I’ve Got Such a Headache: Power / Rangers Short Film Taken Down

A long time ago, during the era of the first Power Rangers team, Tommy Oliver — the Green Ranger — had been manipulated by the evil sorceress Rita Repulsa to attack his fellow Rangers. However, when he came to their side, she had a contingency plan. Rita created a candle that, when its flame went out, Tommy’s powers would be lost to her forever.

Now another flame on another magical candle also threatens to extinguish itself.

Green Candle

Adi Shankar and Joseph Kahn produced and directed, respectively, a fan-made fourteen minute film on the Internet which, essentially, is a gritty revisionist take on the Power Rangers: set after the Rangers’ battle with the Machine Empire and what seems to have been a truce. This got the attention of both new fans, and old: with over 12 million YouTube views in two days.

Unfortunately, Haim Saban — the owner of Saban Brands and the Power Rangers franchise — forced Vimeo and YouTube to take down the video: threatening legal action.

Power Rangers itself is a fascinating phenomenon itself. It is an American adaptation and revision of the Japanese Super Sentai genre or trope: in which a team of five people through various means possess colour-coded uniforms, fight evil beings with special powers and martial arts, and gain giant machines or mecha to fight the monsters that are also increased in strength and power. It is not uncommon for young men and girls to be the heroes of these Super Sentai story arcs.

So, in a way, one can argue that Saban Brands’ Power Rangers is its own take of a much longer-running idea. One can also argue that Power Rangers is, in itself, a parody of violence, destruction, and character development. Like the Super Sentai genre itself, it’s primarily aimed for children with a downplaying of violence and consequences in order to protect what some societies consider to be basic children’s comprehension and sensibilities.

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers came to Fox in 1993. An entire generation of, at least North American, children watched the show with the antics of Bulk and Skull, Ernie’s Juice Bar, Rita Repulsa animated monsters made out of clay, cardboard buildings and scenery being obliterated by giant robot dinosaur Zords, and the friendships between five Power Rangers. What Shankar and Kahn did was they took the action genre of the 2000s with its revisionist elements — embodied for good or ill best by the new Transformer movies — and created their own fan film.

Joseph Kahn’s Power / Rangers is a film that not only parodies the lack of psychological consequences in the gritty violence, action, melodrama, and sleek props and over the top CGI effects (in contrast to cheap-looking costumes and the Power Rangers’ ridiculous cardboard cut-outs), but it also manages to parody the form of the gritty reboot itself while telling its own compelling story.

And, more importantly with regards to copyright, it did this for free.

Kahn and Shankar made no profit from creating this fan film. They didn’t even crowdfund its making. It all came entirely from out of pocket. It even has a disclaimer in the end credits stating that it is a non-profit work that was not meant to interfere with anything that Saban Brands or Lionsgate might be up to with regards to their own movie. Yet while both film-makers plan to challenge the removal of their film, there is one question that remains: why did Haim Saban have their video removed in the first place?

One possibility is that, with the creation of the next Power Rangers film in 2016, Saban Brands might want to maintain their franchise’s image as “child-friendly.” Power Rangers has had complaints from parents in the past about violence and if some perceived the reboot to be a part of that franchise, Saban Brands might think its reputation could be held in question.

Of course, there is always the argument that Eric Buchman presents in his article Where’s The Line Between Fan-Fic and Copyright Infringement? Ask The Power Rangers to consider. He claims that perhaps the usage of well-known actors, professional direction, and top-notch props and special effects might have made Saban Brands feel threatened: as though they were facing someone who had the technological and financial means to genuinely steal their franchise.

But if you take the technology and money away — of which both film-makers themselves provided — what does that leave us with? It leaves us with some fanfiction or a fan work that any geek with the means could have made. Certainly, on a personal note, an old friend of mine and I used to create new Power Rangers adventures and act them out through free-form roleplaying sessions during recess: and I’m sure that we are not alone. But in fan cultures that create derivative works from their favourite franchises, that even interact with them on any creative level through actual input or homages — even with disclaimers involved — where do you draw the line? And what does that say about the relationship between content creators and their fan-bases?

Power /Rangers‘ candle may have already gone out, but can Saban Brands’ really take the power away from the Power Coin in the hands of fans?

Green Candle 2

 

Connecting the Doughnuts: Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking

Even though I’m not a musician, or even a complete music literate (whatever that ultimately means), I had been looking forward to Amanda Palmer’s first book for quite some time. And now that I finally finished reading it a few days ago, I’m now in a place where I can actually say something about it.

Amanda Palmer

It wasn’t easy and, to some extent, it’s still very challenging. The Art of Asking is something like what might happen if you take a blender, to borrow one of Amanda’s creative sayings, put it on a low setting, and introduce autobiographical anecdotes, self-help philosophy, social media excerpts, a few literary quotes, and of course musical lyrics, to the blade and mix. Chronological events are sometimes parallel with each other in the narrative, but these instances are often separated by philosophical musings and personal moments.

Whatever else, The Art of Asking is, it’s definitely not an ordinary book: as if something that’s a fusion of the creative and the personal can ever be ordinary.

I’ll also admit that it took me a while to get into the book, and sometimes I had trouble actually staying inside it. I mean, I knew that — even based on the title — that Amanda’s book would have some significant roots in her TED Talk of the same name, but it is both fascinating and sometimes off-putting to consider that there is a fair amount of her book that you can already find to some extent in her Blog and even in her introduction to Anthony Martignetti’s Lunatic Heroes.

The intertextuality, the way her book relates to the narratives and circumstances behind Anthony’s Lunatic Heroes and Beloved Demons, as well as to Neil Gaiman’s Ocean at the End of the Lane really does intrigue me and it puts some elements into perspective. I’d argue that The Art of Asking has details that can give you something of a holistic approach to looking at all four narratives upon risk of falling into the authorial fallacy: of looking at the people behind the works instead of the works themselves on their own merits.

I mean, it’s no secret that Amanda encouraged Anthony to hone and publish his personal stories — many of which he’d already told her before during their time together — and that Neil’s Ocean was the result of a story that he actually wanted to tell her while she was in the middle of her own solitary creative struggles. When you look at how those narratives talk to each other, like the people that made them and talked to each other in turn, The Art of Asking is almost something of a bridge between three different and creative spaces. It is my opinion that they all belong together.

The downside was that sometimes these references felt like filler. I think what really confused me was something that Amanda said which, ironically, I truly appreciated. It was a reference to another part of her creative process. After a fascinating look at different types of creative processes from her perspective, Amanda mentions that to create something is to “connect the dots” between things that you gather or experience. This, for me, pretty much sums up how creativity happens. As a creator, you take things that don’t seem to relate to each on the surface and you find or make connections between these elements. This thought particularly jived with me.

Unfortunately, at least from my perspective as a reader, I couldn’t always see how Amanda connected the dots of her ideas and anecdotes or even her musical lyric interludes within the structure of The Art of Asking itself. Perhaps I just don’t have a good eye for it, or for that matter even a good ear. Maybe, as Amanda herself isn’t generally a book writer — this being her first one — she writes prose much in the way her mind generates rhythm and lyric: through music. This is just a thought that I’m throwing out there myself. However, maybe the narrative is a lot like Amanda herself in that her art and her performance seems to be a 24/7 deal where you cannot particularly separate them: even in another medium.

The Art of Asking, to me, felt like a balancing act: much like the way I reacted to it. The tone of it got to me sometimes. On one hand it sometimes felt like it was rather self-involved, but on the other hand it is to some extent a memoir and of course Amanda would be talking about her experiences and her feelings. At times I felt a self-help vibe from the book and I had a personal reaction to whenever Amanda would talk about giving herself to trust and love as, in my own experience, most people who expose surrendering themselves to absolute abstracts of benevolence, revolution, peace, and love often want something from you and are anything but the ideals that they claim to represent. Something about Koolaid comes to mind.

Then again, these very sentiments on Amanda’s part are tied into some considerably shrewd business and people sense. The Art of Asking specifically outlines how love and trust are relational. What I mean is that by opening yourself up to other people, by interacting with them, by actually relating to them as fellow human beings you create a bond — at least on some level — and they will become more willing to actually help you. Amanda very correctly identifies this precept in why some crowdfunding campaigns excel and why others fail completely.

In asking for help without shame and taking what is offered you without forced expectations or, again, humiliation, you are attempting to embrace a different mindset. I can personally respect and even understand this idea. Amanda even applies it well to just why her former label and the music industry are simply failing to understand their customers: as they only relate to people as customers, artists as commodities, and not as people.

Really, what I learned from this as a potential crowdfunder artist myself, is that I have a long way to go — in building relationships of some kind with my readers, in networking, and in relating to others — before I can even begin to approach the place where others can support me: and where I can provide consistent content for their support. It’s actually very humbling, and sometimes discouraging as I am not a natural extrovert and I don’t have access to the support that I need to get there, or a coherent and stable vision to attract others. Yet.

In this sense, it’s not about connecting the dots per see.  It isn’t even about giving out “the flower,” a metaphor and literal fact from Amanda’s time as a living bride statue in her early busking years that can be accepted or rejected in an attempt at staring someone in the eye and relating to them.

To me, it’s about doughnuts.

In late November 2014, I actually attended the last part of Amanda’s Book Circus Tour in Toronto. As we waited in line outside of Lee’s Palace, a volunteer kept handing out Timbits: small, round, balls of assorted doughnuts. During the event itself Amanda actually read us a part of her book in which apparently David Thoreau, during the time he wrote Walden, accepted free food from his family as help in completing his work. And Eric Alper, Amanda’s guest and interviewer bought us all tons of Timbits to hit home the point that it is okay to “Take the doughnuts.”

The way I ultimately see it, The Art of Asking is a collection of Timbits: a collection of little doughnuts of many kinds. Some might prefer specific flavours of Timbit, or all of them, or none at all. Yet all of them are doughnuts and all of them are offered to the reader.

As for me, I took my favourite doughnuts from Amanda. Some of them were crisp and instrumental. Some were multiple flavours that branched into different places, that reminded me of other things, and gave me insight about my favourite people behind the scenes. I know I ate one or two confections that Amanda had never offered before outside of her book: and the flavours hit me hard and without mercy: that were real. At least one was a moment that touched me to the core.

But all of them, even the ones I don’t always like or require an acquired taste, are in the same box of words: a bread and circuses on paper thanking everyone that it asks.

More Leda and Castor in Orphan Black Season Three?

It took me a little while to get into watching Orphan Black, but I wasn’t disappointed. This Canadian-made science-fiction and intrigue series drew me in with its unfolding levels of mystery, its interpersonal relationships, and the brilliance of the actress Tatiana Maslany as she plays several clones — each one a different flawed, strong, and complex woman — in a dangerous world of shadow games: where the stakes are freedom and the semblance of a normal life.

Above is a spoiler for some of what is going to happen in Orphan Black Season Three. But for those of you who have been following the show (or binge-watching both preceding seasons on DVD and cable), there are some other interesting, small, little snippets that function as both character sketches, and just what may well go down.

But first, let’s deal with the main clip and seriously take a look at it. Last season, Sarah Manning discovered that the DYAD Institute was not the only organization dealing in clones. While the Proletheans are an extremist religious sect or series of cells that believe in destroying synthetic biology or subordinating it under a belief in God — and they have utilized Sarah’s fellow clone and sister Helena for these purposes — they have not created clones.

The military, however, has been creating more clones: or least they did at one point in time. If you go back into the show’s chronology, you will find out that DYAD or its predecessor had a deal with the military to create the clones for some unknown reason. However what we, the viewers, did not know at the time was that not only was the military continuing its work with cloning, but they seem to have created male clones in counterpoint to DYAD’s female cloning project. Whereas the experiment that made Sarah and the others is referred to as Project LEDA, the male clone project is called Project CASTOR.

But, as usual, there is so much more that we don’t know. However, there are some clues to be had.

Here we have what we already know: that Sarah has been introduced to a captive male clone that Marion, one of the most powerful figures behind DYAD keeps in her mansion. But, very clearly and as per usual, Sarah is her usual gritty and rebellious self. Yet what’s really interesting here is that the male clone, whether he is the captive or one of his brothers working in the military, seems to know that she is one of the renegade among her sisters: that one who didn’t seem to have a DYAD Monitor. Perhaps Sarah is meeting this clone in order to find out where Helena is being held.

There is Alison Hendrix who is facing more kidnapping issues and may well have a reason to want to “kick some boy clone butt”: if the military is now after the female clones in addition to DYAD (assuming DYAD still isn’t, but that is another story entirely).

Of course, there is Helena whom, the last we saw, was “sold” to the military by Siobhan, Sarah’s foster mother, and Paul, Beth’s former boyfriend and Monitor and Sarah’s former lover,  for some reason: perhaps to guarantee Sarah’s safety. It should be noted that Helena has been rather unstable in the past and is trained to be a master assassin by the Proletheans. Maybe Siobhan saw her as a threat, given some of the things she has tried to do to Sarah and her other sisters. But seriously, god help those soldiers that have her now — and the people that handed her over — given the sheer amount of destruction she’s capable of inflicting.

Finally, there is Cosima. It seems as though she and her assistant and friend Josh are attempting to decode the late Professor Duncan’s handwritten notes on their genome in an attempt to reverse its degradation. It should be noted that, perhaps by understanding Duncan’s notes they might also begin to figure out just how just why they were created, and how they relate to the existence of the male clones.

It’s a fascinating situation all around: especially when you consider what Projects LEDA and CASTOR might actually be. Both are tied into ancient Greek mythology. Leda was the queen seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan: upon which she carried two eggs that hatched into four children. Two of those children were Zeus’ while the other two belonged to her mortal royal husband. Her two sons were Castor and Pollux (or Polydeuces).

There is a lot of fan speculation as to what Leda might represent in Orphan Black: not the least of which being that the clones are the result of advanced science and were fostered with normal families in most cases. Castor himself was a warrior along with his brother and it makes a horrible kind of Clone Wars sense for the military to want to mass produce legions of male soldiers.

But perhaps there is more involved here. Is it a coincidence that there were two cloning programs for two separate sexes? And why? Were they supposed to be the first stages of a genetically enhanced breeding program? And, here is something else for you to think about: Castor’s twin brother, Pollux, was Zeus’ son — with immortal or superhuman potential given his lineage — in some mythologies while Castor was just a mortal man. Is it possible that the idea of Pollux might actually play a role in what is to come with regards to these two Projects?

Either way, I have to say that my own speculation aside I very much look forward to Orphan Black Season Three on April 18.

Also, to those who can’t wait for April, IDW Publishing will be releasing an Orphan Black comic book February 25 apparently expanding on the clones’ back stories. Personally, I would love to see more story on the clones that have either already died, or had short thrift so far. Many times the fun.

If My Mind Were A Movie

Not too long ago, I made an argument that The Room can be seen as the inside of a mind or perspective of life made into a cinematic experience. But as I finished that line of inquiry, two other questions came to mind:

What would happen if I made view of reality into a film? And what would it look like?

I don’t really plan to get all intricate about this but I think the film that represents how my mind works, and how it attempts to relate to reality goes a little something like this.

It would start from different time periods. Some parts would have voice-overs while others would have words on a screen. In fact, voice-overs will be reflections of the past and words on the screen will be internalized thoughts. I would have epic video game electric body music play, in addition to some John Williams and Murray Gold, for some of the most pivotal moments in the movie while the more uncomfortable moments — such as dealing with bureaucracy, breakups, public transportation, and loneliness — will be filled with complete and utter stifling silence. Internalized subtitles here will have ellipses.

There would be scenes of wandering and scenes where I play a character that sits in one place almost all the time. I will have my character in long-shot views of his own life. He will particularly be in the background of his past when he is a child, a teen, and a younger adult. Maybe we can go for blurry after-image effects here. Each version of him will attempt to tell the other something about their future. One might try to change something, while another might say nothing at all. I think I’d also play an antagonist to my protagonist: who enjoys breaking things.

My narrative would be tangents. There would be epic, almost wuxia level, duels and combat with understated special effects. Epic speeches ranging from “the reason you suck” to philosophical digressions all the way to lots of swearing and profanity will happen. There will be intermittent, but gratuitous, intimate sex and a focus on the pull between connection and distance. Human kind would be depicted somehow as ignorant, self-involved, and small, individuals as fascinating, and the whole humanity as sometimes frail and sad and impermanent with a few motes of true self.

That all said, many hijnks will also ensue. There would be melodramatic screams and explosions in the background as punctuation. And budgies: sometimes as pets but also attacking the populace at large. There might even be a budgie totem of imitation and mimicry in a strange version of an Australian Dreamtime involved. My character will find himself walking into different times in the same places. He will get lost a lot in all manner of different interpretations.

I’d have books and comics and, copyright permitting — though most likely through having to create analogues — have my character immersed in a world of them. He lives in there and entering it is this permeable membrane of reality: a portal that gets harder and more narrow to access as he gets older. I’d be tempted to, but probably not use CGI effects, to show a piece of his soul splintering off for every year he gets older.

I think I would design the film like a multiverse of different spaces and times: a kaleidoscope. I would make it so that there are worlds where all of his dreams happened, places where none of them did, some others where he died, and others where he never existed to begin with. Sometimes my character will be a complete bastard, other times weak and wishy washy while spending most of his time remembering his future while another lives in the past. And all of these tangents will circle round and round each other, closer and closer until they collide and everything goes completely crazy and my character jumps from one fractured reality into another: navigating a grand plan gone to chaos … something built up just to be destroyed and rebuilt again.

I also think there would be a reality where concepts are people and they shift around too: and unfinished artwork will be their own entities and have their own world. Maybe they will eat people.

There would be friends on the phone and friends online. Some of them will have strange avatars. And maybe for the end, they will all come together, or perhaps he’ll go to them.

Of course, like a certain other director I won’t name I’d probably keep adding stuff the film as I go along and take stuff out and have constant director’s cuts. If I had to sum this all up, I’d say that my film would be an independent, tragic comedy of a mythic cycle with meta-narrative, nerdy references, and a whole lot of poignant moments and what the ever loving fuck. And crisp, witty dialogue. I can’t stress that enough.

And a good ending. Maybe my film, filled with regret, passionate anger, suffocation, cackling joy, fidgeting anxiety, headaches, serenity and the whole gamut of glorious insanity that we call human experience would be a multiple choice ending situation: if such a cinematic narrative is possible.

I might call it Not My Magic Eight Ball.

Because why not?

But I will leave film directing and script-writing to more capable hands. I’m just describing what my film world would be like if it existed. It’s been a while since I’ve been personal and creative and I just wanted to try something new today: or write about something old that keeps growing.

Writing this actually felt kind of good.

So tell me: what would a film of your mindset look like?

To The Room: You Fail At What You Pretend To Be … And That’s Ok

So let me just say, right now, that I watched Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. In fact, not only did I watch The Room, but I read Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist even before seeing the film which, I’ve been told, is highly irregular in the scheme of things.

A long time ago, I read Thomas Mann’s “Tonio Kröger.” And there is this one scene in that story that never left my mind. The aforementioned protagonist is watching his classmates dance. They are blond-haired, blue-eyed, and uniform. The dancers do not pay as much attention to why or how they dance, so much as they are just good at performing this communal act. Meanwhile, dark-haired Tonio knows that he can’t dance as they do, but he actually observes and understands their dancing far better than many of them ever can.

And then, there is the character of the dark-haired girl. She, unlike Tonio, doesn’t understand — or perhaps want to understand — that she doesn’t fit into the synchronous dance of her peers. Still, she continues to dance with them. She dances with them while stumbling around awkwardly, and even physically hurting herself. Her movements are not at all in unity with the other dancers and she stands out from them no matter how much she wants to fit in.

Now consider that someone like Thomas Mann’s dark-haired girl knows, deep down, that they’re different and just thinks that more intensity will make up for it: more passion, more resources, and more random elements. Aside from the fact that someone should definitely, if they haven’t already, write a story from the perspective of the dark-haired girl, I think you can see where I’m going with this comparison with regards to The Room.

I’m not going to go into the many flaws of this film because many more qualified people have gone to great lengths to describe them all. But what I think is really intriguing here, especially since I read The Disaster Artist first, is how you can arguably state that this is the closest thing I’ve had to seeing the inside of another person’s mind on film.

So here is my own tentative reading of The Room.

When I watched The Room I thought of a mind that wants to accept reality at face value: both with regards to its immediate environment and its cultural surroundings. It searches for all the tropes, all the archetypes and stereotypes: all of the human stories. In particular, it looks at American culture: at the American Dream of the frontier and wide open spaces, a successful career, romantic love and marriage, friendship, family, and relations between the genders verses a cramped psychological place of disappointment and dysfunction. In particular, it tried to go into that place of love and tragedy to create something of a … narrative.

This attempt to create connection between these elements fails. There is a dissonance underlying all of this mind’s attempts. You see it in the way that words and sounds are out of sync with the actor’s mouths: particularly those of the protagonist Johnny. The film opens up with an almost pastoral theme amid a distant sunny splendour that never seems to completely reach the characters except for those rare moments of sublime silliness between them. Love and sex is accompanied by music that sounds suspiciously like a stereotypically tacky and kitsche soft-core porn soundtrack: while ending off the film after the final death.

And sex and death are seen as awkward, dissociative things. Bodies never really quite find themselves in the right places: and even the death at the end is a long time in coming. It’s like a mind and perspective that just can’t link the ideas, emotions, and people together no matter how badly it seems to want to do so. You can see it even in how the actors behind the characters, and how the characters themselves want to reveal their truths and themselves. They’re trapped in the marble of ideas and meshed together: only connecting intermittently.

The parts and ingredients are all there: even if it seems like the mind of this movie is looking out at its world from a mishmash of extra body parts. It’s like a soufflé that didn’t rise, or a Frankenstein creature that never galvanized into life. And I think it is a horror story in how causality and even space and time are never really consistent, with the strangeness of the roof exit and the unexplained additions and disappearances of different characters.

At the same time, I also look at The Room as something of a tragedy: of realizing that there is a mind that so desperately wants to hold onto the conventions of its surroundings that it ends up revealing their flaws. In an attempt to reveal a truth through non-sequiturs– of pathways leading nowhere — it unintentionally and accidentally satirizes and parodies what it attempts to love and glorify: be it American culture, the Dream, human relationships, humanity, life, and itself. And yet, even in all of this, there are moments of sublime ridiculousness — in the form of football throwing for instance — that are almost peaceful and serene in the way that the characters play with each as though they are children. Those are perhaps some of the most wistful, surreal, and innocent segments of this entire film: this strange cinematic reality.

The writers David Gilmour and C. Anthony Martignetti both seem to agree that our minds play our lives, desires, and pain within the theatres of our mind’s eyes. And here, in Tommy Wiseau’s film, we are looking into one such theatre. And this mindscape, this inner theatre, this place is called The Room. Certainly, after reading The Disaster Artist the movie’s scenes with Johnny talking about how he met Lisa, and Lisa explaining how Johnny takes care of Denny take on a whole other connotation.

I’m not going to lie: The Room, and The Disaster Artist exposed me to something of a paradox from which my brain is still attempting to recover. The experiences I witnessed and read about were painful, hilarious, sometimes depressing, and just outright puzzling at times. But all of it was a fine study in just how someone creates their own mythos: a creative process that seems to have translated over to Tommy Wiseau’s sitcom project The Neighbors. Certainly, there is at least a consistency in how Tommy Wiseau seems to act and work if you are interested in looking at his AV Club Interview: and I can’t help but wonder what would happen if he had ever met the former Torontonian bicycle shop owner Igor Kenk with his own unique world-view. Would they get along, or would the universe implode?

But when this is all said and done, I think The Room is its own person: a mindset that fails — spectacularly, beautifully — at being what it pretends: namely, at what it thinks is normalcy. And that’s okay. Here, at Mythic Bios, I absolutely adore being able to examine another form of personal reality. In fact, I’d like to think if The Room were an incarnated personality it’d be what would happen if the dark-haired female character from Thomas Mann’s “Tonio Kröger” tried to dance with our contemporary reality: except she would be a blonde and she insists on being what she pretends to be instead of who she really is: and what I think is an even greater tragedy. She attempts to embrace what she thinks is supposed to be normal yet she can never be so by her very nature.

And her name would be Lisa. Because, even after watching you Lisa, you are tearing me apart.

The Room

On The Art Of Sweet Action: An Interview With A. Shay Hahn

The Canadian painter and illustrator A. Shay Hahn, is now a comics creator with the imminent release of three new and original self-published comics works. And before his Sweet Action exhibit, commission, and presentation event at The Society of the Seven Crowns Tattoo we at GEEKPR0N have been given the opportunity to talk with him about his art, his process, and his upcoming works.

GEEKPR0N: In a piece by TJ Dawe on the Blog Beams and Struts, you outline your artistic method and philosophy at length with regards to painting. You discuss how you create your illustrations as a diarist, with emphasis on abstraction, storytelling, and an attempt to avoid identity in your figures. Does this creative process — your own unique visual and artistic language — translate in any way into your comics art and, if so, how might it do so

A. SHAY HAHN: My process for painting and my process for comics don’t intersect. In comics you need to define the characters in appearance and attitude with a forward moving story, whereas painting allows a lot more freedom. In painting the viewer is allowed to a degree to define what the painting is about: they add some of their own biography to the piece. In my comics, or in most comics, the viewer is guided by the images through the story. It’s narrative driven as opposed to interpreted. I want to hook the reader for a wild ride in my comics.

"Girl with an Axe" by A Shay Hahn. It is a painting that feels like it could be the beginning of a story in itself.
“Girl with an Axe” by A Shay Hahn. It is a painting that feels like it could be the beginning of a story in itself.

GP: In your interview on the Fragmentalist with regards to your work in the Cameron, you talk about how artists should make themselves — and their works — a part of the venue in which they are presenting their part. How do you see yourself applying this philosophy to your Sweet Action presentation at Seven Crowns Tattoos? How do you think your comics art aesthetic will complement the establishment in comparison and contrast to your work in the Cameron?

ASH: Good question, I think artists should be available while their work is being displayed so I will be at Seven Crowns Tattoo, hopefully once a week to sit in the gallery and I’ll be drawing comics while I’m there. If people have questions about who did the work there will be one day a week where I can answer their questions in person. I love the idea of showing the comic based work at Seven Crowns. Tattoos, like comics can be bold and colourful – like the work of Jack Kirby or darker and more moody. I want the show to really have a feel of fun and energy and see how that affects the space. It should put people in a good mood.

10389005_1610228159196192_2231374868083251771_n

GP: You are going to be presenting your three self-published new comics works at Sweet Action. However, this is not the first time you have been involved with the comics medium. According to your profile on Monkey Brain Comics, you were the artist for Issue #7 of Amazing Forest written by Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas. Can you tell us more about your time there and while you were inspired to create art by your childhood with comic books, was this particular collaboration the transition point to you creating your own comics work?

ASH: I was actually asked to do the story “Nonbelievers” for Amazing Forest just as I was finishing the final art on my third comic. They needed an eight page story done and asked me to do it. I’d been recommended by another comic artist on twitter and I read the pages and knew that I’d be able to fit it into my schedule. It was my first professional comics gig and I’m grateful that I was asked to do it. I was sent a script and just went hardcore over five days, drew the whole thing inked it, lettered it and sent it back finished. It was a whirlwind and they were really happy with the results. I’ve wanted to do my own comics for years, I just had to be able to book off the time to do it. I only did a few other commissioned paintings during the time so I wasn’t making any real money while I drew the comics. It was a huge learning curve and I came out the other side with a product that I think people are going to really enjoy.

"Nonbelievers" from Amazing Forest. Written by Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas and illustrated by A Shay Hahn.
“Nonbelievers” from Amazing Forest. Written by Erick Freitas and Ulises Farinas and illustrated by A Shay Hahn. Published by Monkey Brain Comics.

GP: What are your favourite drawings or sketches for your Sweet Action show at Seven Crowns Tattoo so far?

ASH: That’s a tough one, each piece has a little something about it that I like, whether it’s a facial expression or a pose, maybe I did some nice colouring with the Copic markers on a certain piece. I like things that are funny, hard core comic guy poses are cool but if I can do something like MODOK wearing a beer can hat or getting to draw a character like Wez from The Road Warrior those one’s stand out for me.

10410650_10204704415723143_8489205477210086872_n

GP: Can you tell us more about your three comics works: The Homeless G-Men, Crypto Zombic, and Battle Rally?

ASH: As a whole I wanted them to be fun. I wanted people who don’t consider themselves hard core comic fans to enjoy them: that there isn’t an intimidation factor, that they were more like great B-movie VHS films than serious investigations into what it means to be a hero or plots that were too esoteric to follow. Here’s a breakdown of what each comic is about: 

Homeless G-Men

THE HOMELESS G-MEN is about a team of cops hunted by the very city they swore to protect race to clear their name: a “good time noir” for fans of Eric Powell’s The Goon and Will Eisner’s The Spirit.

Crypto-Zombic

CRYPTO-ZOMBIC is about the only surviving scientist of an experiment gone horribly wrong as he returns to the Island of Isla Sopresa: populated with zombies, monsters that were thought to be the stuff of legend and a whole bunch of psychopaths. It’s a tale of mad science and ghastly creatures. If you loved the game Altered Beast or any 80’s action film, CZ is the book for you.

page1

Finally get ready for BATTLE RALLY! In the near future teams of racers risk life and limb for glory and product endorsements, will the members of “Team Juicy Blast” win the gold or tear themselves apart before they even place? Battle Rally combines vehicle combat and giant robot battles in explosive action for fans of Voltron, The Shogun Warriors and Death Race.

You can find samples of A. Shay Hahn’s artwork on his Blog Smudges and Lines, or check out his work February 7 at The Society of the Seven Crowns Tattoo any time after 8 pm.

Of Serpents and Foxes

Hello again everyone. I’ve been away, and busy, for a change but I want to start writing again on Mythic Bios at least once a week as I originally planned. I didn’t actually feel like writing anything until I got another Project of mine finished, but I feel the need to you updated on some of the things that I’m doing and to keep a record of some of my work as well.

It’s been tough for me this past while. I’ve had this Twine idea in my mind for some time and it was only at this year’s Toronto Global Game Jam that I’d been able to even start on it beyond the modest notes I’d researched and taken.

Unlike last year, I didn’t force myself to stay up until twelve or two in the afternoon to finish off my game. Aside from the fact that I had a headache during the Jam, even when I was better I realized that rushing through it and making something out of pure exhaustion would only give me sloppy work and very little to show for it: never mind the fact that it wouldn’t have even been a working narrative.

I’d gotten as far as creating an entry for it on the Global Game Jam site. At the moment, my Twine creation is called The Serpent and The Fox. I spent a whole night trying to think up a good abstract summary and a title for my creation in progress. Unfortunately, the late first night of the Jam cost me in stamina: to the point where I couldn’t even create an outline.

In the end, though, it was just as well. Most of my creative works each have their own unique processes and this one didn’t really want a pre-existing outline. Rather, it wants to use the fragments I’ve written down or have in my mind and flesh itself out from there. However, what’s really interesting about this interactive narrative is that it may well be the most structured Twine game that I’ve made to date.

Each part of my story is going to be an interlinking series of haiku: a poetic structure of five syllables, then seven on the next line, and five on the last. Of course, for the sake of storytelling — and sanity on my part — they are probably not all traditional haiku. They don’t all deal with descriptions of nature, and while I attempt to capture emotion in them, sometimes I need to use them to detail other matters. And while haiku apparently aren’t supposed to utilize metaphors, I might have to break those rules: if only to make them part of a metaphorical structure themselves. And while I will be using the five/seven/five schema when I can, I will vary up how many lines I use in each section and take essential creative liberties.

This brief discussion of poetic structure aside (and years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of talking about this, never mind finding it remotely interesting), I am particularly focusing on the perspective of the story. I can tell you right now that my story seems to start from a third person perspective, but depending on the choices that you make as a reader — on where and what character you click on — this will change.

What I am pondering at the moment is whether to follow the usual Twine and interactive choose your own adventure tradition of the second-person perspective, or go right into the first-person.

If I make it first-person, then you can see into the minds of the characters themselves even as you can choose their actions. However, ironically enough the perspective of “I” can be alienating for a reader: it’s just another divide between them and the character even if it might provide more insight. One of the texts that inspired me to make this Twine uses the first-person and I can see its strengths in that.

On the other hand, the second-person flat out, through its use of “you” makes you — the reader — into the character. It places you into their mind and body. When you make the choices that the game provides you with, you could feel a greater relation to that character. But then there is the issue of what happens when the character feels something and narrative attempts to claim that you are feeling it or thinking it too.

Either way, there is going to be some audacity involved. Another issue is that I wonder if I can get the different character perspectives to intersect again at some point and become unified depending on what the reader-player chooses: without being totally boring and repeating myself. And would the second-person, would “you” be able to relate to another character and feel the beginnings of some kind of relationship compared to whether or not you are an “I.”

I will have to find a healthy medium and keep exploring this issue further. I was reluctant to talk about this, link my entry to Mythic Bios, or even mention the name of a work that isn’t finished yet. I generally like to either link to finished works or just hint on the unfinished. It’s been weighing on my brain for a little while and taking up a good portion of its memory (I am also a less than closeted perfectionist).

Me and my Head

 

But it’s been a while and I thought you’d find this digression interesting in some way.

I hope I will be able to continue and finish this. I want to see how people react to it and I want to move on with my writing and other plans. I hope the world is treating you all reasonably. Hopefully I’ll be back next week. Until next time.