May 19, 2009

Gang-prevention comic-book videos

Some comic-book videos from our colleagues in Canada:The Healthy Aboriginal Network's (HAN) first draft of their comic that deals with gang prevention and the positive impact of physical activity. HAN is using YouTube to test the story outline and concept with online focus groups and to collect their feedback. The feedback will be used to develop the final draft of the comic which will be published in full colour for distribution.

Rob's reply

I like almost everything about these videos. It feels like you have a good group of characters and plot elements--enough for a fine comic book.

A few comments--constructive comments, I hope:

  • The police chief's two-minute deadline to decide seems unrealistic. Wouldn't he give Cullen a day or something?

  • As you may know, I'm always seeking more specificity in Native storytelling. There's nothing specific to any Native culture here. Just semi-generic things like a talking circle and making drums.

  • I think it would enrich the story if you added some words or concepts from a specific culture. It doesn't have to be from a specific tribe, just a cultural group like the Ojibwe or Cree.

    I guess the counterargument is that you want the story to be universal. But universal means more general and less interesting. I don't think people are put off by more details. Just the opposite, I'd say: the more detailed it is, the more real it seems. Which makes it more interesting and involving to readers.

  • I suppose it's too late now for a major rewrite, but I'd say the story needs a subplot or two to add drama. It's a little too straightforward and earnest as it is. It wouldn't have to be anything hugely different; just a little twist to add suspense.

  • For instance, Cullen accidentally shot the baby and only Reggie knows he did it. Reggie doesn't just give Cullen the evil eye, he blackmails him to rejoin the gang. Cullen must decide whether he'll go back to the gang life or reveal himself as the shooter.

    Or it could be something about reuniting with Tina and his baby. For instance, when he was a gang member, she got a restraining order saying he couldn't see them. Now he's not only afraid, he's physically barred from approaching her. But when the community sees he's reformed, she reappears to him. Because he didn't expect this, the ending has more of an impact.

  • The only other thing I'd say is don't make Cullen too much of a square-jawed Superman. He's so tall and handsome that it's hard to take him seriously as a gangbanger. He already looks like a hero even when he's with the gang.

  • It's like putting John Wayne or Harrison Ford or Tom Hanks into a gang. I.e., it stretches credulity a bit. What about giving him a tattoo or a piercing or something? If Cullen looks like a gangbanger but then reforms, the transformation will be more sincere and affecting.

    For more on the subject, see Comics Good for Your Health and Comic Books Featuring Indians.

    1 comment:

    dmarks said...

    I'm glad the police are taking care of the Cullens. It's a problem you can't rely only on Quileute werewolves to solve all the time.