Re-Imagining the Situation

Jeff VanderMeer • May 21st, 2009 @ 8:05 am • Fiction


(Two of Eric Orchard’s sketches for The Situation)

Work progresses on the graphic adaptation of “The Situation” for Tor.com. The artist and general mastermind is Eric Orchard, but he needs a detailed outline to work from–something that has enough flexibility for him to bring his own ideas and imagination to the project but structured enough to provide focus.

So, something that isn’t really like your normal comics script, as I understand it–a hybrid of sorts. Beneath the cut you’ll find an excerpt from what I’m turning in today, with the caveat that the final version of both the text and the finished comic may be vastly different. This part is like drawing a rough map.

THE SITUATION
Extended Outline (with text)

Note: The expectation for “scenes” is that they will be between 1 and 4 pages, depending on what’s warranted re narrative and visuals. To keep the claustrophobic feeling of the original, Wick’s narration should ghost through the story, helping to provide structure. In terms of the mise en scene, it might be a good idea to start out with panels that have a simple, uncluttered feel and then progress to more and more detail and clutter as Wick’s life becomes more stressful. Then flashbacks to the past can contrast with the present-day panels by also sharing that simple use of space. At the very end, freed from the company, the panels again take on that simplicity found at the beginning and in the flashbacks. Just an idea.

CHAPTER 1

Intro page

Images:
[Full page panel, with text]

Fish half-constructed, with office building as backdrop, possibly with Our Hero, tiny, peering down from a window at the fish.

Text:
[This is the introduction of Wick, and the setting]

We lived in a broken-down city in a country that no longer had a name. I had come to the city with the clothes on my back, an old dead stuffed dog from my childhood, some books my father had given me, three memory eels, and a few worthless coins that kept changing colors as their batteries ran down. I had to do many things I was not proud of to hang on to those few possessions before the company accepted me as a worker.

Many of us worked for the company. None of us were what we’d been before. At the company, you could always be someone else.

We made strange bioneered creatures for places far across the world–cities where people could still afford to think about things other than food and shelter.

With my colleagues, I worked for the manager I called simply “The Damager”…

Scene 1 (3 to 4 pages)

Page 1

Image:
Mord and Wick standing side-by-side in a strange elevator.

[Narration:] Ever since we had started working on what I would soon call the Fish Rots From the Head project, my Manager had been summoning me to her office more and more often. Mord, the head of HR, would escort me up and leave me there.

Image:
Mord and Wick in the strange elevator, but now Wick is facing away from Mord, and you can see Wick is wearing a slug on his back, in the slit in his uniform. Possibly we get closer in to Wick while they’re talking.

[Dialogue:]
Mord: Does it hurt?
Wick: No. It itches.
Mord: Like fleas.
Wick: No. Like a slug. It’s wet.
Mord: Wet’s better than dry, Wick. Dry crackles.

Image:
Close-up of Mord’s face cross cut with close-up of slug.

[Narration:] The slug was put there by HR. Attached to my nervous system, it would edit out anything disturbing on the trip up to visit my Damager. Mord had just become the head of HR, and so it was his duty to take me up there.

Image:
Mord’s eye with an image of a stairwell in it.

[Narration:] But I could remember when Mord had just been a company employee, like me, and we’d spent our lunch breaks together.

>>>Story breaks open to include the scene of Mord and Wick talking in the elevator while looking for birds (doesn’t need to be broken down since it’s already dramatized and the blocking is sound).

Image:
Come back to Wick’s face, in the elevator, holding the bird’s image and/or Mord’s face.

[Narration:] But eventually I found the bird on a step. Someone had crushed its skull. And Mord was in HR. Some things you can’t forget, even with a slug in your back.

Image (with no words):
From below, the elevator, transparent, and the walls are as described in the story, except it can be anything you want it to be, doesn’t have to be this: “a shaft lined with thousands of decomposing bodies. Plastic bodies. Human bodies. Bodies of leopards and of rats, of baboons and of lizards. I could smell the rot of them, sense their spongy softness.”

Image:
Mord and Wick have reached the managerial level, whatever that looks like, and are walking down the hall to the manager’s office.

[Dialogue:]
Mord: She’s going to ask you about the fish project.
Wick: She might not.
Mord: Trust me, Wick. Better you give her an accounting now than later.
Wick: That’s not what I need to worry about. Not really.

Image:
Doorway of the Manager’s office, with a corner of her desk, the fish picture above it, and just her right arm showing. It could be a series of pictures of the door, two or three, in which the door that seems straight and normal is scene from more of an angle, ever more severe, almost as if on a ship at see that’s yawing back and forth.

[Narration:] That was the last time Mord spoke to me directly. While there was still time. Before everything went wrong.

8 Responses to “Re-Imagining the Situation”

  1. John McCarthy says:

    This looks very cool. Will there be a hard-copy version?

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    We’re hoping to expand from the 30 pages of the web comic to a longer version that’s graphic novel length. We have some initial interest from a couple of publishers.

  3. josh says:

    This is going to be amazing!

  4. paul tremblay says:

    That artwork is amazingly cool.

  5. Jonathan Wood says:

    Dude, it’s like you’re reaching into my pocket and taking the money from me. That looks fucking amazing. I really like Eric Orchard’s stuff, but he’s really upping his game for this one. Kudos.

  6. Michael says:

    Artwork looks very cool! I’d definitely pick up the graphic novel if and when it happens. :)

  7. Hellbound Heart says:

    love the artwork….

  8. Amanda le Bas de Plumetot says:

    fantastic. wonderful stuff.

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