Sunday, January 17, 2010

Meta Me-Deity

I like the idea of taking an existing genre and compartmentalizing it and giving it a new context within the structure of a new story. Meta storytelling. I'm not the first one to do this in comics but for those of you that read my late 90's early 2k series Deity you will see my first efforts at putting this type of story together.

On the surface Deity is a coming of age story set in the not to distant future. A girl named Jamie doesn't know it but she is the daughter of a very powerful inter-dimensional Sorceress/ goddess. As the goddess dies Jamie begins to inherit her powers and takes her mother's place in the grand scheme of mystical energy of the multi-verse. Sounds complicated but the way Robert Napton and I structured the story we kept it very down to earth. Or at least as much as the story of a typical teenager in the future becoming a goddess can be. Within that we tapped into several different story structures and weaved them into a narrative that hinted at things you knew but presented them in a new context.

While the overall structure of the story was moving along we introduced characters that were sent by Jamie's mother to protect her while she learned how to use her powers. There was a female Latin gunslinger named Diamond Diaz with an android arm. A Cyber-Shaolin monk/ wizard named Johnny Lone who downloaded spells from a hard drive and deck he carried with him. There was also a vampire-esque character called Lucius Ego who could turn from a man into a gigantic Dragon. A were-dragon so to speak. All of these characters had a familiar story but with a slightly different twist to them. They had story arcs that we didn't really need to see because once the readers had heard the basic idea they filled in the blanks with story bits they had pulled from existing source material. We were banking on the collective story matter that our audience had collected over the years. The fun of reading Deity was in that you'd seen everything in there before but never in this way. It's as if the story had always existed but you had just never seen read it. Something borrowed turning into something new.

In retrospect I think Deity was a story that had a certain amount of issues built into it. Maybe 12 and than move on. We did nearly 20 different issues and as it went on the in joke of re-contextualizing familiar stories began to fall short and Deity in the end became more of a parody than a statement.

I'm proud of the work I did on Deity. I explored and expanded what I was capable of as an artist and I sold a lot of comics. I also learned the benefit of telling a story and than moving on. I know the medium of comics thrives off the never-ending story but if you look at story creation on a broader sence, the way you end the story is more important than the way you begin it. Especially when you are interacting with an audience the way we were. It can go from an in joke to a cliche' very quickly.

Lesson learned. Never overstay your concept's welcome.


Will Caligan said...

Well, I am a huge fan of Deity. I would love to see it make a come back.

Karl Altstaetter said...

I've been talking to Robert Napton about making it happen. We shall see.