A picture is worth…

A thousand words, right?  Well, with inflation and whatnot, a picture is worth much less than it used to be.  Back in my day a picture was worth a book, now it’s only a couple hundred words.

I’m doing a bit of experimentation.  Back when I was in college, I was a huge Simpsons fan.  I still like the show, but it’s not quite the same as it was when I was young, footloose, and fancy-free.  Anyway, there was a great episode titled 22 Short Films About Springfield that had, you guessed it, 22 short films.  About Springfield.  If you think about it, the show took some skill to put together.  The average Simpsons episode was right around twenty minutes at the time and that left less than a minute to tell each story.

Gotta be compact with that kind of run time.  In fact, a minute of dialogue amounts to something like a 120-130 words.  For those keeping score at home, that’s about half a page of text.  A two hour movie would have about 15,000 words at that rate.  Compare that to a novel – 40k+ words (Henchmen was about 72k, Arise around 90k) – and you can see just how much information can be packed into a picture.

Since I can’t draw to save my own butt, I write (and weave paracord bracelets, but that’s neither here nor there).  As an experiment, I found some pictures and tried come up with a coherent story in a couple hundred words for each image, just to see if I could make it happen.  What follows are some pictures and some extremely short stories about those pictures.

LastPhotooftheTitanic

The very last shot of the RMS Titanic as it steamed away from port in 1911.

“When the captain called for flank speed the shovels dug and the coal flew.  The ship shuddered, a living thing breathing fire and belching smoke like the devil himself.  While the passengers danced and drank and partied the trip away we slung tons of fuel into the belly of the beast and danced our own waltz of sweat and coal dust.

You can keep your fancy ladies with their fineries and petticoats begging to be pulled down.  You can kiss those ruby lips and toast with fine champaign and eat delicate caviar.  I’ll stay down here, in the beating, pulsing heart of my lady fair.  She’s clad in metal skirts but her smooth skin is hot to the touch and I’ll happily spend my life keeping her alive.”

German flying ace, ‘The Red Baron’ and his dog (1916)

Manfred Von Richtofen and his dog.

“I will never completely understand these hairless dogs that insist on standing on both legs and touching things with their strange paws, but this one is my friend and my pack-mate.  He watches out for me, brings me food and water and scratches my ears.  In turn, I keep him safe.  His hearing is pathetic and he snores all night long, but a lame dog is still a pack-mate and we are bound together in the sacred oath of the pack.

Each day he climbs aboard that loud red bird and together they soar and bark, but he always comes back to me.  Some dogs – and I feel sorry for them, the poor wasted mongrels – don’t understand what it means to be part of a pack, even if it is just a pack of two.  Every time he climbs into that bird, I wait patiently for him to come back.  I’ll wait until the end of time, right here, ready to see him and wag.”

Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, 1918

Control room of the UB-110 German submarine, circa 1918

“In school they taught us the theory of the airships, how Professor Von Cleef figured out how to conquer gravity by beating it at its own game.  Turn the wheel the right amount and the ship will go up, turn another wheel too much and the ship will go into a nosedive.  I can barely hear over the noise of the turbines but when the command comes to make the airship go I know exactly what to do.

Most people, they get in front of a wall of wheels and their brains immediately shut down.  Those people never make it through school, they never get to feel the thrum of the engines in the metal floorboards under their feet, they never get to look closely and comprehend the meaning in the apparent chaos.

It’s really like anything else; reduce it to its individual components and an airship control room is just a bunch of singular things.  Spin this, gently twist that, and the ship goes where the captain orders.  She may be in charge of the ship, but I’m the one who makes it go.”

Annie Edison Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, 1901

Annie Edison Taylor, the first person to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, circa 1901.

“Every time someone says something can’t be done someone else comes along and does it anyway.  Life is like that.  When I was a little girl I was told all kinds of things I could never do but went ahead and did them anyway.  It’s really only the small minds who accede to every little demand that comes their way; the smartest, the ones who drive the world forward, tell the demanders to take a hike.

The plunge over Niagara Falls was the most terrifying, exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.  They told me I was a fool to go over the falls in a barrel.  They said my little woman brain couldn’t possibly understand what I was doing.

Well maybe it’s a little woman brain, better suited for knitting and child-rearing than their advanced male brains, but I’m the one who did it when they were all too scared to even try.”

Here’s a tip for any writers out there, even aspiring ones.  Find a picture, any picture, and tell yourself a story.  It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it doesn’t even have to have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It just has to be a story and you’re the one who has to tell it.

Images, Inspirations, and Female Supervillains

I’m a pretty unrepentant collector of images.  I find them all over the Internet, from MyConfinedSpace to 4Chan and everywhere in between.  MCS, unfortunately, has become a haven for idiot Male Rights Activists and is starting to show its misogyny; there’s still some good stuff up there, but I hate how it’s becoming more and more a place for dumb asses to blame all the problems in the world on women.  4chan is still its delightfully insane self, less misogynistic than anarchistic.

Anyway, I love pictures.  I’d love to blow some of them up and use them as posters but, alas, image resolution and pixel density for most pictures simply isn’t there.  Plus, my trusty inkjet printer prints just like you’d expect a $49 dollar printer from Target to print.  So, I find ’em, archive ’em, and largely forget about ’em.

While I was rooting around in one of my hard drives today, I came across a handful of good stuff I had pulled down years ago and stuffed in a folder.  Some funny, some clever, some I was just holding onto, waiting for the perfect excuse to use.  Just to keep people going, I’ll be dotting this post with some of these random pictures.

FuckinAwesome

Take that, chickens.

Among other things I found was a sense of inspiration for a couple characters.  My main character, Steven, was pulled together from a whack of different sources.  His name came from my deceased brother, his Kenpo came from me, and his personality came from various friends over the years.  He’s a literary Frankenstein.  Wait.  Frankenstein was a literary Frankenstein.  Oh, well.  Wilford was based in part on a couple of friends I’ve had over the years, people I respect even if I don’t always see eye to eye with.  Jacob was basically my dad.  Frank was somewhat similar to Repairman Jack (who still really needs a movie!), although not as dangerous.  Jean was built off a couple of guys I knew in college.

Such delicious evil.

Such delicious evil.

I had thought Eve and Jessica were built similarly but a couple of pictures I scrounged up kind of changed that assessment.  Their personalities are definitely fresh creations but their physicality was pulled from two separate places.  It’s funny what sticks in your subconscious mind, ready to be dredged up when you least expect it.  I first noticed this early last year, well after Henchmen came out.  I was rereading Transmetropolitan (the single greatest comic ever, IMHO) when I noticed Eve bore a striking resemblance to this woman:

Standing by, ma'am.

Standing by, ma’am.

Meet Channon Yarrow, Spider Jerusalem’s tough as nails bodyguard and my subconscious inspiration for the mighty Eve.

I noticed another interesting character sketch as I was digging.  There’s nothing terribly special about Jessica, she’s young, strong, smart, has anger issues, but she could probably blend in with a crowd if she needed to.  In that way, she’s the polar opposite of the level-headed but extremely obvious Eve.  Again, I had always kind of thought I had created her out of a pastiche of various women I’ve known throughout the years.  Then I stumbled across this:

She's really pulling that fist way too far back.  Try not to telegraph so much next time.

She’s really pulling that fist way too far back. Try not to telegraph so much next time.

Crap.  Foiled again.  Right down to the skirt with suspenders.  This, by the way, is Tifa Lockhart.  She’s from Final Fantasy, a game I’ve never actually played; I just found the image at some point and my brain filed it away.  I can’t speak to Tifa’s personality, since I’m familiar with the character, but a lot of Jessica’s physicality came from her, right down to the fighting.  Although I doubt Tifa was a Savateuse.  Speaking of which, since it’s kind of an arcane martial art (at least in the States, I doubt anyone from France would consider it arcane), Savate is French kickboxing and it’s a really cool system.  I chose it for Jessica because it’s unique, fluid, and dangerous; just like her.

Bonjour, Savate!

Bonjour, Savate!

I’ve actually been asked a couple of times why I made the main supervillain a woman.  The answer is pretty simple, I think female villains get pretty short shrift in the comics and wanted to do something different.  Outside of Cat Woman, who’s really less of a villain and more of an anti-hero and Harley Quinn, you don’t see that many female villains.  The one’s you do see are usually romantically entangled with one of the male characters or have goals that are, at best, surreal.  Think Poison Ivy; she’s an eco-terrorist whose costumes keep getting skimpier.  While I’m not averse to that, I do think they could do more with her.

So, Eve’s stated goals (her actual goals are somewhat different) are probably more in line with Talia Al-Ghul‘s goals of burning down the world to save it.  You’ll actually have to read Arise to get an idea of what Eve’s actually up to.  As a side note, Eve’s getting an origin story, something every supervillain needs.  It’ll be part of The Clock Man when I get it done and should shed some more light on her character and motivations.

Om.  I love Buddha pictures.

Om. I love Buddha pictures.

There you go, my two female leads.  I like to think I did a decent job of making them real and not just sexpots for the men to save, but time will tell.  Although, just from a sexpot view, I really need to find a way to work these into a story soon.  My buddy Sylva Fae scrounged up this image somewhere and these have to find a use in a story.

Thank you Sylva!

Thank you Sylva!

And with that, I’ll leave you with your Moment of Zen.

Pay Jabba no bother.

Pay Jabba no bother.

Happy Halloween!

In honor of the greatest holiday, like, ever, I’d like to share up a few creepy pictures I’ve come across recently.

creepyclown

Clowns are creepy enough as it is, but this one weirds me out something fierce.

HalloweenGuaze

I think they used to use guaze of some sort or another back in the day to take pictures of “ghosts.”

Nightmares

I think there’s actually a short story in here somewhere.  I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a horror story and I can see some mad scientist trying to find a way to make nightmares even more frightening.

1410491741787

This one’s been desktop wallpaper most of the month.  Not scary, and more appropriate for Dia De Los Muertos, but I thought it was dope.

Happy Halloween, everyone!