Well Red™ with RED TASH – Mining the Rich Labyrinth of Fictional Crossovers

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Okay, so I wrote another Wizard Tale.  Bless me and throw rice my direction, okay?

The Wizard Tales is now either a trilogy or a series of five stories, depending on how you count. If you’re only counting the stories that center on the mysterious Wizard, himself, I just released Number Three, The Wizard Takes the Cake. If you allow stories in which the Wizard appears, or his current apprentice is introduced, we’re on Number Five. Wow, it’s crossover stuff, just like in the comic books! Who woulda thunk it?

There’s a big difference between the way voracious bookworms and comic fanatics look at mashups, crossovers, and spin-offs. Perhaps because the medium of comics is so short and sweet, backstory, subplots, sidequels for sidekicks and the like are the norm. People who devour novels, on the other hand, get so much “facetime” with their chosen fantasy worlds that they emerge themselves in the lives of characters for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months before “surfacing.” I like to do a little of both.
 
I remember discovering Dave McKean’s Black Orchid in 1991, with its stunningly beautiful artwork. The Dark Knight made a tiny cameo, which made me want to read more about Arkham Asylum in general, which got me looking into Harvey Dent and all his “issues” and other Batman-related characters in a new light. It was fun! Funny thing— I looked at that comic again a couple of years ago and realized it was written by one of my idols: Neil Gaiman. If you’ve ever read his novels, you know he’s got no fear of fictional character sidequels and crossover, either. American Gods, anyone? Anansi Boys? If you haven’t read ’em yet, you’re missing out.

Stephen King Flow ChartAs an avid reader, myself, I always enjoyed the crossover that another of my writing idols, Stephen King, used in so much of his fiction. I mean, how many stories were set in and around Derry, Maine?

So, yeah, all my fiction thus far exists in one world. I once did a blog post about the overlapping planes of perception/existence, as much for my own understanding of the larger world I was building, as to answer any future reader questions. It might only be loosely connected, but it’s there. Harlow from Troll Or Derby is singing on the street in This Brilliant Darkness, and I’ve pubbed several tie-in stories that star characters from those two novels over the past year.

The one stand-alone story I wrote last year ended up not being stand-alone at all. It was about a boy named Lucian, obsessed with Deadpool and facing down school bullies on the occasion of his final round with “Trick or Treat” before puberty sweeps him up into its loving arms. Only problem for Lucian on that night was that the very last door he knocked on had a real witch waiting to give him her version of a treat.

Lucian stuck with me. I didn’t know where that character came from (my oldest son says “So it’s about me, right?” every time the Deadpool aspect is mentioned), but Lucian was one of those characters that surprised me. Instead of being a one-off who learns his lesson and goes his own way, he kept yammering at me: “I have single-handedly disarmed the witch who desecrated the grave of my mother! Are you really telling me I don’t warrant at least a look-see from The Wizard?” Abracadabra, another crossover is born.

I don’t know if I’m lucky or if I’m cursed, but I highly suspect there is a type of creative who can’t shut off, as far as channeling stories goes. I look at that flowchart from King, I see where my storyverse is headed, and I understand that I could conceivably be Wizard Takes the Cake 3Dtranscribing this stuff for the rest of my life, if the audience is willing to keep reading. It excites me, and I enjoy it. It’s not work. I mean—don’t get me wrong—it is work. The writing, the editing, the covers, the marketing, all that stuff. Although, when it comes to the Wizard I have been fortunate to have the skills of indie horror artist Nicolas Caesar at my disposal. You may be familiar with Nick from his website Scary-Art.com, the indie comics he’s put out this year as part of Scary Art Publishing, or maybe even from the appearances his work has made on television and in the movies.

This time, the Wizard cover came out super colorful. Like, whoa, that’s a lot of color. I like it, though. It says “look at me!”  It’s like this little ebook is peacocking, which is appropriate considering the attire Lucian gets into for the wedding in the story. I am heartily enjoying the covers Nick comes up with, and the work his colorists surprise me with, each time. I totally understand the value of eye-catching cover art and the license cover artists should have to create what they’re inspired to do! Hey, when the day comes that I want a more boring version of a wizard cover, I’ll hire it done to my specs and include all these wonderful originals a bonus material. For now I’m having fun doing it this way. One of the pleasures of being indie is being able to go as purple as I wanna be.

Anyway… I started to write this column about weddings, so I better steer it back that direction. Whether you love weddings or hate them, they’re always a mishmash of everyone the couple knows. People from work crossover with people from school, neighbors mingle with co-workers, extended family hits the dance floor with the members of your Swingers Club (or whatever it is you do at that monthly “lodge meeting”). It might be a little awkward at first, but if you keep an open mind, you can almost always meet someone new, maybe even start your own spin-off.

In The Wizard Takes a Fitness Class, the Wizard alludes to a zombie from his past as he faces the nemesis who was once his apprentice. In The Wizard Takes the Cake, we meet that zombie. I won’t tell you who it was, but suffice it to say that when it comes to weddings, the Wizard always brings something old (himself), something new (his students), something borrowed (I won’t spoil it), and something ew… Yum, the living dead.

It remains to be seen if I’ll write about zombies again in the Wizard tales. The Witch Doctor of Bora Bora’s been waiting for a visit since Wizard 2. Sounds like a great place for a honeymoon, doesn’t it? Wonder how dragons hold up in a tropical climate. Hrm…I feel a story idea brewing. You think Bora Bora’s a good place for a honeymoon?

Wizard Takes the Cake Final CoverMysterious Wizard Banner

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10 Responses to Well Red™ with RED TASH – Mining the Rich Labyrinth of Fictional Crossovers

  1. tomstewdevine says:

    The King Flow chart is so awesome, when you read the Dark Tower Books your head might explode because it’s connected to almost all his books.

    And Randal Flagg might just move to the very middle.

  2. IronMuskrat says:

    I love this article!

    I’m by no stretch of the imagination a writer, but I love roleplaying games, and in the course of writing some of my adventures and campaigns it would fascinate me the way some of my minor NPC’s would take on a whole life of their own. A lot of it had to do with instant feedback from players, who would often become focused on a background character that I never intended to play any real role in my adventure. But being a good DM, I would adjust on the fly and go with what my players were having fun with.

    Sooo, my band of brave adventures have decided to totally ignore the brooding wizard sitting in the corner of the local tavern(the one I spent a good bit of time writing a background for) and have decided to focus their attention on the one-handed barmaid serving them ale. Who was this barmaid? Why did she missing her left hand? I had no idea, she was just there to serve drinks, I hadn’t even give her a name. The missing hand was just something I made up on the spot.

    The weird thing was, the quest to rescue Yessica’s hand became one of the best adventures I ever ran for my players, she was such a popular character, I had her make cameos in other campaigns I created.

    Anyway, I’m babbling here, so I will wrap it up…

    Love the article, and I will have to read your the Wizard stories, because the only thing I dig more then a crazy looking wizard, it’s a carnivorous wedding cake. 🙂

    • Red Tash says:

      Muskrat, that’s awesome. It’s about time somebody got to know the warrior woman behind the wench!

      Don’t be too late down by the story’s lack of ferocious cake. The carnivorous cake is poetic license, a la what comic artists take with special edition covers of a comic series. My artist friend Nick Caesar could draw the wizard spread eagle on the hood of a sports car like Tawny Kitaen and I’d probably still run with the cover.

      However, I still think you’ll enjoy it. 😀

  3. “The Wizard Tales is now either a trilogy or a series of five stories, depending on how you count.”

    This is such a writer perspective! 😉

    I also enjoy crossovers in both what I read and what I write, Red. Madeleine L’Engle always did wonderful crossovers in her universe, and since she was a huge influence on my writing and reading from a young age, I patterned her.

    Awesome post!!

    🙂 Heidi

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