Fun, NOT Funny

Going to try blogging more regularly.  At least two or three times a week.  No promises, but we’ll see what happens.

By the way, I’ll be taking part in Borders.com’s Babel Clash, a two week blogging exchange thing.  I’m not really sure how it works or what I’ll be doing, but it’s flattering to be asked to participate.  So I’ll be doing it because any chance to meet new fans without forcing me to get up and leave my house is cool with me.  It’ll start next Wednesday.  I’ll keep you updated gang.

So I finally finished CATCHING THE MOON.  Still have work to do on it, but I felt comfortable enough to turn it over to my editor and see what they have to say.

And now I’m free to just relax and pursue a new manuscript.  I’ve started MOJO NEPTUNE, WARLORD OF EARTH.  It’s a story about a retired alien supervillain and the problems he gets into trying to save a world he previously conquered himself.  Mojo is the space squid equivalent of Doctor Doom, chaotic neutral (or possibly chaotic lawful), and he isn’t exactly a nice guy.  But he’s really not evil either.  He’s just super intelligent and bored and trying to figure out what to do with himself.

I tweeted the title and backstory of the story a few days ago, and two of my close friends told me they thought it was a joke.  For the life of me, I don’t know why.  This is a story with a space squid protagonists, Venusian warriors, Saturnite stone people, ray guns, time machines, and probably (though not certainly at this point) an Atlantean uprising.  Doesn’t it sound like something I’d write?  Heck, I’m not sure it’s even the weirdest thing I’ve written.

The other thing that came up was the funny writer label.  One or two people observed that if I didn’t want to be viewed as a funny writer, I probably should stop writing stuff like this.  And I can see where they’re coming from.   It has some funny stuff in it.  There’s humor.  There’s absurdity.  But, despite all that, I still wouldn’t call it a funny book.

But maybe it’s just a matter of perception.  I don’t like being called funny, but I do like being called fun.  I do like writing fun books that make you smile, that are enjoyable to read, that engage the reader with cool ideas and snappy dialogue and strange, memorable (hopefully) moments.  Fun is good.  Fun is a worthy goal.

Funny is just too much damn pressure.  It’s also just a touch one-dimensional.  The line between drama and comedy is mostly an illusion.  It seems as if anything makes you smile or doesn’t bring you down that it must automatically be silly or light.  But, as I’ve said before, I don’t buy that.

One of my favorite movies last year was CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS.  Yes, it’s an absurdist romp with plenty of jokes.  But I really did care about the characters, and there’s a satisfaction in the growth and resolution of their characters and conflicts.  KUNG FU PANDA isn’t just about cool super kung fu battles.  It’s also about Master Sifu’s struggles with his own guilt, Tai Lung’s ruthless (and tragic) pursuit of kung fu perfection, and Po’s evolution from jovial wannabe to jovial hero.  These films are funny, yes, and fun.  But that doesn’t make them less.

The recent JUSTICE LEAGUE: CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS is, in many ways, a dark story about a villain who seeks to destroy the universe for no other reason than his nihlistic obsession.  That’s pretty heavy stuff.  But it’s also about a guy in a batsuit and an alien in blue and red spandex who fight evil counterparts from an alternate dimension.  It’s fun.

Fun is not a bad thing.

So, yes, I’m funny.  And I don’t deny it.  But it has never been my goal to make the audience laugh, though if that hurts I’m not complaining.  Still, I’m striving to entertain, and if that makes me less of an artist, I’ll live with it.

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,

Lee

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7 Comments

  1. Posted March 12, 2010 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    Keep fighting and writing! I don’t enjoy books unless they have a little levity to them. After picking up “Gil’s All-Fright”, I had to run out and get ‘Monster’ and am eye-balling ‘Divine Misfortune’. ‘Gil’s’ had the thrills, suspense, drama, and romance but it was also fun to read because of the characters and situations. What you rattled off about Venusians, Saturnites, and ray-guns and time machines just made me want to see the first page MOJO NEPTUNE right now. That kind of mix reminds me of old Saturday morning radio and tv shows. That’s the good stuff. Let those other folks keep reading their old stodgy, uptight stuff and I’ll keep reading the ‘fun’ stuff!

  2. Doug Johnson
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Comedy tends to be timely and topical. Fun is timeless. Another author who is “fun” to read, but not “comic” is Robert Parker. Or Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar novels. Your version of fun leans toward the Terry Pratchett, but hangs back into the more emotionally real world, if anything with detective robots, re-animating military leaders and digesting rugs can be considered real.
    You’ve got a great handle on “your voice”…no need to be concerned about being funny. You are not projecting the desperation of a stand-up comic. You have the easy grace of the skillful raconteur, eliciting laughter when needed, but keeping us, always, turning pages.

  3. Skip
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I enjoy your books can’t wait untill your new books are relase. You gave us the story for Mojo Neptune can you tell us anything about Catching the Moon? You have such a great gift for telling amazing stories I just cant wait to see what you will come up with next.

  4. Jesse
    Posted March 12, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I read Monster after a recommendation popped up on io9.com and I found it thoroughly enjoyable. It felt very similar in tone to Men in Black; levity and seriousness all around.

    I’m reading The Automatic Detective now (My Kindle tells me I’m 60% through it so no spoilers.) and in the first chapter has a 4 armed blue furry guy. Sure a bit odd but in the context it’s not funny.

  5. Posted March 12, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Well, here’s my take on it. (Because I’m sure THAT’S what you wanted on a Friday afternoon.)

    The idea of the book sounds super fun and awesome, but the title of the book has me thinking of Mojo Jojo, which then has me thinking of monkeys with funky brains… so I think oh–this is a joke, right?

    I hear what you are saying on the fun, not funny thing… I don’t want to read a book that is FUNNY, I want to read one that is fun. Sure I want it to make m laugh, but I also want it to make my heart pitter patter and my stomach tighten in places, too. :)

  6. Posted March 12, 2010 at 9:40 pm | Permalink

    Funny, moving, entertaining, heartrending, gripping…Yeah, yeah, yeah, your books can be all those.

    But here’s what really matters: We loves it, my precious, we loves it.

    Think of it this way. I make a pretty darn good chocolate dessert. Some people call it Torte with Dark Chocolate Ganache. Some people call it cake with frosting.

    I just call it…delicious.

    Just keep making the delicious stuff, okay?

  7. Elizabeth
    Posted March 20, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I have a less than fun job. It is rewarding but when you are telling a mom she has to move out of her home in five days, it is not something that you can enjoy. So to have something like your novels is nice to escape into and I always actually laugh at the jokes. Fun books are a good way to unwind when you have a tough job or life.

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