of advertising looked like, and how elements of it evolved into a more normal “logo” into the 1930s, then how it morphed further on into the 1970s, and ’80s, and then a 2005 “rebranding” effort, before finally distilling it down to a military-style insigne in the grim Lazarus future. Each crest ends up being designed based on four or five other designs no one is likely to see.
Because I am not at all obsessive.
It’s nice to work some of that stuff into the book, though—the “Retinac” advert in the back of issue 5 let me play with the Hock—sorry, HOCK (their internal branding info demands that it always be rendered in all-caps)—logo, which will in time be shown blended with the Bittner family insignia…
One of the weird parts, though, is about how spot-on some of this stuff is. The side effects for the fake visual acuity drug? Taken from actual drug side effects in a visual acuity med on shelves today.
This morning, a radio ad for a financial services company used a tagline almost verbatim from the creepy fake ad for issue 6.
From my e-mail to Greg about it: “THE WORLD IS AN ENDLESS ARMY OF SOULBLIGHTED LIZARD PEOPLE.” The creative process, ladies and gentlemen.
Seriously, though: if you think the world of Lazarus is awful and dark and bleak? You already live in it, gang.
From the Mighty @mercuryeric.
The Carragher ad for Lazarus 6 is frikkin’ amazing….