I love pixels. I love old Sierra adventure games, and the way things were drawn in, say, Bard’s Tale II. Pixels make everything look kind of sad and off and retro, because of course they do. Because they’re pixels from 1984.
I also love short stories. I was an English major, and then I got an MFA in writing. Before that, I was a nerd who huddled in a basement with his nerd friends, clicking with a mouse to play Bard’s Tale II. So basically, making 8-bit drawings of short stories encapsulates my whole life, and, I hope, yours as well.
Here are 8-bit drawings of the beginnings of eight short stories. You can then click to read the complete stories, which I recommend that you do, because literature is good for you.
Franz Kafka — “The Bridge”
Charles Bukowski — “The Most Beautiful Woman in Town”
Donald Barthelme — “The Balloon”
Denis Johnson — “Emergency”
Ethan Canin — “The Year of Getting to Know Us”
Franz Kafka — “At Night”
Stephen Crane — “The Open Boat”
Lorrie Moore — “How to Become a Writer”
Artist’s note that you don’t really need to read, I just wanted to write the words “Artist’s note,” sort of: I don’t remember where or how I got the idea to do this. Also, I can’t draw. Which is hopefully fairly obvious. Actually, I do remember how I got the idea for this. I was going to illustrate the entire Kafka story “The Bridge,” which is a very short story. It should have been easy, but I can’t draw.
So I switched to drawing with pixels. Even if you can’t draw, you can draw with pixels, because they’re just large square dots. Pixels are more a matter of attrition. If you keep adding and removing dots, you will eventually manage to produce that drawing of a hot girl that you’re trying to do. …The question is whether you’re willing to spend four hours doing it.
My editor told me to do first lines of short stories, so that is what I did, though I argued with him over it, but he pays the money, so, shit. I’ve read all the short stories, and they’re all great. Except that’s not true. I haven’t read “The Open Boat.” Which is the one that starts this way: “None of them knew the color of the sky.” A Google search revealed — or argued — that people consider that to be the best first line of a short story ever, and I instantly knew how to draw it, so I used it. But I haven’t read that story. But I have read all the other short stories and I love them.
I’m sorry that most of the stories are by guys. This was not intentional — I rejected a lot of stories that I love because their first lines were not very fun to illustrate, and I just ended up with what I ended up with, not planning it out very much. If I do this again, I’ll add more girls.
To draw these, I used Make Pixel Art, which is a free program, though you have to pay a dollar if you want to save things on it. Then I cropped the pictures using Pic Monkey, which is free. I sometimes screwed around with the colors using Picasa, which I don’t think is free, or maybe it is. …Anyway, you should use these programs to make pixel drawings too. You don’t have to use Picasa if you don’t want, and it’ll all be very cheap to do. And I want to see your pixel drawings. I was going to do the whole Great Gatsby instead of short stories, but my editor stopped me, which is sad. So maybe one of you guys should do that one.
In conclusion, that is all, and I am slightly happy not to be currently spending hours adding and deleting tiny gray-shaded dots. Thank you. Also, I slightly misquoted “Emergency” even though it was right the fuck in front of me, but I was too exhausted to fix it. Sorry. And thank you.