I started up Not What He Seems to reference something and realized why the kids found that Stan had unused fireworks in his closet and made myself sad. I imagine they intended to shoot them off together for 4th of July thirty years ago, which seems to be when the accident likely happened.
fireworks apparently don’t deteriorate if they’re safely stored and don’t get wet.
So, as an art major I’ve taken lots of classes on drawing and especially visual story telling and character design. There are important factors to be taken into account when designing a character and the more I look at how each of the Stan twins are designed it’s led to some interesting questions and conclusions as to the personality of Author Stan. (Since it’s not clear yet which is Stanford and which is Stanley, I’m just going to refer to the Author as Author Stan and the Stan we’ve known the whole series as Grunkle Stan)
The first principle of character design is giving the character an interesting shape and distinct silhouette. Shapes can mean different things and give the audience visual clues of what that character’s personality is going to be like.
Circles: Symbolically, circles represent eternity, but as character shapes they communicate soft friendly personalities because there are no sharp corners. Most protagonists are given this shape to make them likable and give us a safe comfortable feeling. Dipper, Mabel and Soos are made up of circle shapes, letting us know that they are safe, friendly characters we can trust.
Squares: These shapes are strong and vertical and characters made up of these shapes are stable, confident and strong. They can also be daunting and possibly clumsy. Both Stans are made up of predominate square shapes (I mean just look at their jaw line!) giving us the visual clues that they are strong, heavy hitters that can be depended on.
Triangles: This is the big shape we all want to talk about since triangles are not only a big part of Gravity Falls environment designs, it’s the shape of the main villain! These are the most dynamic shapes and with sharp angles and points they gives us the feeling of agression and a sinister nature which is why they are usually used in villain designs. Hence why Bill is a triangle with more triangles making up his details (like his bow tie and top hat).
Shape are used consciously in the design of characters as well as background. Villain’s layers are usually made up of triangles and hard angles, made to contrast the protagonists’ home base. Which is probably why Gideon’s tent looks like this:
That’s a lot of triangles! In the shape of the tent, down to the star. But wait a second, if triangles are meant to designate a villain’s layer, then why does the Shack, the home base of the protagonists and former home of the author look like this?
The whole house is two elongated triangles. There are almost no soft edges on it, but instead it’s a very aggressive looking building. When I was getting my sister to watch Gravity Falls for the first time, she commented within the first few episodes that there are a lot of triangles in the shack, like all over the place. It’s not something the background designers did accidentally that’s for sure. They took great pains to give us this visual clue, meaning that perhaps the Author is not as friendly as we might think.
Need another visual clue? Let’s talk color.
Color is also an important part of character design as each color represents different things and will give the audience a different emotional response. We have only a few points where we see the Stan twins in the past and I know for a fact that the creators didn’t want to waste any time giving us hints to the personality of these characters. In reality you only have a few seconds to visually communicate your character’s personality, so you have to make the message clear.
Let’s look at the Stan twins.
Here’s Grunkle Stan as a vacuum salesman back in the 60′s and here he is again with Carla.
Both times we see Stan in a white shirt. White is an important color. It symbolizes purity, innocence and safety. So Grunkle Stan is depicted as a pure, innocent character, even into present day when he wears his white wife beater and boxers, Grunkle Stan, despite his shady nature and past, is someone we can trust and is a pure character.
Let’s look at Author Stan.
Author Stan only appears for a few minutes in this scene and it is key to note that he is wearing a black shirt. Alex had only a few seconds to tell us about the author and this is what he chose to dress him in, so let’s pay close attention, shall we?
Black is used to show sophistication (like a black tie party) but it also represents mystery, evil, the unknown and death. It’s a downer color and not only gives us the impression that Author Stan is more mysterious and sophisticated than his scamming brother, it also hints towards a darker personality that maybe we ought to keep an eye on.
The color scheme contrast continues all the way back to the Stan twins as little kids. The ending scene of Not What He Seems maintains this contrast in the Stan twins.
Once again, Author Stan is in black and neutral tones, while his more carefree, innocent brother is in a white and red striped shirt. Grunkle Stan is the innocent, pure twin who is mean to be a point of stability in the relationship, much like Mabel anchors Dipper, while Author Stan is dark, mysterious and considering the shape they gave to his house, potentially villainous.
Let’s talk about that Gravity Falls episode!
You know what’s driving me nuts? Stan. Seriously, all of the heartbreak and excitement during the climax could have been avoided if he wasn’t being shady as fuck. I get not telling Dipper and Mabel about everything, but at the point where they’re in the basement, standing in front of the friggin portal, he could say something like “it’s not gonna destroy the town I’m trying to get my brother back!”
I just… What was he going to do if everything had gone as planned? Just say “hey kids! Come meet my brother who’s been trapped in an alternate dimension for the last thirty years! Btw he’s also the nerd that wrote that journal you’ve been fangirling about all summer!”. He couldn’t really lie about where his brother’s been because it’s kinda obvious that the six-fingered nerd probably is the Author and they’d figure it out quickly. Or was he going to sneak him out of town in the middle of the night and never tell anyone? Or was he going to keep his brother in the basement and occasionally throw a case of Pitt cola and a bag of Doritos down the stairs? Okay probably not that last one. But come on. What’s the plan, Stan?
So because I am a crazy person and still want to recreate all of Journal #3 some day, I have been working on and off since October to try and discover the “order of pages” in Journal #3. I feel like, at least with the pages we’ve been given, I’m coming pretty close to a proposed glossary of sorts to the pages in relation to one another.
BIG NOTE: Of all the consistencies seen in Gravity Falls, the order of the journal pages is by far not one of those things. They switch places all the time, pages skip past one another, and sometimes codes even change. The reason for this is simple; spoilers and figuring out how to avoid them. If we knew pages that weren’t revealed for another season and a half, we’d be spoiled for later stories. However, as the show progresses, a basic pattern starts to emerge. This is what I’ve gathered so far though keep in mind because of the above, a lot of it is just conjecture and many of my orders are taken from the newest episodes.
First Half of Journal #3: Mostly shown in the first ep, this seems to be a rough outline of the beginning of Journal #3.
1-2. Property of ___/Vol 3 3-4. Intro Pages 5-6. Floating Eyeballs 7-8. Gnomes 9-10. Cursed Objects 11-12. Zombies 13-14. Spells/Raising Dead 15-16. Basement Code; Various symbols
After this point things get a lot more hazy, and I’m not sure the exact placement because the pages have been stand-alone or haven’t been seen relative to other pages. However, I think there may be a running theme of order. It is:
NW Conspiracy + Map Stomach-Faced Duck Leprecorn Barf Fairy Squash with Human Face and Emotions Bill Cipher Ghosts Category 1 ghosts […] Category 9 ghosts Category 10 Ghosts Haunted Paintings and Image-Based Spectres Photocopied Portal Pages Code page seen in NWHS
Middle of Book to Last Pages: This is the last part of the book, and everything seen after the Portal “Maze” page. Remember a lot of pages in the book are “blank”.
Portal Maze Page (center of the book) Island Head/Glass Shard Beach Reference Society of the Blind Eye Shape-Shifter Stasis for Shapeshifter Portal Testing/Fuel Gauge page Gremloblin (finished gremloblin sentence)/ Hide Behind “Hiding Spot?” Security Room Height-Altering Crystals Truth-Telling Teeth TRUST NO ONE! Invisible Ink (”last” page) Dipper’s Page (?) BLANK PAGES.
Barf Fairy Marrying Woodpeckers Cave behind gravity falls Other ghost categories Percepshrooms (won’t consider it canon unless it’s seen again in the show)
Again, this is a ROUGH ESTIMATE though I am fairly certain of the order on about 80% of the book. A few pages still haven’t been shown, but I think a good majority of the interior of Journal #3 has been seen at this point in the show. As new pages emerge, I will add and rearrange pages as necessary.
finally got a handle on how to draw Grunkle Bill’s face! Luc gave me some notes that I was making his chin + neck too skinny, but now I’ve finally figured out how to draw it accurately
in other news: Opera Singer by Cake kinda gives me Grunkle Bill thoughts, and I am DEFINITELY coloring that sketch of him and the baby twins sleeping. also: bill has a recurring daydream about eating stan’s heart. stan is not very impressed. it’s just a demon thing, probably (or maybe it’s just a Bill thing).
trouble man (marvin gaye) / oh what a night for a gangsta party (tupac and snoop dogg vs frankie valli & the four seasons) / vegas lights (panic! at the disco) / c.r.e.a.m. (el michaels affair) / we came to dance (gaslight anthem) / old time rock n roll (bob seger) / wherefore art thou, elvis? (gaslight anthem) / eye of the tiger (paul anka) / i gotta get drunk (the hold steady) / yes (lmfao) / ramrod (bruce springsteen) / you can’t catch me (chuck berry) / my way (frank sinatra) / cash money (alex hirsch) / hangover (psy & snoop dogg)
wOW I DIDN’T NOTICE THIS? so somebody figured out that in the portal scene a morse code message flashed for a few moments and when translated it reads:
“Torn at his seams. Not who he dreams.”
Personally I think this means that the twin isn’t going to be what Grunkle Stan expected? Everybody seems to think that he’s gonna be all nice and tell them stories and whatnot but I think this means that he’s just gone through so much that he’s going to be hardened and rough and come off as cold-hearted.
So he’s torn at his seams, aka broken. And he won’t be all that Stan dreamed he would be.