For April 2004


April 1st, 2004 

Weary Spring

I've been having a bit of trouble maintaining a regular pace producing pages for Pastel Defender Heliotrope. There are many factors. A big one is lack of resources, our current struggling situation is very draining both emotionally and physically. Hayfever is also an issue. A significant issue, actually. Some days trying to finish a page is like hauling lead weights up an infinite staircase.

It is absolutely amazing what something as small as a chance to go out and eat a hamburger will do to one's spirits, when the situation is very tight, and times are very hard.

Pretty much that is the only reason todays (really yesterdays) comic was finally finished. A chance to get out of the house and have some sort of a treat. The gods smiled on me this week. Goddess I miss restaurants.


April 16th, 2004 

Enter Heliotrope

Finally, after fifty some pages, the star of the story appears. It's kind of strange to do a story where the title character does not even appear for so long. Even now, though, there is much story to tell before we even catch up to the beginning scene of the original Kamishibai story that the whole thing is based on!

Another addition, besides the main character, is that I have gone back over every bloody page and put the title of the page actually on the page in regular text. I had started by embedding the title of each page in the art itself, but I have become convinced that perhaps a majority, not just a minority, of readers do not have their browsers set up to cause text to appear if the mouse cursor hovers over an image. This would mean that most readers are missing the page titles, and I rather think I make really good page titles, so I don't want such effort to be missed. From now on, I am going to stick to putting page titles in this more conventional, and universal, manner.

In the latest pages, 55-60 or so, I have been using dark and light to convey emotional intensity. I like to imagine that it is a clever technique. The more harsh the emotions, the darker the colors, which in an alien cosmos where light is everywhere, should hopefully really stand out.

Another convention of my story is that black-and-white pages are the universal indication of a memory or flashback. If it is in black-and-white, then it is a flashback. This also seems to work especially well because of the physics of Pastel; the cosmos is not only one of ubiquitous light, it is also a cosmos dominated by color. The jarring change to black-and-white is, I think, more effective than using, say, sepia tones. For one thing, Pastel does not have yellowing photographs as we know them, which would make sepia tones irrelevant!

It's still fairly hard work to finish pages. I also seem to be very down on my art and storytelling right now...nothing is good enough, and nothing is even good. But, if nothing else, I have Sisu, and I will finish this story no matter what. I need to work on feeling better about my own work, though...having confidence and feeling good about what I am doing definately makes the work easier. During most of Unicorn Jelly, for example, I felt utterly magnificent about the work; I felt partnered with a Muse, and like my every mouse click was genius incarnate. Right or wrong, that feeling made doing the work something I looked foreward to every day...heck I preferred it to anything else I could be doing! Only when I had gotten to a point where the Muse no longer was available, did the process become drudgery. Right now, save for brief feelings of adaquacy, I am drudging along.

I really miss feeling insanely talented. It may have been but an illusion, but it was one that helped me work with terrifically great enthusiasm. I begin to wonder if there are some forms of egoic bloat that exist for valid and useful reasons...basically as a motivator, as a source of energy that powers artistic work? After all, if one feels one is doing something important and great, then one will feel eager to get to work every day, ne?


By Jennifer Diane Reitz

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