Grimdark Metal-Style Logo (t-shirt design)

If you’re a reader of sci-fi / fantasy you may have heard the word “grimdark.” It’s a fairly recent neologism, coined by fans of the elaborately macabre Warhammer 40,000 fictional universe, whose tagline describes the “grim darkness” of its bleak future. The word “grimdark” came to describe the often over-the-top, satirical bleakness and violence of the setting.

Over the last decade or so, “grimdark” has applied to a wide range of fictional universes and creators, in a more or less tongue-in-cheek fashion. Some authors have applied it to their own work — one early example being Joe Abercrombie, author of the darkly comic (and comically dark) First Law series.

The word is, more or less, a meme.

As such, any real definition of the term remains murky. “Grimdark” isn’t a set of aesthetic tropes or settings like, say, steampunk. It encompasses a wide spectrum of authors and individual works — gritty, often horror-infused, generally involving antiheroes in ‘dark’ or dystopian, quasi-historical settings. (If you guessed Game of Thrones would be accused of grimdark, you’d be right.) Small communities and fanbases have formed around “grimdark” fiction to discuss and share and, inevitably, market such works, but usually without a strict definition of the term.

The category’s wide banner is, I think, one of the keys to its popularity. Grimdark is above all a feeling, and its nebulous nature is fertile grounds for discussion of all kinds of works by all kinds of creators. As you might say about another certain derided genre of art, “I know it when I see it.”

Naturally, there’s been a backlash against “grimdark” both as a term and a concept, and a backlash to that backlash. Grimdark even has vocal detractors, who use the word pejoratively to describe works they dislike, typically fantasy texts perceived as insufficiently optimistic. Right-wing writers at Breitbart have decried the “bankrupt nihilism” of this type of fantasy, and liberal-trending online reader communities have decried it on almost identical grounds. There are, in the mix, overlapping debates about the potential hazards of thematic pessimism on sensitive or suggestible readers, and about the role of privilege among (mostly white, mostly male) authors with regards to depicting certain forms of oppression and violence.

Underpinning many of these debates are competing philosophies, often unarticulated and perhaps unexamined at the root, about the moral purpose of fiction. In this essay, I will…

No. No, I won’t. I came here to post a dang t-shirt.

Point is, I think “grimdark” is a hilarious word and a vibrant community. George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie, Glen Cook, Anna Smith Spark and a whole host of “grimdark” authors have brought me great reading pleasure over the years, and sparked lively conversations with people I’ve come to call friends.

I’ve decided to honour them with this t-shirt design inspired by early extreme metal pioneers like Obituary, Sepultura and so forth — the grimdark of music.

“Grimdark” of course is not an existing band, but you’ll feel very metal wearing it. Click onward to Redbubble and get your own!

“Dating Magick” :: A 48-hour short film editing project

Film editing has become one of my favourite elements of production. To finesse my skills I've been taking on short-notice challenges including, recently, this entry to Vancouver's 48-hour Run N' Gun Film Competition.

Conceived, written and directed by Nate Kelly, Dating Magick is a wacky comedy about two dopey guys who get more than they bargained for on dates with two mysterious women. As editor, fresh challenges for me included stringing together parallel plotlines (in a five-minute film!), the extremely delicate art of editing a table-bound conversation, and of course, comic timing. I do so love the awkwardly extended…

 

 

 

…pause.

There are certainly things I'd do differently in retrospect (if only we'd had more time, the editor, and everyone else in the world, cried). But hell, not a bad way to spend a weekend. The "Last Second Squad" lived up to its name submitting the results the competition, with eight minutes to spare. The tale of Nate sprinting across town with an SD card is a cinematic event of its own.

The rush is addictive. See you folks at the next fest!

Wn8O Presents: Seth Whittaker, Acting / Music Reel

Wn8O Presents: Seth Whittaker, Acting / Music Reel

Sourced, edited and mixed this acting and music video reel for actor-musician Seth Whittaker. It looks simple, but the timing on this took ages, flowing between vocal and instrumental versions of the track and timing verses with edits.

Seth’s star keeps rising; he and his brother Daniel (as hip-hop duo Wn8O) have recently opened for such greats as Fetty Wap, Nelly, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Rich Homie Quan and and Tech N9ne.

Could this video have anything to do with their meteoric success? Well. I guess it doesn't hurt!

Seth Whittaker / Wn8o Dices & Acting Reel from J.R. on Vimeo.

Editing / Production: Seth Whittaker’s Demo Reel

Editing / Production: Seth Whittaker’s Demo Reel

I was recently contracted to fully produce a demo reel for one Seth Whittaker, a talented young actor and performer in Vancouver. This project consisted of sourcing and converting source clips, creating intertitles, and seamlessly editing the footage (both video and audio) to subtly boost the actor’s profile within the scene. Music of the performer’s own creation was added to the audio mix, at his request. I think this came out well!

Seth Whittaker, Actor/Performer Vancouver, BC – Demo Reel from Jordan Boos on Vimeo.