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So it was probably closing my eyes and trying to imagine what it would look like that did the damage. It's getting tired, it's getting old, it's the same every year, more or less. People send me stuff and I dangle it from the ceiling (well, string slung between picture rails -- the ceiling is certainly historical and probably shouldn't be damaged) and damnit maybe that felt original when I thought of it in ?1994 but since then, no, not really. So I try and close my eyes and imagine what could make it special this year because I'd been sent very little. My most wonderful contributors dissolve in my inefficiency. I neglect, I neglect. My plants die and slugs crawl into my bedroom. And I have an exhibition with only twelve contributions. I didn't want that. I wanted a forest of minicomics hanging in the hallway, something you'd want to bat away from your face, flock-patterned and vaguely sinister, like a horde of black butterflies.

A door opened in a narrow room in my head, a room in shadows, thick with heat and the smell of unwashed clothes. Footsteps, and a fleshy hand pulled back a makeshift curtain, hard white sunshine leaking through the threadbare cloth tacked over the cracked glass. Cracked and peeling walls, twist of seat-stained sheets, and on the windowsill, furred with dust, a dead black butterfly.

And night followed day, and morning followed night and in the week when I already had a list too long of things to do I found myself with another thing to do now, to do fast, to catch and pin and hold because waiting would mean butterflies becoming shadows and shadows becoming air and nothing there to say any more.

Perhaps there was nothing anyway. It's a species of madness, after all; it's there, and then the fit has passed. Substitute for the migraine, as sudden and disturbing but more at the end of it than a fading bouquet of random sensory phenomena. No, instead I get a storm of butterflies, spinning in the through-draft, little fluttering night-monsters spattered across the corridoor, menacing the guests and wrapping their threads around each other until they were little lascivious bundles of ink and cardboard.

For a day, and then a bundle of photographs and a bag full of butterflies.

----------------------clip---------------------------
I should have brought forward the clip-board and used it to visually illustrate my points about the essential nature of noir. I should have pre-selected the books and marked them with quotes for my plot-stages. I should have included an earlier confrontation and slightly restructured to allow for the successive repetitive nature of noir storytelling (humour here). I should have put the beer glasses along the far end of the table. I should have done short work on characterisation/team/introductions with each group as I handed over the props to check balance of artists + writers + be sure everyone knew each other. I should have had *all* the guns in my pockets, it's funnier that way. I should have had brushes and ink available for quick black filling. I should have had three tables ready for the three groups to move to. I should have a had a quick way of fixing the plot elements available. I should have had some polythene, so everyone would feel more relaxed about the poster-paint blood. I should have got the teams to make up a cast + credits list at the end. I should have kept the pace a bit tighter, and spent less time in the bar. I should have got everyone back together at the end to look clearly at what was good about all three pieces; as it was, quite a few people fetched up feeling they didn't contribute/they weren't as good as the other team/bleh bleh bleh to which one can only say fools! You were all brilliant.

On the whole, it's pretty much purely down to this billiance that we fetched up with three slices of premium, quality noir, choked with corpses, golf, trenchcoats, shadows + darkness (a true tribute to their imagination given the insensitively sunny day), and of course, guns, guns, guns. Didn't we love the guns? Oh dear. Humanity is doomed. Also, a surprising number of animals for a genre not noted for its fluffy tendencies. Rats, lizards, ducks, wolves, kittens. There would have been horses, too, but they're too hard to draw, apparently. Even from a distance. In the mist. With their legs behind rocks. Oh god ... the kitten ... being crushed by a rock bigger than it was ...

Damn, but they were good ...

[Better add this one to memories so I can check back on it for the next workshop]

Comments

( 7 worms — Feed the birds )
andypop
19th Aug, 2002 15:57 (UTC)
The exhibition was a highlight for me. I walked through it many times, at varying speeds.

Didn't have the energy for the full workshop experience this year. Next year, though, you better believe I'll be lining up for a chance to draw robots!
swisstone
19th Aug, 2002 16:23 (UTC)
Black Butterflies
Is a terrific story, which I read and mucly enjoyed in between bouts of sleep on the train home.
(Anonymous)
20th Aug, 2002 02:53 (UTC)
Gesturing with one's heater
Judging from the amount everyone wanted to wave the guns around it is just as well the variety that actually fire bullets are banned in this country!
crazycrone
21st Aug, 2002 00:18 (UTC)
Damn!
This all sounds quite fascinating. Really looking forward to further CAPTION coverage, so I can do some vicarious gun-weilding and blood-splashing. Want pics! And what's this about robots next year?
(Anonymous)
27th Aug, 2002 12:10 (UTC)
Jeremy spoke in class today...
Yay I'm finally back online and wasting time. Just wanted to say well done to all those who organised Caption this year. I hoping most of them read this! Thanks to Jeremy to for running the workshop. I know how hard it is to keep a room of twitching comic fans in some sort of coherence. You are going to put the finnished comics on the net right? I think the only problem with this years workshop was the heat! Standing and drawing and thinking in that heat I found myself having a hard time to concentrate. Especially when I knew I had a train to catch shortly ...! However apart from that it was good fun! Only sorry I didn't get to see any of the finnished products, but hopefully they'll be online for the whole world to enjoy.

Jim, perfecting his sonic were-wolf punch!
cleanskies
28th Aug, 2002 07:45 (UTC)
Re: Jeremy spoke in class today...
Look out for updates to the Caption website (including the comics produced in the workshop, plus some photos) soonish (I'm hoping later this week). I've got all the scanning done, now I just have to stich n' size! I'll announce it in the caption community when it's up.
(Anonymous)
4th Dec, 2002 10:53 (UTC)
Re: Jeremy spoke in class today...
Having looked at the Caption Noir comics for the first time today, all I can say is that it sounded like another fab workshop.

Jeremy, even tho it may seem like the same old every year, I think we (the audience) still enjoy it, I know that I do. I'm impressed by your copious output of drawings and the gallery has been fab every year.

I always mean to do some stuff for Caption, but seem to enjoy hanging out more than showing my artwork. Maybe next year. :)

- FireHorse
( 7 worms — Feed the birds )