Monday, August 8, 2011

Autopsy Presents: CHASING VICTOR

Autopsy Presents is a new feature which brings new stories to light, rather than investigating the inner workings of old stories. The following is in honor of comics week.

Dear Editor,

Originally, upon reading through the first five pages of issue 26 I found the second person point of view odd and misplaced. When the hero introduced himself to "you" or rather me, I was a little taken aback. Rereading the panel, however, the piece finally clicked. I'm not all that supportive, as a straight, cis man, of playing female leads in paper plays, but I must admit I was finally intrigued.
"Who are you?" we ask the mysterious man in the shadows at the back of the bar.
"Who am I?" he says and hands us his card...
"Chasing Victor? What is that, a  stage name? What are you, a comedian?"
"Yes, in fact I'm the comic you're reading."
--James Ballard

To Reed and Drew:

Congratulations on reaching your thirtieth issue. When I first bought the anniversary book, I thought there must be some mistake--why would someone put out a "comic" that's just ads and 30 blank white pages? But then I realized this was the very essence of Chasing Victor. He may be out there ahead of us, we may feel his existence within billboard signs and television commercials, but in the end we are left with our pens uncapped and an inability to string words together.
Keep up the good work.
--Archie Blank
Archie, Reed is glad to hear your support for this issue. Rather than use a fill-in team for this book, his baby, he decided this would be a better waste of your money.
To Bill:

I hope this book gets better with the price hop starting with #34. Bring back the characters setting and plot. They were enormous fun.
--Paul Kuberg

To Chasing Victor team:

I most enjoyed the recent issue "'Paint the town,' said." Congrats on the fill-in writer, but who did you get to do the ghosting? I'm not sure I'm supportive of putting "Mystery" in the credits...
I was very interested in the new character you introduced, although the scenes were a bit difficult to make out, what with him out taking up a third of the panel in the 3X18 grid... I believe he is supposed to to be some sort of writer of semi-autobiographical mystery novels which he occasionally illustrates...
--Sally Crimber
Unfortunately his name is Mystery. You misunderstood that character completely, the panel is actually showing a close-up on Victor's kneecap.
To Bill:

I was very insulted by issue 63 "The Customer is Always Right."
Why, I must ask, did you have Victor wear a uniform to work that covered the tattoo no one has ever seen (as the inking scene was done in the all dark issue #50) which reads "Conservatism is Narcissism." I was even more abhorred with Victor's pun, upon picking up the book that the man left behind in his rush to leave the panel, shocked by what his wife had become, stating "the Customer is Always Read!"
I must say that I am quite the customer but although I read, I am not a red.
--John Publique
Our apologies, you have quite the point, as long as we're reading you right. However we must ask, like a tree falling in a forest with none around to hear it and whether it makes a sound, does a tattoo that's never visible to anyone make a language that can be read?
To those chasing Victor:

Please in future issues refer to our hero as he was originally known: The Victor. The article makes all the difference.

Dear Drew,

Issue 55's torn off cover was the most amazing illustration I've ever not seen looking out at me while window shopping at the comic store. I almost had to go in and buy it.
Thank you! Drew is very happy with all the positive feedback he's getting for it.
 To Bill, editor extraordinaire:

Wasn't it your idea to include a letter's column in the story of last issue? I thought the random fictional letters were a pretty good read, although it was a bit annoying at times. You must, if you were the writer, learn how to write better, if you want to try something like this. Ultimately, you need to gaze over an idea like this, rather than rush it out on some budget of time that you've put yourself into. Gaze at it and eventually tweak it here and there, staring at bits and pieces until you go blind, staring then at the story itself instead of the words you type, becoming, in a sense, a character, a watcher, a reader, becoming as at least I have experienced, a better writer.

Some technical drivel: Bill is the editor of a fictional comic called Chasing Victor of which we have various letters to the editor. Reed is the writer and Drew is the illustrator as their names might suggest. Bill himself becomes victim of a pun where he first gets introduced at the start of a letter that questions a new price hop in the comic. (The letter is written by Paul Kuberg, a bit of a frequent character with me. He'll probably end up on the original "autopsy" one of these days.) Hence a higher bill hardeeharhar.

Kuberg also calls for the creators to "Bring back the characters setting and plot." At the risk of explaining a joke and making it not funny, there's more to be written about this sentence. I like to play on punctuation in my poetry or rather I should say I would like to play on punctuation in my poetry as I don't really have any complete punctuation poems. Here, however, I have a bit of a completed project that plays on it. "Bring back the characters setting and plot" might appear to be missing some commas, but the language is actually correct, meaning that "setting" and "plot" were characters in the book who have disappeared. Not viewing the book as a serious work but rather as a conceptual idea, I'm not exactly sure if it's just a typo or what.

Playing it close to the deadline, actually got this out pre-noon in the West which is amazing because I thought I'd slept through that time spot. Woke up and was pleasantly surprised by a clock, but I still wasn't sure I could do it in time. This actually became the main focus of the last letter. Jorge Luis Borges was "the great Argentine writer" as I've quoted a science professor I've had before. He went blind at the end of his life and it impacted both his writing and his worldview. I think I might be bordering on the edges of taste with my reference to his blindness but I like it.

I wanted to write a story that was similar to what I think of Borges's writing: he creates the concept of an impossible piece of art, for example Pierre Menard's Quixote, so I wanted to make a comic that couldn't exist. Or rather that would be horrible if it existed. What's so great about Borges is how he can argue the good side to having a new author of Quixote something that links somewhat humorously to the book's story, in that it was in fact ripped-off and with a sequel being published. The praise of a "torn off cover" was the sort of thing I thought Borges might come up with if he was conceptualizing a story about comics.

I've been reading old Doom Patrol issues for a while now and I read the first issue of Enigma yesterday morning and I had been thinking how do I work "autopsy" into comic books. There's a concept I've begun to consider of the comic book as an object of its own--one that gets cut up for a trade paperback or is distinctive from a graphic novel--the waiting for the comic each month, the letters' page, the advertisements are all part of it. This I parodied before I even first mentioned it, presenting an issue of blank pages which would only have all these extra elements to make it into a comic book.

The Victor is a pun on "the Batman," a name I myself can't help but think is cooler when used occasionally than "Batman." Probably best would be "the bat man"--it just seems the most logical of creations in a world that does not have the standardization of names that comes from having a fictional hero running around with the name for a thousand issue. Loyal readers would recognize Chasing Victor--it's a story I still have in purely the conceptual stages. Here are other excerpts from it. With Victor, the change to "the Victor" actually makes a big difference in how we understand the name, something I've explored before in the linked post.

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