Moon Town and what makes a story tick

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I want to talk about Moon Town for a bit.

Wayyyy back in 2005, wildly inspired by Brian Taylor’s Rustboy project (in which one guy was making a gorgeous animated film in his spare time) I decided to make an animated film… the adventures of a lunar miner and a rookie space cop who accidentally discover an alien race.

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I had fun designing and building spaceships and environments. I was planning on releasing it as a series of little one-minute episodes, and I was well on my way.

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But by 2007, I realized to my disappointment that at the rate I was going, it would have taken me decades to make even the first one minute segment in my spare time, after demands of a full time job and family. I set Moon Town aside and worked on some other stuff.

But then, in 2009, I saw the trailer for Duncan Jones’ MOON and it really kickstarted me, and I had Moon Town fever all over again.

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I knew I couldn’t do it as a film in my spare time, and the notion of getting signed to make it with a team for real seemed unlikely, so I began making it as a graphic novel online. It was well-received, and even won an award. But to me, it fell short of what I wanted to make.

I have had a lot of time to think about what bugged me about Moon Town, and it’s clarified by comparing it to Moon, which re-inspired me. MOON knew what it was. It speaks to isolation and the sometimes dubious value of a worker to a company. It’s horrifyingly relatable.

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MOON TOWN, on the other hand, did not know what it was. Alien, Star Wars, Flapjack, Secret Show. Where on that spectrum should Moon Town be? I had young kids, and leaned toward cartoony, both in presentation and idea. I worried people would dismiss it as silliness. What to do?

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I waffled, which is the worst thing you can do creatively. I wanted it all, something silly and fun, but something you could take seriously. Something with adventure and horror and cartoony jokes and yada yada. Even during production, I was spinning in circles, and it shows.

And I guess that’s my message to anyone thinking about trying to make something: They say “make something you want to see.” But how can you make what you want if you don’t know what it is? “I like everything” is a terrible answer. You have to edit. Be intentional. Disciplined.

As far as Moon Town goes, I’m proud of wide swaths of it, but I see now that I needed more discipline in creating it. In making something that knows what it is, it will have a better chance of being worthwhile. And of connecting with an audience.

If I dig into it again – and I sincerely want to – it will be with that in mind.

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4 Replies to “Moon Town and what makes a story tick”

  1. I think you are right in your self crit of MT here, and it will be for the better if you dive in again.

    Having said that – MT has always been everything about indie comics/stories I love. It’s unique and jumps across ideas/styles/genres. There’s an appeal to that. But I get that if you are wanting more than that, you can make the case that the idea needs more rigor. It’s all about what you want to accomplish.

    I know you’ve always wanted more for it – maybe this is the realization you needed to take it to the next level. As always, I await the next version!

    1. Thanks, Tom. Yup, you’ve been there every step of the way. I am more realizing there are stories that grab us, regardless of genre or presentation. Moon Town had a lot going for it, but it wasn’t very well planned out cuz screw that amirite? 🙂 We’ll see what I do next. Lots of possibilities. Not enough time.

  2. Have you ever considered Moon Town for a graphic adventure? It would have made a great LucasArts/LucasFilm Games adventure in the 90’s. I suppose you don’t want to lose the rights to MT, and maybe Firaxis isn’t looking to explore new genres. I don’t think MT would be a good fit for a strategy game (not that a lunar mining RTS couldn’t work. I just don’t think the story would be done justice). Not sure what contracts are like in the game industry, and what pitching it would do to your rights to the IP.

    1. Ah, that’s a great idea, Sardtok!

      Unfortunately, graphic adventure games are so far outside of Firaxis’ wheelhouse, they would never be interested in something like that, and God knows they have game ideas enough to last them through the next century. But it is a great idea.

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