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Series foreword – part two April 30, 2010

Posted by cbrotherson in Introductions.
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Read part one here

There was no problem in most of the changes I made to the original concept for Magic, Myths and Mythology, that much was fine, and the switch from a male protagonist to a female one unlocked a large number of naturally forming plotlines that gave the story much more emotional weight. During this process, the title also changed from Magic, Myths and Mythology to simply Magic of Myths, which worked better – it rolled off the tongue nicer, sounded a little more mysterious and also strayed a bit further away from the ‘GCSE/A-Level textbook’ feel Magic, Myths and Mythology brought with it.

However, my ambition to make the series work required several things:

1)      For each issue to be self contained (under the sensible philosophy that anyone’s issue could be their first, so each chapter would need to be able to introduce the characters, scenario and concept).

2)      That each issue also features some form of action or dilemma, all within five mere pages.

3)      The reader must gain a new understanding of Eve’s character and past.

4)      The overarching story must progress each issue.

5)      That each issue has a reference to a work of fiction which has its own mythology.

6)      Oh, and it must also play off the number five (as I like to create themes that tie into the format of the story).

I spent a lot of time researching five page stories, from 2000AD and Alan Moore’s The Ballad of Halo Jones to some serial webcomics that used similar formats and thought I’d equipped myself well enough to deal with the challenge, especially as I was at one point writing two monthly 22 page comics on time with little problem.

But trying to cram all of the above into five pages was a massive effort and headache. The average comic book scene lasts about four pages long before it goes to the next scene, but with only five pages to tell a whole story any scene change has to be carefully managed – too many and it confuses the reader and loses narrative cohesion, too little and it can bore the moving parts off the reader. Same with progressing the story, it has to seem significant and constantly moving otherwise it feels boring at best and a total waste of time at worst. While too much information presented to the reader will slow the story down too much, too little leaves you feeling unsatisfied.

Seriously. What have I done?

The solution came in bits. First up, make each chapter a trial Eve has to pass. This wasn’t the original plan for the opening of the series, but turned out to be the perfect solution to many problems. Trials/Ordeals/Labours are very much genre staple for this sort of adventure story, especially one referencing mythology. This gives the story a naturally episodic feel, markedly digestible by each trial’s start and end. There’s a mostly clear understanding of success or failure by its end and gives the opportunity to throw a variety of physical and mental challenges towards Eve which can liven things up visually. And best of all, five trials, spread across five issues, each five pages long adds a nice resonance to it all.

Adding a sense of mythology was tricky but necessary – it gives a hook for the reader to associate the core challenge Eve faces each issue. All the same, it’s fun to spot (and write) the references that crop up, and allows for expectations to be created through them which I can then manipulate. Making them relevant to Eve’s challenge was a tad more difficult, especially as I was linking them to a different set of themes each time.

And all of these factors had to link to another thing which was introduced during the process of creating a five page story – Eve’s past. Flashbacks are dangerous to use because they can totally throw the rhythm of the story off, confuse things and spin the narrative into bizarre directions. But in the end it was the most effective and efficient way of presenting Eve’s character in the ‘real’ world, as well as keeping us tethered to the fact there is a world for Eve to return to (whether she likes it or not). The best way to keep the narrative glued together while doing this was to make sure whatever flashback was being shown linked to the challenge at hand (and also the myth/story being told in the background). We see Eve tackling things up front in the present, how she tackled a similarly themed problem in the past and bring it altogether at the end to hopefully get a clearer picture of Eve by its conclusion.

Phew.

So it all slowly came together, despite early panic that it was a little too much to do in such a small amount of pages. Not to say I didn’t make mistakes along the way, but I hope I learned from them enough on a chapter by chapter basis to create something that entertains, or at least gets better each time. Of course, you guys will be the judge of that, so feedback is always appreciated.

After each issue Sergio and I be providing some commentary (much shorter than this, probably) on each issue to offer a little more insight on some of the workings and processes that go on to make Magic of Myths. It won’t reveal everything, as I feel that’s part of the fun of reading – discovering things for yourself, and better yet, telling everyone else about them – but hopefully it will offer a little peek behind the curtain which isn’t always common in the comic book industry.

Thanks for your time and we hope you enjoy the ride.

Start your journey into Magic of Myths with Issue one – read it here.

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Comments»

1. Series foreword – part one « Magic of Myths – a miniseries by Corey Brotherson and Sergio Calvet - April 30, 2010

[…] Click here to read part two… […]

2. If by Magic… Issue one « Magic of Myths – a miniseries by Corey Brotherson and Sergio Calvet - May 1, 2010

[…] – If you’ve not read them yet, you can read the two part series foreword, here and here. […]


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