Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Flash at Last!

Happy New Year!!! What better way to start off the new year by revisiting some left over business from last year.

When we last left Flash Gordon, he had been forced through a series of changes in a quest to fit the ideas of an internet blogger's dream of creating the ultimate Flash Gordon homage. He had been taken from 80's camp action hero to retro 40's comic strip icon to an overweight man in lycra. What new terror has befallen our would-be hero? Keep reading...

Alright. If you're gonna read, you might as well read the whole thing. Art first. So, after trying to fit my idea of "Flash" into what's gone before (attempts one and two), and hitting close to my idea of what I wanted to do with the him from a character level(attempt 3), I shelved the idea for a while, until I went back to the 'burgh for Thanksgiving. One of the great things about driving back to PA is it gives me time to think. Okay, if you know me, you know that's not always a good thing. But a lot of times it gives me the chance to think about fun stuff like movies, comics, books, and drawing- usually some combination of all of them. On this drive back, it finally occurred to me to ditch everything I'd done before and strike off in a new direction. Well, actually an old direction. See, I knew what kind of story arc I wanted Flash to have, and I knew exactly what kind of story I wanted to see this Flash in (I'll get to that shortly, promise). But until that drive, I didn't know what he should really look like. Then it hit me. I took his look back to the 30's and 40's, but not the comic strip. I pulled from the pulp heroes of the day- Doc Savage, G-8, John Carter of Mars, et cetera, and threw in a hefty dose of retro-futurism. The future, according to the past. Canvas and brass instead of rubber and steel, or plastic and polycarbonate. Bingo. At last, I had a hero that would fit right in with the craziness I had in mind. The drawing pretty much came out fully-formed from my initial imagining of this new Flash. Once I decided he would have a space helmet with a fancy-looking collar (note the bit attached to the upper right of the lightning bolt speakerbox; that's an O2 gauge for the wearer), the rest kinda just spilled out. The lines are a bit harder than what I sometimes do; this usually happens when I'm juiced about getting something out of my head and onto the paper.

Okay, okay- all the rest of this entry is about my ideas for the story, and Flash's character. You can stop reading now and just check out the new poll on the right. Of course it's about Flash, but at least you're saving yourself eye strain.

Still here? Thanks.

See, my brilliant idea for what direction to take the plot of Flash Gordon really isn't anything fancy. In fact, it's about as basic as it gets. Take the lyrics for the song... and make them the story. Brilliant, right?

What do you mean, 'no'? My thought is, so many of these updatings of old movies and comics and characters either turn into cynical and dark reflections of the original premise, or worse yet, play on the concept for laughs and high camp value. So I thought, screw that- what's wrong with having a hero who's not jaded, who's not a goofball? What's wrong with having a story that's fun, thrilling, and exciting, and isn't either played for laughs or made to satisfy the audience's bloodlust? So, that's where I'm going with the story. I want Flash Gordon to be the kind of story everyone can get into. Why the Queen song, then? Well, the lines they use are so bombastic, so over-the-top, they play perfectly towards this idea of... a 'pure' action story- if that makes sense. It probably doesn't, but you're still reading, right? I mean, check it out:

"Saviour of the Universe"- that's a pretty tall order to fill. But nothing builds heroism like adversity, right?

"He'll save every one of us"- another Everest-sized task; but, what if he did?

"King of the Impossible"- well if he can save the universe, and everyone, he'd pretty much have to be the King of the impossible.

So the idea would be to essentially make these lines the central theme of the story (movie, really, that's how I'm thinking of it). What if there was a story where the entire universe was at stake, trillions of lives hanging in the balance, and one man rose to meet that challenge?

Yeah, I know; even I think it's crazy. I imagine it being some insane conglomeration of "The Incredibles" plus "Sky Captain" plus "Star Wars". It sounds nuts, I know... But it'd be a hell of a movie.

Alright, still awake? That was my idea for the conceit of the movie, and the basic direction I'd take it. Flash himself ended up being a little more... complex. With the story's idea being so straightforward, I kind of wondered what kind of man would be able to make that over-the-top action work without being a bland, cardboard-cutout of an action hero. So, here's what I came up with (Thanks to Sci-Fi channel for being the only people to actually give Flash a real first name; I mean, could you imagine your parents naming you 'Flash'? geez...)

Stephen Gordon is a man adrift. He is an average man, of average looks (pleasing but not handsome), with average intelligence, working at an average job. Stephen was quite the dreamer in high school and college- he dreamed of doing so many things, anything but getting that business degree (how boring! But it was the only thing is father would pay for). He wanted to be someone others looked up to, someone others wanted to emulate. He wanted to be a visionary, a superstar athlete, a man of letters and arts. He wanted to be it all.

Unfortunately, his short attention span often got in the way of his dreams; Stephen rarely followed through on any of his plans. This wouldn't be so bad, if not for the fact that he had a tendency to announce his plans to the world at large long before they ever came to fruition. This constant barrage of ideas and daydreams that burned brightly, but briefly, led to his nickname, “Flash”- short for “flash in the pan”, once folks got to know him.

Stephen used to have dreams of making a difference in the world. Once out of college and into the real world, however, there was no time and no place for him to make a difference. Reality got in the way.

All that has changed now. Thrust into a new reality beyond his wildest imaginings, Stephen Gordon realized that on the bizarre world of Mongo, he is finally free of the burdens and limitations of his past. For the first time in his life, he is truly free. He can finally live up to the ideal vision of himself he long ago abandoned. And perhaps, in the insane, impossible, dreamlike world of Mongo, he has finally found the place to make his dreams real.

Stephen Gordon is gone.

Long live Flash.

Music: "Bring Me to Life" - Evanescence

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