Making Connections: Crossover Art and the Creative Process

This is probably going to end up being one of my weirder variety pieces, and rest assured that we’ll soon be getting back to scheduled programming with a brand-new pilot commentary, but for now, I want to show you this picture that I drew a few weeks ago of some Once Upon a Time characters.

Banette and Sableye

Okay, so these aren’t really Once Upon a Time characters. But if you look past my mediocre drawing skills and the fact that they are actually just Pokémon wearing people clothes, you’ll notice that these Pokémon are dressed as Regina and Rumplestiltskin!

Those of you who know Pokémon may have already realized that this isn’t as random as it seems. For those of you who don’t, I’ll give you a quick run-down:

  • Banette (the one on the left): was wronged by a child a long time ago and seeks revenge to an inordinate degree–just like Regina.
  • Sableye (the one of the right): Also called “the Darkness Pokémon,” Sableye can be found in caverns, is often seen as dangerous, is prone to cackling laughter and strange arm movements, and is super creepy in an oddly endearing way–just like Rumplestiltskin. (Plus, the Shiny form is such a pretty gold color!)

So, why did I draw this, apart from the fact that I was really bored and the Internet was down that weekend? Because I saw a connection. And once I saw it, I couldn’t unsee it.

Crossovers can be fun, and this isn’t my first attempt at making one. I’ve also written a few crossover stories and done the music equivalent: arranging two songs, one on top of the other, and listening to the results. But they’re really just the most obvious form of something that’s a big part of the creative process: making connections.

When you first learn how to write, you do it by looking at other works you admire and figuring out what works. If your knowledge base is big enough and you keep an open mind, you’ll start noticing things that they have in common. That can help inspire your own work or give you a better understanding of what you’re watching.

Other times, you might make a connection that seems less obvious. For example, who ever thought it would be a good idea to combine the Western genre with science fiction? Answer: Joss Whedon. Well, also the people who made Cowboys vs. Aliens, but let’s focus on Joss Whedon.

When you think about it, it’s not at all far-fetched to think that the final frontier might have the same types of danger and lawlessness about it as the American frontier. Anyone who’s seen Firefly can tell you that this is one crossover that needed to happen!

So, what’s the takeaway here? Always keep an open mind. Pay attention to things and notice how they connect to other things. This kind of mindset can often lead to surprising new creative twists. I should know. Just look at where it led me!