And so, another week, another blog, where does the time go? I can’t tell how quickly this year is beginning to run away from me. With each panel breakdown I finish, I look up and it’s a new day. A lot is in the works here at Stranger and the crew and I are manning the sails as best we can, juggling books and projects like crazy. I’ve got my editor down in the hold, filling in holes with a team of gnomes. Bang! Bang! Bang! is all I hear down there along with the ballads of Foozles and Tinkers. Our Captain/Publisher steers our ship into the dark void of the Ujoan Sea, uttering under his breath untold spells of “Glory” and “Woe.” Never before have we traveled so deep into these uncharted waters. But away we go at the mercy of Fwe and Kruss.
It is times like these that make me appreciate what I have and how thankful I am for those around me and for those who inspire me. Today, I’d like to thank Jack “The King” Kirby for some inspiration that he has given me. Now, I will probably bring up Kirby regularly if you keep reading this blog, but I am going to specifically site something he said long ago. It is a motto that I have been living by this last year with all of the crazy projects that I have been working on.
Jack said, “It doesn’t matter how far out you get with this stuff as long as the characters react like real people would. If the character reacts the way your audience would, then your audience will follow you anywhere.”
I love this! I can’t tell how much this quote has had made a difference in my career as a creator and artist just this last year. It has helped me keep my designs and characters grounded. For example, I have been chizzling away at a comic that I am writing and drawing and let me tell you, there are some things in it that I had to give some major thought to. For instance, the orcs in my story ride these beasts that are very similar to saber tooth tigers, but these are closer to lions with a mix of some very crazy concepts of my own. We call them Aru Jaheim, which means “Devils of the Desert.”
In designing this, I put my Anthro degree to good use. I created a set of checks and balances Ultimately, I test them and determine how they would have developed in the real world. Ultimately, I think I have made this race of creature unique. The males are larger, check. The females are smaller, check. Nothing crazy there, right? Here is where it gets weird, the females are actually more worn down, due to the savage mating practices of the species and the birthing process. Most of the female beasts don’t have their tails and all of them have deep scarring along their lower halves. One biological detail they both share are the “camel backs”. I gave them a large fatty mound behind their heads so they can store water reserves while crossing miles and miles of desert. Now I know what you are thinking, it is not as ridiculous looking as it is on a camel. Actually, it has given the beast a hunched look that made the design look more menacing.
Now the details will not be spoken of in the story, but visually, the reader will see this and it will make sense, adding to the realism of the work. I guess it’s safe to say, “The Devil is in the Details” in this case. If a fan asks me why does this creature look this way or what’s up with that one’s ass? I will have an answer.
Jack specifically spoke about how the character reacts and how it needs to be relatable to the audience. But yet I chose to discuss beasts? For me and the Anthropologist blood that runs through my pumper, this quote means more than just advice for character development. I have applied the root philosophy of these words of wit to world building. That means, animals, creatures, culture, geography, you name it, all of it, needs to be real. Creating worlds means just that… worlds! Not just alleys, streets and streams, but worlds. Make sure you do your homework and know the direction the tide in your world is flowing. Someone might want to know these little details when they read your work and when you are in the business of make believe, the details might just make all the difference. Don’t get caught with your pants down.
I leave you now with a Kirby page out of one of his books. Classic, totally weird, and yet so tasty good.