See that picture over there on the right?
Co-creating the story that it refers to has been one of the most fun and interactive creative exploits that I’ve done in recent years. Even when I was working on it, I knew that I wanted to write a blog post about it, because of the sheer explosion of enjoyment that was had, and because the story behind the story is actually quite interesting too.
It was only a week or so when I was contacted by the insane thrust of Mr. A.D. Fanton
, the uncannily gifted chronicler of ‘The Astonishing Adventures of Lord Likely
) asking me if I would lend a hand in celebrating 3 whole years
of the tales of the Lord. Well, I think highly of both the Lord and of Mr Fanton, so he had me at ‘Hello’. Fanton wanted his brainchild, Lord Likely, to cross paths with my own Cornelius Quaint, and I immediately jumped at the chance. There were many things that convinced me that we were destined to collaborate on something. The time periods matched, the polar opposites of the characters matched, Lord Likely has a manservant called Botter, whilst Quaint has one called Butter – the synchronicity between our two main men was just too delicious to pass up. The different facets of the characters too, was a driving force – one is an aristocratic Lord mercilessly shagging his way throughout the female population of Victorian London, whilst the other is a square-jawed, straight-backed conjurer with a strong altruistic streak and a knack for getting into trouble.
And so we set to work. I say work, but it was the easiest thing I’ve ever written. As the Fanton Menace pointed out, the thing practically wrote itself. We had a germ of an idea, and kitted out with rough directions on what part of the story I should start work on, both Fanton and myself began our bits independently, and we hoped that they might dovetail in nicely once one party saw what the other had written and vice versa.
What we got was pure gold (in my honest and ever so humble opinion). We have hardly tinkered around with any of what you can see in the first chapter of “The Bloody Baffling Buckingham Bluff
“. Dr Fantonstein and myself were in simpatico from minute one, both of us ensuring that our heroes’ integrity (or lack of it) was preserved, which in mind is the definition of a ruddy good team-up. I’ve been reading comics for many years, and I have seen superhero team-ups done well, and not so well.
Usually one side ends up being a slightly diluted caricature of themselves, a ‘lite’ version of what you know, but every so often two minds are acting and interacting on such a level of understanding that everything is in perfect balance. I remember when Batman and Spider-Man teamed up some years back. Spidey was always a daylight superhero to me, swinging around Manhattan to the Daily Bugle office, whereas Bats was always a night-lover. Commissioner Gordon’s bat-signal would have been (bat)shit during the day. So when Spidey and Bats teamed up, the writers had to decide – do we push Spidey to the dark side, or push Bats to the light? How are we going to get the perfect blend of such two different personalities? The answer is compromise – and the other answer is to ensure that the story itself has a valid justification why one character would step into another character’s world.
One reason why I wanted to preserve my thoughts on this (albeit in virtual form) is due to the sheer originality employed during it’s creation – such as when Fanton and I had both done our separate bits independently, and we’d reached a moment where our 2 characters meet and both punches and quips are traded with equal measure. Staging a fight scene can be tricky. Staging a one-sided fight scene completely blind to what the other person is doing is impossible. We decided that sending emails to and fro was cumbersome and slow. So how do you get around creating instant snappy patter – with both writer doing the dialogue for their own character – and still make it read as kinetically as it needs to be. The answer was to employ mediums such as Google docs – where Fanton Esquire and I could both work on the same document “live” and see what the other had written, and twitter – where one writer had finished his bit, and then handed over the reins to the other to write the reaction with a nice DM.
Much hilarity ensued when Quaint and Likely have the fracas as described in Part 1
of “The Bloody Baffling Buckingham Bluff
“, and the creation of this scene involved Fanton (as Likely) throwing a punch, and me (as Quaint) giving as good as I/he get/gets. I have read that scene many times and I challenge anyone who knows either my own work, or that of Mr A.D. Fanton’s work, to be able to tell which of us wrote what. We have put our egos in a drawer and focused on having some damn good fun with our characters – as well as create a cracking good tale that wouldn’t look out of place in either Lord Likely’s world, or Cornelius Quaint’s.
So, please do go and check out Fanton’s website at www.lordlikely.com
and once you’re there why not peruse his bountiful collection of aristocratic archives. A word of caution:
Lord Likely’s bawdy tales are not for the faint of heart – saucy, hilarious, original and sometimes downright filthy stuff – but every one is a classic just waiting for the advent of time to catch up with it.