What he does: Perhaps you saw him doling out bottles of beer behind Mango's once upon a time. Maybe you saw him at Free Press Summer Fest, when he was working tirelessly in the pit to help ensure things went smoothly. Or maybe Tim Dorsey checked your ID at the door of Fitzgerald's once.
What a lot of people don't know about Dorsey, though, is that for the past 11 years he's been crafting a 12-part, heavily illustrated epic known as The Ocular. Divided into 12 ages, each age is its own story with a complex plot. "Some share characters and others don't," Dorsey explains.
"One is about a girl who falls in love with her talking computer and then goes on a killing spree alongside it," he says. "One's about a psychopathic, fish-like fiend who terrorizes a group of kids on a lonely island. One's about the travels of a robot trying to figure his emotions out, and one's about a giant, walking hotel where all the rich people hang out. All together, however, the stories describe the rise and fall of a distant civilization."
At the outset, these ideas started as simple series of places.
"I kept obsessively drawing these few places and then characters I wanted to live in these spots," he says. "A house, a factory, a cliff, a forest... It all just began stringing together."
He wrote his first complete story, The Telson, in 2003. "The big ideas that wouldn't fit into the first one became seeds for the other 11 which now surround it."
Why he likes it:
"There are no rules," Dorsey exclaims. "That's what's so great about having your own planet to mold." The creative liberty he enjoys fuels an ever-expanding world of invention. "I like there to be a sort of fairytale feeling mixed with the technology we've seen sprout up since the industrial revolution."
In addition to crafting his own universe, Dorsey writes - as many do - as a reaction to life in general. "Friendships, relationships, break-ups, births, deaths, et cetera... If something bad happens to me, a lot of the time I'll just go sit at a coffee shop and formulate what I'm going through into some feeling or situation that I can throw on a character - any new feeling worth journaling about usually ends up in one of my characters' heads," he says.
What inspires him
There are of course the obvious inspirations that may have already leaped to mind, as Dorsey cites "all of the epic, larger than life stories I've been exposed to since childhood - Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Wizard of Oz, Lord of the Rings, and the Alien trilogy to name a few."
But he also finds inspiration in beautiful music.
"Nothing churns the imagination more than a really wonderful piece of music," he says, listing such disparate sources as Danny Elfman, Jon Brion, Björk, Jonny Greenwood and Radiohead, Sam Cooke, Esquivel, Air, Sigur Rós and Aphex Twin before revealing that "metal or industrial music works for the more evil parts of stories."
Dreams also provide fodder for his writing.
"I've always been really confused and awed by dreams and nightmares," he confesses. "It's interesting that one's brain will twist life's subjects around into what it wants or fears or whatever without any real decision being made."
If not for The Ocular, then what?
"I really don't know," Dorsey answers. "I would probably paint more. Maybe I would've kept making music or tried to build a career working for some big company. Maybe I would've gotten into radio like my dad."
Dorsey's currently on the hunt for a publisher, one "who will work with me to get each respective feeling infused into my books' designs," a task he's aware may be a tall order to fulfill.
"The first story alone has about a 140 illustrations... People ask me all of the time when they'll finally see a printed version," says Dorsey.
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That could be quite a while, as he knows there's still a good deal of work to be done.
"Though it has been a long time, I still fear rushing (myself)," he admits. "The story has pretty much been my best friend for a good part of my life. I've always thought that this is something that might take me a lifetime. I want to eventually see all of them lined up next to each other like my Narnia series when I was a kid, but I also want to see each of the 12 treated the best way possible."
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