Been doing a character design project around Bri for Design & Illustration. Here’s two of the pieces for it.
Also, the Register article prints today, so, yay for that.
It’s all about the countdown to Christmas now. That’s when work on the cartoon starts for real. There are a few tweaks to be made to the script, but there’s nothing left that needs to be done (besides possibly setting up with a recording studio, but that’s just a maybe) before work on the final product starts. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be for recording and I’m set for animation, now it’s just the wait for the arrival of our tools.
Remember the Ghost Monkey?
The Ghost Monkey makes George nervous.
Most things make George nervous.
Marcus doesn’t like the Ghost Monkey.
“No no no, it has to be a massive crowd scene with everyone you’ve ever drawn, and the apatosaurus floating in the background, the owl slug wrapped around a lampost, and Jillysauce, you need Jillysauce–”
“Yeah I can’t really do any of that.”
That’s right, it’s been one year.
It really shows how little I expected to come of this that I started Radio Trees on 9/11. Bit awkward, isn’t it? (My condolences to those who died on 9/11 and their families.)
It’s also just after the weekend on which I had my biggest exhibit yet. Probably the first one you could actually call an exhibit at all. So.
Well. I just really don’t know what to say. I’ve been trying to come up with something meaningful for this post, but I got nothing.
This weekend, while I was watching over my exhibit at Art Hop, some friends came by to visit me, and we raised a toast (a crushed, mostly empty water bottle one of them was holding) to the hope that one day, these will be humble beginnings. That’s really it, I guess. I hope they are. And I wouldn’t have a year ago. Art just didn’t matter nearly as much to me back then, I didn’t have enough faith in myself to let it.
So that’s pretty good.
Thank you to everyone who’s stuck around. I know I’m nowhere yet, but just you wait.
“Yeah, I was part of the Second Roman Empire for a bit,” Bri says, and sits up, looping her arms around her knees. “After things broke down, all these people thought, ‘hey, you know what was powerful and well protected? The Roman empire.’ So they tried to redo it themselves, but there weren’t any History majors there, you know, they all got mauled pretty early on, so it was basically a bunch of people with swords trying to remake 300. They kinda made it all up as they went along, waging wars on stuff, and when they weren’t doing that, they mostly made a lot of the noobs be gladiators for entertainment. They looked like as good a shot at protection as anything, so I joined.”
Marcus raises an eyebrow. “That sounds like a… really, really bad decision.“
“Yeah, well, I got a sword, so that was good.”
Bri likes her sword.
Hey, so remember how I mentioned writing a pilot for a tv show about George and Bri and Marcus? Well, I’ll be gone for the next two weeks for the Governor’s Institute for the Arts, so I thought maybe reading it would hold you over. Enjoy.
EXT. FOREST – LATE MORNING
A large, sentient, pink blob (GEORGE) moves through a shaded forest. He has some snails and an anthropomorphic bee (MARCUS) on his back. Behind them is a floating, skeletal monkey head (GHOST MONKEY). The GHOST MONKEY speaks in monotone and seems to believe if he follows them around long enough, he’ll succeed in scaring them, or at least kill a few hours. MARCUS is clearly annoyed, and has resorted to simply ignoring the GHOST MONKEY. GEORGE, as always, looks worried for his own safety.
Ooo, I’m a ghoooost…
I am ignoring you.
GHOST MONKEY floats down toward George.
GEORGE makes a “meep” noise, speeds up.
close-up on GEORGE, freeze frame
This is George.
action resumes, MARCUS falls off GEORGE as GEORGE “runs”
close-up on MARCUS on ground, freeze frame
This is Marcus.
action resumes, MARCUS looks up at GHOST MONKEY
Now look what you did.
close-up on GHOST MONKEY
Are you scaaaared?
This is the Ghost Monkey.
medium shot of GEORGE, now fairly far away, still “running”
NO. I’M NOT.
[opening credits/theme song]
EXT. SHIP ON A LARGE LAKE – AFTERNOON
MARCUS and a human girl (BRI) dressed as a gladiator on a boat, BRI leaning against the steering wheel, MARCUS looking over the edge next to her. It’s pretty clear from the way they talk that they spend a lot of time together. There’s an air of laziness to their conversation, which we come into with no context, and in the middle.
Well, yes, but I’ve never seen a possum, so–
A giant creature with the upper body of an owl and the lower half of a slug (OWL SLUG) descends upon the boat and perches on the mast, BRI looks up at it.
close up on Bri, freeze frame
This is Bri.
MARCUS looks cautiously over at BRI.
It’s been following me around for a week. I don’t know how to get rid of it.
And you’re still alive?
I haven’t been attacked yet. I think maybe it’s waiting.
BRI walks toward the mast the OWL SLUG is perched on and yells at it, waving her arms as she speaks.
Hey! You! Go away, get out of here!
OWL SLUG blinks
Go on, shoo!
OWL SLUG doesn’t respond
BRI yells in frustration, takes a deep breath
Go. Away. I do not have food. I will not be food. This is the middle of a lake.
BRI and MARCUS immediately cower
OWL SLUG takes off
MARCUS straightens up, BRI opens one eye and begins to lower her arms
Hey, it lef–
OWL SLUG (in distance)
BRI and MARCUS flinch
EXT. FIELD – AFTERNOON
MARCUS, GEORGE, and BRI are in a field. MARCUS is lying down while BRI sits with her arms around her knees. They’re trying unsuccessfully to comfort GEORGE.
You know, he’s really not all that scary. He’s just a monkey.
Not even. He’s a dead monkey. He can’t even touch you.
BRI turns to MARCUS, getting momentarily distracted by ghost biology.
Well, he can, like, pass through you. And make you feel all cold.
GEORGE shivers. MARCUS gives BRI a meaningful look.
…But he can’t touch you. Right.
Really, he’s no harm, and he’s just bored.
You know, I’m pretty sure George is the only one to ever be scared by the Ghost Monkey.
BRI stands up and faces GEORGE.
Okay, do you want me to teach you how to throw a punch or something?
GEORGE and BRI look down at his blobby form with no proper appendages.
BRI studies GEORGE for a minute, one hand cupping the other elbow, and the other hand supporting her chin.
Geez, you’re pretty much defenseless, huh?
Sorry. I guess you could roll over people, right?
You know, he could. See? You don’t need to be afraid. You’re bigger than everybody else, and we’ve finally figured out a way to use–
The OWL SLUG lands several yards away from them in the field, but still clearly there for BRI. BRI looks shaken.
Not again. Okay. Back to the house. Okay?
BRI grabs MARCUS by the wrist and jumps on GEORGE’s back.
GEORGE starts “running,” MARCUS and BRI hold on to his back.
INT. BRI’S HOUSE – AFTERNOON
MARCUS, BRI, and GEORGE are in BRI’s house, surrounded by yet more canned goods from the (long abandoned) grocery store, watching television. BRI is eating a banana. Outside, unseen, the OWL SLUG has returned. The GHOST MONKEY is looking in through the window.
We’re not letting you in.
Are there any chips left?
everyone flinches, GEORGE hides behind BRI’s armchair
Okay, that’s it. We have been in here for four days. You are talking to the owl slug.
MARCUS drags BRI toward the front door.
MARCUS continues steering her out and towards the telephone wire the OWL SLUG has landed on, still holding the banana.
This is ridiculous.
Give it a try, there’s nothing to lose, right?
BRI looks up at the OWL SLUG. Behind her, GEORGE is visible, coming timidly out of the house.
OWL SLUG blinks.
Could you please leave? You’re really loud and distracting, and I don’t know what you actually want.
OWL SLUG does not react.
Would you leave if I gave you this banana?
OWL SLUG blinks again, focuses on the banana.
BRI slowly steps toward the OWL SLUG and shakily holds the banana up to it.
OWL SLUG suddenly gobbles up banana, causing BRI to recoil, then screeches again and takes off.
OWL SLUG (in distance)
All flinch. A few moments of silence pass.
It actually worked.
Yeah, I guess so.
MARCUS, BRI, and GEORGE look around, a little surprised at their apparent victory. GEORGE turns tentatively to the GHOST MONKEY, who has followed them around to the front of the house. A moment passes as GEORGE seems to consider something.
The GHOST MONKEY is not intimidated. GEORGE screws his eyes shut and attempts to somehow displace the GHOST MONKEY. Instead, he passes through him, completely failing to in any way remove the GHOST MONKEY and only harming himself. He shudders at the cold sensation and seems to give up again.
The end! I’ll return in two weeks, hopefully with artistic goodies for you. Until then… reread the pilot? Oh, and maybe tell me what you thought. That’d be helpful.
Because I eventually became a screenwriter, I feel compelled to publicly snark on this horrible vision of what a screenplay was supposed to do. Formatting’s off and hilariously oversimplified (it’s not just a combination of left- and center-ruled, babe); the freeze frame thing is campy, bizarre, and irrelevant; the consistently caps’d names are adorably naive; and I abhor the inconsistent and poorly articulated attempts to turn a script into a storyboard. I am, however, pleasantly surprised that I nailed scene lines, and at my fondness for the bare bones of a plot. George, Marcus, and Bri will always be special to me, and the comfortable everyday-ness of the world.
Probably not gonna be another drawing this weekend because… Art Fest. Yeah. (Actually, that’s sort of a legitimate excuse. You’ll see.)
Anyway, this is what the kids call a sketch dump. See you next weekend.
Remember Marcus? Actually, I guess you don’t. He was another character in the failed post-apocalypse comic I did, which is starting not to look so failed. More and more stuff keeps happening with it… Recently, I wrote an episode of a children’s show with these characters, in which Marcus starred, and now this. Seriously, guys, I need help. Or a production budget. I wanna write that show.
Bri is not exactly fond of the whole apocalypse thing. She’s not fond of being hungry all the time, she’s not fond of any protection she ever had being stripped away while the dangers lose their manners, she’s not fond of sleeping on park benches. She’s not fond of the crazy people who used to scream about the end of days not seeming so crazy anymore, of everyone else in the world seeming more so. She’s not fond of not having seen her apartment in about six months, of knowing it’s probably torn apart, maybe even fallen over. She’d be a little bit fond of not paying for stuff if there was any stuff left not to pay for. She’s really not fond of fighting something or someone for everything. She can feel the gash on her hip from that runin with a bearfish yesterday when she was down by the river, but if she turns over, it’ll just hurt more. She’s a little bit proud she’s hardly even afraid of bearfish anymore, but she’s still definitely not fond of them existing, or any of the weird crap rising out of the sewage these days. Did these horrifying hybrids always exist, just out of the public eye, or are they new? Nobody recycles anymore, that’s for sure.
And just as she’s finally drifting off to sleep, a giant, animalistic shriek all too close shocks her awake with the sort of petrifying panic she’s come to associate with waking up.
A gigantic owl with a …slug’s? lower half. (Why are the mutants always so big? How is the streetlamp even holding its weight?) It doesn’t seem to care that she’s there and, god, she isn’t even scared, either. Just annoyed.
Yeah. The apocalypse thing is getting old.
Hoh god this is late. Sorry about that. But it’s finally happened: a colored version of the owl-slug that I actually like. It occurs to me that I finished the original drawing around this time last year. I’d spent weeks working on it, drawing rows and rows of what turned out to be biologically inaccurate feathers, doing the pattern on the right wing, repositioning the head, working out the kinks in the flow of the feathers around the eyes. I even put three little stripes (not included in the colored version because it would have given me carpel tunnel) on every single feather. It was that wonderful sort of drawing that never goes wrong and never feels rushed, I just worked on little bits of it when I could, and eventually it was finished. I remember that for days after I finally decided it was done, I carried it around in my backpack (as I did all my drawings, to be fair) and pulled it out to show anyone who would look. Oh, those days before I discovered the internet.
I really didn’t mean for this to get so sunlighty, but, god, I just love sunlight so much. Also, when I first drew it, I wanted it to be a three panel comic (one for Bri sleeping on the bench while the owl-slug lands silently on the streetlamp, one for the wakeup call, and one for her realizing it’s just another gigantic, indifferent mutant and calming down) but by the time I finished this, I realized there was no way I could draw the owl-slug again on that scale.
This, friends, is the failed post-apocalypse comic. Stained, creased, frayed, and torn, begun eleven months ago, abandoned (for the most recent time) nine months later, it’s traveled from Mr. Stucker’s Civics class to Lake Fairlee to Biddeford, Maine to my scanner to be here, before your eyes, on the internet. As you can see, it’s made entirely out of crap and a perfectionist’s desperate attempt to allow herself to suck. Which I think I succeeded at quite well. There wasn’t really any script, and you can see how her character design evolved as I drew. Still, I’m rather fond of it, and it gives a slightly better idea of George’s universe, so here it is.