Behold. The great wrym. Dathu-ro. The Death Beneath the Sands.
With the reveal of Issue 15’s cover yesterday, we saw a lot of comments regarding the sandworm. Nothing negative or mean (that we saw, though I’m sure it’s out there somewhere) but many remarks talking about its resemblance to shai-hulud from Dune. Of course we put a sandworm on the desert planet. You don’t tease a desert planet for four chapters and then not put a sandworm in the fifth and final chapter. Sandworms are badass and we wanted one of our own. If Beetlejuice can have sandworms, so can we. Of course we were inspired by Dune, but this sandworm doesn’t produce magic space dust as part of its life cycle because that would be too inspired by Dune. And if you’ve been reading the tale of the desert dwellers between Issues, you know the name of our sandworm already.
Honestly, I couldn’t be happier with all the comments we got about the sandworm. I get happy whenever anyone throws Dune references at me. But it wasn’t only shai-hulud and spice jokes! There was some love shown to Mass Effect with thresher maw comments, and even one graboid reference to show some love to Tremors! Giant worms, whether they live in deserts or underground or on wholly alien environments, are as much a part of our collective mythology as dragons and elves. They’re a staple of hostile settings and they’re awesome. Rattling off names of all the cool giant worms when you see ours reinforces our shared love of these monsters.
As much as I’m inspired by Dune and love shai-hulud, the sandworm was Garth’s idea. As we were wrapping up The Search for Black Hole Bill, we began to discuss our plans for the next storyline. Garth said to me, “Whatever we end up doing, I want Star Power to fight a sandworm. It’s an image that’s been living in my head and I need to get it out!” I jumped at the opportunity for us to have our own sandworm. One big ancient apex predator of the deep desert on a distant alien world. Did I mention I love working with Garth?
You’ll get to see more of this monstrosity as we delve deep into Issue 15, the extra-long finale to The Mystery of the Zel Gux Dynasty. We hope you enjoy it.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am less of a writer and more of a storyteller.
To me, a writer is someone who can craft images, worlds, journeys, and experiences with nothing more than the written word. A writer is someone who can put words to feelings you’ve always struggled to express, whether it’s through fiction or an insightful essay. A writer is someone who has their work enhanced by a other mediums, either visual or audio, but their work does not rely on it. The tool of the trade for a writer is the written word, and they need little else to create what they wish. I do not consider myself a writer.
A storyteller is someone who tells stories, obviously, but a storyteller’s tools of the trade vary slightly more than a writer’s. A storyteller can tell their story through the written word, public speaking, with aid from a visual medium (like writing for comics), in the form of a song, and any other artistic or performance method. A storyteller takes you on a journey with their tale, whether the point of the story is meant to entertain or to educate. I consider myself a storyteller, even though my profession these days is “the writer” for STAR POWER.
I’ve never been good at working with only the written word. I need other mediums to tell my stories. Comics provided what I needed, relieving me of my difficulties with describing environments, characters, and emotions that seasoned writers are so skilled at conveying. After fourteen years of making webcomics, I feel I’m quite good at using the right facial expression and/or body language in a panel to convey what a writer can in a paragraph. When I’m on a panel discussion or giving a lecture at a convention, my storytelling becomes public speaking, where I can use my voice, facial expressions, and body language to share my personal insight into the creative process. My wife and many of my friends often rely on me to relay events to others, because after so many years of public speaking and making comics I’m confident that I know how to tell a good story.
And yet I’m jealous of writers. I wish I was more adept at using only the written word to tell the stories I want to tell, or to write that super-insightful essay that becomes a viral think-piece and talking point. That with only the simplest of tools I could bring a fantasy world to life, and have that world and its characters become a cornerstone of our collective mythology (or at least a bestseller for a few weeks). But I’m old enough to know my limitations and my strengths, and rather than dwell on what I wish I was better at, I will take solace in the skills I possess and work to improve them.
Whatever the tools of your trade, use them to tell the stories you want to tell.