Not Dead – Dead Busy

Dear Insane Children, 

Just a quick note to say that I am not dead. But I am dead busy. 

If you’re waiting on Art Prints (in the mail) then I’m the reason… As I’ve been playing catch-up on getting everything sent out. Today, I finally cleared out the last of the previous month’s art prints that were in the system… except for 10 stragglers that I’m waiting on a restock of prints for. Did you know that every art print you get has to pass through my hands, get signed, packed, and sent out… all from our home in Shanghai? During a normal month, that’s 200~300 art prints. And that’s a lot of work!

Also on my task list is a ton of writing… Alice: Asylum story outline; Oz: Adventures game narrative synopsis; and Oz: Adventures TV-series questionnaire. 

That later document I’ll share with you in this post. It’s a series of questions sent to me by [REDACTED 2] (that’s the production company in Hollywood who are exploring the idea of turning Oz: Adventures into a TV series ala “Game of Thrones” or “Wheel of Time.” 

Anyway, I thought you all might like to read through the thoughts I shared in response to a series of questions meant to explore the direction that series might take. 

Aspiring writers of the film/tv variety, take note. This is a pretty typical series of questions – I’ve seen similar in the past – that you get when/if a production company takes interest in your idea. 

Here we go… 

What are some TV series analogs that you think would be comparable to this series?

Fantasy Island + Lost + Black Mirror + Twilight Zone

What TV series do you think are particularly well written? (Doesn’t have to be analogs, just what you like)

I loved the first season of Westworld. Ozark. Game of Thrones. The Mandalorian. Stranger Things. Castle Rock. Rick and Morty. 

 What directors/filmmakers do you like?

Christopher Nolan. Tim Burton, Guillermo Del Toro, Jordan Peele, Mike Flanagan, Drew Goddard, Clive Barker.

How do you see the tone? Leaning more to horror, leaning more to action/adventure?  

Different episodes (or tales told across a series of episodes) can lean towards horror or action or adventure… depends.  

A scientist who intentionally travels to Oz so he can harvest the essence of Eternal Life from the people of Oz… leans in the direction of horror. Especially as we explore the lengths to which he’ll go to collect his gruesome samples, repair his travel device, and get back to Earth.

A pirate sea captain following a treasure map to wealth and glory… feels more like an action/adventure. We then discover that he was formally a slave aboard the ship that carried him to Oz and that he seeks treasure only to buy freedom for his people back home. His dilemma increases further when he must choose between saving the people of Oz from enslavement or returning home.

 What are some preferred narrative threads (plots, arcs, storylines)? For example: are there some that are of particular interests to you, your team, and fans?

I like fairytales as an exploration of philosophy, morality, The Confrontation with Chaos, and psychological transformation. Trauma – preparing for it, encountering it, dealing with it, and using it as a means to transform oneself; these are themes that feature heavily in the stories I like to tell. Many of my fans say they are attracted to the characters I create because they ring true in relation to how they deal with trauma. 

Oz is a crucible of trauma and transformation. Dorothy’s adventure started and ended with murder… though she was too cold-blooded to recognize herself as a force for chaos. She ultimately learned nothing aside from “There’s no place like home.” Tell that to all those dead bodies you left behind! 

The people who end up in Oz do so mostly by accident. Most want to escape – to get home. Some decide they want to stay; some to rule; some for love; some because they feel they’ve found a home. Some are there to plunder the wealth and magic of Oz – to steal its resources (people, minerals, magic) and return those things to Earth. 

So we tell the story of these visitors, most of them having goals that are at odds with reality. Few are actually able to escape from Oz. Because the price of escape is to be destroyed, transformed, and reborn in a way that allows the journey. 

I think we might want to explore the notion that Oz is a place where people are sent to be tested. Its collective spirit and its people are (subconsciously?) aware of this – they live in what the books call an “uncivilized” place (which is why magic still works there). People coming into Oz from the “civilized” world aren’t there by accident – it’s like a Bermuda Triangle of Testing by Trauma. Those who pass the tests are transformed (rewarded). Those who fail the tests can look forward to being trapped in Oz for an eternity of trauma. 

 What core or interesting characters will be explored? Any familiar characters (Scarecrow, Tin-Man, Cowardly Lion), less familiar Baum characters (Jack Pumpkinhead, Tik-Tok, Nome King), and original created characters?

First, the timeline question: I think (?) it’s best if this series takes place after Dorothy and the familiar tales. The reason is that it avoids retconning classic characters – and pissing off Oz fans. But it’s important to note that life is eternal in Oz – everyone lives forever unless they are actively killed or murdered. That means we can have many of the classic characters make appearances in the new stories. So, yeah, Nome King, Tik-Tok, Pumpkinhead are all still around. 

There’s also an opportunity to create new variations on well-known characters. The Tin Man is a good example. The way in which he originally came into being can be reused to bring new “Tin Man” type characters into the world. Imagine our Pirate Captain (from above); he arrives in Oz with all his limbs intact but subsequently loses them one by one. Fortunately for him, losing limbs in Oz ins’t a big deal so long as you can have someone craft you new parts. So we could watch him transform over a series of stories into a Pirate Tin Man… but with Mad Max-style improvements… a sword arm, a gun hand, etc.

In describing your take on the Oz world: how is American McGee’s “Oz world” different than all previous Oz takes and incarnations?

I don’t know because I tend not to consume media related to the fairy tales I’m turning into new stories. I’ve only ever watched the original MGM Oz movie (years ago) and read the books. I know there are other variations on the stories out there but I’ve not consumed them. I do this because I don’t want to be influenced by or (writing) blocked by knowledge from those other variations on the stories. 

But I don’t think (?) that anyone has ever leveraged Oz as a place where a series of adventures take place as a result of all the “visitors” who arrive and interact with the world and its characters? 

Similarly, where does your story take place on the Oz timeline? Does it take place pre/post-Wizard and Dorothy, etc.?

Answered in #6. 

As usual, let me know in the comments below what you think of the outline for Oz: Adventures as presented here.

From Shanghai with Keyboards for Hands,


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