I will say first of all, this is a direct response to the excellent write up by zedhatch (Toxie’s Universe on Twitter) over at The Terror Drome where he analyzes where Dio-Stories were in the fandom several years ago, where they are now, and exactly what happened along the way.
Zed has been doing dio-stories for a very long time, and has some good insight and experience on the subject, but I figure, considering what my own situation is and has been that I would write a companion piece to respond to some of this points and possibly bring up some of my own.
Click the Read the Rest of the Story link below for the full article, and thanks to Zed and The Terror Drome for speaking about this. It’s a subject that is obviously near and dear to my heart, and something I’ve been struggling with for a few years, so I love having the opportunity to read (and respond) about it.
Where are we with Dio-Stories?
That’s a very good question…before we can explore where we were, we have to explore where we are. The Dio-Story art form as a whole is a lot less prevalent these days, and I think Zed brought up some great reasons why in his Terror Drome article, most of which I think are fairly accurate. In 2012, the Dio-Story form of story telling seems to be much smaller in scope (though definitely still present!) while many folks have focused a lot more attention on customizing, diorama building, and other ways to express their joy with the hobby.
That’s not to say Dio-Stories are dead. Far from it. In fact, Nas has his great dio-story still going over on his website, and I’ve seen a number of offerings on HissTank.com and in other arenas. There are still people doing it, but it seems to be somewhat smaller in scope, and not gaining nearly as much traction as it used to.
Where was the Dio-Story?
It seems like so long ago that Dio-Stories were nearly everywhere. Tim rocked the G.I. Joe fandom with Iconoclasts, and I ran with many ideas myself, kick-started by what Tim did. Violentfix and Wowboy nearly redefined the way Dio-Stories are conceived with their incredible sets, amazing production values, and expansive camera set ups to capture the action.
Many, many others have done fantastic work including Spin Doctor, Capolan, W.O. Leroy from HissTank and Self-Modifier with his really great G.I. Joe vs. Transformers series, not to mention Zed himself at Toxie’s Universe. Over on JoeDios.com a plethora of dioramas and dio-stories have been produced over the years.
It seemed like everywhere you went a number of years ago, there was a Dio-Story. Someone else capturing their angle on the G.I. Joe universe. It was really cool.
So what happened?
The million dollar question, and one that Zed answered fairly well over on The Terror Drome, but I have my own thoughts as well.
A lot of what Zed talks about points back to money in some form or another, and that is a really good point of discussion when it comes to Dio-Story success. There is no way around it, if you want to make a successful Dio-Story, you need to be prepared to invest some money. Set building, figure buying, camera equipment…none of this stuff is cheap, and that can be a huge hurdle. Sure, if you’re fortunate, you can make do with your backyard, or even an awesome set piece from your place of employment, but if you want to do a consistent long-running Dio-Story, you’ll really have to invest some time and money into set building and background design.
Speaking of set building, Zed brings up another terrific point in that regard, pointing out the fact that in some cases there was such a focus on building the set or setting the stage, that sometimes not only did that take too much attention away from the story, but it created a sense of “better than the Joneses” among Dio-Story authors, who felt like if they couldn’t maintain the same level of excellence with set building as one of their peers, perhaps they shouldn’t be doing what they’re doing. I will admit I’ve suffered from this myself from time to time as I took pictures in my backyard with grass that was way too long while looking over and seeing very professionally made diorama backdrops framing some awesome dio-stories, and it can sometimes be discouraging.
But I think while cost and set design is a big part of the fading dio-story art, I think there are a few larger issues as well. First and foremost, I think it’s the G.I. Joe universe. When the Dio-Story fad kicked off in the early 2000’s, there was no ongoing G.I. Joe mythology. No comics, no cartoons, nothing. Well, at this point over the past 10 – 12 years there have been countless “reboots” and comic universes that have come and gone, and in a way, perhaps that has impacted the creativity of the dio-story artists? With so many other stories being told, perhaps potential dio-story writers don’t feel that burn to weave their own stories?
But in my mind, the most important piece of the whole dio-story puzzle is very simple… it’s just time. I think time is the one real unifying principle when it comes to all of the former dio-story artists that I know and I’ve spoken with. I can say that this is definitely my issue. While money obviously plays a role, I think I could find a way to afford building (or commissioning) the set building, but it all comes down to having the time to use it. When I first started my dio-stories, I was married but had no kids, a pretty standard 40 hour a week job, and more free time than I knew what to do with. Now I’ve got two kids, a closer to 60 hour per week job, and I’m working on my Master’s Degree. This doesn’t leave much free time, and I’ve been hearing this from many other former dio-story creators as well.
Let’s face it, we’re all pretty close to the same age, so chances are we were all in similar family situations 10 years ago, and chances are good we’re going through the same family and life evolutions now as we get closer to 40.
All of that being said, I don’t think the Dio-Story is dead. Not at all. I’ve seen many offerings from many different sources, and some very nice stuff at that. Not only that, but I’m still working towards getting Darkness Falls online, and while it feels like I’ve been saying that for years, I think this time I really mean it.
Again, thanks to Zed for bringing the topic up, it’s always fun to talk about it. It seems like these days I don’t see as much interest in the Dio-Story phenomenon, so it would be very interesting to know if folks are still looking for that type of thing, or if most fans have moved on to other things.