On A Dare…

telemachus-duotone-6_1Again, more original material from the blog begun around the project launch (Bloomsday ’08)…

The first time I tried to read ULYSSES I was struck by how comical the dialogue was and how very distinct, yet still very hidden the narrative voice could be from chapter to chapter. This is years ago mind you, well before I had any thoughts of making something like this into a comic and well before comics as an art form could ever accommodate such a peculiar thing.

Joyce’s text, for Joyce lovers at least, can not be abridged nor turned into some two hour block-buster movie (some have tried this, of course, and some of them might well disagree with me on this point, but it seems, or seemed to me then, that people read Joyce for the language and are immediately and justifiably insulted by anyone, no matter how well-intending, who might come off as making a Reader’s Digest version of the novel for the Lifetime Channel).

So for a while there my friend and I played with the idea of film. Hell, nobody wants to actually do all that drawing and neither of us were filmmakers, so this was relatively safe territory. I started to wonder what the novel might look like if one took the time to separate the spoken dialogues from the internal ones and used this to construct a screenplay. Certainly that’s a big enough task on it’s own, but the charming and engaging quality of Joyce’s character’s sparkles in the dialogue.

The idea was that, “yes, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but if the director, actors and cinematographer of such a film were fans of the novel, could they find ways to evidence some of the subtleties of the work into the nuances of film through lighting expression, camera angle and emotional expression?”

I played with this idea for a least another beer or two (it was a good one, frankly. Imagine making a film that doesn’t so much interpret the novel as use “real time” to support it’s factual nature and allow the actors to search for and eventually decided subtext through small action) but, after some thought said, “no, that’s not the best way.” I brought it back to the table for my cartoonist friend and I by claiming, “comics are the only medium capable of rendering the plasticity of time and weight of visual symbol that would make the novel work in ant other form.”

We do actually talk like that in bars. I know, it’s kinda pathetic, but we’re each married these days, so acting like a geek in front of people isn’t such a dilemma, and somehow talking this way over beers is much less geeky than over coffee at a Starbucks’.
So we ordered a couple more beers and he dared me to make it work in comics.


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