In which our intrepid hero creates a montage and explores an idea.

I had a few moments to spare last night, so I decided to finally give my copy of Comic Book Creator 2 a whirl, to create a title page for an imaginary comic book:

(Click to enlarge.)

Perhaps it bears a bit of explaining, for those who don’t get the references.

Franz Kafka was a Jewish Czech writer who became a byword for the depression and paranoia that haunts his tales. His most famous work, The Metamorphosis, details the protagonist’s inexorable change into a giant cockroach, and The Trial (later adapted for the screen by Orson Welles) follows a man who falls victim to a bureaucracy intent on punishing him for a crime of which he knows nothing.

Jeremy Bentham founded the school of ethics known as utilitarianism—one of the foundations of Western political thought—but he’s also well-known as the father of the modern penal system. His model Panopticon prison exemplifies ubiquitous surveillance and the use of psychology to reform inmates.

When Bentham died, his mummified body was placed on display at University College London, as per his wishes. His remains made frequent appearances at College Council meetings—recorded as “present but not voting”—and by tradition, tied votes are automatically broken, as Bentham’s corpse is taken to have voted in favour of the motion.

I read a great deal of Robert Heinlein growing up, and one thing he said about writing has stuck with me through the years:

Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of—but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.

The analogy’s pretty obvious, but he’s right: writing is a deeply personal, solitary exercise, or at least it is for me.

It’s a fragile process that bears little scrutiny from others. On the one hand, you have a creative urge with the dark, troubled introspection of Kafka; on the other, the omnipresent Panopticon of life in the “real world”. And somehow, you have to find some sort of equilibrium in between.

So why does the protagonist succumb, I hear you ask? Because it’s Kafka—and Kafka’s protagonists never triumph.