SPREY Log #0028 – Notes on Worldbuilding #001

Notes like these hopefully help me to flesh SPREY out more and get it to a story structure that works – to arrive at a comic that works. SPREY had a huge problem in it’s structure from the start, but only now do I have the toolkit as a storyteller to actually see it and find remedies.

General

SPREY takes place in a dark, dirty, urban dog eat dog world. The technology level is high and deeply informed and inspired by the 70ies and 80ies of the 20th century, but the technology is not equally accessible to everyone. We are also not in a full-out cyberpunk dystopia. First, I do not wish to compete with or copy the many great works that exist in the core of this genre already. Second, I do not wish to feast on the stereotypes and clichées that come with the popularity of cyberpunk. It seems bad enough that one of my protagonists is a hacker. Third, I am writing a romance that just takes on a fancy coat and has some fleshy bits on chains dangling from it, with a chilling grace hidden deep under that garment. My romance does not deal with all the questions cyberpunk is asking, nor has it sci-fi at it’s core. I rather need modernity to contrast the primal „evil“ that we are going to encounter. I need the uncaring mass society, the logistics of a failing metropolis, the promised future that never was and another generation waking up to the promise being empty…to let my characters realize that was not the worst thing that could happen to them, not at all. But they are not condemned to just sit and suffer from what they got either.

My lovers find meaning in each other in a meaningless world. Do I say, love conquers all? I don’t think so. Striving and fighting for a love relationship just seems equally primal to hunting, gathering and coping with death, enthropy and the shadow every human has. So everything has it’s place under the coat of SPREY for a mythical story.

But my work is not done here. To truly get the core of SPREY right we must dive deeper into what „evil“ actually is. So far, on the outer layers of the world, ignorance and apathy seem to rule, which is not the same as evil.

100 Days of SPREY – 21

Today marks the beginning of a new phase, the second phase of the hundred days of making Street Prey(SPREY) and I really feel the pull. I wouldn‘t have thought it, but by planning this event I might have programmed myself unconsciously to actually cross a barrier like with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now the pace indeed got faster with tons of ideas what to do and how to improve things.

Unfortunately that means new uncertainty, too. I‘m not even in my familiar void now. So to keep creeping anxiety down I remind myself: I do have a base product, and that is drawing and releasing at least one panel for SPREY a day. If I decided to stop evolving here and never did anything again to improve myself, it would still work. If I had to, I could do this for the rest of my life. Now that is a base to work from, isn‘t it? I did not say that this will produce a stellar or the best possibele outcome, but I can tell, it will work and I will come through with the story. And that is what counts when you promise readers a story. You must finish it. Deliberations about quality come second. Now of course, if you finish a story but do it badly, you can still disappoint your readers. But nothing is worse than abandoning the story half-told.

Now the next big source of disappointment for my readers that I want to avoid is making false promises about what the story is about. I am aware that SPREY has one big tone shift in it that is not so apparent early on, but this changes nothing about the story. You actually get exactly what I layed out in chapter 1 as weird as that sounds. It is a romance first that tries to exclude the cruel world around it as well as the interior conflicts inside of the lovers but in the end can‘t. Their love that they are holding to even is the thing that forces them to change and ground themselves in reality more in order to survive and to keep the love alive.

Also I dared to think outside of my own box for a day. Is SPREY indeed more of a storyboard than an actual comic? I conclude, it is an actual comic. Very much simplified, a storyboard is like the recipe to craft something else, an animation or movie, while the comic is meant to be read itself. You can enjoy SPREY on it‘s own. The interactive elements add to the unique experience of SPREY and running through this for the first time. Not knowing the actual other endings but being aware there are decisions to make that influence it changes the experience. It is almost like in real life. Yes, you can make choices and change your course any day. But will you truly ever know what would have happened if you did or did not do something? Would you even want to browse through the other endings if you could? Experience can only give you an estimation where you might come out in the end later, hindsight analysis is a painful tool at times, but very good for learning. I guess neither me nor the readers that are here with me will be able to recreate this specific first run of SPREY ever and I‘m rolling with and honoring the experience.

So I conclude, SPREY is indeed an interactive romance comic. That is the unshakeable core of it. I shook it myself to make sure. I will take a closer look at the genre and world in the next blog entry. Note how the setting doesn‘t even matter for the core. The next layer of things gives my story a coat and more personality maybe. It is quirky already with the interactive elements, though.