Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Dictel Trilogy

I won't start writing the actual publication version of Spanner for another few days, as Script Frenzy starts on April 1 [2008]. What I'm focusing on until then is its prequel in prose, the Dictel trilogy consisting of my three NaNoWriMo novels: Bad Company, Black Science, and this year's upcoming entry, Points of Authority.

Bad Company is about a self-destructive pop singer caught in a plot by a sinister government contractor, Dictel Corporation, to take over America by force.

Black Science is about a beautiful neuroscientist's struggle to keep her science from being used by Dictel and the US federal government as a weapon of mind control to be used against an increasingly restive public.

I have Points of Authority [working title] scheduled for this year's NaNoWriMo [2008], so I haven't finalized the plot. But I know it involves the elite's revolt against popular sovereignty and the people's struggle to save themselves from enslavement in a new dark age of feudalism. I also make heavy use of new technology: cellphones, the Internet, virtual reality, and so on. [Note 8/25/2010: The plot never coalesced, so I dropped POA, alas...]

Most of the major characters in Spanner make an appearance in the Dictel trilogy, and in other works in the cycle, including the other half of my 2006 NaNoWriMo project, The Jennifer Theory. In a sense, Spanner is the culmination of the entire cycle in the continuity, even as it's the source of all the stories that come before it.

While I work on Spanner this April, I will continue working on the second draft of Bad Company in the hope of getting it published.

More on this later...

The United State

In 2008, freedom already seems to be on its way out as the world prepares for a class war of cataclysmic proportions. In 2014, the class war is almost here, and the world suffers under a series of brutal dictatorships meant to keep the common people down. The most powerful of these is the Euro-American Union, better known simply as the United State.

Now consider our heroine Shira, a teenage girl who cannot conform. Not because she refuses, but simply because she's incapable of conformity. She is the Random Factor that will prove to threaten the United State's very existence.

The United State tries to destroy her. But she will not go to oblivion quietly. The resulting war is the story of Spanner.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Spanner: The Identification Crisis

Not many people are probably familiar with the classic 1980s independent comic Mister X, in which the mysterious title character is repeatedly identified as someone, except that every time he is, the man he's supposed to be keeps turning up dead. In the fascist future world of Spanner, it seems the title character, identifiable mainly by helmet, flight jacket, hoverboard, and monkeywrench, pops up everywhere. Someone is identified as being Spanner and killed by the secret police, but (s)he keeps popping up. It's not that Spanner has an identity crisis. Rather, the authorities are having an identification crisis.

So what's going on here? The authorities have two theories on the subject. The first is that Spanner is one person who somehow jets around the world under their noses, thumbing his/her nose at them. The other is that Spanner is not a (wo)man but a group. In either case, the authorities consider Spanner a terrorist (or terrorist gang). But then, they consider anyone who disagrees with their absolute power to be a terrorist, by definition. Needless to say, their bureaucratic, absolutist minds are incapable of distinguishing the merely naughty from the absolutely heinous, so they treat the merely naughty as if it were absolutely heinous. Spanner, the consummate practical joker(s), takes advantage of this and uses it against them. This is the secret of his/her effectiveness against them, and his/her maddening elusiveness.

It's banal to just say that Spanner provokes the authorities to terrorist violence. Actually, the authorities need no provocation; they're too paranoid not to. Whenever they call someone a "terrorist", it's really a matter of what Shira calls "don't call me what you are", or what Freud called projection. What Spanner specializes in, and what Shira excels at, is making the authorities anything they want them to do, specifically by manipulating the hierarchical structure of government. They call this reality hacking. It's the Markoff Chaney principle (Chaney is "The Mgt.", i.e. Midget, from Illuminatus!). That's the other reason why the authorities can't catch him/her: the impersonality of their hierarchy makes it easy for him/her (or just Shira) to exploit it, so they're following orders their superiors haven't even given without any way of knowing that their superiors didn't give the orders. That's another reason Spanner is so difficult to catch.

Shira happens to be a master of misdirection, pointing the authorities toward someone else while doing what she wants with pretty much impunity. Some say she is actually a Discordian; meanwhile, some Discordians insist she is the avatar of Eris, goddess of strife and discord, herself.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What -- and Who -- Is Spanner?

character design of Shira Thomas from 2001
(and those balls in her hands are electricity generated by her gloves)

Spanner is the story of a small group of misfits — hackers, taggers, gays, punks, ravers, goths, etc. — forced to fight for their lives against the United State, a government determined to eliminate all nonconformity. And "Spanner" is the handle of their leader, Shira Thomas, a mischievous young tagger, ravepunk, and parkour devotee determined to keep her freedom at all costs -- even if it means the total destruction of the United State and even society itself. Her handle is a pun: it means 1) monkeywrench 2) one who bridges the gap.

I started work on what would become Spanner back in 1992, when I joined a Japanese animation club and hung out with the small group of aspiring manga artists who drew instead of watching the anime. I drew a series of (what are now crude) character designs between 1992 and 1994. But due to a 5-year bout of excruciating artist's block, the story and its characters didn't really begin taking shape until 1999. I amassed a huge number of story notes and character sketches in a series of what are now 14 "Project Notebooks".

Lately, I've been mostly writing a series of prequels in the form of novels, starting with the Dictel trilogy that begins with Bad Company, my winning entry in last year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I recently finished the first draft, and I'm currently in the middle of editing it for this year's National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo). The Dictel trilogy will be the subject of my next post.

Then I found out that NaNoWriMo's sister contest, Script Frenzy ("Screnzy" for short), now accepts comics scripts as entries. At once I realized that my chance to make Spanner a reality had come at last. So now I've begun planning for 100 pages or more of script, and I'm about to begin drawing a new series of character designs better than any I've ever drawn before. I know I finally have a chance to get Spanner drawn and published at last.

Stay tuned...

Friday, March 14, 2008

It Begins...

Spanner's World is my new blog specializing in my fiction. Here I'll write about my novels and comics, and post my character designs.

Right now I'm working on a novel, Bad Company, about a Blackwater-type company's invasion of America, and a manga, Spanner, about a teenage girl who can't conform and the struggle of her and her friends to live free in a future fascist society on the verge of chaos. Bad Company is my 2007 NaNoWriMo novel, which I'm editing this month [March 2008] for NaNoEdMo.

I've been working on Spanner in some form or other since 1992, and I have 14 "Project Notebooks" to show for it but not much else. But then I found out that NaNoWriMo's sister contest, Script Frenzy, now allows comics scripts along with the movies and plays, so I brought Spanner out of mothballs and have now begun to work on it seriously for the first time ever, since now I have the chance to publish it.

I'll start posting story ideas and character drawings soon.