Friday, August 15, 2008

Sarvaloka Essays #1

Imaginations and ideas form in my head all the time. As our kind can tell, it's often a little difficult to keep oneself from creating new bodies of work in large numbers. Over the years, I have condensed and filtered many story ideas; piles of paper are filled with designs of all kinds. What I have now is just The Heretic Saga (T.H.S) and Faery Jam, two totally different project.

As much as I dislike not completing ideas and works before the next one, here comes a new distillation of concepts I have been brewing on.

Deep in my mind, there is this simple idea that I never really considered, but is actually the best for my way of designing and experimenting. To term it briefly: to embrace my unlimited fascination with mythology. The name of this new project? Sarvaloka.

In the ancient Sanskrit language, the term sarvaloka can either mean 'encompassing all worlds and everything else in them' or 'maker of all worlds and realms'. I figured that if there's a word that defines what I'm on, this would be it. It has to be world mythology condensed.

I find mythologies to be one of the driving forces of the human nature, and a proof of our rich history of sentience. In every culture in the world, a group of people will start to have their own set of mythology. I believe this is because of the inherent curiosity and intelligence of mankind; we want answers to everything happening around us, even if it means inventing an answer and just stand by it with faith. Gods and goddesses, heroes and kings, legendary beasts and spirits, they are all a mix of our faith and an extension of what is found in nature. Mythology is something like a collective idea or collective answer to a certain aspect of the world. Even in our post-modern society, mythologies of the old still exist, and new ones are still created.

Take the internet, for example. Since the internet is something that one segment of the world have access to and another doesn't, it constitute as a group and society of its one. It is not surprising that it eventually developed its own culture, and mythology represents itself as the mutating memes that circulate the internet. In the corners of the internet is the collective of Anonymous, that has become a strong presence and drives the internet culture to evolve into strange ways. It's a huge topic on its own, I'll take on it in another essay.

With all these in mind, I went ahead and initiated Sarvaloka. But what exactly do I do with this collective mythology thing? Taking a cue from my great inspiration Kazuma Kaneko, it's simple: view world mythology the way I view it.

I love designing things out of ideas, and mythology is the world's richest and oldest source of it, and still growing! I feel it's a perfect combination. I have unconsciously enjoyed the process when I designed the 7 antagonists of T.H.S (Lucifer, Satan, Leviathan, Mammon, Beelzebub, Belphegor, Asmodeus), reinterpreting them in my own ways. I did the same in Faery Jam with the Faefolk, who are actually extended and evolved character ideas from the original Grimm faery tales.

It has started. Sarvaloka is that new beginning.

*to be continued in the next essay*

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TCD Series, Character #2

"Absinthe, that famous green alcoholic beverage. Green will be a definite element."

With tulip and assembly, there was this imagery of a florally themed girl and a small group of sla.. I mean, helpers.

I looked into manufactured liquids, and figured it would best be a fantasy pharmacist. Looking further, I came across the word apothecary: a historical name for a medical practitioner who formulates and dispenses medical products. While absinthe is not exactly not made by medical people, I figured it would be a different thing if I were to give this to her.

With lots of bottles, there's bound to be carriers, small ones at that. And no doubt they would go butterfingers on precious liquids, resulting in an easily annoyed master. Anisa would openly expressed her discontent and frustration on the little green dudes.

The rest explains for themselves. Curves were something I wanted to play around with... as they work well with girls. Playing around with cartoony looks...

And here she is, Anisa Flamehart. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Starting a Webcomic: Sandy and Cloudy

The Surrealist Theatre of Sandy and Cloudy is a webcomic idea I've had since last year, but I have no confidence before to start it. I've made its debut on MangaBullet, to try out its comics system. I have to say that it's really working great so far!

I love comedy stuff, and I've always wondered if I can pull off. Of course, if I've never tried, I would never know.

Anyway, the sketch is here,

...while the actual thing is inside this gallery.

Alright, I'm off~

Friday, May 16, 2008

TCD Series, Character #1

This is the first in my Themed Character Design series, a collection of character designs constructed using keywords that represent a theme. For starters: time, smoke, journey.

At conception, I needed a traveller imagery since 'journey' was part of the keywords. Quickly, the vision shows something like a lanky young assistant professor, a clumsy but likable idiot. It's one of those abstract character who are as smart as they are capable of very huge blunders (and that comes in the form of mismatched socks). As I started to give him steampunk-style aviator elements, I also added a little Union Pacific 618 train motif on him. The 618 has one of the defining looks of TRAIN. :D

With that element, the 'smoke' part is already defined, together with his smouldering scarf. As for the 'time' part, well, it's more infused into his briefly invented descriptions. A timeswalker. An early 20th century time traveller. To top it off, a hourglass-meets-kerosene-lamp becomes a part of his travelling equipment. The lantern is a traditional journey guiding tool, after all.

I've read once that strong constrasting shapes, with curves and straights helps a lot with creating a specific look. I experimented on that on the elements on Ment. The smoke contrasts with train-helmet; the flowing scarf and chest hubcap against the stiff jacket. Despite not having fantastical protrusions and layers upon layers of armour, I think Ment managed to maintain a nice silhouette. He looks so carefree in his pose as he throttles through his environs, and what worries do a time traveller have? They can be irresponsible for actions, if they wanted to.

I gotta try more of these TCDs later on!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Faery Jam Development Notes 1

Now that my 2-month old project finally has a proper name, I can start writing some good ol' development notes. =)

The basic premise of Faery Jam is this: a short, young bard named Wilkob one day discovers his special musical powers of communicating with faeries and eventually gets involved in a bigger conflict.

But Faery Jam has changed much since its original conception. It used to be Grimm, a crossover of all Brother Grimm Fairy Tales mixed with musicians and robots. In point-form writing, the story reached 18 episodes. There was a very huge amount of characters involved, after being fleshed out.

However, after further thought, I find that having too many characters to handle will make it more difficult to have enough development for each of them. The focus would be too spread out. That was the impetus to revamp the entire plan for Grimm that I've already laid out.

A case study about the danger of too many characters:
Shaman King is one of the many shounen series that left an impression on me. As with most shounen series, the cast is numerous but Shaman King really takes the cake with one of the biggest character lists around. It exceeded 100 characters over the course of 285 chapters and 32 books. Here's what history has got to say about the fate of Shaman King:

"In November of 2004, Shaman King was cancelled by Weekly Shonen Jump. Shaman King was let go due to declining popularity in Jump's fan polls (indicated by their willingness to release the final completed manga volume (Vol. 32) if there was a great enough fan response)."

Before the actual Shaman King tournament in the story, everything went well. Concepts of spirits and methods of summoning them to fight was explained thoroughly. There were many types of spiritual abilities and it was really fascinating with the fights between each unique character.

Suddenly, the story took a big turn and the previously already big cast was dumped into a huge sea of new characters.

This is already 96 characters, and still MANY more unrevealed characters in the plot later on. Why give yourself such a balancing burden, Takei-sensei?

Seeing how the series went from potentially good, to unique and awesome, to a colossal disappointment... I've decided to limit the number of characters. Speaking of that, my previous work T.H.S should receive the same treatment as well, but I'll save that for another post.

As Faery Jam has shounen manga qualities (despite being cartoonish), it is susceptible to the same faults. I'll have to be responsible to keep the character count in place now.

And now, to recast all the characters from scratch...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Shamisen Brothers

The Shamisen Brothers, currently characters with potential to be used in the bard story. While playing around with the composition, I thought I'd just complete it as a faux ukiyo-e picture. It always help to know Chinese writing from young. It translates to kanji with ease.

Just like Jessica Rabbit is inspired by Veronica Lake and Little Mermaid is Ursula inspired by Divine, so are the duo here. Life provides the best inspirations, yeap.

Jam on, brothers!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sepia Serious I

I always prefer that my characters, or anyone else's for that reason, be constantly subjected to different interpretations. One day, it may actually be possible to use both the serious and the cartoonish on the same page. Or maybe it has be done before?

Until there are real people cosplaying, I'll stick with these sketches.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Introduction - Wilkob

As with any stories, we always think of the main character first. That's who Wilkob is, the idea of a high-class traveling bard in a steampunk fairy tale world.

I've always wanted to tell a story about musicians, cartoon style. In very early concepts, our bard here only plays a normal guitar. After discovering the wonderful variation harp-guitar, I quickly switched over. I forgot where and when I absorbed the final idea of a walking mouth for a speaker... but it was definitely 40% developed from the idea of Rincewind's Luggage from Discworld. I LOVED that wacky design. XD

Yes, influences from Terry Pratchet are in. In addition to that, there are also Neil Gaiman; the two of them sure have their influences over my vision of a fantasy hero, one that patterns after what we already knew, but also tells a new story on its own. Traditionally, bards tell oral tales with their songs; I made sure that Wilkob will have much to do with stories as much as he deals with music.

More visuals:
I've got a initial rough idea of how Wilkob acts, should a comic feature him. He is a quiet guy, apathetic, and snappy-mouthed. Confident at times, but also have his fears. He doesn't express himself well, and prefers not to. He is not smart, but throughout the story he will learn more and end up knowledgeable. Music represents the beauty and skill that people will see on the outside. Story-wise, Wilkob will start out below-average in skill level, with other side characters better than him.

What would be his motivations? Wilkob is the kind of character who initially could care less about things going on around him, only caring about his daily musical musings. Eventually, others will show him how the world and its people work. No matter the story paths later on, I have decided this: Wilkob will grow to care about others, and that point has to be made very obvious in the storyline. It's nothing groundbreaking; all hero's journey parts and dynamic character principles are being applied.

Until I really start the complete story Wilkob stars in, I've pretty much done my job here for this character. Time to move on~

Saturday, April 05, 2008

First Drop

A sand pudding walks around in circles.

"Hey, it's empty."

"You have put something, first," mumbles the cloudy floss.

Next to them, a travelling bard is noodling on his harp guitar.

"Well? Let's get it started with some content."