Comics by Shaenon II

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 Post subject: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:13 pm 
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Mysterious Stranger
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Hey, kids, let's put on a show! Here are some questions about what kind of show we should put on:

What format do y'all have in mind? An audio play with dialogue and music? A written script plus a "soundtrack album"? An animated video, or a video with still pictures taken from the strips? A fully-staged musical? (Who plays Gavotte?) Would we actually perform what we're writing, at a con or elsewhere? Where is everyone located? (I'm in the Los Angeles area.)

Before we go down the path of music, we need a story. If we stay both within Skin Horse canon, and within the existing story arcs, it saves us having to invent an entirely new plot (I don't think we can improve on Jeff and Shaenon, anyway). Another option would be to use the ongoing filename story. Or we could invent a new story that is consistent with the current canon, but outside of it. If we want to use existing arcs, which one or ones? If we use the current arc, do we extrapolate the rest of the plot, or wait to see what Jeff and Shaenon write?

I'm glad to see we have a couple composers in Quentin and Marni. I can write the occasional melody, but most of what I come up with is too derivative. I noodle a bit on the piano and autoharp, but my only real instrument is my voice (I sang professionally in my youth). I'm teaching myself to use Garage Band, which may come in handy. Ed, you're a natural-born lyricist. Have your written any music?

I've never written music collaboratively. I know some teams write lyrics first and set them to music, and some do the opposite. Does anyone have experience at this? Any preferences?

I'm sure there are many other questions I haven't thought of. I can't wait to hear your ideas.

Kay Gilbert (2w4r[at]usinternet[dot]com)


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:39 am 
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Mysterious Stranger

Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:39 am
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Quentin 'Cubist' Long here. For the storyline of this here musical, I suggest we tell the tale of how one of the current employees came to be on Skin Horse's payroll. This way, the strip's continuity will be pretty much irrelevant, and we'll also have a built-in rationale for explaining everything to the audience. I'd recommend that we focus on Tip, since he's the most-recent hire, which would let us have fun introducing the entire rest of the gang. As an intriguing alternative, we could look in on a totally unexplored era in Skin Horse's history, which would give us an excuse to invent an entirely original cast of characters (and, therefore, guarantee that the strip's actual continuity won't be damaged by the musical, or vice versa).

Format: An animated film. This will let us pull off nifty cinematic tricks that would be difficult-to-impossible for a bunch of amateurs to achieve on the presumably miniscule budget that will be available to us. Like, Moustachio's song could be accompanied by low-resolution black&white footage (simulating Victorian-era zoopraxiscope images) with an occasional 'text card' such as was used in silent movies to denote dialogue.


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:03 pm 
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Mysterious Stranger

Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:03 pm
Posts: 7
Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Hi, Ed finally checking in here.

Yes, I have written a few original songs. A couple of them were about the Narbonic cast ... Helen, Mell, and Artie. I had an idea for Dave's song, but never did much beside the chorus.

I agree with Quentin that animation would be the best medium. Talking dogs and sentient swarms of bees are tough to do in live-action, as would Tip's near-instantaneous seduction techniques. As for our budget, we could try funding through Kickstarter (like some comic artists I could mention :) )

For the story ... I like the idea of focusing on Tip, maybe building on the filename story. Start with his interview and meeting with Sweetheart, and end as he's about to talk to Leo at the National Zoo. I can see making a running joke out of "The situation is under control; I'm a psychologist."

Possible scenes:
There was a brief mention in the comic, that Tip tried dating Unity once. We could show that, or at least the aftermath.
Sweetheart could have a song about one of her "rampages"
I like Quentin's idea of Moustachio's flashback done as an old-time black-and-white film, with title cards (and tinny piano music?)
Also, we could have characters that don't make it to the end of the show (i.e. the beginning of the comic). Hey, if Unity gets hungry, whatcha gonna do?

Keep the ideas coming,
Ed

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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:26 pm 
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I like the idea of a prequel of sorts. We can build on the info in the filename story, and go beyond it as well. One thing I've always found interesting is that Skin Horse had an opening for Tip because Unity killed two of its agents when she was, what, captured? Transferred to Skin Horse by Anasigma? (That brings in Dr. Lee, too). If we're doing a Skin Horse origin story, does anyone have any theories how Goldbug fits into the picture? He/she/it seems to have formed Skin Horse and recruited Tip, but I don't have any instincts about Goldbug, even if this is a benevolent entity or not. And what about the shadowy Mr. Green of Anasigma? Are they Dr. X and Magneto, or is there some other dynamic? Hell if I know. I'm a little queasy at the idea of establishing a story for characters, like Goldbug, when Jeff and Shaenon will almost certainly have revelations that will almost certainly contradict what we come up with. Or am I overly cautious?

The video idea sounds good. I was actually a film student and professor in college and graduate school, but that was in the dear, dead days of actual film stock that you spliced with a razor and tape. I have no experience with digital video or animation at all, but I'm willing to learn. I can see the sepia-toned Victorian sequence, too. That would look great. Could we maybe have an ancestor of Tip who helps tame Moustachio? In Victorian drag? Could Moustachio have been invented by an ancestor of Tigerlily Jones? I watch too much Torchwood.

Oh, and I want at least one song for the therapy puppets. Maybe they could even be a kind of Greek chorus.


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:25 am 
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Mysterious Stranger

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The therapy puppets are the chorus -- any song which occurs before Tip's entrance should be sung entirely by characters who are on stage, without any backing vocals; after Tip shows up, the therapy puppets provide N-part harmonic backing vocals as needed. Yes, including for songs which Tip doesn't actually have anything to do with. I don't see that the puppets actually need a song unto themselves, but I am willing to be persuaded if someone comes up with a good-enough justification (and I'd say that a way-cool Therapy Puppet song would qualify as 'good-enough justification').
Let's leave Goldbug out of it. As noted, we (the readers) got no friggin' clue whatsoever about how/where/why Goldbug fits into things, so I say he/she/it is best ignored. Something like a reference to Goldbug in one of the songs would be okay, but nothing more than that, please? Ditto for Mr. Green. In fact, I think we shouldn't worry about any characters who haven't gotten any 'face time' in the strip yet.
A character who doesn't make it all the way to the end of the musical: Clearly, this person must wear a red shirt...

Hmm... I just realized that "the most recent addition to the Skin Horse payroll" is not Tip; rather, it's Nick. If we want to have all the current characters, we'll therefore want to focus on Nick's induction into the ranks, not Tip's. On the plus side, this means we can have Therapy Puppet backing vocals for every song.


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:47 am 
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Mysterious Stranger

Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2008 4:03 pm
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Location: Fort Wayne, IN
Cubist wrote:
The therapy puppets are the chorus -- any song which occurs before Tip's entrance should be sung entirely by characters who are on stage,


If we're doing animation, do we really have characters "on stage"? I could see having the therapy puppets as Greek chorus if we were doing live theater, but background vocals in an animated work don't have to belong to a particular character.

Speaking of choruses, should we have a chorus of voices for Gavotte? Several hundred bodies wouldn't sing in unison, now, would they? They could also illustrate what she's saying by forming shapes in the air (kind of like the school of fish in "Finding Nemo").

Don't know if we need to include Nick if this is a prequel ... there were other briefly-mentioned characters such as Plasma Adam, Lou the Peace Lily, and Aloysius the Guinea Pig. Aloysius appeared in the Volume 1 bonus story, and kinda had Nick's "f*** everybody" attitude.

The plot could establish that Skin Horse (and non humans in general) have enemies. There could be an attack on the group at the play's climax, giving Tip a chance to show off his badass-ness. Tip is seen throughout the show as a comic figure in drag, but when cornered ... WHAM! Out comes the Army hero. Which leaves the other SH members watching in shock.

"What ARE you?!"
[blowing smoke from the barrel of Alice] "I'm a psychologist."

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Faster than a very fast thing!
More powerful than something really powerful!
Able to leap objects over which most people are unable to leap in a single bound in a single bound!


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:40 am 
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New Madsci

Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 5:44 pm
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I agree with Quentin that we should be wary of saying anything about Goldbug, Mr. Green, or anyone else that hasn't already been established as canon by Shaenon and Jeff. As a general rule, I should think we'd have to be careful about the existing canon in any matters where there seems to be an existing canon in Shaenon's and Jeff's minds, whether or not they've revealed it to us yet.

For example, having Tip display his latent badassery in the musical might make for a great show, but Sweetheart and Unity are surprised by it in the Alaska storyline, so they can't be allowed to see him acting like an Army hero at any time before the Alaska trip. If the musical is a prequel to the existing Skin Horse stories, either Tip doesn't get to be a badass at all or else he can't be one when Sweetheart and Unity are present.

Also, I am very much in favor of the idea of using the Therapy Puppets as a Greek chorus, animated or otherwise.

Also also, at the risk of violating my own rule, in a sepia-toned Moustachio flashback sequence, would it not be totally ginchy to see cameos of the Victorian versions of the characters from a certain mad-science-themed strip? I mean, there's no indication that Victorian Madblood actually created Moustachio--that might be just a little too tidy a coincidence anyway--but we haven't established that the Victorian Helen, Mell, and Dave (and Madblood) were't at the Exposition where M went on his rampage....


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 Post subject: Re: Skin Horse: the Musical
PostPosted: Tue Sep 20, 2011 6:25 pm 
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I get this picture of my head of a bunch of Special Forces guys singing "There is Nothing Like a Dame" with Tip.


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