Saturday, January 2, 2010

Avatar and Graphic Novel Writing

Last week I went and saw Avatar. It was totally cool. We wore our 3-D glasses and flew around on big dinosaur creatures and visited floating mountains and things were blue and tribal and there were bad military weirdos and the whole indigenous people vs. evil corporate interests thing.

I think the fact that I'm working on a graphic novel made me see it a little differently though.

See, I'm at the point where I've made 97 drawings, and feel like I've only barely touched the surface of the characters and the story. I mean, it's truly tiny. Miniscule.

But along with this project comes the responsibility of properly introducing the characters and their motives, and structuring the story in a way that is going to make sense. And motivating the reader to care what is going on. So, I've got a lot of work to do.

Or, I guess you can just be a big-budget Hollywood movie type and make things that make no sense at all.

See, the Avatars, when they get disconnected from their human controllers, just drop to the ground as if asleep. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that.

If you were hanging around with someone, and they had this tendency to pass out, and not wake up, even when you scream at them and drag them around, wouldn't you either a) get really mad or b) take them to the doctor? Or both?

On a subconscious level, ignoring such a basic thing, and having the characters ignore it too, makes them look rather dumb. I wonder if it lowers the audience's opinion of their intelligence without their knowing that's happening.

Sigh. It's okay because the 3-D flying dinosaurs are really cool.

Anyway, it is a really really big job to make a fantasy world work, and there are elements that help. Most of those elements are rooted in very simple principles of story and character, observed in everything from Blade Runner to The Terminator. The rest is just noise. For lots of discussion of this, check out this 7-part discussion of why The Phantom Menace is such a horrible movie and ruins the franchise (WARNING: NOT kid friendly. You may find some of it weird/unfunny, though I thought it was hilarious. But his analysis of the movie is really spot-on. I learned a lot.)

Anyway, I enjoyed running around with the blue people, but I still feel like I've got a whole lot of work to do to make sure that my story doesn't have a plausibility hole in it that you can drive a big, futuristic military helicopter through.

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