Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mandarins: A complete and utter failure.

This is the first panel from my comic called MANDARINS. I began this epic journey 11 years ago. The basic story itself stemmed from a small book I was attempting to make in college (this probably goes back to 1995). I had this fascination with handmade books. My drawing style back then was much tighter work began to get smaller and smaller. I was obsessed with making these tiny little engravings on copper. Then I would print them onto handmade paper (which I did learn how to make). The story was sort of a simple one. This guy would end up walking down an alley, get mugged and bleed to death. The blood pouring out of his wounds would be transformed into monarch butterflies...thus a flight, or a flutter, would take to the skies.
I did not have any copper. I planned to do this in wood engravings, but my tools were so old, that they began to crumble once the points made contact with the wood. I did'nt have any money to buy new tools (which some UNNAMED jackass shoved in my face when he saw what I was doing and then went out and bought himself an expensive sets of tools. You want to find a quick way to get on my badside...forever? That's one way right there). So, the medium changed once linoleum. That, I could afford! I did a couple of prints before the energy went out of it. I cut the rest of the linoleum up into tiny little blocks (I mean, like, 1"x 1 1/2"). This actually made it into a full project. It became the little book of perversions. I only made two of them, so far (in oil based ink. the only way to go). The centerpiece of the original story remained with me. It reconstituted itself in the form of Mandarins...featuring a sad little guy named nicknamed Egg.
You will probably see more of Egg in the future. I am not finished with him. In fact, he has been taken out of a starring role in one book, only to be given a similar stature in a completely different one.
Well, back to Mandarins. It was supposed to be a pre-post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller set in an overheated future. Less land...more people. What is really weird about that, is that during the time that this particular version of the story was formulating...I was sick with some sort of viral infection.It was bad enough that it sent me to the emergency room. To convalesce, I came up with the idea that I would draw a page a day...without mapping anything out. Just take it a page at a time and see where it would take me. But I ended getting too wrapped up with the story. I obsessed over it. I wrote notes and notes and notes and notes. I think I drew over thirty pages...but the additional notes would turn it into something like an Akira. It was just a monster. Plus,my dialogue was horrible. It gave me fits. So I had to work on that over and over and over again. I really learned what it was like to completely lose yourself in an obsession...with little results.
I did find out something interesting later. During the time that this was happening to me, other people, around the world (not too, too many of them) seemed to all become obsessed with the Earth becoming overheated and overpopulated. People drew out maps and spent exhaustive hours charting the shrinking landmass due to the rising oceans. I did this as well...making a map, and moving all of the major U.S. cities inland. Empire City, the new American capital, would be a conglomeration of all of the lost coastal cities. It was to be located on the western coast of the Mississippi Bay. This bay would run up from the southern portion of the states to around Tennessee/Kentucky. Florida gone. Alabama gone. Georgia, peninsula full of cannibal rednecks. Empire City located on the Ozark Plateau.
So here it is. The first panel of a lost comic. A complete and utter failure.

- Chew

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