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I've been pondering this question since I started making little photostories with the characters in my head. Specifically, I have been wondering if the skills I develop in my digital photostories can transfer to my doll photostories.

At first, I thought my digital skills nontransferrable because digital and doll photostory formats differ significantly. My digital photostories feature landscape photos with speech bubbles applied, so there's no multipanel page layout to consider. By contrast, my doll photostories feature photos of various shapes and sizes, several to a page, with speech bubbles applied.

As I have quickly learned, much, much, much less happens in a single digital landscape photo than happens in a single doll photostory page. This makes sense, as a digital landscape photo is not really equivalent to a doll photostory page. A digital landscape photo is more properly comparable to a single panel on a doll photostory page.

Even comparing a digital landscape photo to a single doll photostory panel, I still find that much less happens in the photo than in the panel. I have always tended to cram one person's entire set of lines in a single panel, but digital photos don't conduce that. I'm much more likely to separate a single person's lines into multiple photos at natural speech breaks.

For example, here's some dialogue from the latest digital drama between me and Jareth:

Me: Hi, Jareth!

Jareth: Is it merry-go-round time? I have the best outfit --

Me: Pas encore. J'ai une question. Why do you always... [etc., etc., etc.]

In a doll photostory, I would be very likely to stick a photo of me in the left panel and a photo of Jareth in the right panel and put this entire exchange in between the panels. In a digital photostory, my first line is a single photo, as is Jareth's line. " Pas encore. J'ai une question"
has its own separate photo, as does the question in question [har har]. In summary, digital photostories at least double the number of pictures involved, which means that they require more time and more work for less narrative movement.

The comparatively slow pace of digital photostories drives me up the freakin' wall! The kinky carnival [which I will do one of these days, I promise], which would be just a single, exceptionally long written scene, now stretches into multiple vignettes of God knows how many photos [because I haven't taken them yet]. It will take me days to do. Meanwhile, my mind already skips onto the next project, waiting impatiently for my execution to catch up.

Though I find the slow pace of digital photostories exasperating, I realize that it is precisely this deliberate progress that I seek to emulate in Zombieville. I have put so much effort into backstory, characters, dolls, sets, props and everything that I want to linger in this world for a while. I want to take sharp, detailed close-ups and set panoramas so that people can appreciate my customization and construction. I want to slow down the conversation so that people can really absorb some of the detail that I worked so hard to give the characters. My impatience doesn't want me to tell the story so slowly, but everything else about me does so that I can enjoy my creation along with my readers.

To answer the subject line's question, why yes, I am learning from my latest digital foray. I'm learning how to tell a story slowly.

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As much as I think Cola is adorable, I've decided that her character is slightly more complex.

Cola [legal name: Nicola] Fiore got her nickname because she is so bubbly. She says hello to everyone and never forgets a name. When she says, "How are you?" people feel like she really cares about the answer, and they end up telling her more than they expected. People describe her as warm, kind, caring and gentle. She is popular and beloved enough that people have suggested more than once that she should run for local office.

Cola runs her own yoga and aerobics studio, CoreWorks, specializing in "adaptive workouts," that is, yoga and aerobics for people with disabilities. She has a low-key teaching style in which she promotes "feeling at home in your body." She comes to Wharf Lane Apartments to teach weekly classes, which Chaz attends and enjoys very much. Chaz encourages Isabel to come with her. After a series of classes, during which Isabel learns that she is more flexible than she expected, she feels proud of herself and less hostile toward her fats.

Of course, Cola has her secrets. When the Cold Choice makes its yearly appearance and PWS have to confront brain shortages, Cola trades in black-market brains of dubious quality and/or provenance, always at a significant markup. She is one of the most successful Killers [black-market dealers] because she presents her illegal options as a favor that she's doing for you because she doesn't want to see anyone suffer.

Though Cola is considered one of the most trustworthy Killers, she faces opposition. Firsthand accounts swear up and down that she has passed off expired brains as fresh and pig brains as human. And who knows where she gets her brains anyway? Her supporters insist that she would never dupe PWS that way and, besides, the expired brains were just a few days over anyway. And all her brains are certified cruelty-free. Cola's reputation mostly protects her, but the rumors never wholly disappear.

Then she is arrested for conspiring to kill people and harvest their brains for resale. She hired nursing staff in elder care facilities who would kill clients in ways that seemed to be of natural causes. She justifies herself by saying, "I offer a painless, compassionate end to people whose time has come. And they get to be useful. Doesn't everyone want to leave a legacy and do something good for the world?" 

During her trial, it comes out that Cola herself has spondis. The press gleefully labels her Cola the Zombie Killer.  Her defense tries to argue that her spondis-related brain damage left her unable to tell right from wrong. The PWS community is pissed off by the defense's insulting and erroneous assumption, "Cola making us look bad," the abnormal public thinking that their stereotypes of PWS as evil, remorseless, grisly murderers are justified, etc.

The opinions of PWS split on Cola. Her supporters can't really deny that she did it, but they say that she acted out of compassion. Her detractors think that she committed unforgivably revolting crimes. Chaz reacts with anger born out of a sense of personal betrayal, saying that she should be punished harshly because she's "a bad example and a traitor to her own kind. She took advantage of us all for her own selfish ends!" Anna notices that Cola's hits out on old and almost always disabled people demonstrate ageism, ableism and an obsession with being "productive" and "useful," with the implication that elderly and/or disabled people aren't worth living. Isabel feels confused, surprised that Cola has been doing unethical, illegal things and tainted by association because she attended some of Cola's classes. 
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Both of these are significant places in Zombieville, in Burlington's South End, right next door. Rumpy Pumpy is at 402 Pine Street, while the Body Shop is in the same building at 404.

Rumpy Pumpy is, of course, Peter Paxton's store. It's a resale and consignment shop for vintage and funky shoes, bags and accessories. Because he lives off a trust fund that his rich parents provided him, he runs the store as a hobby. It never seems to do lots of business, but it has a reputation as the coolest outpost of fashion in Vermont. It supports local artists by displaying their work on its walls. It also participates in the yearly South End Art Hop and First Friday Art Walks.

The Body Shop is owned by Pearlene Eustis [see P. Bo hacking posts], a PWS and militant Z Pride activist. There's another owner too, as yet undefined. The Body Shop is a cafe and community center. While Rumpy Pumpy welcomes PWS and works hard to support the city's arts community in general, the Body Shop explicitly welcomes and supports PWS. The owner hires PWS and offers menu items that contain fresh human brains. The walls showcase art by PWS, while a small stage in the back hosts bands, speeches and rallies by/for the PWS community.

The Body Shop welcomes Toxic Waste denizens hanging out, using the toilet and/or wireless connection, charging their phones, receiving mail c/o the Body Shop, pretty much everything except for taking baths in the bathroom. In return, the Body Shop asks for some contribution from the Toxic Waste denizens. There are a few designated places where PWS can make contributions: washing dishes, maintaining Web site, bookkeeping, transporting day-old food to the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, arranging art exhibits, arranging bands, speakers and other events. Toxic Waste denizens regularly volunteer at the Body Shop, then end up working there part-time.

The Body Shop has a back corner, kind of behind the stage, for the Brain Trust. They hold their weekly meetings in this semi-private location, as well as any ad hoc subcommittee meetings. Anyone can sit there, but, if the Brain Trust shows up, people in their spot have to move.

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Given that I see resettled Somali Bantu people everywhere around Winooski, especially kids, I think Zombieville needs at least one, a young woman, who was moved here with her family at a very young age.  

EDIT: The Somali Bantu Community Organization of Vermont [which is in Winooski] estimates that there are about 600 Somali Bantu people in Chittenden County. As far as I can tell, the highest concentrations are in the Old North End of Burlington and in Winooski.
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Here's a possibility for the Zombieville title. Font is Ebenezer with large caps and small caps.

Read more... )
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Based on my discussion with batchix in comments on this entry, a claw machine wrote its way into Zombieville, where it now features prominently in an entire subplot. Sheesh!!

Fortunately, the machine itself [which does not need to be playable] will be exceptionally easy to make. The hard part will be making the custom toys that piss Isabel off. Stay tuned for the construction of the Catch a Zombie! game.

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Name M/F PWS POC Self ID Fat
Anna F PWS   queer ex-fat
Béatrice F     lesbian fat
Blaze         fat
Carter M     bi fat
Isabel F PWS   queer fat
Arine not tan, currently Mazzy          
Arine tan     POC    
Chaz F PWS POC    
Dillon M        
Dr. Z. F PWS POC    
Elin, currently Avery          
Koit tan     POC    
Megan F   POC    
Novella F        
Peter M PWS   straight  
Rose, currently Jamisia          
Sylvia F   POC    
Theophany F        
Toxic Waste denizen   PWS      
Charlie M     straight  
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These are all the denizens so far. Those names in brackets are the sculpt names of unassigned dolls. The Toxic Waste denizen is a person who has not been assigned a doll and who will probably end up being one of the people currently bracketed. "PWS" stands for person with spondis.

I'm thinking about changing Novella's name to Penelope, but I'm not sure if I can because she's been Novella for too long.

Name M/F PWS POC Self ID Fat
Anna F PWS   queer ex-fat
Isabel F PWS   queer fat
Carter M     bi fat
Béatrice F     lesbian fat
Dillon M        
Megan F   POC    
Dr. Z. F PWS POC    
Novella F        
[Metel]     POC    
[Koit]     POC    
[Arine]     POC    
Peter M PWS   straight  
Chaz F PWS POC    
Theophany F        
Toxic Waste denizen          

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I'm currently in the interesting situation of making up Zombieville as I go along. The exhilarating sense of discovery and possibility occasionally fades in favor of alarm at the project's scope, but mostly I'm just having a lot of fun.

Zombieville denizens are currently pestering me on two fronts. Some of them are people that I made not specifically for Zombieville, but who are so cool that they simply demand to live there, like Anna, Béatrice, Novella and Peter. Some of them are people that I would like to incorporate into the story as subcultural representatives, like Dr. Z., Dr. Z.'s assistant, a Toxic Waste resident, a Reaper, etc. When I have unassigned, but really cool, people, I try to give them roles that need filling and work the story around them.

Of course, though, I'm also in the position of getting really nifty doll ideas, like "Groovy Sterling," who recently barged in, informing me that, not only did she have a killer sense of style, but also that her name was Megan Meehan and she was Dr. Z.'s assistant. Oh yeah, and she has a master's in public health from UVM.

Sigh. They're so pushy! ...And I love every minute of it! ^_^

I've been concentrating on developing the Zombieville subculture, but I'm also realizing that I need a few people outside it to embody just what PWS are up against.

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I started off conceptualizing Zombieville denizens as people who use wheelchairs, canes, walkers and other mobility aids. I've been working on Isabel, Anna and Peter, however, all of which have obvious signs of physical damage: Isabel is missing her eye; Anna is missing patches of skin on her face, her right forearm and her right hand; Peter is grey all over and missing a whole segment of his left cheek. I therefore realized that PWS [people with spondis] also tend to have obvious signs of injury.

I've added some signs of injury to Peter and Anna by giving them bandaged wounds. Both of them have strips of tissue wrapped around bare body parts and secured with white glue. Impregnating the tissue with white glue also helps the bandages mold to their bodies, giving a more realistic appearance. I've also cut very small strips of Band-Aids and wrapped them around Anna's worst fingers and put one on the back of Peter's hand.

Now I'm thinking about further signs associated with spondis besides mobility aids and bandages. I'm thinking of the following:
  • Arm slings.
  • Wrist splints/supports.
  • Knee braces, either soft or with metal frames and joints.
  • Casts.
I'll have to work on this.
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Mose Allison's My Brain is my current favorite song, which I've been hearing regularly on Jazz 24. Here's an article about Allison's continuing status as a living jazz legend, even past the age of 83, which is when he wrote My Brain. And here's a studio recording. Lyrics are in the top comment by High Northerner. Here's a live version. It's all the sharper for being sung by a man near the end of his life. If Zombieville had an official song, this would be it: a gallows humor celebration of life.
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First things first...all these references to zombies you've been seeing refer to the denizens in my future saga entitled Zombieville. Many of the denizens have a degenerative condition called spontaneous disintegration [spondis], which causes their body parts to drop off and which may be arrested only through a diet of at least 50% fresh human brains. People with spondis tend to refer to themselves as PWS, but the public calls them zombies. As Burlington, Vermont has the highest concentration of PWS in the country, its nickname is Zombieville...hence the saga's title.

Anyway, there's a truly infuriating minority of abnormals [the PWS' term for people who do not have spondis :p ] who wish that they had spondis themselves. Unfortunately, their idea of spondis comes from the pop culture image of zombies, so there's a lot of shambling, bleeding and "Braaaaaaaains!" involved, which has very little to do with the actual daily lives of PWS.

Abnormals who are wannabes fetishize PWS in all the ways you can imagine. Some dress up as PWS, with canes, fake blood and cans of pork brains. Some collect zombie memorabilia...and that's where these little zombie figurines by Zombie Planet, 1 to 1.5 inches tall [6 to 8 inches in 1:6 scale] come in. For just a few bucks, I can furnish a wannabe with an obsession!

EDIT: Apparently there's a whole tabletop gaming subgenre of zombie figs...This review provides details of several makers' zombies.

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I sanded down Béatrice's ears and gave her a faceup today. She's now waiting for her jewelry, a pair of big dangly earrings and matching choker.

I learned more about Béatrice's character today. She's a cancer survivor left bald and mostly eyebrowless by radiation treatment. She sews custom clothing for fat women and sells it online on her site, Zaftique. She's a REALLY LOUD person [probably talks all in caps], a confident extrovert who enjoys being the center of attention. [How could she not, with that smile?] She thinks it's very amusing to freak out the straights, like by yelling, "GET OUT OF MY WAY!!" when someone doesn't see her. Though she comes across as intimidating, she's very friendly, and one can win her everlasting friendship by sitting down, squatting or otherwise getting on her level when talking to her.Read more... )

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Primarily so I can get them out of my head and go back to work.

Isabel's best zombie friend is a woman who uses an electric wheelchair, because I'll be damned if I spend all that money to make a 1:6 scale one and then not show it off. She is missing parts of both legs.

Béatrice, another of Isabel's regular associates with a currently undefined role, is a woman who has achondroplastic dwarfism [the most common type]. She also identifies as fat and is a member of the fat acceptance movement. She and Isabel's best zombie friend know each other from PWD activism and often discuss the deplorable accessibility of the state.
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Dunno if I've mentioned this before, but the arrival of my Elfdoll Doona Ryung entails the creation of at least three full dolls.

As a default doll, Ryung is 20cm high, representing therefore a child 4 feet tall, who could convincingly be anywhere between 6 and 11 years old. She comes with four expressive faceplates: neutral, sleeping, half-closed and pissy.

I believe that Ryung's headsculpt could also work for a more mature doll. Therefore, to make Isabel, I want to mount the single Ryung headback + half-closed faceplate on a 27cm body.

For Isabel's body, I have chosen a Xagadoll Lara, who only comes as a full doll, that is, a body + head. When I put Isabelle together, I will thus be left with a Lara head, a Ryung body and three Ryung faceplates [neutral, sleeping and pissy].

I plan to put the Lara head on the Ryung body to make an as-yet-undefined kid.

I also plan to sculpt a headback for one of the remaining Ryung faceplates to create a head for Isabel's identical twin brother Carter, who is NOT a zombie. Carter then needs his own body; I'm thinking an Illusion Spirit Spirit with the chest sanded down, reflecting Carter's status as a trans guy [with, incidentally, a butch lesbian past at a women's college].

I'm thinking that one of the remaining faceplates would be for Isabelle's pre-zombie flashbacks, while the other could be her sleeping or something. Then I would have to film lots of naps to make good use of it. :p

Hey there, Carter. Hey there, unnamed kid. Welcome to the club.
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I've been thinking about it, and I've made some name changes...

Kinneret is now Isabel Forrest.

Béatrice keeps her name and adds Doucette for a surname, as well as French Canadian ancestry.

Theophany keeps Theophany as a daily name, but her given name is Tiffany Marvin. [Tiffany was too boring.]

??? is now Chaz, short for Chastity, Loving. It should be obvious why she goes by Chaz. :p

I notice that there are no cis dudes in the Vermont zombie community yet, and I'm perfectly okay with leaving them out. That's because cis dudes are incredibly boring. They've been done before.
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Since my post about two weeks ago on recycling dolls of previous characters into present ones, I've been thinking about rehab in general, specifically for 1:6 scale BJDs. Because they're relatively expensive, it makes sense to maintain as they are only those that I'm really really attached to and then recycle the others. And by "recycle," I do not mean "throw in the bin;" I mean "redo as new people."

In practice, this means that I am keeping the following 1:6 scale BJDs as is: Ellery, Lucian, Flower, Ginevra, Mellifer, Novella and Submit. Ellery and Lucian occupy favored historical status as beloved characters, while the rest are unique fantasy characters in a mythology universe who are not being converted.

That leaves a whole shelf load of people available for conversion. There's Avery, Kristin, Jamisia, Mazzy and MacKenzie, the secondaries of Me and My Muses. There's also Absinthe, a tertiary from LHF.

We also have quite a few people in an ambiguous state. Ç’est à dire that Kinneret, Béatrice, Theophany and ??? Chaz, the incoming Batchix Nan Sook, will hopefully become zombies and/or zombie groupies in a few years, when Me and My Muses wraps up, but right now they're not really doing anything except for having unusual names.

I'm gonna have to think up more realistic, commonly used names for them. Their personalities can be unusual; their clothes, hair and appearances can be outlandish, but their names have to be down-to-earth.

Now back to my to do list, as I think up "normal" names in the back of my head...

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The following items are on their way to support my doll crack habit:

First off, electric wheelchair parts! I ordered two ZC World Online office chairs, one pink, one blue, from their first series, not their weird, webbing-based second series. I also ordered two New Ray 1:24 scale Fortwos, color irrelevant, as they will be sculpted lightly over and repainted. Finally, I got two Iwako erasers in the shape of pencil sharpeners for joyboxes.

While I was on the site, I also ordered erasers in the shapes of a laptop, a tablet computer and a box of crackers that look suspiciously like Ritz. These will not be part of the electric wheelchairs. :p

Second, I got a 1:6 scale door!!!!!! It's a fancy wooden frame for a photo album, measuring about 8 x 13 inches, which is good enough for me. Needs a door knob, as well as the eradication of that wreath-like travesty up by the fan light, but that's okay. I also don't mind the dings and scratches because well-used front doors rarely look pristine. Best of all, this was just $15.84, most of which was shipping in a medium priority flat rate box.

Oh yeah, and, if anyone wants to search for a similar door, it's from House of Lloyd in their Christmas around the World series. I recommend searching for "christmas door photo album," though. Very few of the Ebay listings for this door mention its brand. It was incredibly hard to find that information, by the way, so you're welcome. :p
Look...a door! )

As i have repeatedly mentioned, Theophany will be coming home from Andrea's house later this month, along with some neon ribbons for Novella's crop top straps and flame-like fabric for Mellifer's wrap skirt.

In other 1:6 scale BJD news, there's another one coming. She's a completed tan Nan Sook by Batchix, along with some damaged heads and a junk torso. I'm thrilled to have another addition [really cute, also really rare!] to my 1:6 scale resin hordes at an unbelievable steal, and Batchix is thrilled that someone wants one of her factory second BJDs. No name or character yet, but I would like to do some zombification experiments on her spare parts.... Muah hah hah! >:}

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Ever since I created Zinnia Pascale and enjoyed filming her biting [hah!] remarks toward stupid people, I've thought that doing a zombie Web comic with dolls would be a whole lot of fun. With Me and My Muses in full swing, this project would not get off the ground for a while, but I just might have discovered the germ of my next 1:6 saga...



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