Welcome to my midlife crisis!


Before we get started, a few words of explanation.

I spent the summer of 2001 turning 50. I celebrated by contracting one sinus infection after another.

August is my month for personal reading and writing projects. My plan for 2001 was to flesh out a couple of short stories, finish a longish essay I've been working on, maybe polish up some poetry. Instead, I spent the summer alternately working my day job and lying on the couch, too sick to do anything fun or complicated. By the time we hit August, and a long night in the emergency room, I couldn't muster enough concentration to read anything without a lot of pictures.

My daughter Emily, the Japanimaniac, had been trying for months to get me to read what Viz Comics calls Inu-Yasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale. I'm a Rumiko Takahashi fan. I love the zaniness of Ranma 1/2, and I surprised myself by getting hooked on Maison Ikkoku, which is a combination of romantic comedy and soap opera. I'd seen sporadic issues of Inu-Yasha, but was too confused to get into it. ("Who the hell is the guy with the black hair?").

Anyway, I sat down—rather, I lay down on the couch where I was living by that time—and started with Viz's Volume 1. By Volume 5, I was hooked. Eventually my husband, John Murray, pointed me to Chris Rijk's Inuyasha—Sengoku o-Togi Zoushi web page, and I started reading Chris's translations of the later volumes.

Inuyasha is a virtuoso piece: quest saga, comic romance, tragic romance, adventure story, and gothic horror comic, all rolled into one. It's an incredible balancing act, and it nearly always works. It's impossible not to care about the characters—and, given that this is a quest saga, virtually impossible not to speculate about How It Will End. At the climax of the quest, Inuyasha will be holding the Shikon no Tama in his hands, and he'll have to make a decision: to be human, or to be daemon? At the same time, there'll be another decision, to be determined by somebody: Kagome or Kikyou?

Around the middle of August, I projected that the "best ending" would have Inuyasha with Kagome at the turn of the millennium. Given that Inuyasha would be an uneducated young man with few marketable job skills living with his beloved in an old house in modern Tokyo, I told my husband that the last page of Inuyasha would look very much like the last page of Maison Ikkoku, but with the proud parents showing their new baby a great big tree when they say "This is where Mama and Papa first met."

And he said, "Nope. I'll tell you how it's going to end."

And he did.

And I said, "Noooooo!"

But I thought he was right.

And then I started thinking what would have to happen to make me like that ending.

Pretty soon I found myself coming up with little bits of dialogue. And then snatches of plot. And then I started doodling. Then I started writing up a couple of scene descriptions, but it was easier to do storyboards. By the time we got to September, my children were chortling, "Mom's writing a fanfic!"

I've done some amateur cartooning over the years, and even published a few cartoons. Years ago, I did a very-small-circulation comic book (that is to say, it was photocopied and passed around among some D&D players in Chicago and Wisconsin) called, for reasons too obscure to explain, Hibernating Bats. That was the project that made me swear I'd never do another comic book. Except...as hard as it was to draw— and I'm a writer, not an artist—I began seeing this fanfic monster I had created as a graphic project. Finally, I went out and bought a newsprint pad, some bristol board, pencils, and ink, and at 1:00 one morning I started drawing. I roughed out 60 pages in five hours, went to bed for a half-hour's sleep, got up and went to work, and because it was September 11, 2001, an hour or so later a co-worker came to my office and told me to turn on the radio. I had just spent the whole night writing a graphic novel about being a hero in an era of peace and prosperity. I went home after work, turned on CNN, watched that plane crash over and over, and kept drawing.

And here it is, or will be—one "book" at a time, at least 400 pages in the works right now, 100 of them inked, another 40 or 50 roughed out, the others in my head and mapped out. It's funny, it's sad, it's bawdy, it's horrific, it's not much like Takahashi, it's based on The Story as of 9/11 (I'll incorporate some modifications as I go along, but basically that's where the original storyline is frozen for the purpose of this fanfic), it's written much better than it's drawn, it's strictly a not-for-profit fanfic, and I'm having a terrific time with it.

I hope you enjoy it, too.

Kristine Batey

December 2001

Additional note: May 2002

It's looking more like 1,000 pages, guys. Approximately 40 books.

 

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