Because of an inflammatory comment made by SFWA VP Howard Hendrix, April 23rd has been declared International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day, wherein creative artists, writers, musicians, etc. post professional-quality work for free on the internet. You can see the celebration over at ipstp.
Most folks are using the chance to market their own saleable works -- which is precisely the point of the day, but since everything I have to sell is coming out around August, I decided to write a piece of flash fiction especially for today.
It's hard being a web-elf. Nobody knows what we do to keep the internet running smoothly. We scamper from server to server repairing broken links, quelling flames, and gathering stray pixels. We do what we can to herd Wikipedia -- but we can't make it fabulously interesting all the time. Sometimes the truth just slips in by accident.
When we do get noticed, though, it's never for anything good. One of our main jobs is to feed the trolls, and boy do we ever catch it for that. That's when the pitchforks and torches come out, and you'd think a "hunt-the-elf" flash game had leaked into the section of the internet where we were doling out the slop and the occassional kine. Not fun. But somebody has to feed them and clean out their pens -- the poor wretches would starve, or likely choke to death on their own fumes first. Better to keep them fed and clean, honestly, unless you'd rather your public spaces be littered with dead trolls. Not a pretty site, let me tell you.
Besides, when the trolls break free, who is it that helps the valiant young heroes defeat them? We deliver the swords and shields, the charms and aegi, and most important of all: the properly timed witty insult. Sure, it's those brave young lads and lasses that put their integrity and good sense on the line, but without us they'd just be lost, noobs amongst a sea of flames. And yet our help is forgotten as we stand behind the glories of those who do the slaying; we only support them as they bask in the adulation they deserve.
I'm not bitter, though. Honest. There are benefits to being a web-elf. Nobody else gets to watch your playful banter dance sprite-like across the Elysian fields of the forums you populate. Only we are allowed to see the eddies and flows of your information -- the electronic imprints of your state secrets, your chain letters, your fetishes and your pornography. We watch them swirl into a starry map glowing flush with human interest, hiding arcane delights and all-too-pedestrian horrors alike. And only we get to keep the pixels you discard in secret bouquets, brilliant and unearthly colors crafted by our gnarled elf hands into arrangements impossible to find elsewhere. Like our other tasks, gathering them may leave stains upon us, marking us as the technopeasants we are, but it's all a labor of love. We work hard to keep these technologies alive and beautiful, and when their mysteries unfold before us, we can only observe in reverie, reminding us that the work was worth it after all.
Also, in the spirit of IPSTPD, I'm posting the first three pages of script for Trinkets, a webcomic hazliya and I collaborate on. And by collaborate, I mean she does most of the work and I get to steal some credit. :)
Of course, you get to see some of our collaborative process at work here. The final product is substantially different from the script I put out.
Trinkets, pg. 1-3
Setting is Natalie's home during Winter break. She's starting to get adjusted to college life, but things have changed a lot over the past few months, and now home seems strange to her -- but she doesn't know just how strange it's going to get. But the first panel, at least, will start off with relative normalcy.
P. 1, Panel 1: A ceiling shot (def. an establishing shot) of Natalie sitting hunched over a notebook and a math book, as she tries to use the break to actually catch up on her work, what with all the pressure she feels is coming from her parents. We should see the back of her head and shoulders as she is scribbling furiously, as well as her desk. Her desk has all sorts of books and clutter across it, but its vaguely arranged, as in some books are here, some notebooks there, the pencils/pens are all in a pile. She has a desk lamp she's using to light the desk. Her desk, by the way, is in front of a window, which you may or may not want to use as a strong light source. This panel should span the upper part of the page.
Natalie: x squared, x cubed, x x x x !
(You may wish to do something creative with lettering here)
P. 1, Panel 2-5? 6? 100?: A profile shot of her face, and she's clearly upset/irritated. It starts a series of panels across the page as she slowly sinks down out the frame's focus until she thumps onto the desk.
P. 2, Panel 1: A front face shot, maybe kind of fish-lens-ish in focus so we can see a lot more of her room. She has a couple of posters up, the dresser, bed, that sort of thing. Her chin is in her hands and she's looking frustrated and frumpy. We can see in the background the Imaginary Friend standing there observing her, though we can't really make out the details. He's intriguing enough that the reader will want to see more in the next panels.
Differential equations is hard...
P. 2, panel 2: A shot of the math book over Natalie's shoulder. It's shaking and quivering -- being quite weird. Books don't *do* that, right?
P. 2, panel 3: Natalie looking shocked and surprised as "x" and various parts of an equation lift themselves from the page and hover in front of her.
Natalie: Um... What the...?
P. 2, panel 4: Natalie is definitely freaked and frazzled (and in profile) as the equation bits whoosh right past her face and off the page, leaving a bit of a wake, and leading the reader right onto the next page...
A full page shot of the Imaginary Friend standing smirking in the middle of Natalie's room with various equation bits floating around his head. In fact, we could make this panel an extension of p. 2 panel 4, in that we have a double image of Natalie, one freaked out and the other leaning through that panel into this page doing a double-take at the Im. Friend, while the wake trail of the letters leads from that panel to their positions floating and flying on this page.
Im. F: Someone looks a little bored...
What is this crap, anyways?
All of this is under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. Have fun!
I liked this line:
And only we get to keep the pixels you discard in secret bouquets, brilliant and unearthly colors crafted by our gnarled elf hands into arrangements impossible to find elsewhere.
I will have to come back and concentrate more intently on the comic--I have too little concentration this evening :-(
That's actually my favorite line, too. :)
And if you get back to the comic, I hope you enjoy it. I'm always awed at hazliya's lush artwork and clean lines. If only you could see her work -- most of it goes straight onto the page as it will onto the site! It's pretty amazing.
(which is not to say that she doesn't spend an appropriate amount of time editing and cleaning up and doing line work and all that, but it involves much less erasing than I've seen other artists employ :)