Monday, 5 May 2008

Workshop Assignment

Between the second and third lessons, the class was told to illustrate a fairy tale/myth/legend using a genre of film like action or horror and then to do all that in a media context like a promotional poster or a comic strip.

It took me a little while to get to a suitable legend for myself so I looked at another example of fairy tales in print.

The true story of the three little pigs', illustrated by Lane Smith is a book that I remember really vividly from earlier days. I was specifically drawn towards Smith's use of simple shapes and complex, tactile textures in her work; I remember imagining that I could smell what was going on in the images, that I could taste the characters and their enviroments. The book was very involving and encapsulating as an overall experience.
The storys themselves were subverted fairy tales, written by Scieszka as either completely new tales about princes made of foul smelling cheese or reversing the roles of archetypal tales like 'Three little pigs' by telling the story from the perspective of the wolf and his troubles.
The reversal of roles and the involvement of the reader are two factors that I would take away from this example as being very important.

Anyway, after clearing my thoughts by doodling various characters and shapes....

.. I was reminded by a scribble of an octopus of my anxieties of under water creatures. I used to freeze if I stepped on seaweed and hated being underwater in a pool or the sea incase an unseen entity devoured me whole or drowned me. So, I decided this would be an interesting area to share with anyone stupid enough to pay attention.

From this point I decided that mystery and the unknown murk would be a paramount part of expressing this tale. Mystery as a horror device I learned from Ridley Scott's 'Alien' is very important in the way in which in this first film, you barely see the malevolent force. And yet.. your mind morphs it into the scariest murderous horror imaginable. I'm not expecting anywhere near this result but it will do me well to take heed of this path.

Researching the theme of underwater mystery brought me to the legends of 'Slow Down' and 'Bloop', two seperate incidents of ultra-low frequency sound detected by the USNOAA (United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at two points in 1997 and 1999.
To quote Wiki on these mysterious incidents influences on popular culture:

'Because the Bloop noise originated near the location of the fictional sunken city of R'lyeh from H.P. Lovecraft's story "The Call of Cthulhu", the Bloop has been linked to Cthulhu by Lovecraft fans.[2] In the alternate reality game promoting the movie, the Bloop was also linked to the monster from Cloverfield.[3]

Proving to be excellent source material, I developed further with research into the phenomena of 'Globsters'. They're not particularly pleasant to gaze upon and they're infinetly horrific in their amorphous forms.

A globster, or blob, is an unidentified organic mass that washes up on the shoreline of an ocean or other body of water. It is distinguished from a normal beached carcass by being hard to identify, at least by initial untrained observers, and by creating controversy as to its identity. Globsters may present such a puzzling appearance that their nature remains controversial even after being officially identified by scientists. Some globsters lack bones or other recognisable structures, while others may have bones, tentacles, flippers, eyes or other features that can help narrow down the possible species. In the past these were often described as sea monsters, and myths and legends about such monsters may often have started with the appearance of a globster

The last picture in particular is disturbing because it is believed to be the only possible evidence of a Lusca, a behemothic octopus estimated to be around 200ft in total length. That something this huge may or may not exist under the unexplored depths is something that terrorfied me in my youth and still kind of does. This mystery of the unknown depths was something I would definatly try to use.

So because I have a sketchy style of working and tend to think in storyboards more or less, I decided to make a horror based storyboard. I wasn't into the idea of writing my own legend but felt I needed something with more substance than the vague 'bloop' or blobsters so I discovered 'The Kraken' by Tennyson.

In this (sort of) sonnet, Tennyson describes a terrible beast which arises from the depths of the ocean to destroy the world of man.

Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides; above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot and secret cell Unnumber'd and enormous polypi Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green. There hath he lain for ages, and will lie Battening upon huge seaworms in his sleep, Until the latter fire shall heat the deep; Then once by man and angels to be seen, In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Because I was just starting to play with this whole underwater creature concept, I took the safe option with this assignment and decided to just try and storyboard Tennyson's sonnet as close to the letter as I saw feasable.

Here is the evidence of me planning out the storyboard:

Not all of the 13 Lines are accounted for with seperate frames but thats because I felt that some lines could occur within one other, such as fish and sponges in the same frame or particularly lengthy desrciptions on the detail of the Kraken's body.

To play around by subverting the expected outcomes assumed by the reader, I set the ending tone to this originally tension filled scene to one of love and humour.
Apart from the low quality of the drawings and rendering, I don't think that this board really works. Some criticisms I've recieved focus on the overall length of the boards; suggesting I should try to take out as many frames as possible whilst retaining the overall message of the piece. Others pointed out that the ending seemed a bit pointless; Ok, so he's in love and I wasn't expecting it but, the twist didn't have enough impact.
It's for those reasons that in the development of this story, I try to cut out the 'subversive' stuff until I learn how to present basic themes and I think about presenting the narrative in short blasts. I theorize that in this way, I maintain interest with short and to the point bursts of action.

Next I'll show experimenting with sequences influenced by this board.

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