Sometimes Magic Sounds Like Tape

Posts Tagged ‘robert mckee’

Severian and Tareth

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

A prize sketch for Thought-Ripples! She requested Severian and Tareth, from the Runewriters comic:

It's pretty hard to turn pages with tentacles.

Don’t let the tail and tentacles fool you — Severian is a sweet guy. :D He’s just having some… issues… with shape-changing magic.

As a fun bit of trivia: The Runewriters author (Shazzbaa) is indirectly responsible for True Magic’s continuing existence. Back when I was struggling with the story in the old version of TM, I stumbled across one of her posts recommending the book with the most profoundly useful writing advice I’ve ever seen. It gave me enough insight to reboot the comic into its current (better) form instead of giving up on it.

Thank you, Shazzbaa!

Influence Map

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

So I went to deviantArt to clear out my inbox for the first time this year, and lo! Somehow I got tricked into participating in a meme:

An excuse to look up pictures of shirtless Ozai? Score!
(Full-sized version here.)

To elaborate on these influential things…

WARNING: Verbose Fangirling Ahead

Calvin & Hobbes
Greatest Overall Influence

Oh man. It would be impossible to overstate how much I love this comic, or how much of my apparent cleverness I owe to being obsessed with it as a kid. I’d spend hours a day just reading and laughing. It was pretty good for the vocabulary, too; I had to keep a dictionary handy when I was seven or eight years old, to look up words like “sanctimonious” or “semantics” or “Australopithecus.” Newly informed, I’d get the joke and laugh some more.

So many good times~♥

(Now whenever I pick up a C&H book, it’s pretty much the same experience, only without the dictionary.)

Biggest Artistic Influence

So, up until my last year of junior high, about 99% of my “portfolio” consisted of bad DBZ and Sailor Moon fan art. (The other 1% was good DBZ fan art. Mmm… Zarbon. But I digress.)

Then along came an ElfQuest book, with its defined cheekbones and round noses and solid, believable, three-dimensional figures. The characters still had the big eyes and voluminous hair that I loved so dearly, but without the two-dimensional, over-stylized features that I’d gotten used to seeing in anime. All along, I’d assumed that my only two options were “pointy, flat manga” style or “tiny-eyed, box-chinned superhero” style. But no — you’re allowed to combine your favorite elements of more than one style? Eureka!

Not only did Wendy Pini clue me in that there are more than two ways to draw comics, her art is also responsible for (finally) getting me interested in figure drawing. Sadly, you would’ve had to pay me to read a Burne Hogarth book in junior high; now I’m saving up to buy ‘em all.

Long story short, you should totally read ElfQuest.

Biggest Writing Influence

Terry Pratchett. ‘Nough said. ♥

(Seriously. If I started listing things that I love and admire about this guy’s writing skills, you would have an essay right here.)


This has so many elements that I love to see in a story: The characters are well developed, and evolve throughout the series. Everyone has some lovable and/or respectable traits, and even most of the villains are easy to like. Every main character gets at least one Crowning Moment of Awesome. The “magic” system is internally consistent and well integrated into society, and you constantly see it put to new and creative uses.

My favorite thing about it is that, even though there’s plenty of drama and epic fight scenes, the series keeps an overall feeling of lightheartedness and fun. Definitely the kind of adventure I’d like to write.

The Front

I found this comic after I’d been making the old version of TM for a while, and quickly realized how many things Jerzy Drozd did right that I was doing wrong. (Hint: He did everything right.) The entire story is obviously well planned, well paced, well drawn, and well formatted. The characters’ personalities are all so well-defined and strategically polarized that it’s a joy to watch them interact. (Seriously — I defy you to resist laughing at any scene where Dick and the Brigadier General are in the same room.) In short: very inspiring. Even though the setting and premise are very different, it embodied all of the qualities that I wanted True Magic to have.

There’s also audio commentary to go with each issue, which I found incredibly helpful and entertaining. So yeah: the comic isn’t just awesome; it also tells you how it’s awesome. :D

Anyway, read it!


As I said earlier, elsewhere: I totally have to thank the person (Shazzbaa?) who recommended this book by Robert McKee. Near the end of the old version of TM, I was painfully aware of how flawed my writing and plot structure were, but I couldn’t figure out what specific things should be different. Then I started reading this, and every other page was like a clue-by-four upside the head. It really helped me define exactly WHY so many parts of the comic were bugging me, what elements I was missing, and how I could actually do ‘em right.

This book is pretty much what decided me in favor of rebooting TM instead of quitting. (Because it’s only worth starting over if it will be different enough, after all.) I’m probably still doing a lot of things wrong, but writing the comic is about 2,000% more fun and satisfying now.

I ♥ RMK.

Buffy: Oh, Joss Whedon. How I love your unique blend of drama, horror, handsome dudes, and ridiculous humor. ♥

Michael Jackson: This guy was like inspiration on two legs. I never say this kind of sappy stuff, but… he put his heart and soul into his performance, and it showed. He was the best at what he did, and every time I saw one of his short films, it renewed my motivation to try to be the best I could be, whatever I happened to be doing. (Just for fun: My favorite MJ dance sequence. Better than Thriller, I tell ya.)

Emperor’s New Groove: Ah, this movie is just so silly and fun and cute — and it has such great comedic timing! It’s one of those films that I can watch any number of times, and still pretty much giggle continuously from start to finish. (“Why do we even have that lever?”)

Gargoyles: This was my favorite cartoon as a kid. My friends’, too. At recess, we used to stand up on our toes and stomp around the playground, flexing our “claws” and snarling at the other kids. Time well spent! (Oh, and one of the best things about this show? Everyone had long hair.)

Zebra Girl: Somehow, among the hundreds of webcomics I’ve read over the last ten years, this is the only one that’s had a significant influence on my drawing style. And I have no idea why! I guess Joe England’s art is just magically delicious appealing. See for yourself!

Alice Cooper: There’s just something I love about this guy’s overall style and stage persona. He’s got the sinister, the sexy, and (most importantly) a bit of the silly goin’ on — all adequately demonstrated in this fine video. (“Well I ain’t evil, I’m just good lookin’.”) ♥

David Bowie: Same idea as above. He’s got a specific dramatic/charismatic style — a “mood,” if that’s the right word — that matches some of the feeling I’d like to incorporate into my own stories. (Note, however, that any resemblance to a certain TM character is entirely coincidental. Or at least it was last time, oh ho ho.)

…So there you have it. TMIssion accomplished!
There are a few thousand other things that I could include, but they wouldn’t fit in the template.

Now, artist friends, go try the meme yourself. (And no, you don’t have to spend an hour writing a wall of text like I did. Unless you want to.) I’d love to see what influenced and inspired you guys the most, too. :D