Sunday, February 18, 2007

Let's make lemonade

Here is the heart of my story, about three-fourths of it. I don’t know yet how it’s going to end (I welcome suggestions):

There is a young woman of dark features and exceptional beauty who suffers a deep melancholy. She picks fruit from the lemon tree, but it does not console her. She bakes bread in a large oven but it does not relieve her hunger or the hunger of her children. Her name is Karmen and she has bad dreams. Those who know her can bring her no comfort. They don’t know what she’s feeling. They’re not aware of how her dreams disturb her sleep each night until she must rise and go into the garden and sift the dirt for something, over and over digging into the soft dirt for nothing she can understand. What is it? Her few friends bring her little comfort, for she is reluctant to confide in them. She hears screams, she sees bloody corpses, dismembered children, grieving women and anguished men. She passes through destroyed towns, neighborhoods raked by explosions, livestock decomposing, monuments and buildings burning, the sky black with smoke.

Karmen works in the large house in the pretty neighborhood with the lemon trees and the acacia bushes in the beautifully landscaped garden. She’s the cleaning lady, from a foreign land, uneducated and unfit for more profitable work. Her infant son and daughter, twins, are always with her in the house as she manages her chores in a state of exhaustion from lack of sleep. She has visions of a man who speaks beautifully of love and faith, brotherhood and peace, who gives her a vision of God broader than the one she knew as a child. But it is not a man of love and faith who comforts her, only a thief whom she finds hiding in the garden, who charms Karmen and deceives her.


I’m hoping to tell this in a kind of folk-tale style using one of three forms:

1. A graphic story (comic). My plan would be to photograph actors in scenes from the story – the woman, the man, the garden, etc. – and convert the digital photographic images into comic panels using Comic Life.

2. A combination of …
a) still images (1 or 2 photos) appearing on the site during the playing of an audio file which is that of a young woman (the Karmen of the tale) telling her story, what she’s seen, heard, etc.; there could be interviews with others involved, perhaps her friends, perhaps the man in the garden …
b) also on the page would be a short poem in the form of a litany or chant or other repetition of phrases, focused on one or more elements from the story;
c) a short video of a young woman in a garden, with the camera focused often on her eyes, mournful, pained, searching; no dialogue or voiceover, but there would be a soundtrack of some music, perhaps Donald Byrd’s “Christo Redentor.” (Hey, do I need authorization for that? It’s certainly protected by copyright. The site won’t be available to the public, will it?)

3. the whole story told in a series of interviews … with both text and audio …


Lauren said...

I think it's worth pointing out that if you don't want to run it through Comic Life, there's no reason that a comic has to be drawn. The most commonly accepted definition of comics (generated by Scott McCloud, of course) is "sequential art". So if you have two photos, one after the other, that continue a storyline, that's comics. Certain people actually do photocomics all the time; see Reprographics. Not that I'm at all discouraging you from making your comic look drawing-esque, but if you decide to create a comic, maybe you want to take the less conventional route.

Pico Alaska said...

Thanks. This is good advice. I have no investment in drawings at all, so I just may go that photocomics route. I'm sure this is going to change in several ways as I get into it.

Tom Kealey said...

I'm a fan of the graphic novel version. I'm also a fan of how you wrote the description, Pete, so I'd encourage you to include written text no matter what form you choose.

I love this world of the woman. Could you let in a small amount of light? In other words, everything is bleak, then the man promising brotherhood comes along, then all hope is dashed. (Probably an unfair summary, but my point is...) if she finds joy in one small thing -- the children, a neighbor, a view of a distant field -- then her world will be more complete, and it may also allow the thief and "in" to her trust and hope.

I look forward to what you come up with.

Adam Johnson said...


Your description of this story suggests it’s viewed in glimpses, moving aspect-to-aspect or subject-to-subject, as Gene Yang described it. I know you’re summarizing, but even in summary, images, objects and perspectives prevailed over narrative. So I think a quiet, associative, imagistic comic/graphic novel could be very powerful, perhaps with a minimum of text. Such a context would make for easier transitions into dream/vision sequences, even if they are dark in nature. It would also set the stage for great revelation or fusing of worlds/landscapes/settings. I guess what I’m saying is that by your brief description, suggestion, image and connection would serve this piece more than the traditional locomotion of plot, chronology and narrative. Which makes me visualize the way Gene talked about Japanese comics moving aspect to aspect.