Cass was the most beautiful girl in town

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”

Letter icon by Brotherbrendan on Make Pixel Art


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 have 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, “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 am sorry, by the way, 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 sort of 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. To get the full version where you can save things, you have to pay a dollar, or some tiny amount of money that is very close to a dollar. I cropped the pictures using Pic Monkey, which is free. I sometimes screwed around with the colors using that program and also Picasa, which I don’t think is free, or maybe it is.

The “Bridge” drawing was my first one, and I did it using a different program, but it turned out that I was using the program on a free trial, and I didn’t want to pay more money, so I stopped using it. I forget what the program is. Anyway, you should make pixel drawings too. I want to see them! I was going to do the whole Great Gatsby instead of short stories, but my editor stopped me, which is sad. So maybe someone else 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.

See also: 10 classic novels in 8-bit form

  • amanda brennan

    This is the best but also plz do novels and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

    • Oliver Miller

      I just got the go-ahead to do novels. “Portrait” would be okay, but I’m more of a “Ulysses” fan, but I would like to draw a cow for “Portrait,” so in conclusion I don’t know.

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