10.3.12

An ape escapes from Alcatraz while I get high on genre film inspiration...

I'm a film buff and consequently watch a lot of movies. A lot of the time I finish a flick enthused and inspired, eager to explore similar ideas in a different format and riff on the images and concepts in, say comics or illustrated stories. This daily picture book challenge ensures that that fresh burst of inspiration is actually followed through and doesn't just get shelved or, most tragic of all, disappear and die - another fleeting spark that doesn't get kindled. I have two many notebooks and shoeboxes full of ideas that "I'll return to later".

Having a daily target and the structure it enforces has enabled to act on those flights of whimsy and crack at the ideas right away. So it goes for today's story which came into my head a short time after I'd watched excellent French prison drama Un Proph├Ęte. I thought "damn, I love the prison movie genre and I want to pay tribute to it and spawn my prison tale tribute to the tales I dig so much and get a whole lot of inspiration from." This morning the idea for "Amos the Ape Escapes from Alcatraz" hit me and I typed it up. Simple as. As a writer, very satisfying.

So, the end result is that I've got a picture book tale that's pretty much Escape From Alcatraz if Clint Eastwood was a primate. I like the idea of an ape being the only person to ever escape from The Rock, plus it gave me the opportunity to think about 1920s gangsters and period details and load a script full of in-jokes and obscure references. Channeling the spirit of other texts - mainly movies here - is something I relish and it's a nice experience having memories of Papillon, The Shawshank Redemption and I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang reverb around your mind as you're conjuring up your own tale.

The only downside is that it doesn't have any art at the moment and that I might be the only one who wants to read it. Still, it's all continual writing and getting high off imagination, inspiration and geekish affection for existing pop culture that makes you want to produce your own material all the more. It's good to feel that spirit and it's good fun imagining apes breaking out of Alcatraz and achieving freedom.

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