Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A bit of something I'm thinking about...

A lot of what I've done personally for comic work so far has been fairly superficial. I don't pretend to be a great writer, and when face with a deadline I go for cheap laughs or things of that sort. Does this mean I want to get really deep or philosophical... no, I just want to do a project about the stuff I know for the sake of doing it.

That being said, for a few weeks I've been popping an idea around my head called "A Stretch of the Imagination". Initially, I hope to take stories of events that have happened to me, and reinterpret them in hind-sight. I will always have a bit of me in science fiction, fantasy and horror and what I show on the page will reflect that. Eventually I would like to bring in guest writers to tell a story, and for me to loosely interpret that story through my own eyes.

I actually have a few sketches I posted earlier involving this project. It will be a chance for me to get back to inking traditionally, which is something I've been wanting to do for a long time.

Below is a short idea for one of the comics. It's written in short story form, with almost no dialogue added at this point. It is a scratched in outline that needs to be built up, cut down and reshaped; however, since I like to share my process I'm going to post it here.

A Stretch of the Imagination:
A Glass of Pumpkin Ale

by John Bivens

God I craved it. Trying to think of what set me off... the time of year, the article I read, the smell of pumpkin pie cooking at my day job... I don't know. At some point memories of the previous year had started seeping into me in a random fashion.

Pumpkin ale is full bodied, the nutmeg assaults your nostrils as the sweetness fills your mouth. It tastes like fall, like Halloween, like Thanksgiving. Near me is one of the few micro-breweries (second oldest in the state of Illinois) that still uses real pumpkin to make their yearly batch. I remember last year, it was finally perfected. The minute the dark liquid hit my lips I have to believe that my eyes dilated and I saw everything that went into that glass.

Thanks to some publicity that the pub ad recently gotten from a local indie-paper, it seemed like the entire surrounding community was checking in weekly to find out if the batch was finished and the pumpkin ale was being served. Let it be known that I have mixed feelings about this publicity. I am happy that this place that I go to relax, eat good food, and drink some damn fine beer is given the credit it deserves; at the same time, these are invaders coming into a place I feel as comfortable at as I do sitting at my drafting table. My secret is revealed, and now I must share.

Two weeks ago I walked into the brew pub. For food I ordered my usual fall backs: pounder of fries with cheese, bacon and ranch, and a plate of sirloin bits (if I'm with a buddy we add on the Mediterranean Melange onto that) and ask one of my favorite bartenders if they have the pumpkin ale yet.

“Yes, finally I've had enough people asking about that stuff,” his New Jersey accent still hanging in there despite the mid-west transplantation.

I feel both excited to get my drink and sad that I've been one of those people. I place my order and within a minute have a pint in front of me. Everything I wanted this to be is spilling out, growing from the head of foam.

I smell it... the nutmeg is there. Not as pungent as I remember but it is definitely there.

I put my lips to the rim and tilt it back. I'm expecting nirvana, a slap in the face that may blind me. I set the glass down, and it's alright. Only alright. Is this batch different from last years... probably... even if it's not I convince myself that it is. Looking back on it, being two-weeks wiser, I built up that moment too much. I finished my pint, my food arrived, and I ordered a pint of “Big Bad” which is also a usual of mine. The bill was paid and I left thinking, “I wonder what it will be like next year.”

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