In my little illustrated novella The Pains, there’s an enigmatic character named Horatio Norton, better known by his nickname The Eagle. This character is partially based on the late Chris McKinstry, creator of the Mindpixel project. I never met McKinstry in meatspace, but had interacted with him a little on Kuro5hin, where we both used to hang out. He was just another bozo on the bus then, albeit one with a bit of a notorious history stemming from things he had done when delusional or upset–he had a history of mental illness.
In the time since he took his own life several years ago, his legend has grown somewhat. He’s been the subject of a story on PBS, there was a big article about him in Wired, and now some students at the Documentary Institute at the University of Florida are making a documentary film about him. It’s called The Man Behind the Curtain. The trailer is below.
My character The Eagle is not a pure cipher for McKinstry. The Eagle was also partially inspired by Christopher John Boyce (aka “The Falcon”), and of course I hope that I added some unique personality of his own. He isn’t a mere pastiche of these two fascinating, complicated men.
However, when I saw clips of the actual McKinstry talking, when I saw his actual notebooks, I was astounded to see how much the real McKinstry resembled the fictional character he had inspired. Have a look:
The Man Behind the Curtain – Preview from michael nichols on Vimeo.