This is the start of a recurring feature I’m going to call “Abandoned Projects.”
These projects are all stories I shelved for one reason or another: whether the reasons be it was too cliche, I didn’t have the artistic expertise, I got older and lost interest, it didn’t have an end in sight, or any other reason.
Why am I sharing them? Because
- I can, and
- I want to know if you’re interested in seeing these ideas actually become stories.
The first abandoned project I want to bring up is actually one of my oldest. I started scripting this back in high school and actually convinced the art teacher (somehow) that I should do this as an assignment for an actual grade. It was a project I legit wanted to make at the time, and I wanted to send it to Yen Press when they started doing annual talent searches.
It’s called Julia, and it was my retelling of The Little Mermaid.
Julia was the youngest of seven sisters, and it was a right of passage among them that they go to the surface and see the world above.
Some saw dogs, others saw ships, the second youngest found a way to climb an iceberg and wave to passing ships, causing one of them to wreck, that kind of thing.
Julia’s first sight above the water is fireworks firing off from a ship. It’s the prince’s birthday, and she goes to investigate. And she falls in love with him at first fight.
Unfortunately, one of the fireworks catches the mast on fire and the prince falls overboard. As Julia goes to save the prince, the fire spreads even worse, eventually catching more gunpowder and causing the ship to burst. The survivors all swim to shore, which is where Julia drops him off (careful to not get spotted herself).
When she goes back to her sisters to tell about what she saw, they get angry at her – they have a rule that states that they don’t get directly involved in the affairs of humans, and Julia violated that rule by saving the poor boy from drowning.
Eventually there’s a falling out with her sisters, she sells her voice to a sea witch (who’s design is based more on an eel than a fish), she gets legs, and she gets to shore.
Unfortunately, the Prince doesn’t know who she is, and she is hired as an entertainer to dance for him in the great hall. Eventually she befriends one of the servants in the castle and slowly starts to develop a crush on him.
Her sisters find her and try to convince her to abandon the prince and come back to the sea. She refuses, even as her feelings intensify for both the prince and the servant boy.
The question is, who does she choose?
Well, I knew how it would end (which is a good sign for a project), but I shelved the project for a few reasons.
The first is that at the time, I didn’t have the artistic skill to pull this off. To be frank, my art at the time SUCKED. Also, I wanted to illustrate this in watercolors, but when I did a test page in the style, it was muddy and gross. At the time I didn’t know how to get my hands on Photoshop, so it was the traditional route or not at all.
The second reason I left it was because it was WAY TOO CLICHE. It was reading like a Shoujo Beat manga (which aren’t bad, but that wasn’t what I really wanted with the work at the time). Besides, the whole, “Who does she chose? The elegant, handsome prince, or the lowly servant boy with a heart of gold?” thing had been done to death. The only way I was going to make it unique was in the dynamic between the sisters.
Which, now that I think about it, the dynamic between the sisters was one of the best parts of that story.
The third reason? I missed the deadline to have pages finished and submitted to the Yen Press Talent Search at the time.
The fourth reason? The work was too long for the talent search anyway.
I MIGHT pick this up again in the future. What do you think?