Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Gone Girl - Origins

The NYT best seller.
Image from Wikipedia.
Sometimes if you begin a manuscript, stamp a title on it and then let it percolate for a decade, someone else publishes a New York Times best-selling book under the same name before you get yours underway.  OK, I'm sure it doesn't always happen that way, but that is what happened to me.


 Gone Girl the Prose Memoir

In 2006, I participated in National Write a Novel Month (NaNoWriMo) with the goal of creating a minimum 55,000-word manuscript.  I took a blood oath to complete the project along with two fellow artist and writers.  By November 30th I had written 77,000 words of a memoir outlining the years leading up to and after a friend's death.  I meant it to be an interesting travelogue that just happened to include a tragedy.  

Toast to our lost friends!  Taken on November 29, 2006
after typing the last words of my NaNoWriMo draft.
(It really was that cold in my apartment.)
It was not the Great American Novel, which is forgivable from an unedited manuscript written in 30 consecutive  late evenings.   The process did get the raw material onto the page, though, and--while I pushed the project aside to work on professional projects--it started a process that I hope will eventually lead to a work worthy of the subject.

The 1995 Cover.


Gone Girl the Poetry Chap Book

The obvious reason for titling my manuscript Gone Girl is that the book included two female lead characters and one of them goes away.  The less obvious fact is that I was falling back on a title I had already used in 1995.  It was the title of one of the poems I used to read on Portland, OR Spoken Word stages and later used as the title of my first poetry chapbook, which is copyrighted 1995.  

One night I was going to perform at Portland's historic Cafe Lena, and I told the poet Douglas Spangle that I was nervous.  When they called me to stage, he yelled "You Go Girl!" and when I walked off after reading he shouted "You're GONE Girl!" It stuck with me.


Gone Girl Comics - Then and Now

Gone Girl the poetry chap book also contains my first comic.  It's a four page silent comic that only has two word, GIMP and HEAL, spelled out in sign language at the beginning and end of the story.  Ten years later, I drew my second comics story--an illustration of a poem by David Lasky--and another 5 or so years after that I published my first all-out minicomic.  

Gone Girl, the novel by Gillian Flynn, came out shortly before I put out Gone Girl Comics #1, and I was unaware of it.  When people started referencing it, I didn't pay much attention.  Lots of things share titles.  Then her book sold very, very well and now the movie.  

Page 1 of 4 of my first comic.
I am disappointed, because all of the comics work I've done up to date has been preparation for
converting my initial manuscript into a full-length graphic novel under the title Gone Girl.  I have friends who pseudo-jokingly goad me to sue for the name, since I published first, but there's very little chance Gillian came across my 600-run self-published poetry/comic hybrid, to begin with.  And I'll leave fame-via-litigation to former Jerry Springer contestants er...special guest speakers.

On top of everything else, I've had women roll their eyes at me without even masking their condescension when reading the title of Gone Girl Comics.  Even if it lived in my mind first, and I'm attached to it, some faction from the Court of Public Opinion will always judge against my use of Gone Girl as a title for anything literary.


One cover image from the
Real Gone Girl site.
Courtesy Miriam Libicki


Other Gone Girls

My Gone Girl is gone.  I've changed the title of my pending graphic novel to Girl on A Road, which is a song by Ferron, suggested by cartoonist Mark Campos.  But it's worth noting that Gillian Flynn just might have lifted the title Gone Girl from a short story of the same name by noir writer Lew Archer.

I'd also like to mention Real Gone Girl comics by Miriam Libicki.  Miriam lives in Canada and creates beautifully rendered and well-written autobio comics about her service in the Israeli army during the second Intifada, among other things.  Though our comics have shared a similar name, I can't imagine a much more different life than mine, and I'm really happy that the whole copyright issue led me to discovering her stories and artwork. Be sure to check her work out here.

C-log posts on comics, publication and community on Tuesdays.

No comments:

Post a Comment