I did a comic a few years ago called Kid Celephais, basically a sort of Walter Mitty meets H.P. Lovecraft’s version of the Dream-Lands. It wasn’t particularly good, more an exploration of ideas.
Now I am returning to Celephais, under the Zombienomicon (R) umbrella.
I am adapting Celephais itself in the same way Marvel adapted the ‘real’ Conan stories first before splitting off into their own continuity. Much the same approach here, I will begin with Celephais, adapting it word for word as text for the comic book pictures. This is effectively the origin of a Superman type character, albeit the god of a city-state in the Dream-Lands.
On such sparse threads I am then going to weave the further adventures of Kuranes, as the hero of Celephais (and Ooth-Nargai) and Serannian the city in the clouds. Adventures, mysteries and so on.
I am putting it under the Zombienomicon (R) rubric for three reasons. Firstly, adapting the public domain HPL work is going to lead to spinning off of new tales, and these tales in my own mythology properly fall under the Zombienomicon type story cycle – forbidden book, altered realities and so on. Secondly, Kuranes as Dream-Land Superman is a titanic character and he needs serious threats and challenges for his adventures to be remotely interesting. Deadoids, vampires, lost pocket universes and powerful adversaries come naturally from the Zombienomicon worlds. Thirdly it suits the general atmosphere of neo-Gothic, watercolor artwork and so on.
I am using a variety of art techniques on the Celephais stuff, ranging from scanned watercolors, GiMP rendering, and scanning and distorting collages.
I keep toying with the idea of doing 3D physical art too – physical maquettes and cardboard standup versions of the city, or some location that warrants it. I did a little bit of that for Bogatyr (which became part of the Zombienomicon Eisegesis book) and it’s fun, if time consuming. I really need to set a table up properly if I am going to be photographing physical cardboard etc. and that might be the dealbreaker. No time. No space.
Zombienomicon (TM) was an outgrowth of my 2004 RPG Eternium, which is a superhero game set in a world as close to our own world as possible in terms of the corruption, evil scum in power, corrupt and incompetent police and so on. All that is altered is the publicity and frequency of Charles Fort’s “Wild Talents” – superheroes, supervillains and super powered randoms – who try and do the best they can in a world where as the tagline says “heroes are villains and the real villains are the rulers”.
Zombienomicon took the same basic material, already expanded in the teen-hero themed Silence Is Golden and ran with the idea of a world where predominantly supernatural powers flooded out after a single event – presumptively the finding and reading of a book of evil magic – the Zombienomicon.
Zombienomicon itself was followed by Gordian World right at the point where my game design and publishing activities entirely ceased. As of 2015 when I returned to this milieu in a small way I also thought adapting Zombienomicon into comic book form would be good, and certainly it lends itself to a bewildering variety of stories.
Gordian World added non-supernatural superpowered people and places to the Zombienomicon world, with the only possible supernatural or Fortean element to the technology being that perhaps before the Zombienomicon was read most of the technology wouldn’t have “worked” – the same shift in probably physics outcomes that permits the supernatural ecology to flourish also permits very unlikely technology to prosper.
DNAosaur is my term of art, originaly used in my RPG writing decades ago, describing the soon to be reality but then only fictional process of resurrecting prehistoric animals and plants using modern species as incubators. Because the restored prehistoric species in almost cases are blended with a modern “descendant” they aren’t true dinosaurs or prehistoric species – they are an artificial version of what we THINK or WANT the dinosaur to be.
I created this concept so as to provide a nerdy backstory and needless explanation for why dinosaurs in my fiction might be the way we want them to be rather than their real form, should science ever at some future time have an attack of honesty and portray lost creatures as they really were.
In subsequent decades there has been a backlash against the orthodox false view of restorationism and we have seen some surprising – but accurate – versions of dinosaurs at long last – feathers and fiery breath and all. 🙂
The discipline of sticking within a 10 page boundary for a chapter of the Swamp Man story is invigorating. As fun and easy as it would be to do the postmodern thing of having four pages of conversation, an ass shot then two pages of someone walking away, I think for micro publishers like my Flying Tiger Comics we have to stick to el rapido storytelling. Half or third page splash with an occasional full page when it is needed- and cram the details and the exposition in.
Since Swamp Man is a little bit like Twin Peaks or Passions in that the stubs of future storylines litter the pages, the pace needs to be medium- jogging along then each later chapter can drill down or expand a certain aspect. It helps to have it planned out as far as possible- but it’s also important to remember #StanLee ‘s statement- just write what the characters tell you to write. As long as the characters are speaking to you- they’re alive, and they’ll find their audience.
Swamp Man TM is part of the Conundrum Universe TM & (c) 2015 Jonathan Nolan all rights reserved worldwide.
I’ve reached several times in recent years for a kind of comic scripting which would allow me to explore with a new audience ideas that a decade ago I would have simply exorcised through writing a novel. I decided against writing a novel because the fire that once motivated me very strongly to write books is, at least for now, gone.
Instead, I wanted to make a comicbook exploring the same issues that came into my head:
1. a self aware comicbook character in the redheaded teen mode – from Archie to Jimmy Olsen – who didn’t break the fourth wall but who did despair of the endless looping existence of which he was the epicentre; I tried this previously with JT Neslo but that was too derivative- a single idea spread too thin;
2. the Swampman thought experiment combined with Mossman and Pere Malfait lore from Florida;
3. a non-Satanic working with symbols and secret messages- a way to put encryption into a comicbook for a non-sinister purpose. I feel personally that there is a definite luciferian aspect to some comics, not necessarily the ones people might immediately jump on either;
4. since comicbook writing and drawing is my hobby, but a serious hobby, I wanted to implement the powerthinking techniques I’ve learned recently in a form where it can express itself in something concrete;
5. I wanted to do a comic whose artwork would be vibrant and delightful when printed, not just a digital comicbook whose charms are entirely different. The Swamp Man book will be digital as well- but this is intended to actually literally be a graphic novel- written as would one of my earlier novels have been, but translated into comicbook long form.
To the extent I succeed this will be one of the projects closest to my heart.
Swamp Man and all related characters and images are TM & (c) Jonathan Nolan 2015 and following all rights reserved worldwide.
Looking like Rod Serling but functiong more like the interventionist or activist Watcher from the now defunct comicbook Marvel Universe, ON The Omnisicient Narrator is a framing device, a character who introduces the action as in my Book of Mysteries comicbook series, but who can also turn up Hitchcock like in crowd scenes, or even assume a role temporarily – old wizard in subway, victim of mugging, taxi driver, scriptwriter waiting in an office – as the need arises.
I’ve been doing “meta” characters since I was a child, but it’s reached the point where I have perfected them to my own liking and have decided to start really using them. Even in Conundrum, whose central premise is that the universe is a lot less “magical” than the superstitious might want, there is still “real” “magic” as well as stage magic and illusions. So in Conundrum, ON will show up. Sometimes in person as it were, more often just look for his color scheme in some random person, animal – or even object!