Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We All Wear Masks

Well, I was working on a caption for Cailtyn last night, something that was both sweet and somewhat humiliating, but ultimately, a self-realization and discovery of her true self. The idea really hit when I saw the picture. Please look at the 2nd caption first before reading, as I don't want to give away plot points until you've seen the caption at full size.

I had a story of a party, where Calvin was trying to prove that we all wear masks, so that wearing one would expose the true nature of someone. The gist was that Calvin was so sure of his theory, he was over-confident that things would fall into place. Dee was pretty much along for the ride after prodding Calvin to prove his theory.

After the set-up (adding make-up to help hide Calvin's appearance in case there were people that knew him at the party) the first step in the plot kicks in where both Dee and Calvin recognize that, at least for Calvin, his theory is probably more true than he could ever have imagined. Then he wanders off on his own, probably as his "true persona" guides him through the party, with Calvin just along for the ride.

As time passes, Dee wants to head home, and tries hard to find Calvin. Upon finding him, she finds him overwhelmed with all that he's been through, and definitely not "Calvin" as that true self had never been released until the mask was worn. Sensing that, Dee awakens the alternate persona, Caitlyn, which according to Calvin is actually his true self.

The problem is that some of the things I wanted to highlight would not fit into the caption, or weren't clear by the way I had designed it. Below is the 1st draft, which confused Jennifer when I asked her to interpret it with fresh eyes.

Of the feelings I wanted to convey, but am not sure if I did, was that Dee didn't really fulfill what Calvin had said. She didn't feel that different in her mask, at least until she came upon Calvin. In the initial caption, it ended upon the discovery of Calvin's true self. While a great place to end emotionally, it didn't really validate Calvin's point. If Dee was exactly the same as before, the whole "We All Wear Masks" statement isn't true.

There also wasn't much description of how he felt after being masked. The way this was designed, with only one picture to work with, meant that there HAD to be an economy of words. I shrank down the size of the font to something that gave me an extra 10-15 words above and below the picture. From that, I was able to throw in a sentence detailing how he felt with all eyes upon him, and below to flesh out the meeting in the bedroom slightly.

I was also able to make me sound somewhat less boring, that I had partied a bit but was ready to head home. As seen in the finished caption below, I also was able to make the case that me waking up Caitlyn was an epiphany for both Calvin AND Dee. For Calvin, it was the realization that Caitlyn was a huge part of her. For Dee, it was that she LIKED seeing Calvin like that, and wanted to ensure that it would happen again. Just using the word MISTRESS in that context adjusts the balance of power between them. Dee's true persona as a dominant woman happened, just as Calvin had predicted.

This happens to be one of those rare captions I made that easily could have been 3-4 panels if I had the photo source material to do so. The constraints of a single panel made me economical with phrasings but didn't hurt it too much overall, at least to my understanding. Others may disagree. The one thing I am really cheesed about is using the word "truly" tn two sentences in a row at the end! URRGGHHH!!

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Did I manage to convey everything in the caption as I had described it? I left some of the story vague, but did foreshadow the sexual nature of the events. There maybe a few things I shaded that I forgot to mention here as well. Was the first caption too vague, and was the second a huge improvement over the first? Did the final version of the caption succeed?


  1. The second one to me, is much better. Although, I still feel there's a lot of unanswered questions though. But thats just me.

  2. I like the first one better. Great picture find.

  3. the second one makes for a different, firmer approach. I feel there's a level of manipulation there that wasn't present in the first one. The first felt like a happy accident while the second feels like everything was planned from the start.

  4. First thing first: LOVE the cap! It takes a lot of what I say I like (something going too far), and, something I like but don't say often enough (self realization) and wraps them up nicely.

    Now the discussion question: I think you conveyed most of what you described into the cap. I got the 'Calvin' becoming 'Caitlyn' right away. I didn't get the 'Dee' into 'Mistress Dee' until the second read through (this is on the final version). I think that maybe more of the time in the story where the 'Dee' change takes place. 'Calvin' had three hours to become and experience being 'Caitlyn', while 'Dee' just became 'Mistress Dee' at the end. And part of it is also the hesitation. The "Um, Caitlyn? Mistress Dee says..." says to me that 'Dee' is still coming to grips with being 'Mistress Dee'.

    The first cap (according to what you wanted to convey) was too vague in my opinion. In that version I didn't get the Dee transformation at all. And I don't get that the transformation for Calvin hit early at all. In that first version when I read about his calm demeanor, I wasn't sure if that was the mask bringing out 'Caitlyn' or just 'Calvin' surprised that he felt at ease. The second cap was clearer just by adding the part about feeling the gaze of both men and women and getting invigorated by it.

    I think that the final version did succeed, and I do like it better than the first.

    @Mistress Simone

    That's odd, because I see it almost the opposite. In the final version I get the feeling that Dee was surprised by the change more than in the first. Even before getting the Dee/MistressDee transformation.

  5. Stupid Blogger last night wouldn't let me post my comment and it didn't save it either so I will have to start over again.

    @ Sasha

    You have to say MORE than just you liked one more than the other. Why did you like the 1st one better?

    @ Jenniger

    I don't mind you bringing up specific things. I want discussions, and the last few posts did NOT get many responses at all! I believe one of them was that the 1st line made it sound like Dee was making Calvin go to the party, right?

    @ everyone

    Looking back on this, I wish I had waited one more day to look at it. As Caitlyn said, and if I was able to post last night, it'd have said the same thing that she did. I would've taken out the "Um" part and also changed the punctuation at the end of what I said to an exclamation point, to show that waking up was more of an order. I also would've taken out the redundant "truly". Oh well, live and learn.

    @ Caitlyn, Simone

    Well, to be honest, I think I would split the difference in what you both say. As posted above, I noticed that in the 1st one, there was no real transformation of Dee, which negates the theory that Calvin proposes. In the second, I wanted it to appear that Dee sort of wanders around a bit before discovering her true self, which happened when she discovered Calvin's true self.

  6. @Dee
    I don't know. The more I read the cap, the more I really like the hesitation. It shoes that the discovery isn't an immediate change. Dee is 'testing the waters' of Mistress Dee, and will soon find out that Mistress Dee is her true self. It doesn't come across clearly on the first, but I don't think that just removing the 'Um' and adding an exclamation point would necessarily fix it. But then again you know me... I don't even know the term 'economy of words'. I think the initial story idea may be a little complex for a single panel (of course having multiple panels gets into its own difficulty like you mentioned)

  7. @ Caitlyn

    Well, as I had said, I sort of wish that I DID have more pictures to spread it out over a few panels. So the original idea definitely was too complex for just one, but I still decided to work with what I had.

    I am glad that you saw the hesitation as a "testing ground" for the new Dee. If I had those extra panels, I would definitely have worked that a bit more (for example, had Caitlyn get on her knees and pay tribute to Mistress Dee, for instance, but with a softer touch.)

    Usually when I am too ambitious with my story, I can whittle it down to just the essentials. When I did that with the initial one I posted above, it sort of gutted even the tightest reading I could give it. The adaptions fleshed it out some. Just goes to show that its not "how many" words you use, but how you deploy them.

    The main thing to remember though is that this caption was created to make Caitlyn a happy camper, and I think it succeeded in that. The fact that *I* am not completely happy about it is another story.

  8. I also HOPE upon HOPES that my deconstruction of the creation and its discussion hasn't lessened the enjoyment of the final caption, for Caitlyn and/or the readers.

    I thought that it would be important to show, warts and all, the reasoning and reworking of a caption that did NOT come as easy to me as I thought it would when I started.

    Many captions I make just seem to be written by a Dee Auto-pilot function. I can't necessarily go into fine detail about choices I made, when it just seemed right to do so.

    In a way, it is ironic that I did quite a few things that Caitlyn fusses over when she creates some of her masterpieces. I bet that cannot be any higher tribute to her than that!

  9. @Dee

    While I can't speak for everyone, I can say that this 'deconstruction' has not lessened my enjoyment at all! In fact it heightens my enjoyment many times over.

    I would have enjoyed the first caption if I had never seen the final version of this. And the fact that you wanted it better than that makes me feel honored. And beyond all that I just love talking about cap creation!

  10. @ Dee

    Well, it says that Calvin agreed to go to the party with Dee to prove a point. It sounds like Dee was already going to the party, But Mostly the only unanswered questions I have left in either caption is why Dee put the make up on Calvin. I understand she did it to better disguise him, but the make up in the picture is feminine and I just wonder why you made her look like a girl before Caitlyn made her full debut later on.

    Of course, I usually have to come up with reasons for most everything I do in a story. even if those reasons aren't explained, I still come up with them and will add that to the story if it fits into the story.

    What I see in the cap is that you already had the mask's and make up, you were already going to the party and calvin only came along to prove a point. Then calvin gives way to caitlyn and you give way to Mistress Dee. It could be seen as some sort of master plan on your part, having the make up and everything all ready for calvin too put on for the party that he wasn't going to go to.

    So, I guess it's just the pre-crossdressing thats in the caption. The TF comes later, but you made calvin look like a girl before he even got to the party.

    I might just be over thinking it and it really doesn't hurt the caption in the end. For the second cap you fixed all of the other issues I brought up, so it works a lot better I think.

  11. @ Jennifer

    I probably should've just left the makeup line out of it and possibly used that extra 10 words for a bit more exposition. I figured I needed to do acknowledge it when I made it. Looking back though, I could have left it alone, and if need be, explain that Calvin himself had put it on when feeling like Cailtyn, or that it just happened sometime during the party itself.

    The "agreeing to go to the party" I don't think really makes much of an impact. I've ended up at many parties where I didn't know I was even going to one. You hang out and "Hey dude! there is a party at so-and-so's, you in?" I think the makeup was much more of an issue than the invite I think.

  12. @ Dee

    I discussed that here because you brought it up as one example I had an issue with the night before. Really it was the make up that bugged me the most and all of those ideas would have helped it I think.

  13. To be honest the line of the makeup didn't really even cross my radar as out of place. I just read it as either 1) Calvin considered it all part of the mask, or 2) Cavlin cross-dressed and wanted to show Dee that even cross dressing doesn't reveal his true nature, that only a mask could (and of course it went a lot further than even he thought it would.

    Either version works for me.