John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey
the_gneech

In Which I Can't Write Hijinks

So here's the thing. I think of myself as a funny guy. One reason I do so much in the comics medium is because I have an inherent tendency to generally not take things seriously if I can avoid it.

But I have discovered, of late, that I lack skill in just coming up with funny bits for the sake of them being funny bits. This has been a recurring problem with Rough Housing, which was conceived with the intention of having lots of things that were just funny bits. But it also informs a lot of the issues I've had with Brigid and Greg and several other projects. I think I have been fundamentally approaching them wrong.

What I do well (I think) is to put a funny spin on a serious (or at least "played straight") situation. Take for example Ghostbusters (the 1984 one): if you just outlined its story, it wouldn't be that far off from a standard Lovecraftian horror tale [1]. What makes it a comedy is the fact that the characters are all oddballs with quirky behavior. When he witnesses Dana Barrett transformed into a snarling hell-beast, does Venkman descend into madness? No. He busts out a Rodney Dangerfield impression. That's what I mean by funny spin.

This explains, I think, why I keep having big holes in my scripts that say things like "LANGLEY DOES SOMETHING FUNNY HERE." If I was part of a bullpen of writers where someone else could polish up jokes while I worked on character development or something, it would be different, but flying solo I just can't write that way and I need to stop trying. What I need to do instead is focus on the characters and have them do what they will do. It can be a frustrating process, as the characters often want to go off and do things that completely negate everything I've been building towards or whatever, but generally the characters know their story better than I do.

-The Gneech

[1] With the premise inverted such that human ingenuity can totally kick the cosmic horror's ass. But still.
Tags: comics and art, suburban jungle, writing, writing life
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