I Survived the Tower of The Great Few and Lived to Write About It: Part 4

Posted: Saturday, July 16, 2011 by Matt Xell in

In the morning I told my brother, The Red Plus, about the vivid nightmare and told him that I would be writing a new story about it, he wasn't that excited about it ( or The Narrow Escapes of Ben Benns for that matter) he just wanted to read more Ryan Thompson/Daydreamer stories. Then I told my friend, Mike, about the concept of The Tower of The Great Few and said that it would be our first published collaboration, a dark graphic novel that would launch our careers and set the platform for our more mainstream comic book series; The Day Dreamer and Skate or Die ( a comic book about skateboarding that Mike had been working on for years ... and a detailed concept for something called Retro Weapon, that was cool too). I never got to have a proper pre-production meeting with Mike for the graphic novel; he was a natural at art and far better than I was ... but at age 17, like most normal teenage-boys his age, girls and partying took priority above all other things.

But not for me, I didn't have much of a social life ... and I'd made a promise to my late best friend, Muleya, that I'd make it as an artist and a writer ... and I really believed that this story, The Tower of The Great Few, would be my doorway into the art and entertainment industry.

In the following months, though, I struggled with the concepts for both The Narrow Escapes of Ben Benns and The Tower of The Great Few. I just couldn't develop proper or, at least, satisfying plots for the two stories and I couldn't work out what would happen in the next installments. I gave up on the stories for a bit in December and turned back to my art; my 'new year's resolution' for 2007 was become as good at my pencil work as I was at my penned works.

The new year came and a few months into it, I'd almost completely stopped work on the two stories. Following my new year's resolution to become a better artist, I'd developed a very strict practice regime; I would draw 3 - 5 hours a day burning through tonnes of 'How To Draw Manga' tutorials, and I think (though I don't like to look at old my old artwork) I was making a lot of progress. Then, of course, she came along, interfered and completely distracted me ...

I was watching MTV yet again (God, I miss the old MTV ... now it's all about Justin Biebers, Lady Gagas and Lil' Wayneses), and the video for AFI's new single ( not so new, I think it came out in late 2006) Love Like Winter from the album December Underground came on, and there she was .. the first iteration ( heh -I've been abusing this word -- it means version) of That Dark Teenage Girl. In the video she led the seemingly hypnotised band members of AFI into some derelict and snow covered woods. I guess they weren't worthy or strong enough to be with her because one by one they fell victim to a blizzard that grew stronger the closer they got to her. The video ends with  Davey Havok (the lead vocalist of the band) falling into a frozen lake, the dark teenage girl dived in after him to give him a kiss for his efforts and then she disappeared and he sunk to the bottom of the lake ...

That video ... and that girl in particular did something to me ... though I  dunno if they are words to describe it (but I'll try anyways) ... an awesome, godly and profound sort of inspiration came over me. I had to write about her.

With the little money I had on me, I left home and headed to an internet cafe to download the Love Like Winter video and mp3, also I downloaded Placebo's Song to Say Goodbye video and mp3 coz I  had a little extra on me. I watched those two videos back to back in a loop for long time on my PC. I was consumed by a great burning desire to write about those two characters; the little dirty blonde-haired kid from the Placebo video and the dark teenage girl from the AFI video consumed. And then it hit me ...

For weeks, I'd been playing around with the idea of merging The Narrow Escapes of Ben Benns with The Tower of The Great Few but I didn't know how I would do this ... and now I knew how, those two characters from those music videos were the key missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle. In the days that followed, it all came together. I completely killed off Ben's character (sad but true) and replaced him with the dirty blonde-haired kid, but he needed a new name, something extremely unique ... I called him Ves Asirin ... and so the title for the new series would be The Narrow Escapes of Ves Asirin.  And The Tower of The Great Few would be the first installment in the new series, but that title wasn't working as well either, so I scrapped off  'The' from it and translated 'The Great Few' into a made up language (that I would later call Kapriseik): Parlen Min ... and I got Tower of Parlen Min.

Next came the plot; how would Ves come to be at this Tower? I remembered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and House on Haunted Hill which had inspired the nightmare ... yes, of course; Ves would win an invitation to the tower. But VesEragorn ... something that would make his fight against good and evil, his right to live ... his narrow escapes that much more deadly. Sadly, I decided he needed a handicap, a lifelong struggle with something like a disease maybe. I didn't want to make it something that would eventually end his life, no, that would be insulting the memory of my late best-friend, Muleya ... Ves would see the fight through to the end. Then I remembered that with the Ben Benns concepts I'd played around with the idea of telling the stories backwards; the movie Memento by Christopher Nolan had inspired this ...  Hey, I thought, that one main character had some sort of short-term memory loss, didn't he? Yes! Brilliant, Ves would have a much more complex but similar form of the memory disorder ... what an awesome concept!

But what about that dark teenage girl were would she come in? This would be the real task ... one that would take 2 years to solve ... I had to write the whole story to find out for myself.

In July that year, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out and like the fanatic I was ( still am) I got my hands on the book the very day of release. I locked myself up in my room for three days, reading it as slow as I could taking it all in word by painful word. It was a great book, the best in the series even ... but was it really a satisfying ending? I dunno. Had we waited all those 10 years to see Harry defeat the dark Lord Voldemort via the 'old switcheroo' of wands? No ... no way. I wanted Harry to beat the crap out of Voldemort for what he'd done to him, his family and his friends. I wanted to see a  Star Wars style duel between two great wizards to find out who was the real bad-ass of the magical realm. I wanted Harry to blast Voldemort to oblivion with a Kamehameha type spell. But wasn't that the kind of ending we'd been promised since Goblet of Fire? Meh - but maybe I'm just an action Junkie ...

I was pissed off for the longest time at Deathly Hallows' ending. I realise now that I was only being childish; Jo Rowling did the absolute best that she could have and she deserves all the praise and adoration (and millions of money) that she got for Harry Potter. But I still wanted my kick-ass ending ... Ves and I would have to be the ones to do it. I decided then I think to put my ambition of being a great comic book artist on hold for a long time and focus on being a great writer. Tower of Parlen Min would no longer be a graphic novel (at least not yet) but the first in a series of six books featuring Ves as the main character.

And the dark teenage girl would start it all ... an adventure beyond his wildest dream, a nightmare beyond his wildest nightmare.