Monday, 31 October 2011
If you’ve ever entered a comic book shop an asked for something totally violent with rape and other sexual scenes but with a good story, you need help. But you may have been sold a Garth Ennis book, a Warren Ellis book or maybe even a Mark Millar book. But I’m hoping you wouldn’t have bought Alan Moore’s “Neonomicon.” It reads like the rape fantasies of a crazy old man. But how is that different from Preacher or Transmetropolitan or Wanted? It’s because the authors of these books don’t sacrifice story for shock. There’s a fine line between gore porn and a violent story. In Preacher, a man gets his face cut off. In crossed, a crazy man beats people with a horse’s penis. But in Alan Moore’s Neonomicon, two issues of a four issue story are spent focusing on a woman being raped by a sea monster. With no plot to match, this story turned into violent porn. Why pay for that when you have the internet? So, how do you avoid the mistakes made by Moore? It’s easier than you think. Plan the story. Don’t Plan the gore. The story is the most important part. Sure, there might be a gore scene that you want in there but don’t make it the focus of the book. Ask yourself “is this something I can get on hardcore sites??” If it is, you need to work harder. Preacher’s story takes a close, satirical look at religion and American culture while Transmetropolitan comments on politics and consumerism. You don’t have to send a message, though. Just focus on the story. But, from an art point of view, fear and shock comes from what you don’t show. While Ennis likes to have his gore scenes shown in all their glory, most writers and artists like to have the shocking scenes off camera so the audience can fill in the gaps. Have you ever read or seen a movie where somebody’s screaming off camera and it eventually occurs to you that they’re doing something to their nuts? You slowly start to cover your own in an effort to protect them from the thought. If the scene’s shown to you, with nothing held back, you just cringe but get over it pretty fast. Most of the time, what the audience thinks of is a lot worse than what’s in front of them Sometimes the imagery used can be more powerful than the scene itself. In 28 days later, the opening scene is that of a deserted London, instead of messy bodies on the street, being mauled by zombies. American History X. Graphic Copyright © New Line Cinema How about the curb stomp in American history X? It’s the sound that makes you cringe as you watch Norton stomp on a guy’s head. But that’s not to say the full on violence isn’t effective. The werewolf transformation scene in American werewolf in London was scary for a lot of people. The Chest burster in Alien is an infamous scene that still scares some. You simply need to be sure that the violence you write doesn’t take away from the story. You also have to be mindful of your audience! You don’t want to be showing rape scenes to young brats, do you? Or... do you? But remember that a lot of readers are put off by gore which means you may lose readers who would have loved your story! The main point is; never use violence unless you need to.