Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tsunami survival and character creations: inspirations don their skins

My exposure of late to the news has taken my attention considerably. The only response is to focus on two finite cycles of writing for the rest of the month. One is set to tie together the common element of disaster with separate characters, while the other is the establishing story for a new character of my own, who's been waiting for the stirrings of real world revolutions.

After posting an abbreviated version of my column over on the thread I have on IMWAN for Steve Gerber comics, I came across a comment by my pal Monk, who was asking broadly about, what kind of series would you like to read? Not by who, just, what concept?

Monk wrote:
This isn't a creative teams thread, just certain characters or takes on characters that I'd like to see more of.

I'd like to read an ongoing low-tech Batman book where he's the only superhero in his world.

He's right that would be great. What I've been on fire for this morning is this:

I want to do a female character like that, only swap Gotham for the Middle East, at the stirrings of a revolution. The detective part would involve both criminals and secret police. She will need some serious help as she is an outsider...and a vet, not a trained detective.

He mentioned James Bond and Superman (in a similar, only-hero vein), too

I really liked these, so I wrote back:

I love these heroes pared of their multiversal encumberments, too, Monk. Get back to what actually makes the character cool, instead of just saying he's cool cause we're hypnotized to think so.

So, the point I recognized as similar was, Sheer=Zan is the only hero, in a world where, if anyone has any powers, they are not showing up to help the poor neighborhoods that are caught between gangs and police of varying quality. The secret police are the factor that really complicates Sheer-Zan's vigilante activities. I must admit, Steve Gerber only got two real issues to spotlight Red Guardian, and I know in my heart he thought her Soviet adventures would've been breath taking and thought provoking. Thirty five years later, the revolution's alive in Sheer-Zan: One.

But that, you'll see discussed over on

Meanwhile, here I am beginning to develop the first two or three tsunami stories for my relief benefit book. I really don't worry much about you reading it, so long as you have donated to Red Cross and keep Japan (and Haiti) in your thoughts. Heck, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and more were hard hit by tsunamis not too many years ago; having a friend from there connected my empathy with their plight. It's true, there's always another disaster, there's always another need, and times are tight. I will give up some of my time and creative energy to do some little bit that might help, as well as to help understanding of a situation that is nearly incomprehensible in its constant presence, in the wet, miserable lives of displaced Japanese citizens even today.

Two dogs' loyal bond inspires one story.

50 brave nuclear factory workers inspire another.

I consider elderly people surviving this days on out to be impressive and

There was also a baby torn from her mother's arms that is based on a true story, as are all of these.

Anna May Wong, star of Shanghai

But there's one aspect I found today, and how this becomes tied to my fifth choice of story is still mysterious to me. The idea will be based around a Chinese film legend who broke the barrier in Hollywood, while suffering its racial confusion (only to be forgotten in China for decades). The story of Anna May resonates with other tragic Hollywood tales, and leaves me with an idea. I am consulting my Hollywood starlet experts while gleaning my details for this one. It seems appropriate today, as Elizabeth Taylor has passed away.

My tragedy expert number one wrote back with an idea of the story to revolve around sisters. I'll surprise you with the details, but my co-writer excited me greatly. I replied:

never used the word "haunting" above, but you must have ESP.

I was struck by the fact that Elizabeth Taylor survived emotional storms, herself.

Sisters is good because it gets into the idea of people with a similar status in life at the beginning and the choices that differentiate them. It's feminist to me because it addresses how one woman is measured by another, and keeps the spotlight on female characters. The modernization question's been rocking Japan for some time.

I then pitched the story of a Japanese friend who married an American, only to feel obligated to a more traditional, sublimated role, herself, even as a grown woman in America. She really did yearn to be free to be creative and have friends, even *gasp* a guy as a friend. Hand in hand with this however came an alcoholic husband. Modernization brings pain, tradition brings pain---which way will our characters choose to go, and how will they feel about one another as they live their choices? There are, after all, more subtle storms which wreck lives nonetheless, if you will pardon my facile words.

So I wonder if I should reach back 90 years ago to set the stage for how much things have changed? The absence of today's progress, I think, in depiction, strengthens our appreciation for it. yes, this is a great start.

We should do other tragic starlet inspired stories, that's actually something a lot of people would read. A LOT.

I honestly don't know which of these will appear here, first. It may simply be, you will play host to a long discussion of stories that could be written. Actually, I invite you to join me in the odyssey dawn. There will be no bombs, only great stories. We will find them in the process, which I will share as tranparently as possible. I hope it lends an extra layer of meaning to the creative process. I beleive very much in the richness of the creative process, too, in the person reading, echoing words with images and forms uniquely their own.

The refugees will be on my mind, and I don't mind sacrificing my time spent here in relative comfort attempting to fathom the situations of people not myself, but born, like me, and you, and their travels beside the waters of mortality.

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