The story revolves around a group of twelve brain-whammy super-powered types called the FreakAngels who were somehow responsible for the end of the world. The details of how and why are not initially disclosed, but the result is a story that gets the lovely setting of a flooded, post-apocalyptic London. All of this is beautifully rendered by Paul Duffield, who I had quite sadly never heard of before. His art is lovely, and Ellis’s writing is, well…splendidly Ellis. So go read the comic. You won’t regret it.
All that aside, the point of this post isn’t to go on about how Ellis is an effing genius (which he is), nor how Duffield’s art is fantastic (though it is quite nice to look at) or even how FreakAngels is proving to be a really enjoyable read (again, go check it out). The purpose of this is to talk about the creative process.
During an interlude in FreakAngels, our dear Mr. Ellis posted the following:
I still get asked with appalling regularity “where my ideas come from.”
Here’s the deal. I flood my poor ageing head with information. Any information. Lots of it. And I let it all slosh around in the back of my brain, in the part normal people use for remembering bills, thinking about sex and making appointments to wash the dishes.
Eventually, you get a critical mass of information. Datum 1 plugs into Datum 2 which connects to Datum 3 and Data 4 and 5 stick to it and you’ve got a chain reaction. A bunch of stuff knits together and lights up and you’ve got what’s called “an idea”.
And for that brief moment where it’s all flaring and welding together, you are Holy. You can’t be touched. Something impossible and brilliant has happened and suddenly you understand what it would be like if Einstein’s brain was placed into the body of a young tyrannosaur, stuffed full of amphetamines and suffused with Sex Radiation.
That is what has happened to me tonight. I am beaming Sex Rays across the world and my brain is all lit up with Holy Fire. If I felt like it, I could shag a million nuns and destroy their faith in Christ.
From my chair.
See, this is the good bit about writing. It’s what keeps you going. It’s the wild rush of “shit, did I think of that?” with all kinds of weird chemicals shunting around your brain and ideas and images and moments and storyforms all opening up snapsnapsnap in your mind, a mass of new and unrealised possibilities.
It’s ten past two in the morning, and I’m completely wired, caught up in the new thing, shivering and laughing and glowing in the dark. Just as well it’s the middle of the night. No-one would be safe from me right now. I could read their minds and take over their heartbeats with a glare.
Faster than the speed of anyone.
That’s how it works.
This is, quite possibly, the best description of the creative process I’ve ever seen. When you get an idea, and even moreso when you’re actually working to implement that idea, it is exactly like that. This is how I feel when I’m creating, whether it’s alone or with collaborators. When things just fall into place and inspiration is like a plentiful drug that just keeps being dumped into the room for free, it feels like that. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing, video editing, drawing or what have you. It doesn’t matter if I’m alone in my room or out getting chalk all over my clothes on a city street with a dozen other people. It doesn’t matter if I’m the brains behind the operation, or focusing on the seemingly small task of perfect spotlight operation for a theatrical production.
All of it, no matter how big or small, no matter what it is or who else is involved…it feels just like that. Exactly as Mr. Ellis describes.
It has a life of its own. It makes you feel powerful, it makes you feel like the world is yours to create or destroy. But in the end, you are not the one in control; you’re a pawn, whose only purpose is to bring the magic to life. It takes you along with it, through every sensation that Ellis describes and so many more, and you just have to hope that you didn’t lose your phone and all of your spare change on one of the last seven loop-dee-loops.
It’s a rush like no other, and I truly hope everyone experiences it at least once in their life.
— Adam the Alien