The Wrong Story

By James Ellis

A cartoonist awakes to find his characters' lives more real than his own

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Themes & Tributes in The Wrong Story

Hello The Wrong Story shed-dwellers - the second week has gone by and incredibly we are now at 32%. Thank you, to all of you, to those I know and to those I don't.

In the previous post I began to introduce some of the characters. This time I thought you might be interested to know more about some of the themes in The Wrong Story. If you've seen my video, you'll see that I have a very cheesy smile when I talk about this, I don't know why I did that because the themes are very important to me, and to the story. I think I may just have a naturally cheesy smile.

Anyway, in the beginning, The Wrong Story was going to be a very metafictional novel, I had an idea that the characters would speak to the author and it would all be very experimental. And then I realised that I was about forty years too late. It had all been done. But I still wanted to address the theme of what obligations there are, if any, on a responsible creator, and that's where I began. At first the creator was going to be a writer, but as soon as I changed it to a strip cartoonist, a whole world of possibilities opened up. The idea of frames and panels, and what happens in between them that we don't see, became a major plot-driver.

The second and most obvious theme, is the blurring of the line between what's real and what's not. Is a thought real? Is a memory real? Given that we process the external world internally, in our mind, and writers and artists spend a lot of time living inside their mind creating new worlds, and their success is so often dictated by 'external' criticisms, I wanted The Wrong Story to be a vehicle to explore what happens when it all goes wrong. On the back of that I also wanted to explore memory and the nature of the continuum between who we were and who we become. What would we say to our younger selves? And would they be pleased if they could see us now?

At my peak cheesiness in the video I mention my admiration for strip cartoonists. I grew up reading cartoon books as much as prose novels: Tintin, Asterix, Charlie Brown, BC, The Wizard of Id, Crock, Andy Capp, Giles, Mad, The DC comics, Marvel, Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side - they all informed my philosophy on life. And The Wrong Story is as much a tribute to those cartoonists and their abiding creations as anything else.


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