Look over a score of “tortured artist” memes and you won’t have trouble seeing ones with writers. Writers are often portrayed as full of angst, indecision, indecision because of angst, angst because of indecision.
Basically, the archetypical writer is in need of a good therapist.
Now, considering that much of his prolific writing was science fiction, it’s well worth reading. Remember, this is the guy who wrote the Foundation series which had the field of “psychohistory” that was able to predict future trends. I found his predictions to be prescient in some aspects and hopeful and others. I suppose someone might find that in and of itself unremarkable, but just as with much of Asimov’s fiction, the fun part comes from how he analyzes how society fashions itself.
In case you’re not aware, Isaac Asimov wrote hundreds of books… and not just in science fiction, for which he’s perhaps best remembered. In fact, his books cover most of the categories covered by Dewey Decimal Classification.
Not only that, he seemed to love to write. He wrote voraciously like some people read (and, of course, being a voracious reader enabled that).
So take a look. From ongoing learning to getting out of being stuck, there’s some good takeaways.
Now, superhero movies in general are not likely to be modestly budgeted these days: they’re too tempting to be used as tentpoles by the studios. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought in over $7 billion. Disney’s not about to abandon using them as tentpoles.
But what about the the medium where these superhero stories first appeared: comics?
Parts of their argument is that comics –even if they aren’t as all-fired profitable as their big screen offspring– serve an important function as idea incubators. In a sense, they’re narrative R&D projects. Certainly, good periodic comic books and graphic novels aren’t the cheapest things to produce — many an indie creator colleague has made me aware of that. But they are a darn sight cheaper than bankrolling a $120 million tentpole movie. And in fact, just about all the tentpole movies owe some of their “genetic material” from the comic form.
Another way they could be thought of is as the “narrative farm teams” for some of the bigger budgeted stories. And, of course, I’m thinking of that mainly for the business folks to better reconcile the numbers. The creativity and storytelling on display in so many comics is not “minor league,” but bean counters usually don’t care if a comic book was emotionally impactful, just how many units it sold. So whatever keeps the presses rolling.
Last year, JAT did an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic War of the Worlds since it was the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ 1938 radio broadcast. It was great fun to update a radio adaptation to the present day and set it in and around Washington, DC. Several members of the troupe said they’d like to do something far less serious… which also might be well received by the convention crowd.
This year, we were asked to once again pick a known work (as opposed to something original like Rogue Tyger or Quorum). However, the organizers also said that parody was an option and it’s the 40th anniversary of both the original Alien and the TV show Buck Rogers in the 25th Century…
Ladies and gentlemen –and assorted aliens– get ready for Nostromo 2: Electric Alien Boogaloo (featuring Chuck Codgers).
I have all sorts of tropes that I look forward to sending up as well as numerous references to classic works I want to work in. Of course, the trick is to make jokes that are funny in and of themselves, yet have the references add another layer of humor. I can’t guarantee everyone listening will have watched Stargate, Monty Python, and the classic Day the Earth Stood Still, after all. As veteran comedy writers have taught me, one must take ‘silly’ very seriously.
So, I’m still working on the script and last week someone posted a link to the full runthrough to Space Ace, the sci-fi themed sequel to the interactive animated video game Dragon’s Lair.
Beats having to cough up a whole lotta quarters to try and get through it all, right? (Actually, I’ve only done that with one game, and it’s because some brilliant entrepreneur had put a video game arcade in an airport terminal, so people waiting and waiting and waiting for their flight would have something to do).
Anyway, it’s been a fun, silly inspiration as I continue to work on the script. I know we’ll have room for a slide whistle and I’m hoping the O.G. sci-fi instrument, the theremin can make an audio appearance. More details to come as we get closer to May!
I’ve enjoyed more interactive theater for a long time, whether it’s traditional audience response (applause/boos/hisses) or more modern breaking of the fourth wall or simply the immediacy of staging a show “in the round.”
I’ve often thought about staging a play for our local Fringe festival whose outcome is decided by the audience… perhaps after they’ve weighed in on several decision points.
I thought about those ideas again when I read a piece by Alysia Judge from the Guardian about Felix Barrett and his company Punchdrunk. Their form of theater is often site-specific, non-linear, and immersive. In fact, it sounds kind of like a limited LARP or other character-driven game (board or video) that isn’t completely open-ended.
A perfect example of simply making art is Inktober, an annual event to do an ink drawing every day during October. I did this with my son –and moms and dads reading this, that’s reason enough to give it a go. Because while I tried things with shading and perspective that were hit or miss, he developed recurring story elements in the scenes he drew throughout the month that was a delight to witness (and on a parental note, it was a good transition to bedtime).
So go ahead, get your art on, whatever way you want to. You don’t need to share it with anyone. Science has your back.