Beechwood & Bloom: Paranormal Investigators

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After finding a mysterious book full of paranormal observations and an equally mysterious device able to detect paranormal activity, highschool freshmen Natalie Beechwood and Noah Bloom decide to form a paranormal investigation agency to uncover the mysteries of the small town of Morgansburg, MD.

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June 5th, 2017, 5:00 am

Mort Harris

The Problem Of Serial Fiction

So, uh, howdy.

As I’ve been trying to write the fourth episode of Beechwood & Bloom: Paranormal Investigators, I’ve gotten to thinking about the story I’m trying to write, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it could be a lot better. It may not have been a good idea to journey into webcomics with my beautiful baby, but I don’t really have stories that aren’t my beautiful babies, and looking through my seventeen folders of drafts, if I’d started with something like Shades of Blue or Sylakia first, I think I’d’ve ended up in the same state. Their plotlines and characters have continually evolved to the point of near-unrecognizability, and if I were starting B&B now, it’d be a whole lot different. Part of me says, ”Just roll with it. Use the B&B experience to improve your other works.” But part of me – and it’s the part I’m listening to more and more – says, ”B&B deserves just as much as your other stories.” I’ve done a lot of behind-the-scenes work improving B&B, but I still don’t think it’s enough.

When I started B&B, I wanted to tell a story about accepting when the world doesn’t make sense, and about how that doesn’t mean you can’t still act. Noah’s original character arc was that he looked for patterns in everything, searching desperately for control, and found that there was no fundamental order in the universe. So, overexposed to the paranormal and believing that he could wield its power … he decided to make some. He got … bleak. He got better, but things got bleak; the penultimate episode was to be named "Beechwood vs. Bloom". Two years, one sociology class, and a lot more listening to other people later – I’ve realized that that’s a crappy message. Events have knowable causes, even the actions of sentient beings, and if there’s events with unknowable causes, then they can’t affect you. (I’ve been thinking about Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G._K._Chesterton#Chesterton.27s_fence" allegory of the fence a lot recently.) Ironically, as I tried to set the seeds for letting go of the understandable universe, I’ve become more attached than ever to the concept that things can be understood. Also - it wasn’t fair to the other characters. Nat’s character arc, and, to a lesser degree, Perry’s, were about the power of science and understanding.

When I started B&B, I also wanted to tell a story about people who were like me, and when I started B&B, the people I was like were cishet white males. Two years, some critical analysis, and a lot of self-discovery later, I’ve learned that telling a story about people like me is less important than telling a story about people whose stories don’t get told as often. Now – that self-discovery’s also led to me realizing I am neither cis, het, nor male, so I will be telling stories about people like me because those stories don’t get told as often, but I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough for representation. Nat’s biracial and bisexual; Perry and Noora are black; Noora’s blind, Muslim, and … I haven’t decided if she’s gay or bi, but she’s not straight; Danielle is trans and Jewish; Luke has a schizoaffective disorder; and Nat, Perry, and Noah are all on the autism spectrum (although Noah’s the only one with a diagnosis) … but I don’t think any of that changes the fact that of the main cast of B&B, two of them are probably-straight blond white boys, one of whom is a focal character, which I’d make a crack about being “totally unrealistic!!1!” if that wasn’t also a super pretentious and white thing to do. I decided to make Noah trans and slowly reveal that that’s what made him so desperate for control, but he’s still fundamentally, an Angsty White Boy (and, oh, yeah, it’s parental, baby), and even if he wasn’t a white boy, I really don’t want to write transgst. (This is a word. Trust me. I’m a writer.)

I think, honestly, the fundamental problem with Beechwood & Bloom is … Bloom. I’ve said before that Noah was the Dipper to my Alex Hirsch, but I think a more accurate statement is that Noah is the parts of myself I don’t like, and I don’t feel like I can write a character I loathe that much. If I hated Noah, it’d be easy - I could sink my teeth into his villainy and grapple with him, but … I really just loathe the kid. Noah is my egotism, my pretense, my self-loathing (why do I play him for laughs? This is stuff I do and it’s not funny in real life!), my parent angst (not that my parents are necessarily justified, merely that dwelling on it is self-destructive) … honestly, I think he’s the parasitic remnants of my masculinity. Noah is the part of me that would turn into John the Hunger from The Adventure Zone and spout a speech about life, existence, being horrible. I just … don’t like him. It’s hard - his design has been with me for years now, as James Namagucci, Jack Bluehawk, Tanner Cain, Arthur Calvin Winter … but I think he’s going to go with them into the pit of unloved drafts.

So, here’s where I stand, now, and with this question left: What’s the best way to recover from this? I feel like it would be crappy to just launch into episode four with “Hey, guys, Noah got so angsty he just vanished. This, like, black opal stuff streaked down from the sky and gobbled him right up. Absolutely vored the guy, really. Anyway, Perry is the Bloom in Beechwood & Bloom now,” but on the other hand, I also feel like it would be crappy to say, “Hey, that one guy you connected with? These adventures you’ve enjoyed reading? They’re gone now. Never happened, not canonically. They might happen again, they might not. Who knows? The last two years never happened.” Maybe it’s a sunk-cost thing, but … I’m lost.

I'll be pausing B&B while I figure out what to do. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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May 14th, 2017, 7:56 pm

Mort Harris

Staedtler unmollified by Waldorf

See, I started drawing a Monday update. Then my eraser made a colossal mess of everything I did and I ruined it. It was about time to get a new one, but I thought this one had a little more life left in it. The Monday update will be posted Tuesday as I try to recoup my losses.

because ... staedtler is an eraser company and ... joke's

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April 9th, 2017, 5:06 pm

Mort Harris

Blegh

Travelling messed up my sleep schedule more than I thought it would. No Monday update; my apologies.

UPDATE: Friday update gone too. I'm in a bad life sitch right now; should pass soon, and if I play my cards right I might double-update Monday. What you're missing is sweet sweet gorgon biology, not big plot stuff, so don't feel too bad.

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March 19th, 2017, 7:22 pm

Mort Harris

mort your comic

SNZZZZZZZZZZZZ
(iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii may have completely wrecked my sleep schedule and have two latin assignments due tomorrow so uh. updates gonna be tuesday i think)

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November 3rd, 2016, 8:24 pm

Mort Harris

Official Schedule Slump

So, I know I've been intermittent/gone entirely as of late, and I think I should offer you an explanation.

This semester has been incredibly stressful for me for a variety of reasons, most but not all of which have been related to college applications.

Beechwood and Bloom is officially on "Whenever I Can" update schedule, which is ... significantly less than twice a week.

I'm very sorry and hope to be back to regular updates as soon as I can; I want to continue this story too. I just have other demands on my time and energy right now, and I thank you for sticking with me through them.

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September 11th, 2016, 5:04 pm

Mort Harris

Responsibility Is The Devil

Tomorrow’s update will in fact be Friday’s update, as I am engaged in three different vicious battles of will with Ovid, my English teacher, and the Common Application.

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September 4th, 2016, 4:34 pm

Mort Harris

Ehhhhh

Due to the holiday, tomorrow's comic will be up closer to noon. My apologies.

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August 21st, 2016, 9:07 pm

Mort Harris

Late Notice

Just a quick note to say today's update will be a little late. I've had a friend going through some stuff and I needed to be there for her this week.

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