Digging Deeper (EK interviews SgL)

EK interviews the Count’s greatest nemesis (hehe) and asks six questions.  Discussed are the history of this collective, inspirations for writing, and, well, moving on.

Encode. Resurface memories. Activate!

1. Once again, thank you very much for having me. How would you best describe yourself?
Well, I’m glad we could convince you to join us in our mutual accountability society 😀

A friend once described me as “an onion that when peeled a layer at a time, would reveal another surprising layer.”

I think she meant that as a compliment… something like saying I was very complicated (haha)!

I have a lot of surprises I guess for people. I’m very left brained one moment (logic, science, math) and then very right brained at other moments (artistic, weird, random).  I don’t think people quite know what to expect out of me sometimes.  I rather prefer it that way though. People who think I’m safe, WATCH OUT!

2. Since I’m the new person and am not one of the founding group, could you give the audience a basic history of how the collective was started?

I was talking to an artist friend and somewhere in the midst of complaining about being an artist at anime conventions , we both threw up our hands and said we needed to find a different outlet for our creative energies.  One of the things we realized was it is difficult to get original stuff any sort of traction.  We talked about forming a studio or collective around our original ideas and how that concept could benefit us.   At first we were kicking around running with a twisted fairy tale concept (as we had both planned to do a comic along that line a few years ago), but we weren’t too sure we could make a “theme” work, but we did want to make a group that tried hard to collaborate and hold one accountable to developing their ideas.

So I polled some creative folks who I had watched create things in a consistent manner for many years, and kicked the idea around with them further.  As it turns out, we ended up being skewed towards writers, rather than artists, but that turned out to be fine.   I think their projects are all really cool and am pleased by what I’ve been following so far.

We hope to bring in a few other people in the next year, their schedules permitting. We’ll see!

3. If it is not rude to ask, how did the events of 2009 affect you, making you do what it is you do now?

I lost a good friend that year. It was a cruel blow to a lot of us who really admired her as a person and as a creative artist.

It’s hard to summarize here exactly all the things she meant to me. But as relates to why I am out here pushing my “creative wares,” so to speak – well she was an avid advocate of two things:  original work and second, being truthful to yourself and your passion.

I did a lot of thinking and reflecting that year.   That friend was concerned about what fan-stuff meant for the artists and for the individual creator.   She had a strong sense of ethics about creation.

I had art and ideas in my head —  stories that people had asked me to tell them, and I got so sucked up into the convention scene that I never made the time.  Well, all that to say that in 2009 I realized I needed to stop wasting time. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but as I got into 2010, I kept sorting it out and started to refocus on pushing my original work and putting my attention on that.

4. What intrigued you about the Red Riding Hood story that made you want to adapt it?

I was actually adapting several stories for an anthology with a few creative friends. We had talked about doing a comic anthology and I had developed Sleeping Beauty as a short story, but became concerned that I couldn’t do that story in that format.  It just didn’t seem right to me as a ten page work and so I started kicking around some other ideas, and really liked the idea of playing with Red Riding Hood as an iconic figure of innocence contrasted against a “Wolf” of a man.

I even painted a “first page” of the comic. As I kept painting along this theme, the pieces all had such strong visual drama about them and provoked some strong responses from people online and at conventions. I felt like I had something that was a good idea to keep pushing along, so dug deeper with the ideas I was generating.

There were other fairy-tale like images that also were painted these past few years, and after some time I felt like I was comfortable bringing these all together under one umbrella universe where mystical stuff just happens.

5. What happens to you if you find that the coming Red Riding Hood movie is kinda like your story?

I don’t think it’s possible.  Yes, there’s a hint of a romantic triangle, and I think that’s really the only similarity.

I feel fairly confident that our starting points and influences are very different.   I think the director is trying to capture some of the magic of Twilight in their version of Red Riding Hood.  (Or that’s what I am guessing from the trailer I’ve seen so far.)

For me, my starting point lies in serial fantasy that builds out a world– more in line with the “Sword of Shannara” series by Terry Brooks or the “Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis.   In their stories, characters are important, but they’re secondary to the larger world itself and explaining what that world is like and what the rules are within them.   Both stories are philosophic too. There are a lot of things in both series that I see as social commentary.  Not to say that “Tales of the Big Bad Wolf” will be a commentary on modern life, but it will be about politics, prejudice, impatience, and human flaws as well as human nobility.

Structurally, characters will cycle in and out like they do in the Japanese light novel series “Twelve Kingdoms.”  Again, the importance is not just one character, but the many.

So all this to say – the real focus is not Red Riding Hood, but the world she and the Wolf – run about in.

I think people think that I’m telling a fairytale about these characters, but the fairy tale really is a fairy tale of the world and its rules.  I hope people enjoy seeing how things unfold – how the familiar and unfamiliar are mixed together, and while they observe the “show”, keep asking the question “What is this place?  Why are these things here?  What is moving the pieces around? Why?”

6. I know you’re into Rurouni Kenshin (a manga by Nobuhiro Watsuki), but what are your other fandoms?

The term “Fandom” to me means participating actively with a community of fans.  IN that sense, my involvement with Kenshin was an anomaly… mostly because I am otherwise a passive receiver of a lot of pop culture and entertainment.

I moved from Disney fandom into Kenshin fandom, but for different reasons.   Disney was always about art and music for me (and hence I doodled quite a bit of that stuff).  Kenshin was about the story and writing. There were so many wonderful mature writers in that fandom at its height of popularity!   After that, there wasn’t much to sucker me in, although I have a fondness for Big O (Batman meets Mech meets Matrix)  and Macross Frontier (music meets soap opera meets mechs).

In terms of what I enjoy though – oh, I love a lot of things! Seriously, I like almost everything from old movie musicals to current anime/manga.  My staples include favorites include “Sound of Music,” “Star Wars” and all the Miyazaki films.   I love any positive creative product that has good characters, some visual or aural aspect that’s engaging, or just outright unique in the world that they present.  I’m a super fan of the fantastic, and the more beautiful and imaginative a work, the more I get sucked in.

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