The Evolution of Clutter

The latest episode of my home decor catalogue/ graphic novel “Clutter” is now available at Small Doggies Magazine online. If you’ve been following along, this is Part #9, and the married couple is starting to get down to business in the remodel of their new home. If you haven’t been following along, I’ve pasted the full Table of Contents below…You don’t want to fall behind at all, do you? Better get to reading.


1. a new season, new options (Tuesday, October 4th, 2011)

2. apartment living (Tuesday, October 18, 2011)

3. downtown living (Tuesday, November 1, 2011)

4. neighborhoods of orlando (Tuesday, December 6, 2011)

5. bookshelves (Tuesday, January 3, 2012)

6. entertainment center (Tuesday, February 7, 2012)

7. outdoor living (Tuesday, March 6, 2012)

8. glassware (Tuesday, April 3, 2012)

9. planning your remodel (Tuesday, May 8, 2012)

As a side-note, I’ve been working on “Clutter” for several years now. While it’s now an online serialized graphic novel, it’s had a long and interesting history as a story. It actually started off as a short story, written back in 2008 (around the time that I first moved into my house and began working on my own remodels). But as a short story, it just wasn’t working. I experimented with the length of the piece, chopping it into a series of short-shorts, but even then, I wanted the story to have a sense of momentum, to build toward a satisfying end, and it’s tough to do that with a bunch of individual short-shorts without saying the same thing over and over again.

The next step in “Clutter’s” evolution was as a piece of mixed-media fiction. If it’s not working as a traditional short story, maybe I can turn it into an actual home decor catalogue with real photos of the various elements of the remodel, the tools and the furniture and all of that. But I’m no graphic designer or photographer, and I found myself constrained by the items to which I have access…I felt weird going into furniture stores to photograph their stuff, too…And is there any literary magazine that wants to run a 30-page story structured as a home decor catalogue? Awhile back, I managed to publish a mixed-media short story structured as a long Wikipedia page (it’s called “Gold Saturday,” and appears in the journal Rip-Rap), but it took a long time to find the right home for that piece; most journals weren’t sure what it was, and rejected it immediately.

I decided that “Clutter” could still work as a home decor catalogue, but that it needed to be a stand-alone project…if I wanted to try to build a catalogue, I couldn’t half-ass it and do just 30 pages. I needed to do a full catalogue, with individual sections dedicated to different items, different portions of the house, all of it working together to tell the story of a married couple’s conflict as they buy their first house. And I decided that it couldn’t work as just a catalogue, that it needed some humanity, it needed the characters and not just the objects. And that’s when I knew that “Clutter” was destined to become a comic, where the characters could be displayed side-by-side with the catalogue items, where I could show their possessions as well as their pasts, presents, and futures.

It’s been a long road, from 2008 until now, but hopefully you’ll dig the final result. “Clutter” still has a little ways to go, but follow the links above to read the first nine installments, and then check back on the first Tuesday of every month for the new chapter.

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