6 posts tagged storytelling
6 posts tagged storytelling
For comic book artist and writer Matthew Dow Smith, Doctor Who hasn’t just been a job — it has been a lifelong influence. “I’ve been a Doctor Who fan since I was 6 or 7 years old. I still remember the very first episode I saw, and I remember how badly is scared me, but I loved it,” he said. “A lot of creative people from my generation can trace what they do back to Star Wars. But I actually trace it back to Doctor Who.”
We talked with Smith about how Doctor Who has influenced his work, including Blackburn Burrow, the comic he drew for Amazon Studios (the complete, four-issue series is now available for free), the value of “nerdy” details and telling stories on TV.
Hollywonk: What did Doctor Who teach you about storytelling, and how things unfold in your work?
Smith: Everything that I like in a story and everything that I do in a story as a writer was influenced by the aesthetic of that show. There are certain themes, and there are certain approaches to telling a story that really do come from Doctor Who. I always try to tell really nice stories.
And the aesthetic of the show influenced everything that I do. I draw people in coats, including a coat in Blackburn Burrow. I’m good at drawing people in coats, and that’s because I spent my entire childhood drawing Doctor Who in all those coats.
Hollywonk: Take a part of Blackburn Burrow that you think of as one of your favorite pieces to draw and tell us about it.
Smith: Well I’m really proud of the whole thing. I really like this opening sequence that we did for the book. Ron [Marz], the writer, really set out to set the tone for the entire book within those ten pages. We’re cutting back and forth between a sequence with Master entering a spooky mansion off to fight something bad, while two other characters on the other side of town talking about him, and we cut back and forth between those two things and they meet up. …
Great video: J.J. Abrams talks storytelling with Gabe Newell of Valve at D.I.C.E. 2013. Here’s Abrams on the challenge of “hiding the machinery” in games vs. movies:
If there’s a story to be told … we’re always trying to hide the machinery, whether it’s a hierarchy system in a game (where there’s the illusion of free will and characters believe they can do anything, but the truth is you’re always leading them to certain critical moments that will add up and tell the story) or in a movie (where you want people do things that feel legitimate, organic and real, but really what we’re doing is like a magic trick, … manipulating an audience to experience something over time).
I think it’s a harder thing in games, frankly, to get that kind of experience and to hide that machinery when they’re not full of action. One of the things movies can do is set things up in a way to make you deeply care.
If you don’t care about the characters, nothing matters. No explosion, no special effect, no spaceship flying will matter to anyone at all if you do not love the characters in the story.
Blackburn Burrow Comic Spotlight #1
Matthew Dow Smith, illustrator of Blackburn Burrow Issue #1, talks about his favorite part of the comic (the first from Amazon Studios):
I’m pretty proud of the whole thing, but I really like this opening sequence that we did, where writer Ron [Marz], really set the tone for the entire book within those 10 pages. We’re cutting back and forth with Mister entering a spooky mansion off to fight something bad while two other characters are on the other side of town talking about him. …
It’s the kind of scene I really like to do because there’s a fun storytelling trick going on. … The two characters talking about Mister are moving from the right side of each panel to the left side of each panel, while Mister is moving from the left side of each panel to the right side of the panel. … It’s just supposed to be a subtle thing that you don’t quite register, but it helps the storytelling work on a subconscious level.
Clive Barker — writer, artist, and master of the horror genre — speaks exclusively with Stephanie Reid-Simons about the true nature of fear, finding the right arena for his stories and his Neverland dreams. Learn more about Barker’s work with Amazon Studios.
What separates great horror from the things that go spatter in the night?
Clive Barker: Metaphysical despair. That the world is meaningless and we’re just bouncing around on it and when we’re finished we die and that’s the end of it. That’s scary. That’s existential. When Sartre put the idea of existentialism in front of us at the beginning of the 20th century, the idea of human hope was possibly at its lowest ebb. The bombs were going off. Europe was trashed. Economies were in ruins. And worst of all, we’d learned new ways of killing each other. Existentialism arose from the ashes of Auschwitz and Hiroshima and we had to address that very seriously.
There are horrific moments in movies (and not necessarily horror movies either) when something is evoked that has an awe-inspiring emptiness. When we are imbued with the sense that the cosmos is huge … and empty.
Pascal says, “We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.
What that phrase evokes is the sense of a limitless empty meaningless space we as human beings have no control over and a total inability to impress meaning upon.
We think we have the power to impress ourselves upon the world in some fashion — through having a family, through feeling love, through our associations with political parties or to a church — and when we feel those connections we feel momentarily safe. And that’s horror; it is only momentary. It’s about reducing our sense of importance. Most horror says, “You think you’re fine and fancy, don’t you. Well you’re not. You’re meat.” That I can be so easily erased. In my estimation, all of that is as far from a simple ‘boo’ as it gets.
You tell stories in so many different arenas (books, movies, comics, video games) … how do you decide which is the right one for a particular idea?
Barker: I don’t. They choose it for me. I’ll start something with the intention of being a novel for example, and through one circumstance or another, it will end up a comic book. Or a movie. I’ve found that the story will end up being the format it wants most to. I just try not to get in the way of that.
One of the biggest releases of the year sparked an inferno of outrage over the ending, derided as too bleak. And this week the power of fan feedback produced results, with a major studio promising a makeover.
This isn’t a movie or TV show we’re talking about, it’s a hit video game franchise (Mass Effect by BioWare). But it no doubt has fans of, say, Lost thinking about what might have been — or dreaming about what might yet be.
Here’s what Bioware co-founder Ray Muzyka said about the changes to Mass Effect 3, and the balance between audience feedback and artistic integrity: