The Well-Red Mage interviews Tony Single

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“And I think this is all I’ve ever wanted from gaming really—just something that’s immersive, fun and stirs the emotions.”

 

 

This has been a long time coming, NPCs, but using my manipulative charisma has finally secured us a fourteenth blogger interview in our not-so-long running series! Callooh callay, O frabjous day! But please don’t chortle in your joy. We’re all adults here. If you’d like to do some non-chortling chats with the best-red blog around, then please consult the annals of a certain post called “Introducing Blogger Interviews”. See you in the digital ether!

So I recently had the pleasure of talking with a legendary artist, the kind that actually puts distinction in their projects and doesn’t merely churn ’em out for the fame and fortune. The gravity of being able to interview someone whose body of work is so popular and transcendent was not lost on me.

Back when I got my second job and the interviewer asked me how I’d describe myself in one word, I said “thoughtful”, but I don’t even come close to the thinker before us today. Tony Single of Crumble Cult is one of the most thoughtful people I know and that came across in his very introspective, observant, and humble responses covering a range of subjects from pop culture art history, ludology, the Legend of Zelda, Studio Ghibli, and novel writing. I felt like I learned by osmosis just from being in his textual presence! I am sure you’ll enjoy this conversation as much as I did and if you haven’t met Mr. Single or his work before, then I also have the pleasure of introducing you to some very unique web art. Now on with the show!

 

 

“Let’s get this party started! First question: Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
do you consider yourself to be a gamer and how long have you been one?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I’ve thought about this a lot. What does it mean to be a gamer? Is it dependent on skill level or the number of hours played? Or something else? I don’t know. I do overthink these things. It’s why I often have trouble with labels. So, to kind of answer your question: I do play video games a lot but I’ll never beat Dark Souls.

“As to how long I’ve been playing video games, I came to this rather late in life. I was nudging thirty by the time I got my first console. It was an N64, and I loved it! I’ve been gaming ever since. Probably about fifteen years or so.”

“Ah well overthinking things is what we do ’round these here parts! Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
Let’s break down gamer even more and define our terms. Ultimately, of course the label itself is meaningless and one can call themselves a gamer at any level of skill or exposure to games. You consider yourself a gamer, since you play video games a lot, but you say you’re maybe not a gamer-gamer since you’ll never beat Dark Souls. We can make the question harder. What kind of gamer would you consider yourself? For example, I prefer the categorization “classics gamer” since I love that which is retro and vintage but I’m not adverse to modern day classics, as well.”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “That label definitely suits you. And can I just say that I think your reviews are amazing? They’re meticulously put together, and they’re full of many little details about an era of gaming that has somehow managed to pass me by. (And as a long time appreciator of Miyazaki’s oeuvre, I thought your Studio Ghibli pieces were sublime too.) As for what kind of gamer I might be, I’m still unsure. Truth be told, I tend to prefer games with 3D graphics as this is what I was introduced to. My formative experiences were The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64 after all. And what a wonderful place to start! These two games began my love affair with “play for play’s sake” (and it’s an art that sadly many adults have forgotten). So, whatever that kind of gamer’s called is what I am, I guess. I just want to play, and hopefully I’ll be proficient enough to complete the game I’m currently playing.”

“Oh you flatterer! Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
I knew I’d enjoy this conversation but not merely because it’s inflating my already morbidly obese ego, hahaha! You’re bringing up so many great subjects to chew on.

“What a wonderful place to start indeed with Ocarina of Time and Mario 64, two of the most rightfully venerated entries in two of the most iconic video game franchises in history. We’ll call you a fun-factor gamer? Haha, I don’t know. So going back to those years when you got your gaming start with the N64, I’ve a couple questions for you: Did you specifically wait to start gaming with the 64? I mean were you just not interested in consoles before then? Why did you pick the 64 and not, say, the PlayStation coming out around the same time?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Fun factor gamer! Now that is a label I can get behind. Let’s call me that! And I think this is all I’ve ever wanted from gaming really—just something that’s immersive, fun and stirs the emotions. I remember back when I was covetously eyeing off a friend’s Atari. I asked my parents about it but they wisely chose not to get me one. I think I would have been addicted to the point of dropping out of life and failing school if they had. Still, you can imagine how console hungry I was by the time I hit adulthood! And I didn’t really choose the N64. Not really. It chose me. My wife had a work colleague who wanted to sell his N64 to buy a Dreamcast, so she snaffled it up for me. I received a bunch of games with it: Mission: Impossible, GoldenEye 007, and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. Mission: Impossible was truly awful, and it nearly put me off trying the others, but when I popped in the excellent GoldenEye 007, I soon realised that I could afford to pick and choose my gaming experiences. It’s a weird thing to realise, I suppose, but there you go. It wasn’t long before I began to seek out other titles, and so I moved on to the aforementioned The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64. I became so obsessed with these last two games that I don’t think I really took in the fact that PlayStation was a thing.”

“Your parents were very wise to make you miss out on an Atari, Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
especially since you were able to get your start with Nintendo instead, in my slightly tongue-in-cheekish opinion. That’s definitely fun-factor foresight. Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 64 are officially legends but what struck a chord and resonated with you about those games in particular?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Super Mario 64 was like pure imagination on acid! From Cool, Cool Mountain to Whomp’s Fortress and Jolly Roger Bay, I was unapologetically hooked. There were so many secrets to unlock, and so many environments and scenarios to check out! And I loved the conceit that all of this could be accessed via a portly little plumber traversing the ‘hub’ of Princess Peach’s castle. I felt like a little kid again, like I could just walk down into my own basement to find something magical and a little bit dangerous that I’d previously overlooked—all I’d need do was cock my head and take a slightly different view. (That sense of wonder is such a precious commodity as an adult. We need more of it!) Also, the controls just work. They’re as smooth as butter. The graphics may have dated somewhat but not the gameplay and sense of fun—those will always remain timeless. And speaking of timeless… Holy cow, Ocarina of Time or what?! It ended up being my favouritest ever game until Wind Waker came along! I remember playing through the Great Deku Tree at the beginning with an assumption that the game would end soon. It was only as the story started to build on itself, slowly revealing more and more of Hyrule as I went along, that the scope of it all began to dawn on me. A light switched on behind my eyes, and so I became quite invested in how this tale would play out. I remember having a lump in my throat when Saria awakened as the Forest Sage, knowing that things would never again be the same between her and Link. That she had been waiting all these years just to part ways with him… well, it broke my heart. I thought of my wife who’d bought this game as a gift to me, and knew then that Zelda would become a permanent fixture in my life.”

“I couldn’t agree more about the impact of those two games. Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
I shared the same experiences with them, virtually. So the Zelda franchise… I was just talking with someone today about how the series hasn’t changed much over the years, how the recent Breath of the Wild didn’t do much to surprise or shock us, narratively speaking. I don’t know how much of that assertion I agree with or how much of that really matters, so let me ask someone who really loves Zelda: what do you think is the consistent and lasting appeal of the Legend of Zelda? Why has it remained popular after all this time?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I feel this assertion that Zelda’s narrative hasn’t changed much is only partially true. If you look at the individual stories of each game, then certainly, the same tropes crop up again and again. Rescue the princess. Kill Ganon. Save Hyrule. Cut lots and lots of grass. We’ve gone through all of that before. But let’s be real here—this recycling of narrative is present in almost any video game series one cares to name. You don’t have to look very hard. Isn’t there a maxim that there are only seven stories in fiction? I feel like that’s true. And I think it’s all in how you tell it. It’s all in the little details that get peppered throughout the narrative. It’s all in how you bend that narrative ever so slightly each time. Perhaps it’s this mix of the familiar and something new that’s given the Zelda series such longevity. Wind Waker was set at sea. Spirit Tracks was on rails. Link’s Awakening was just a dream. These are all simply remixes of the same song, and I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with that.”

“Tolstoy said that all great literature is one of two stories: Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town, so that’s even less than seven stories and I’d have to agree with you. Certainly archetypes and kinds of stories are limited and have been repeated since the dawn of man. I’d add that I think the Legend of Zelda series is so successful because of the way it retells these stories in its own archetypal and legendary fashion, like real world myth. A lot of them play like Greco-Roman legend where the details are less important than the heroism and magic. You mentioned already that Wind Waker is you favorite of all time, and of course Ocarina is high on your list. Have you played all of the Zelda games? Which are the worst, if such a thing could even be said?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I have played them all except for the first two Zeldas, Tri Force Heroes, Four Swords Adventures, and the Japan-only Ancient Stone Tablets. And my top three favourites would have to be Wind Waker, Breath of the Wild, and Majora’s Mask, but I do rate the others I’ve played quite highly too. I think the only ones in the series that I would not play again are Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks. These two aren’t awful by any means—far from it—but I simply did not enjoy them as much as I was hoping to. I have to admire Nintendo for trying out a different control scheme though. That was a small stroke of genius! (Pathetic pun intended.)”

“That Japan-only title is a new one on me! See? Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
It’s true what they say, you learn something new every day. So no CD-i Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon Zeldas for you, my boi? And, my friend, have you not had a chance to play the original Legend of Zelda yet?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I found out about that Japan-only one literally a day ago, so I’ve learned something new too! As for Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon, all I can say is I’d rather lay eyes on Cthulhu’s horrifying visage than play those games! I’ve read that they are truly, utterly awful, so I’m willing to trust that assessment and play more Breath of the Wild instead. And while I did download the first Zelda to my 3DS a few years back, I found that I just wasn’t into it. Now, I’ve never considered myself a graphics snob, but I think to some extent I must be—I just couldn’t get past those graphics! Perhaps if Nintendo was to release a remake with updated graphics then I might be persuaded to revisit it. I know, I know… what I’m saying is heresy. I have no defence!”

“I’ll quash my inner inquisitor for the moment, sir. Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
Just kidding! I’m trying not to be a snob anymore, period, nor a retro elitist and say “You can’t call yourself a real fan for [insert custom standard here]”. These are games, after all. I do have something I’ve been ruminating on of late and that is where do you think Nintendo can take the Zelda franchise after the sprawling, gorgeous, innovative, highly successful and critically-acclaimed Breath of the Wild? And why do you think it was so good anyway? Nevermind the adjectives I just heaped upon it.”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Thanks for putting your pitchfork away, good sir. It looked entirely too pointy and jabby! But seriously, I can fully appreciate if anybody reading this gets quite upset at my rather superficial assessment of the first Zelda. After all, that’s where the whole thing began—without that Zelda we wouldn’t have Breath of the Wild today. Believe me, no one wants to be the heretic in the room! But, as you rightly say, these are games after all. We should each enjoy what we enjoy and enuff said. And as to where Nintendo could possibly take the series after the superlative Breath of the Wild, I’ve literally no idea. Conventional thinking would have that they’ll all be open world Zeldas from now on, but I’ve found that Nintendo has a bloody-minded tendency to foil people’s expectations—it’s what I love about them! In all the years I’ve been gaming, they continue to present me with fun, compelling experiences that I never even knew I wanted in the first place. So, I’ve had to learn to trust their judgement a little bit. Who knows? The next Zelda could be set entirely in one room. I was uncertain that they’d make an open world version work as beautifully as they have, and look how wrong I was there. So… perhaps they could pull off a contained Zelda too.”

“Exactly! Down with elitism and snobbery of all forms. Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
We are of course entitled to our opinions but we’re not entitled to everyone agreeing with our opinions, or even buying into them in the slightest without good reasoning skills. I’d be excited to play a minimalist Zelda set in a single room! Heck, at this point just give us more new Zelda, Nintendo! So am I correct in assessing that Nintendo sits at the top of your console and developer favorites list? How do they rank alongside the giants Sony and Microsoft, and what makes them different? Sometimes, I wonder how they even stay in business! Of course, this is coming from someone with an NES themed blog, so rest assured I’m a Nintendo fan.”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Yes, more Zelda please! One can never have too much Zelda! It’s franchises like that which keep me coming back to Nintendo time and time again, so you are correct in assuming that they sit atop my developer favourites list. They also have Mario, Metroid Prime, and Pikmin, so what’s not to love? Nevertheless, I have branched out in the last few years, and now own a PS3 alongside my Switch and 3DS. For me, it’s all about the games, so I find that Sony is comparable to Nintendo in terms of the variety on offer. I’ve played Journey on Sony’s console, as well as Limbo, the rebooted Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and Skyrim. Good lord, have I played the ever-loving stuffing out of that last one or what?! Yup, I’m a bit obsessed with Skyrim at the moment, and it’s convinced me to sample Bethesda’s Fallout 3 too. So, I guess that would mean that I rate Sony pretty highly. Microsoft? Not so much. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with Microsoft’s family of consoles—I just don’t find their exclusives to be all that enticing. I could happily live without an Xbox, but I’m glad I now have a PS3.”

“Yep, you and I see eye to eye on this, as I suspected. Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
I love Sony for the variety of the PlayStation library and I very much consider them to be on top of the industry, especially in terms of sales success. Nintendo, on the other hand, is the underdog in a lot of ways and while I don’t think they want to play catch-up per se and be the kind of giant Sony is, they need to retain their character and characteristics while giving gamers the kind of Nintendo experiences we want. So far, it’s been great with the Switch and I’m looking forward to what they’ll have to show the world at E3. As for Micro$oft… well… I do want to be impressed by them. I do. So beyond the realm of the Legend of Zelda, what are some of your other favorite games? Do you maybe have a top five?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I’ve gotta say I’m loving the Switch as well. It’s great having the option to play a full-blown home console experience on the go. How cool is that? And Breath of the Wild has been the perfect game to showcase this. I’ll be sad when I finally finish it, although it’ll be nice to have some other games to look forward to—Skyrim for one. I love the Switch so much that I’m eager to shell out a second time to see how Skyrim translates to the little console that could. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will be an instant buy as I adored the first two installments, the premise of Super Mario Odyssey intrigues me, and I’m crossing my fingers for a Monster Hunter to crash the party as well. E3 this year should be quite interesting! As for what my top five is, some titles I’ve already mentioned make it to the list.

“Number one is Wind Waker. I grew up watching lots of cartoons and reading lots of comics, so this style of imagery is very much in my blood. However, it’s far more than just a nostalgia hit to me as it’s also a gorgeous looking game with a distinctive soundtrack, an unbridled sense of optimism, and some genuinely heart tugging moments! Number two on the list is without a doubt Skyrim, something I thought I’d never ever say. My first experience with it was not so positive as I hadn’t played many open world games by that point. I really didn’t understand what I was supposed to do, that I could make what in essence would become my very own Choose Your Adventure story. I’d spent hours wandering about, wondering why everyone was bleating “game of the century”, before trading it towards another game. It would be a couple of years before I worked up the courage to try it again, and it’s only then I finally managed to click with its shtick (and that’s also thanks in part to another game on this list). Number three is Monster Hunter, and you can pretty much insert any installment here as I’ve loved them all (the Nintendo ones anyway). The idea of defeating monsters in order to make gear to defeat bigger, badder monsters is a simple one done very very well. The combat in these games forces you to be strategic, and to be quite methodical too (I hate the mindless button mashing of other titles in this genre). Number four has to be Xenoblade Chronicles as this is what really opened my eyes to the whole point of open world games: the freedom to explore and create your own narratives. Sure, it has last gen graphics but it’s still a visual and aural triumph with its vast landscapes and compelling soundtrack. I was really heartbroken when I finally completed this one! And number five is Journey which is by far the shortest on my list. You can play it through in a couple of hours, but oh my stars, what an amazing couple of hours! It has one of the most moving video game endings I’ve ever played. Seriously, I don’t want to say too much about it. Journey is one of those experiences that you need to enter into with as little prior knowledge as possible. Before Skyrim came along, this title alone was worth owning a PS3 for. That’s how highly I think of it. Some honourable mentions would be Metroid Prime, The Last of Us, and Pikmin 3. I would have included Dark Souls somewhere but that’s way beyond my abilities as a gamer, and so I eventually had to trade it in. It’s frustrating to me because the gameplay itself was sublime. I’m sure I’ve left something out.”

The Switch is awesome, just like that list of favorites! Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
Who wouldn’t love Wind Waker, Monster Hunter (I played Tri on the Wii), and of course Journey, which is also in my top five where it is likely to stay. I am glad you gave such thorough reasoning for why these select few rank so high on your favoritometer. As for the other games you mentioned, I haven’t played all of them. Yet! I will need to go back for Xenoblade Chronicles before the new one comes out! As for leaving some out, that’s the way it is. I didn’t have the heart to ask you for a top 100 list. 😉

“So besides for being a verbose human being and a gamer with taste, I know from our conversations earlier that you’re also like me in terms of loving Ghibli. A bit of self-appreciating humor, there. Excuse me. Some questions along these lines: You like Ghibli for what reason? What makes them special? Do you like anime in general or only a few movies and series? And who is your waifu?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I like me a bit of self-appreciating humour. Ha ha! And I love your last question! I do have an odd answer to this though. My waifu is whatever female character I’m currently playing as, especially one I’ve made for, say, Skyrim or Monster Hunter or something like that. Don’t ask me why but I simply prefer playing as a woman, not a man. Is it a particularly disturbing fetish that I need to seek out professional counselling for? I hope not! All I do know is that I would’ve loved to have had the option to play as Zelda in Breath of the Wild. She’s hot! Oh well, maybe next time, Nintendo. As for Studio Ghibli, I was introduced to their oeuvre via a screening of Laputa: Castle in the Sky back in my art college days. This film completely blew my mind, and it made me excited about the kinds of stories that could be told in animation. I especially came to appreciate Hayao Miyazaki’s even handed approach to the portrayal of characters in all of his stories. There were no simplistic delineations of good and evil to be found—just people being… well, people. Sometimes they did a bad thing, sometimes they didn’t, but they were always deeply human no matter what. I found this take to be very true to life, and so it became easier to emotionally invest myself in Miyazaki-san’s wondrous works. My favourite film of all time is actually Howl’s Moving Castle; every single character is pitch perfect in that, and hugely relatable as a result. I like anime a lot. It’s probably my favourite style of animation if I’m honest, although I can and do enjoy animation no matter what part of the world it’s from. I love the classics like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Grave of the Fireflies, Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis, Cowboy Bebop, Kum-Kum, Astro Boy and Spirited Away, of course, but I also love more recent fare such as The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, The Wind Rises, Aldnoah.Zero, Kill la Kill, Birdy the Mighty: Decode and the Evangelion rebuilds. Outside of anime, I’ve enjoyed such fare as Adventure Time, Voltron: Legendary Defender, Futurama, The Legend of Korra, Brave, The Lego Movie and Zootopia. I’m still sure I’ve left something out.”

“Interesting answer and no I don’t think you’re a psychotic. Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
At least not by that admission. The best explanation I’ve heard on that is when some dude said, and I quote: If I’m going to be playing a game for hundreds of hours then I’d rather look at a chick than another man. So there you go. Playing as Zelda in a future game seems like an inevitable move at this point for Nintendo.

“So as anyone can tell, you’re an artist. More on that later. Does or did your love for anime fuel or inspire that craft?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I love that question because few people would know to ask me it these days, and with good reason. I used to be very heavily influenced by the Japanese animation that I watched as a child. How could I not be when my favourite shows were the aforementioned Kum Kum and Astro Boy, as well as others such as Robotech, Ulysses 31, Mysterious Cities of Gold and Sherlock Hound? I would try to mimic that general style and then wonder why I was never able to get any good at it. It was only after I started art college that I began to move away from this and find my own visual language instead. And it’s continued to evolve since that point, but even now I can look back and recognise how anime still subtly informs what I draw. For instance, anime taught me that eyes are critical in conveying a character’s emotional state. It’s so important to see that spark there in order to be invested in what’s happening to the protagonist—whether it be funny or serious. I also learned the value of a carefully planned colour design. The best anime often has beautiful, lush looking images because of a deliberate and judicious use of colour. This helps to pull all the disparate elements within a composition together so that it all feels ‘of a piece’. In essence, I learned this and more by osmosis, so… yeah, anime has been (and continues to be) a huge inspiration for my craft.”

“I wouldn’t have known to ask unless we’d talked about anime first Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
but in retrospect, your art has a distinctive personality to it, especially in your characters’ faces, which evokes the expressiveness of Japanese animation. You’ve clearly moved beyond imitation, though, and found your own style, with a distinct color palette that sets it apart from other online art I’ve seen. What led you to pursue art in the first place and why do you continue to pursue it? What are your goals?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Thank you for your kind words, sir! I do love what I do, so it’s most gratifying when others love it as well. I’ve never not been an artist really as I’ve drawn all kinds of stuff since I could hold my first crayon. With this and growing up on a steady diet of cartoons and comics, there was just no way I was going to avoid the artist’s life; being something else makes absolutely no sense to me. As for my goals, I hope to continue what I’m doing until the day I die, and to make a living from it. This is the one and only thing I kind of do well, so I’d like to stick with it. I’m also looking forward to writing and drawing my first graphic novel within the next couple of years. That’d be an achievement worth striving for!”

“Wow! Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
Having your own graphic novel under your belt would be quite the achievement! You should get it published by DC. 😉 DC fan here… What are some other inspirations and influences we should be aware of? And then maybe you can segue into the content and direction of your art? I’m familiar with your work on your blog Crumble Cult, which is where I primarily know you from.”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Alas, I don’t think DC or even Marvel would be interested in the kinds of comics I produce. Mine are far too navel-gazing and existential and waffley and… well, not very ‘superheroey’. I guess they could be categorised as slice-of-life, semi-autobiographical comics with a magical realist bent. Mind you, I have nothing against superhero comics. They just weren’t the kind of thing I gravitated to when I was growing up. I was more interested in different genres, artists and titles—oh, and giant, transforming robots (I’ve always had a weak spot for those). I can, however, appreciate why superheroes resonate with so many people. They’re the mythology of modern times really, and so in that sense they’re as relevant as any tale from antiquity. As for other influences, I’d have to mention music here. That’s a huge deal for me. I don’t play an instrument or even sing, but I do listen to a lot of music covering a number of different genres. I’m especially drawn to lyrics that have a strong storytelling component, as well as more abstract ones that allow me to create a narrative of my own.”

“So where can we expect to see you in the coming years? Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
Where do you want to take your art, including the graphic novel? What would be the equivalent of achieving your dream?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “Honestly, I’ve no idea where I’ll be tomorrow. All I do know is that writing and drawing are the only things that make sense to me. In fact, they’re the only things I’m even halfway good at. I’m really pretty hopeless at anything else. I think I’d like to do graphic novels and somehow make a crust from that. And write a novel. I have some dreams swirling about in my head; I just need to continue doing what I’m doing and never give up. Can I ask you about your dreams, my friend? What would be your definition of ‘success’? It seems to me that you pour everything you have into your blog, and I find that inspiring.”

“Hopeless at anything else? Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
I’ve never met you but I’m sure you’re being much too modest. Never giving up is brilliant wisdom. Thanks for being so conversational and turning my question back at me. And thank you for the kind words. I went through several “dreams” when I was a child: paleontologist thanks to Jurassic Park, a game designer thanks to the Super Nintendo, a conceptual artist thanks to the Dark Crystal or an animator thanks to Disney or a comic strip artist thanks to Calvin and Hobbes, which was something a lot of friends and family pushed for me since I could draw little cartoony things now and then. I ended up not pursuing the visual route, though.

“Sorry this is turning into a cheaply-made biopic. I eventually fell in love with reading in my preteens and when I was 16 I was began writing a novel I never finished. I furnished its realm with made up languages I kept journals for. I drew up maps of its lands. I sketched all of the main characters. It took me so long working on it that the project kept changing. It was a novel called Lies of the Machine that has now been a dormant epic for years. Maybe someday I can finish it.

“Currently, my only fiction projects I’ve ever finished are two short stories called I Laid a Stone to Reason and the Bamboo Man, and a novella called the Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose. Last Stitch was a muted fantasy about how our society treats the homeless. The last fiction project I was working on was based on ancient folklore from around the world and would’ve followed a female knight being impregnated with what was believed to be a descendant of Christ and subsequently pursued by the church and by the barbarians. Anyhow, all that to say my dream job would be to write for a living, mostly I’ve dreamed about being a novelist.

“I think I’d personally define success as being able to support my family doing what I love to do, in this case writing, and still having a little extra disposable income on the side. I’m actually not that driven of a person in most other areas of life, but writing is one thing that I’ve really been able to enjoy. It’s helped influence other opportunities in my life such as teaching and preaching. When I found that I couldn’t finish large fiction projects, I decided I’d try blogging to lend myself manageable bits that I could definitely finish, as well as more experience in writing as a craft. Since we’re both aspiring novelists, what are some of the ideas you’d put forth into a novel?”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I have to say that I’d definitely read something called Lies of the Machine, and your other titles pique my interest! I hope you’ll keep up with the writing because I think your site is a terrific testament to your love of the craft. I also appreciate your definition of success as that’s something that should really only be defined by the individual and what they choose their priorities in life to be. Having your first novel become a number one best-seller might be considered success, but success could also be something that’s seen as more ordinary. I’m someone who has suffered depression in adolescence and adulthood, so sometimes even getting out of bed in the morning has been a kind of success. I guess when all’s said and done, “success” is maybe little more than a glorified social construct. When you put it to one side, perhaps what you’re left with is the mundane, day-to-day business of making choices. It’s not as glamorous and sexy as success, I suppose, but perhaps it’s more concrete and real. And I think this is exactly the kind of thing I would want to write about in a novel because I don’t think it gets talked about enough. Of course, anything I write would have to have a magical realist bent and feature unicorns. Oh, hang on, that’s Crumble Cult. Okay. I’ve always wanted to write a novel that features some kind of giant mythology. And by that, I don’t mean a mythology that’s larger than life, I mean a mythology about giants. Ha ha! Hm. Yeah. I think I got a bit carried away there…”

“Success can be measured in so many different ways, Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
and there are big and small goals one can set for oneself. You’ve already shared quite a sizable portion of wisdom but in conclusion: what would you like to say to an entire universe of writers and bloggers by way of wise encouragement and inspiration? No pressure, haha!”

830b94192d4864393087c3165213dc38.jpeg “I struggle with giving advice. I’m just not the right guy to come to for that. What works for me wouldn’t necessarily work for others, and vice versa. And, who knows, perhaps I’m doing everything the wrong way? Me giving advice would be like the blind giving directions to the sighted. And, at the end of the day, others would do well to listen less to me and do more of what they, in their heart of hearts, know they really want to do. Oh, there you go. A bit of inadvertent advice there, I suppose? Follow your heart. It may sometimes lead you astray but at least it’s more honest than cold, unfeeling, bloody-minded intellect. And on that flat note, thanks for chatting with me, sir. It’s been an honour and a privilege!”

“Squeezed out that inadvertent advice anyways! Mage-Head-Black-iconsize.png
In talking with you I can assure you that one of the things I really like about you is your humility. Thank you so much for taking the time to craft such thoughtful answers. I really appreciated our discussion! An honor and a privilege indeed!”

End Transmission.

 

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11 thoughts on “The Well-Red Mage interviews Tony Single

  1. Wonderful interview and I say down with elitism, too as a reformed/reforming elitist! In terms of inclusion, I have no tolerance for any barriers/thresholds. If you play your first game at 50 and fall in love in gaming, guess what? You’re now a gamer. Granted I DO brag about playing games since the tender age of three, but that’s mostly a defense to the “girl gamer” thingy.

    New artists to follow always makes me happy 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for reading our rather length conversation! You know that this is something I’m trying to work on too, reforming from elitism. I realize now how off-putting it is to others and I’ve scarred a lot of good friendships by thinking it was hilarious to be elitist. I still like what I like and I’m not going to compromise on that, but the market is broad enough to appeal to a range of different individuals.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think there’s a balance just like with everything. I think highly of myself, which isn’t a bad thing, but I’m also realizing in my old age that not everyone has the benefits of the opportunities and education that I was lucky to have. There’s also much to be said about being intelligent, but understanding that people comprehend things at different levels, and you shouldn’t mock/shame them for that. This has hit me hard when there’s something I don’t understand, and I realize how I’d feel if someone mocked me for that. It’s not a good feeling. I’m more critical of *willful* ignorance that the ignorance that comes about from genuinely not knowing and having no way of knowing. I still “play” the elitist, but I make sure people know I’m joking, though of course every joke does have that kernel of truth :p

        I really, really need to write that article I thought up during one of our talks. It has to do with the difference between liking something and knowing whether or not something is good, the subjective vs. the objective. There’s a lot that could be said about that. There are things I like that aren’t “good” and there are things I don’t like or am interested in that are. Vice versa for both of these of course.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I completely understand what you’re saying, the opportunity to learn and the rejection of learning even with that opportunity are two different things. And I would be more than delighted to read such an article. There’s a lot of mixing of “my favorite game” and “best game ever” terminology.

          Liked by 2 people

          • There *really* is, and granted your favorite game could be the best game ever, as it is in my case of course *smug* 😀 But seriously, many people don’t or can’t recognize that difference. It goes along with your one post about critiquing art and judging the inherent quality in something beyond your personal preference.

            Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to use TWRM, because then at least it’s “twerm”, which is somehow more endearing. Haha! Thanks so much for this conversation, my friend. It was one of the most enjoyable ones I’ve been able to take part in. I appreciate your time and the thought you put behind so many of your responses. The most that one can hope from any conversation is that one walks away changed subtly by learning from the other person engaged, and I felt exactly that way once we were through. So yes, the pleasure was all mine.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great interview! It’s very nice to get to know you, Mr. Single! I also really love your description of Super Mario 64 as being like “pure imagination on acid.” Such a wonderfully descriptive statement! And my heart broke when Saria awoke as the Forest Sage, too… Anyway, I really enjoyed reading your responses and wish you the best of luck with your art and writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! Yes, Super Mario 64 was (and still is) an amazing game! We’re fortunate to be living in an era where such things as video game exist really. Very very fortunate! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

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