Thursday, April 18, 2013

Story Notes Part 1

I’m going to add a Story Notes section for False Idols to my website, but I thought it would be fun to add them here first:

Ad Aware
Health Care is a hot topic right now, with many Americans clamoring for universal coverage - but in the end, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Meanwhile, advertising is now omnipresent in our daily lives. You can’t go to the movies without having product placement rammed down your throat. Television channels display ads on the bottom of the screen during shows, even on channels I’ve paid for. Video games costing $60 a pop have ads integrated into the gameplay. (And who am I kidding, what is this post except an ad in disguise?) Combining the two issues was the next logical step.

False Idols
This story has a long history. There is an excellent site called Illustration Friday. They put up a new topic every week, you illustrate it, post it on your website or blog, and link the result. In addition, it has a very supportive community. So a few years back, they had two words – Ancient:
and Travel:
Both pictures had a classic science-fiction feel to them. I devised a rudimentary storyline about a rocket captain (inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Captain Wilder and David Ossman’s Firesign Theatre character Mark Time,) who crashes onto an an alien planet, which is inhabited by Bug Eyed Monsters and the idols they worship. Over the span of a year, I animated about 90% of it:

You have to love loop soundtracks.

Then, as always, real life got in the way: There was work, two kids, and I began to focus more on writing than animating. I came back to the animation a few times with the intent of finishing it, but I realized contemporary standards had passed me by. Some shots look beautiful, others look very dated. I would have to re-model and reanimate most of it. So it sat on the shelf, or rather, in the hard drive.

I decided a few years ago to put the short stories I had written over the years together and sell them on Amazon. I figured that nine was a good number. I had five written, I needed four more. So, on my Andriod, I fleshed out the story during my subway commute.

While the animation started out as an homage to classic sci-fi, I realized there was no logical way to make a rocket landing work. So the unnamed captain became Travis, whose escape pod crashed. He was a criminal... no... a good man who broke the law to do what he had to do because... 

And viola, a story was born.

The story has two main themes. One of them is obviously genetically modified crops. “Intelligrain” is a blatant play on Monsanto’s SmartStax brand of genetically modified seeds. Now GMCs in and of themselves might not necessarily be bad things, and do have potential benefits. However, when they cause diseases and overwhelm other crops, and when the corporations that make them are deeply entrenched in our government (e.g., The Farmer Assurance Provision, aka the Monsanto Protection Act, coupled with the fact that a former Monsanto vice president and lobbyist was appointed to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Foods for a start) then something has gone very wrong.

The other theme is religion vs. science. I consider myself agnostic, by which I mean I really have no idea if there is a higher power or not. While I don’t subscribe to religion (though I was raised Catholic) I am happy that so many of my friends take comfort in their faith. I have no issue with nativity scenes at town halls, prayers at graduation ceremonies and football games, or what have you. What I DO take umbrage over is when fundamentalists pass laws that make teachers include creationism in a science class. You can read my rant about it in depth here, but it shocks me that we’re in the 21st century and this is even up for debate. If you want to do god’s work, then learn how his creation really works so you can do so. Here endeth the rant.

The Arena
This story is actually twenty-three years old. When I was a junior in high school, my creative writing teacher gave us a picture to write about. It was a blurry black-and-white photocopy of a bullfighter. He was standing against a wall, but the way I held the paper, I thought he was lying on the ground. I wrote a short story called "Toro". It had pretty much the same plot, except it took place in Spain in the 1940s. It was easy to adapt into science fiction - and as such, is possibly more believable. Spain became Ganymede, and the bull became the Flopper. I suppose its clockwork mechanics are another throwback to Bradbury, although the Steampunk subgenre is gaining in popularity.

That’s enough for now. Stay tuned, I’ll cover the next three stories tomorrow.


1 comment:

bhartman36 said...

Good background information. Thanks! :)