For July 2007
July 16th, 2007
The new edition Unicorn Jelly book is done, and we are waiting for the final proof copy to be sent from the publisher, Lulu, to make absolutely sure things are just right, before we commit to offering it for sale. Stephen has worked very hard to get the book ready, something that has necessitated dedicating my old computer to the process; the software that we need to use is far beyond our means, so the work has been done using limited trial mode, and reformatting the computer when the trial runs out in order to use the trial mode again. It is a pain in the ass, but it works.
For my part, I have been able to do touch up and a new back cover, and such by virtue of using a program called DOS-Box, which emulates DOS on a windows XP machine - it is the only way I could go back and work with DPaint, the program I used to generate the pixel-art that Unicorn Jelly was drawn in. Windows XP, unlike the Windows 95 system I had years ago, does not permit DOS to function without emulation. It has been over six years since I started Unicorn Jelly. Goodness.
I had no expectation of Unicorn Jelly ever being anything more than a web comic, certainly not ever a book, so I made no effort to allow for such a possibility, causing endless trouble for the incredible people who compiled my scribbles into a form capable of being published. It is only because of them, that I now see the possibility of being in print, and only because of their jumpstart that we have come to the point that a new edition of Unicorn Jelly can come out; and more than this, that in time, there will be books of Pastel Defender Heliotrope, To Save Her, and the works I intend to do in the future.
It is great progress to be lifted from utter despair at my own abilities to a point where it is within my imagination to be a published author. I literally could not have accepted such a possibility six and a half years ago.
I was doing the most recent To Save Her strips for this week (186-187), and after I had finished it dawned on me that the second strip on the page (I draw them two at a time, on a single page in preparation for eventually being published in book form) was not right; it was actually a scene from some six or seven strips in the future. I was shocked. So I had to cut it out and go back and draw the missing strip in place of it. I put the offensively premature strip in storage until it can be used one day.
This felt weird, because it reminded me of the days when I was doing Unicorn Jelly, and the story was literally being written for me every day, it was only my task to copy down what was flashed into my mind. I simply drew the damn thing, then got to read it along with everyone else; automatic cartooning pretty much describes the process. One of the things that always freaks me about Unicorn Jelly is how there are lots of events and moments in it that reference things far, far in the future of the story, which I had no idea of, and no concept of the purpose of... yet years later, such obscure events would become crucial, and more, part of a complex web that all made sense. This would not be incredible at all, had I been working from an outline, or even from some notes. Instead, it all just poured out, once per day, and I was the dark as much as my readers. I was just the artist; I may never know who my co-creator (and author) was. I still wish I hadn't screwed up the ending by peeking early. Dammit. I should have written down what I saw.
I don't think I have a 'Muse' for To Save Her, none of what I am doing now feels at all like the sheer magic of when I did Unicorn Jelly, but there are moments, odd moments, where it almost seems that the story is sort of written already somewhere. The strip from the future is such... I get tired and don't pay attention, and I find I've drawn part of the story I haven't even known existed yet, weeks and weeks down the line. I know just where it fits, but it is going to be interesting and tense getting there - because I have no idea what will happen next. Well, almost no idea. I have a kind of vague notion of what is coming in the near future. And I know how the story ends - and that I actually have written it down this time. I'm not making the same mistake again.
But the process in the middle... that just... comes when it comes, and I dutifully put it down. Sometimes I feel like I am keeping a journal of a voyage into unknown ground, each strip another log entry, as whatever ship I am in sails down some mysterious river of a forgotten land.
I'm not complaining - far from it. I'd be bored out of my skull if I had to write down an outline, and then follow the damn thing. It would all feel like homework from gradeschool if I had to do that. What keeps me drawing is wanting to see what happens next... the very same thing that keeps me reading the comics of others, or reading a new book, or watching a movie or whatever. I want to be surprised and delighted. Outlines and scripts take all that away. Once the outline is done, why bother with drawing the story? It's all there in the outline. Nothing new to see, so why bother? It becomes busy work at that point, at least to me. Boooorrrrring.
I'm just amazed it works, is all. I don't know how it can, sometimes. How is it that the brain can generate this image or that scene, or some reference that seems totally random or mysterous, but which later is shown to have always been important, only - as in any mystery - just impossible to decode because all the clues are not yet in? That's what happens... clues that eventually become essential to explain a future mystery, only they are dropped in the past.
Perhaps it is some extrapolative process... random clues that when added up inevitably creating a meaningful and satisfying mystery that just seems like it always existed prior to revelation? Then again, most random things don't provide that. Random stuff usually just ends up seeming... like a pile of meaningly random stuff in the end.
Maybe my unconscious has already written the story, and just won't tell me. Maybe it is playing a game with me for our mutual delight. But that would imply that the unconscious mind (if it even exists) has some curious form of intent, goals, purpose, and independent power of decision. And that is kind of creepy... it's like sharing one's brain with another mind... like having a ghost in the attic.
I guess that would be OK, if the ghost was friendly. Mine is, I think, because it writes things that delight and amaze me (if no one else!), which is why I keep doing my comics. It spurs me on, even when I lose my self worth, which happens far too often. And the stories it chooses to tell me are all positive ones; stories of personal empowerment, the great value of every life, tales of redemption and hope for the future. If I have to have a ghost sharing my machine, at least it is a good neighbor. Really, it's a friend, all told.
And at least I'm not bored.
By Jennifer Diane Reitz
A Part Of Jenniverse.com
Website Contents, including all characters,
images, artwork, text, and any other contents are
Copyright © 2004 by Jennifer Diane Reitz
All Rights Reserved Worldwide
Anti-Spam Address Image
To contact Jennifer you may use either of the above addresses.
You may have to type them in yourself, if your browser does
You may link to this site freely!
You may FREELY use any JENNYVERSE title image as a link button!