Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Spanner R4 Update: A Subjective Approach to Love Scenes

One of my favorite love stories of the 1990s was the sweet love between the two female leads of the manga Chirality. Problem: the love scenes were the series' weak point. Too Penthouse-y! That's because author Satoshi Urushihara is notorious for indulging his breast fetish. It stopped the story cold. So I vowed to create an opposite approach to comics love scenes that would focus on the lovers' emotions and push the expressive limits of the comics medium.

I never learned to draw well enough to actually put that plan into action — in pictures. Instead, I translated it into prose, starting with Spanner Revision 3, shortly after fully discovering poetry, ironically during Script Frenzy when NaPoWriMo runs concurrently. So far in the Fourth Revision, I've written all the love scenes (and some of the action scenes) in a style derived from Surrealist, Beat, and prose poetry.

Actually, I have two approaches to love scenes: the intense and the languid. The intense style uses the surreal method in which erotic intensity breaks down language and veers into mysticism. The languid or sensual approach involves describing the erotic action in terms of the physical sensations the lovers feel. Naturally, they shade into each other. My concern is not with how a love scene looks, as the standard pornographic approach (such as Urushihara's) does it, because pornography eventually gets boring. I'm concerned with how the characters feel. At the sensual end of the spectrum, I describe how, say, a caress feels on bare skin; at the intense end, the characters lose all reason and fuse souls.

I'm not a naïve yet horny teenager anymore. Pornography just won't cut it with me. I want to show how love and sex feel. You want the Penthouse approach, there's dirty pictures and videos all over the Internet. If I can get you inside, say, Shira and Leila's bodies so that you feel what they feel, I've done my job. I'll accept no less. And so the love scenes are among the parts I edit most obsessively, the way Ernest Hemingway edited the last page of one of his novels thirty-eight times, and for the same reason: to get it right.

UPDATE: And what should I encounter but an post called "Limbic Revision: How Love Rewires the Brain" about a book related to this very subject, A General Theory of Love, which I should add to my list of Spanner's crucial sources...

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