Scribing about scribing

“Scribing”, otherwise known as “graphic recording”, “graphic facilitation”, etc, is where an event is captured, often in real time, by an artist using words and pictures. You can be employed to do this, though I often do it on paper for my own benefit at conferences or talks I attend.

This year I’ve had more work in this field, so I was asked to speak on a “Graphic Recording” panel at the Australian Cartoonists Association’s Stanleys Conference this past weekend. Because I’m less expert at it than the other participants (Sarah Firth, Luke Watson and Glen Le Lievre), I asked if I could just scribe the panel itself rather than speak. This was the result!

Scribing about scribing - result of a panel at the ACA's Stanleys conference, Nov 2014

Hopefully you get an idea of the content of the panel, which was really well received. The very funny Peter Berner came up and asked me some questions about it afterwards, so hopefully we’ll be seeing him doing some scribing soon (he’d be uniquely well-equipped for it)!

Someone asked if we tend to “editorialise” while we draw. I said that I definitely do (unless I’m asked not to). I certainly did above. The editorial is bound up in the process of understanding what we’re scribing. If we don’t get it (which happens when we’re thrown into a situation with no context and loads of jargon/acronyms), you end up with lots of words and arrows and clouds and stuff but not much rhyme or reason to it. If we understand the topic, you get a better result (and I can start making jokes)…

No, really, I’m a writer

My day job at the moment is animating on the second series of Dogstar!



The same trailer, in Japanese:


I worked on the original series a few years back. As Australian kids TV goes, it’s pretty shit-hot (this means “good”). So Michael V (my deskmate) and I would amuse ourselves by coming up with ideas for exciting new adventures for the occupants of the good ship Valiant.

Glen Clark: we like animating him because he's a doofus.

Glen Clark: we like animating him because he's a doofus.



I got a bit serious about it when I knew the second series was coming, and told the show’s producer I wanted to pitch him a story. He turned it down (apparently, having professional award-winning writers already is good enough for him. What a nutty nut). So here’s the story I tried to sell him on! Might not make much sense if you’ve never seen the show (or watched the trailer above).

PS: sorry about the shitty dog pun title. All the first season episodes had them. This is a particularly bad one; I was proud of it.

“Dogs Led Race”
Outline

Act 1

DOGSTAR
Zeke appears in the guise of a philosopher, wearing a smoking jacket and holding a pipe (not owning a tobacco pipe, he has substituted a copper plumbing fitting of a similar size). He has decided that, since “to err is human”, he will prove his humanity by making as many stupid mistakes as possible. He begins immediately with some Jerry Lewis-quality physical ineptitude.

VALIANT
Glen farts, which is very funny. Suddenly, the Valiant is intercepted by a flashy, Funny Car dragster-looking ship. The alien crew of the ship (who look a little bit like Ed Roth’s RAT FINK) are from the planet Pinkschlep. They hail the Valiant and start making fun of the old cargo ship. Captain Glen takes offense and starts making outrageous claims about the Valiant’s awesome capabilities. Having fallen right into their trap, the rat hoons challenge him to a drag race. The loser gives up their ship! To everyone’s shock, Glen accepts.

Act 2

VALIANT
Lincoln attempts to hot up the Valiant mechanically but its limitations suggest they still won’t be able to beat the rats. When Glen farts again Lincoln has a frightening idea: he can synthesize a well known gas (i.e. nitrous) which, injected into the engine during the race, will give them a turbo boost. Simone, however, is against this because (a) it is cheating, and (b) the gas is illegal and highly unstable, and known to cause ships to explode. Unfortunately, this sounds like a challenge to Lincoln, and fun to Gemma.

DOGSTAR
Alice continues trying to talk Zeke out of his “mistake making” but fails. He “mistakenly” opens the cargo bay doors and shoots thousands of doggie toys out into space.

VALIANT
Lincoln has produced the nitrous, and disturbingly, is starting to come off a bit hoonish himself. When the rats appear onscreen to tell them it’s almost race time, Lincoln gives them a bit more lip than they were expecting. Glen begins to wonder if he’s made a big mistake. Gran suggests it’s time to tell Mark and Greta what he’s done.

EARTH (via video link)
Mark, understandably, is not happy. Greta agrees that using nitrous would be cheating, and dangerous, and to Mark’s horror, insists that Glen stick by his word and race unaided. If he loses the Valiant, their search for the Dogstar will be over – something he should have considered before making this foolish bet! Glen gulps and hopes his awesome driving skills will be enough…

Act 3

VALIANT
The two ships line up for the race.

EARTH
Having insisted on keeping the video link open, Mark watches on his home screen, squirming. Greta appears with snacks, wearing a drinky-straw hat and a giant foam “We’re #1” hand. Gran gives them updates on what’s happening in classic race commentator style.

VALIANT
The race begins! Glen does what he can but the Valiant is being soundly thrashed. Gran continues commentating with gusto. Abruptly, the rats’ ship goes kerblooey – they’ve cheated with nitrous and an engine has exploded! Heroic Glen turns the Valiant around to save the rats from their deteriorating ship, Mark yelling at the TV all the while. Finally the rats are safe aboard the Valiant, where they agree to call it a “draw”. All are freaked out when the rats’ mother appears onscreen to bawl out her son for wrecking her ship (the Gemini) which she needs to take her mother to the skin specialist.

Mark acknowledges Glen’s good driving. Glen accepts the compliment somewhat ungraciously until, not having been paying attention, the Valiant finds itself under attack. Everyone prepares for the worst, but the attack turns out to be a hailstorm of harmless doggie toys. Where could they have come from?

DOGSTAR
Alice convinces Zeke to stop his shenanigans by pointing out he is causing his accidents on purpose, and therefore they are not mistakes, but choices he has made. He counters that since humans make independent choices as well as mistakes, this is no proof he is not human. Following this, he makes an unintended mistake and gets hit by something heavy.

THE END

I think it’s a winner! Fast spaceships, slapstick and the farts are TIED INTO THE PLOT! Ah well. If you or anyone you know is making an animated series that needs quality Jewish comedy writing, drop me a line. I can hook you up.

This is my favourite bit of the whole first series. I wish the whole show was like this!