It takes more than just cheap tricks and heavy explosives
to make a great story. It takes daily updates, a high degree of continuity,
and a joke on every page to get to that level. So, until we can achieve
that, we'll be delighting in our sheer unrealized beginner's potential
and dreaming of what the future may hold, or what we could have done had
we been more than what we are. Life's kinda funny that way; it's like
getting work experience so you can get a job: you need to get the job
to get experience to get the job. In theory, that's what internships are
for, but it doesn't always work out that way. If I knew as much about
NETTG when I started the thing as I do now, I'd either have thought twice
about pursuing the project in the first place, or hunted down Jason Hanks
and Esa Karjalainen much earlier.
It's definitely a hobby that's grabbed me by the base
of the neck, slammed me against the wall a couple dozen times, picked
me up, threw me to the ground, and left me asking for more. The Eternal
Lost Lurker expressed it very well, awhile back: "Heh. You don't
write the 'fic. The 'fic writes YOU."
Aspiring to become a good writer has been my goal ever
since I picked up my first novel and started reading. And over the years,
through countless proposed ideas and plotsalong with twice as many
forgotten trains of thoughtI've improved a bit here and there. But,
I'm not here to talk about me quite so much. I kind of wish I
could have asked Esa to write this Extra, so he could explain a bit more
about how the creative process of adapting NETTG's characters to a comic
has worked out. Esa secretly wants to do a comic with Stefan Gagne, and
NETTG is a sort of test-case to make sure he can keep up with an update
schedule with characters that he likes, so I gotta cherish 'em while I
got 'em. ^_-
But yes, I don't know who's enjoyed getting all this
material for the comic more than me. (Well, yes, naturally, but still
Esa apparently knows the story and characters better than I do, so he
has done a very good job of reading my mind and predicting the future
in that aspectwhich is another reason I'm glad to have him working
on this project. Yet another reason I think so highly of him is that he's
not afraid to experiment a whole lot in order to get things done.
A funky thing about creativity is that it occasionally
needs breathing space to thrive. Most creative people know the old feeling
of falling into a rut; one feels that what has been done is carved in
stone, and no more can possibly be done because of the risk of ruining
what's gone before. Most creative people also know that the only way to
climb out of this rutthat is, to break through writer's or artist's
block, as the case may beis to start thinking outside the box again,
to innovate and find something exciting and new out of the compost that
remains of the former work.
New characters are an old favorite method of mine for
accomplishing that goal.
Here's a pair of characters from page nine of the comic.
Don't mind the sort of tired, aged look the one in blue has. It's just
an effect of the coloring and extra lines here and there. The point is
that coming up with new characters is quite fun, which is why it happens
so often with writers. Making them interact with existing characters is
even more fun. Unfortunately, as experience sadly shows us, it takes more
than nifty powers to make a character. Most Self-Inserts writers kind
of miss the point; they give their avatars sufficient power to blow away
all the villains in a series with a single strike, turn them good, seduce
them from whatever their goals are, and whatnot. To be sure, wimpy characters
are usually no fun either, if they don't have what every character really
which is personality. That's what original
characters need. Take Kenshin Himura, for example. Now he's an
interesting character. The fact that he's got better swordsmanship skills
than anyone else in the seriesexcept maybe Makoto Shisho, but that's
always debatablehelps to pique one's interest. Some like to have a
character they're reasonably sure will put up a good fight with nifty
special effects. At the same time, Kenshin's got personality.
He's got a self-depreciating killer psychosis alongside being generally
nice to people around him, including but not limited to playing with the
kids, getting embarrassed around women, and finally having to realize
his own self-worth in order to learn his ultimate attacks. See, that's
Take a look at the drawings above. I mean, the Vash the
Stampede-style Gangsta'-ASK pic, the Elder Sailor Mercury and Mars pics,
the movie poster-ish thing on the titleThey've got personality.
In fact, that's what all of Esa's drawings really have: personality!
I think I may be getting spoiled with all these high-personality drawings,
but that's what makes them great in my opinion. It's the same with drawing
or with writing: there's that certain something to a good character that
brings them alive.
What would the great ArbyFish do without his personality?
He'd just be a flying seal, flat and dull to all but the ones with the
longest attention spans. But, with that personalty, he'll strike at your
psyche and never give up 'till you've cracked!
That's why stuff like Seinfeld, Frasier, or "Everyone
Likes Raymond" can survive: there's not exactly much in the special
effects department, but the people in them have personality!
I have no idea how Esa manages to put so much personality
in his work. I have seen some drawings with more
them, but they're usually by professional artists with decades of experience
and six-figure yearly paychecks. As far as I know, nobody's gotten paid
for working on NETTG yet (I think I may have gotten offers once or twice,
but the answer was no). But that's all part of thinking creatively
Another thing about that creative "thinking outside
the box" stuff that is important is the innovation and release that
comes with doing something new. For example, in NETTG or any other fanfic,
were it suggested that, maybe, Beryl in the past were to send Serenity
an expensive gown from the Evil Empress Boutique in downtown Atlantis
if it were just written, people with little imagination might just shrug
and say, "Heh. That's cute." (Hi, DB! =^.^=) On the other hand,
if that got fleshed out, seeing is believing.
Suddenly, it's a bit more real than if it were
just mentioned in a fanfic, now, isn't it? Thats another big aspect of
art that I like: it makes the image much more tangible than with
simple words. Words can be better applied to enhancing one's already existing
imagination, provided disbelief is sufficiently suspended. Drawings and
paintings are, so to speak, one step closer to the audience. I think that's
why movies tend to command so much more cash than books do: it's less
of a leap for people to tell what's going on and what the story's about.
It's the accessability, really.
So, all in all, what does it take to make a great story
or terrific work of art? I dunno. Personality is one thing; so is dreaming,
effort, tangibility, suspension of belief
You'd need a doctorate in
creative writing to be quotable on this sort of thing. But I will say
this: it's one of those things that just has to happen. If people are
responsive to what people around them say, that's a good indication of
where to go. Sometimes people are wrong on a suggestion as to where a
story should go, but sometimes they're right. It pays to listen to people,
then judge for one's self what has to be done. After all, when it comes
down to it, whose story is it?
Never say something is yours until you're sure
of it. Certainly, I started NETTG of my own free will, but it's been the
fans and the people that have liked it that have kept it going. Saying
it's purely mine would be selfish, at best.
At the very least, I can say that it also belongs to
Larry F, Esa Karjalainen, Jussi Nikander, Jason Liaoand a big chunk
certainly belongs to Jason Hanksand all the others who have fought
so hard to keep the story moving. Thanks, everyone! We'll keep trying
to keep pushing it along
perhaps until long after the purpose is defeated.