edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1) Have been singularly uninspired this week. Nevertheless, I wrote about 300 words of "Guardian," 1/3 of "Lemonade" chapter 4, and another 600 words or so of "Finding Marea," bringing that to 7,150 total at the moment.

2) Am still unemployed. *sigh* Am still applying for jobs. Have even lowered my standards enough to try part-time minimum wage clerk positions. We shall see how this goes.

3) Tried to work on "Secrets" and realized I'd lost the flow of the story. Must reread chapters 1-9 soon, so I recall the right 'feel' for chapter 10.

4) Spent far too much time yesterday trying to figure out a workable solar system model and planetary environment for Trigun. Eventually concluded that Yasuhiro Nightow has no fucking clue about anything technical that doesn't involve guns (with the possible exception of motor vehicles). Also concluded that there must be other energy sources besides the Plants, and liquid water somewhere underground. Although the Plants, as written, must use whacked-out physics theories to draw energy from extra dimensions or something, because otherwise the power conversion rates are scientifically impossible.

Furthermore, the political system makes no sense either. If people live in a bunch of city-states, who the hell has the authority to rescind Vash's bounty? And if there is a central government of some sort, why does it never seem to appear except in the form of bounties and the occasional throwaway 'federal' marshall?

If I think about this too hard, I get pounding headaches. *sigh*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1) Have been singularly uninspired this week. Nevertheless, I wrote about 300 words of "Guardian," 1/3 of "Lemonade" chapter 4, and another 600 words or so of "Finding Marea," bringing that to 7,150 total at the moment.

2) Am still unemployed. *sigh* Am still applying for jobs. Have even lowered my standards enough to try part-time minimum wage clerk positions. We shall see how this goes.

3) Tried to work on "Secrets" and realized I'd lost the flow of the story. Must reread chapters 1-9 soon, so I recall the right 'feel' for chapter 10.

4) Spent far too much time yesterday trying to figure out a workable solar system model and planetary environment for Trigun. Eventually concluded that Yasuhiro Nightow has no fucking clue about anything technical that doesn't involve guns (with the possible exception of motor vehicles). Also concluded that there must be other energy sources besides the Plants, and liquid water somewhere underground. Although the Plants, as written, must use whacked-out physics theories to draw energy from extra dimensions or something, because otherwise the power conversion rates are scientifically impossible.

Furthermore, the political system makes no sense either. If people live in a bunch of city-states, who the hell has the authority to rescind Vash's bounty? And if there is a central government of some sort, why does it never seem to appear except in the form of bounties and the occasional throwaway 'federal' marshall?

If I think about this too hard, I get pounding headaches. *sigh*
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Yesterday, I took a look at the public library's comics and manga collection (which for some reason is shelved in 741.5 or some-such, under the category of visual arts -- makes very little sense for fiction, but hey, not my call). The last time I looked through it was back in 2002, I think, when I was reading Sandman and trying to convince myself not to blow my savings buying all the trade volumes. (I failed, btw, which was why I ended up writing stories for people that Christmas.)

Anyway, back then they had maybe four shelves of stuff. (By 'shelf' I mean one level of one bookcase, not a full bookcase.) Now they have something like twenty. Granted, those four shelves were stuffed pretty full, and some of the twenty current shelves are... very much not, but still. This is an impressive change!

Um. Where was I going with this...? Oh yeah.

So, I poked around to see what was there, and it's a highly eclectic sort of collection. I really need to look through it a few more times to see what all they have. (I'm sure what I saw yesterday wasn't the full collection, because comics and manga spend a very high proportion of their time checked out, in comparison to other books -- interesting, yeah?) Anyway, I ended up checking out Trigun volume 1 and Trigun Maximum volumes 1-5, because I'd heard it had vague similarities to Ruroni Kenshin, and I have a weakness for adventure stories with whacked-out premises.

And...

How to put this...

Okay, look. Have you ever read a story where the concept was amazing, but the actual book was only somewhere between 'decent' and 'fairly cool' -- a book that could have been knock-you-flat incredible, but just wasn't, for one reason or another? C. J. Cherryh is like that for me -- great ideas, disappointing execution.

Trigun is sort of like that. The mangaka, Yasuhiro Nightow, is just not clear. I cannot follow half his action scenes. Things happen with no development. Loose ends dangle all over the place. It can be nearly impossible to tell who's talking, who people are talking to, or if they're having weird telepathic exchanges/flashbacks. Characters go into chibi deformation at the drop of a hat -- actually, I think they spend more time deformed than drawn seriously. (I admit that chibi deformation is one of my personal pet peeves, but still, consistency of artwork is important in a visual medium!) I still have no clear image of what Hopperd the Gauntlet actually looks like.

And yet, I kept reading. There's enough good stuff there, and it hits enough of my buttons (dear god, I love Vash and Wolfwood) that I want to know what happens next, what happened before, and so on.

Weirdly, though, what reading Trigun did was give me a greater appreciation of Masahi Kishimoto, who writes and draws Naruto. Say what you will about his storyline, you're almost never lost. The characters have a consistent 'look.' The action scenes are, by and large, comprehensible. The flashbacks are cleanly inserted, and follow a consistent point of view. You always know who's talking -- even more important, you usually know if they're speaking out loud or just thinking. (This can be hard to determine in a lot of manga, since the Japanese don't seem to have a default system of streamlined speech tails and puffy thought bubbles the way many American comics do.)

You don't appreciate good storytelling until you see people doing it badly, because good storytelling makes itself invisible. If the structure is obvious, either the author is doing something besides just telling a story, or something is going wrong.

...

I also want to see the Trigun anime now, because at least there I expect I'd be able to follow the bleeping fights!
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Yesterday, I took a look at the public library's comics and manga collection (which for some reason is shelved in 741.5 or some-such, under the category of visual arts -- makes very little sense for fiction, but hey, not my call). The last time I looked through it was back in 2002, I think, when I was reading Sandman and trying to convince myself not to blow my savings buying all the trade volumes. (I failed, btw, which was why I ended up writing stories for people that Christmas.)

Anyway, back then they had maybe four shelves of stuff. (By 'shelf' I mean one level of one bookcase, not a full bookcase.) Now they have something like twenty. Granted, those four shelves were stuffed pretty full, and some of the twenty current shelves are... very much not, but still. This is an impressive change!

Um. Where was I going with this...? Oh yeah.

So, I poked around to see what was there, and it's a highly eclectic sort of collection. I really need to look through it a few more times to see what all they have. (I'm sure what I saw yesterday wasn't the full collection, because comics and manga spend a very high proportion of their time checked out, in comparison to other books -- interesting, yeah?) Anyway, I ended up checking out Trigun volume 1 and Trigun Maximum volumes 1-5, because I'd heard it had vague similarities to Ruroni Kenshin, and I have a weakness for adventure stories with whacked-out premises.

And...

How to put this...

Okay, look. Have you ever read a story where the concept was amazing, but the actual book was only somewhere between 'decent' and 'fairly cool' -- a book that could have been knock-you-flat incredible, but just wasn't, for one reason or another? C. J. Cherryh is like that for me -- great ideas, disappointing execution.

Trigun is sort of like that. The mangaka, Yasuhiro Nightow, is just not clear. I cannot follow half his action scenes. Things happen with no development. Loose ends dangle all over the place. It can be nearly impossible to tell who's talking, who people are talking to, or if they're having weird telepathic exchanges/flashbacks. Characters go into chibi deformation at the drop of a hat -- actually, I think they spend more time deformed than drawn seriously. (I admit that chibi deformation is one of my personal pet peeves, but still, consistency of artwork is important in a visual medium!) I still have no clear image of what Hopperd the Gauntlet actually looks like.

And yet, I kept reading. There's enough good stuff there, and it hits enough of my buttons (dear god, I love Vash and Wolfwood) that I want to know what happens next, what happened before, and so on.

Weirdly, though, what reading Trigun did was give me a greater appreciation of Masahi Kishimoto, who writes and draws Naruto. Say what you will about his storyline, you're almost never lost. The characters have a consistent 'look.' The action scenes are, by and large, comprehensible. The flashbacks are cleanly inserted, and follow a consistent point of view. You always know who's talking -- even more important, you usually know if they're speaking out loud or just thinking. (This can be hard to determine in a lot of manga, since the Japanese don't seem to have a default system of streamlined speech tails and puffy thought bubbles the way many American comics do.)

You don't appreciate good storytelling until you see people doing it badly, because good storytelling makes itself invisible. If the structure is obvious, either the author is doing something besides just telling a story, or something is going wrong.

...

I also want to see the Trigun anime now, because at least there I expect I'd be able to follow the bleeping fights!

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Elizabeth Culmer

August 2017

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