Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Galleries, Writer's Block, and Questionable Decisions

Writer's block is a nasty thing. There is not much that is more frustrating to someone who is trying to create than to turn to his brain, ask for an idea, and have his brain stare back blankly and shrug its shoulders. Unfortunately for me, it didn't take long for it to strike the first time while creating the strip. I remember sitting in front of my blank panels, racking my brain, trying to come up with an idea for the final strip of that month's contributions. My brain just stuck its tongue out at me and blew a raspberry. 

I decided that if I couldn't come up with a concept for a full strip, maybe I could find a way to combine a bunch of mini-ideas into a strip. The "Furbulian Hall of Fame" gallery strip was born, for good and bad. Good, because it injected a bit of variety into the strip. Bad because it became a crutch that I leaned on whenever I had problems coming up with a full strip concept right away. They also didn't always completely work. But, like other aspects of the strip, I wasn't quite experienced enough to see it.

This time around, we'll pull one strip from the next three months to illustrate the point.

Strip 16/166 - The first Furbulian Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame concept was pretty simple: take individuals, whether real or imagined, and Furble-ize them. So, Albert Einstein became Albert Furstein. Incidentally, that was the first time I drew the Furble character head-on. I thought the eyes looked odd, so I disguised them with glasses, and ignored the fact that Einstein didn't regularly wear glasses.

Really, what 8th grader resorts to parodying Frankie Avalon as a singer? Even in the 80s, this was a bit before my time.

The final panel was supposed to be the punchline. In retrospect, it probably would have been better just coming up with a third character for the gallery.

Strip 20/166 - The second Hall of Fame gallery

Skipping ahead to the next month, and I decided to pull the Hall of Fame gallery out again. This time, I went with fictional characters, parodying the best movie franchise ever, "Star Wars", and another popular sci-fi movie, "E.T.". Points for attempting to emulate the title style for each movie. Double-points subtracted for spelling "stupid" incorrectly not once, not twice, but three times. I could say that it was on purpose, intended to emphasize the stupidity of the “stupid” in each title, but... no... it wasn't.

Even with the spelling errors, having three characters instead of two characters and a punchline helped to make each panel in the strip its own punchline, which was the original reason for doing the gallery.

Strip 24/166 - The third Hall of Fame gallery in as many months (!)

I ended up pulling the gallery out once again the next month. As you can see, I had definitely begun to rely on the gallery to bring me out of a creative funk, instead of taking more time and coming up with a proper story strip. This time, it was historical figures, with a "call-back" to the first gallery in the final panel. Points awarded for getting the correct style of American flags for Washington and Lincoln, although, I don't know why Furble's planet would be using those flags. Does his home planet parallel the United States in other ways? Is it some sort of weird multiverse equivalent, and Furble has managed to break the walls of his universe and find his way into ours? Has Furble rended asunder the very fabric of reality and put the multiverse on display for all to see? Or, was it not meant to be indicative of anything other than a realization that they were parodies of American Presidents? Yeah, probably the later. And, again, proof that the third panel as the punchline didn't really work with these galleries.

Fortunately, I went a few months after these without resorting to the gallery crutch. In review, it becomes an easy marker of where my creativity with the strip ebbed and flowed. Some months the ideas just poured out onto the paper. Some months, they had to be dragged kicking and screaming from my brain. And sometimes, they just stayed hidden, sticking their collective tongues out at me, blowing raspberries.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.