Archived entries for The Curio

The Curio.

One of my better ideas, if I have to be honest.

Here’s what I said about it almost two years ago when I first started poking at it:

It’s the story of a college kid who inherits this building. But it’s wrong, you see. The building is wrong. The inside is way too big to fit in that squat gray building. There’s a ballroom, a whole library and the dozens of bedrooms. It probably doesn’t help that the building was willed to the kid by crazy uncle Franz, who no one had seen in years, and no one could ever remember having the financial where with all to own any sort of property, let alone a freestanding building in a fashionable college part of town.

It turns out that mad old Uncle Franz wasn’t so crazy after all. He was an Esoteric. A member of the Community of Esoteric Scientists. Or in layman’s terms – he was a mage. A practitioner of the arts and sciences that the rest of the world chose to forget about. And the Curio was his responsibility to the Community. One that he chose to shirk. And with his death, the Curio has passed on to his chosen heir, our college kid. To the Esoterics, the Curio is place of sanctuary. Here they can gather safely, research their experiments, restock their supplies and rest their heads after a long journey.

So now the main character has had all sorts of bizarre responsibility thrust upon him, in addition to his student work and other relationships. He finds himself straddling two worlds, and the only people who know what’s going on are his girlfriend and football player best friend. Both of whom came with him that first night he visited the Curio.

I’d even lined up the amazingly talented Christian Schmitt to draw the thing (I think you can still see a few of his preliminary sketches for The Curio there) . But then we thought about it, and decided that maybe an open-ended comic was a bit much to take on. So, we shifted over to The Pineapple Primary. Then he moved off to the frozen North and vanished into an all-consuming work schedule. And my harddrive went boom shortly after, taking the finished script for the piece with it.

Time passed, I’d run into Christian every now and then when he was back in town, we’d laugh about the whole thing, have a few drinks and that would be that.

This Saturday was another one of those times, but something was different. He’s moved back to somewhere in one of those “I” states where he’s helping with his father’s carpentry business. So, I asked him if he thought he might have the time to work on anything. And he said he did. I asked him if he wanted to revisit The Curio idea. And he said he did.

Just like that, here we are again. Me dusting off old files full of half-thought through notes, him disappearing back to another frozen North.

Except this time we’ve done things a bit differently. Instead of me giving out all the content, we’re going to build it up together. We’re going to talk about the place, the people, the world for a very long time before we start into the writing proper.

I’ve never done anything this way before, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

I’m working up character descriptions and background for the guests at the Curio, and I’m going to share them with you. Expect two or so a week until I work through all 6 major guests.

The Shaman.

Not his real name, nor even the name that I’ll use for him in the comic, but it is best short hand I have to keep track of him.

No one knows exactly who the Shaman is, or how long he’s been around. The earliest authenticated recordings of an Esoteric fitting his description comes from a 17th century Dutch sailing vessel. The record holds that a ship headed toward Bonaire in the West Indies fished a man out of the trade waters. He had apparently been in the water for days, and was muttering to himself in a language the sailors didn’t understand. His body was covered in strange tattoos and scar patterns. The castaway had a condition that had covered most of the right arm and upper torso with a rough, brown skin – not unlike the bark of a tree. But his eyes were the most striking things. One was bright sky blue, with a horizontal pupil, like a goat’s eye. The other was normal brown eye, just like you’d see on any person on the street. The crew took the strange man into the galley and tended to him. Once he woke, the man wrapped himself from head to toe in cloth and never said another word. For the last week of the trip, he just sat in the far corner of the galley, not speaking to anyone, not moving, not eating, not drinking. When the ship reached port, the crew came down to tell their strange passenger they had arrived, only to find him gone.

A thorough inspection of the records of the Society’s Listeners would find many more references to the man with the blue goat’s eye.

A lost journal of Charles Darwin mentioned finding a man wrapped in linen living on the Galapagos Islands when the naturalist arrived. In the journal, Darwin mentions that many of his ideas about evolution sprung from conversations with the strange man.

From Brazil in 1889, a newspaper clipping makes reference to a man with strange eyes saving a ship of rubber traders from burning to death when their ship caught fire on the Amazon. The traders claimed the fire didn’t burn the man’s skin.

Personal accounts from US soldiers involved in the Polar Bear Expeditionary Force that occupied Arkhangelsk, Russia during the Russia Civil War speak of a man, wrapped in thin white cloth. They say the man stole medical supplies from their depot to tend to the towns people that were dying from the influenza epidemic. The soliders claim to have shot him, repeatedly, only to have him walk past them, unfazed. There is no mention of this incident in any official report.

The records of Unit 731, the Japanese medical experiment division during World War 2, makes reference to a man with mismatched eyes and an unidentified skin condition. The referred to him as a specimen of interest. The specimen was apparently immune to all of their germ and chemical weapons.

And now this man has made the Curio his place of residence. He keeps to himself, only ever leaving his room to go to the library, or to claim hot water from the small cafeteria on the first floor. He uses it to brew his tea, a special blend that he mixes himself. When he drinks it, the entire lobby of the Curio is filled with the smell of a warm summer breeze run through a green house of every flower that has ever existed.

The other guests view the Shaman with a some what reverential attitude. They have all heard stories of him, and none of them want to guess if some of the nastier things they’ve heard are true. Even the fat, pompous alchemist seems to understand this is not a person to be trifled with.

I’ve lined up an artist for The Curio. Meet Christian Schmitt.

Christian Schmitt

More here.

Ever have an idea that you think up offhandedly, probably while drunk, that won’t dislodge itself from your head?

Well, that’s The Curio for me.

It’s a story of a college kid who inherits this building. But it’s wrong, you see. The building is wrong. The inside is way too big to fit in that squat gray building. There’s a ballroom, a whole library and the dozens of bedrooms. It probably doesn’t help that the building was willed to the kid by crazy uncle Franz, who no one had seen in years, and no one could ever remember having the financial where with all to own any sort of property, let alone a freestanding building in a fashionable college part of town.

You see it turns out that mad old Uncle Franz wasn’t so crazy after all. He was an Esoteric. A member of the Community of Esoteric Scientists. Or in layman’s terms – he was a mage. A practitioner of the arts and sciences that the rest of the world chose to forget about. And the Curio was his responsibility to the Community. One that he chose to shirk. And with his death, the Curio has passed on to his chosen heir, our college kid. To the Esoterics, the Curio is place of sanctuary. Here they can gather safely, research their experiments, restock their supplies and rest their heads after a long journey.

So now the main character has had all sorts of bizarre responsibility thrust upon him, in addition to his student work and other relationships. He finds himself straddling two worlds, and the only people who know what’s going on are his girlfriend and football player best friend. Both of whom came with him that first night he visited the Curio.

The thing is a story-based serial with no real ending. The only plot points I have are the football player best friend accidentally opening up a living grimoire and inadvertently becoming a genius because of it. And the slow revelation that the all the Esoterics coming to the Curio are fleeing from something, something none of them will openly talk about. And maybe that mad old Uncle Franz isn’t dead, and that the Community just declared it so they could pass the Curio on to some one who could keep it open. And the eventual conflict when Franz shows back up claiming rights to what is his.

I’ve got a couple thousand words kicking around in a Word document right now that I want to distill into a very tight pitch that I can pass out to an interested artist, but holy crap. The set up is just so big.

And I didn’t even get to the Man in White. Or the dragon roost on the roof. Or why the basement is locked. Or what they are all running from.

And yes, it’s meant to be a comic book.



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