It’s taken me eight years, but I’ve come full circle.
I gave my final live music performance on March 20, 2003. I played my own pieces of music on a piano, including a piece using three choirs, an oboe, and a percussion section. The choirs were placed at multiple locations throughout the auditorium, and the music was written as a canon, to create an illusion of a child’s mobile (not telephone – the kinetic sculpture above cribs with airplanes on it) going around and around the audience.
The piece was an homage to one of my favorite works of all time – art spiegelman’s Maus.
And here I am, nearly eight years later, again telling a story about a comic book using an array of media as instruments to tell that story.
Whiz!Bam!Pow! is in a constant state of evolution – not to complicate, but to simplify. I’ve pared down the project to essential elements, finding a center – the comic book – and filling out from there. The simplest way to explain Whiz!Bam!Pow! as it stands is as an anthology about comic books, the heroes in them, and the readers of their adventures.
Whiz!Bam!Pow! will now be composed of short films and serials (for longer-form stories) that I can play with anytime I choose. If I want to tell a story with the Sentinel a year from now, I can do that – we’re building the sandbox.
This isn’t anything new. It’s a staple of comic books, and has been since their inception. We’re creating our own little sandbox to play in, just as the great comic book companies create their own universes, multiverses, continuities, and realities. It’s just that instead of being confined to one medium, I’m using every form of media at my disposal. As new ones develop, I’ll explore those possibilities too – but only if it fits the story.
That’s the most important discipline to learn in this ever-evolving trans-deep-new-interactive-gamified-media landscape. Just as we would never dream of cramming characters into plotlines that don’t fulfill their defining traits and causes (if you do, learn to write), we shouldn’t cram our stories into certain media forms just because they’re there or are in the prevailing winds of popularity to save our future.
My training in classical music composition has come more in handy now than I ever anticipated it would at the time. It taught me to orchestrate. And just as I orchestrated pieces of music, I orchestrate the stories and sandboxes I build. Not every piece is a symphony, nor is every piece a solo.One of my biggest influences is Iggy Stravinsky (I like calling him Iggy, and I hold steadfast to that – I was thrown out of a music history course because of it – always take the work seriously, never yourself). Stravinsky was renowned for his unique instrumental combinations, which he chose for their tone color. I try to apply the same principles to story composition (and would welcome riots). Some of the projects I take on are best for (metaphorical) orchestra halls – some for subway stations.
The instrumentation for Whiz!Bam!Pow! has evolved and will always evolve, based on the story tone color I want to achieve. My instruments? Web serials. Short films. Comic Books. Radio Drama. Comic Strips. I’m sure there will be more – but not because I want to get in on the “next big thing.” It’s because I want to color the story with interesting uses of media that serve the story being told.
Any other reason, and the mobile will come crashing down.