Sunday, October 10, 2010

Killing off Clay, or the rise of the robot women!

by Simon Whitelaw
So, I'm still in the writing process, following along with the Snowflake Method that I spoke about earlier, and I happened upon a great blog about making graphic novels.  It's called...ironically enough...Making Graphic Novels and it's chock full of great resources and inspiration.
One of the nuggets of wisdom I located there was a pretty darned funny (and NSFW) review of the plot (or lack thereof) of "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace".  I recommend watching all 7 parts, because...well, it's funny, and I found myself asking a question that seemed pretty obvious, but wasn't really:

"Who is the main character?"

The idea behind the main character is the lens you use to draw the readers into the story.  I had thought that in my story, Doc Monster would have been the main character.

Wrong.

You see, the main character has to be an "everyman" kind of person.  Someone people can relate to and feel for.  Doc ain't that guy.  He's weird, super-intelligent and....well, weird.  So, unbeknownst to me, Agent Clay was actually set up in the 4-page story I had on Zuda (rest in peace, Zudites) he's the guy that doesn't have it all together...who gets to ask all of the silly questions so that the reader needs to know.
Wow.  Who would've thunk?
So...I'm ok with Clay being the lens that the story is seen through, but then I thought, "how can I make his character more interesting?  What's missing in the story?"  The answer I came up with? Women!  In most of my stories so far there have been NO main characters that were female.  None at all.  So, why not add one?  It makes me a bit nervous, because not only would I be writing a gender I haven't before, I'd be writing a 1950's female character, which is different from the variety of females we typically see.

I know, this whole thing is a fantasy, but I want to make sure that my lady (not sure of her name yet) acts and thinks like a woman from the period.  I think it's more challenging and authentic that way.  The more I thought about it, the more I liked making Agent Clay's character a woman.  I mean, I'm a romantic at heart, and though there will be other females in the story, this gives me a chance to add the kind of elements that have been missing...love and sexual tension! :)

I did some digging around for images of 1950's ladies that I could use as a model for my new character, and I think Grace Kelly would just be the cat's meow.
Don't you think so?  She's got a sunny kind of grace that would offset Doc's dark, stern looks, with a girl-next-door kind of vibe.
I'd better start digging up reference for 1950's fashion!  I know that the series Mad Men is a bit later than this story is set, but I'm looking forward to renting Season 1 from our library to check it out.
No, I haven't seen it before.  I don't have TV.  Heck, who has time for TV?  I've got a graphic novel to make!

More next time,

-Dave

7 comments:

J. said...

Hi Mr. Dave,
Very interesting stuff. I found your blog via your post over on MakingGraphicNovels.com. I'm looking forward to following your progress. I like what I see so far. Keep up the good work!

Dave_Flora said...

Thanks, J! I actually had a friend email me after reading this post and he said "Numbskull! Don't kill off Clay!! Just ADD a new character to the mix!"
Well..he wasn't that gruff, but I got his point. So, I'll wind up keeping Clay and adding the new female character as well!
-Dave

r0b0tw1n said...

Hey Dave Flora!
You're doing awesome stuff and I can't wait to see more. I love retro science-fiction. I'm working on Space Brothers, kind of an homage to Basil Wolverton's Spacehawk. Thanks for blogging about your creative process and sharing those links. I also found you at Making Graphic Novels. See ya there and best of luck!

Dave_Flora said...

Woah! That looks wild! I'm glad you stopped by, and I'm glad that you're on Making Graphic Novels! That's an incredible forum.
I hope you enjoy the ride here...good luck with Space Brothers!
-Dave

Bonnie said...

If you want to stay true to the time period, you couldn't have made Agent Clay a woman anyway. The CIA was a sexist place for the most part, once it got started and the good ole boys got ingrained. It was still pretty cool in the days of the OSS, they seemed to have enough sense to know that women could be used in ways the enemy never expected. Is the female character going to work for the CIA as a secretary or other supporting character? Some info might be available through the CIA historian and H. Keith Melton about this time period.

Dave_Flora said...

Sexism is one of the issues I'm looking forward to addressing in the story...along with racism. Since this whole disaster happens in 1954, the desegregation act was never passed. How would something like that affect society in America?
I've actually decided on another role for my female character..I haven't even settled on a name for her yet, but it will be pretty typically a 1950's name like 'June'. Thanks, Bonnie!

Bonnie said...

I like your idea of addressing racism as well. Send me an e-mail if you want some more information from a woman's POV. I may have a source for a woman's experience in the '60s there. I doubt there is much of a difference in the '50s and '60s. I don't want to go into anything more specific here.