When one is approaching publishers with a graphic novel proposal, it's my understanding that standard practice is to show about twelve sequential pages finished enough to get an idea of the artwork and the storytelling. That's been a great impetus to actually get the beginning done in something like final form.
This is, of course, a story about a cycling trip... but this is part of why I love it: diversions into all sorts of subjects, expressed in inimitable verbal style by the highly opinionated T.H. Holding.
It's time to finalise what these guys look like and exactly what they're wearing. It's a fairly limited choice, either a "lounge" or a "Norfolk" jacket, in colours ranging from tweedy green to brown to grey. So here are my current ideas for Holding, Frank, Little Billie, and Beaumont, respectively.
"The costume adopted by the Cyclists' Touring Club (organised in 1878 as the "Bicycle Touring Club") is upon the "all woollen" lines and may be recommended as at once neat, sanitary and durable. A special West-of-England tweed has been adopted for the outer garments, the pattern being a small grey check. Flannel, in two different thicknesses and all wool... is made of the same pattern, so that if the rider wears a shirt of this material the absence of a wasitcoat is not noticeable, a material gain in very warm weather... The coat may be either a "Lounge" jacket or a "Norfolk" : vest present or not; and the nether garments, breeches, trousers, or knickerbockers..."
"The beautifully coloured litho Plate we are giving with this issue illustrates one of the most popular types of jackets worn at this season of the year, viz., the Norfolk jacket. There is scarecely a sport in which it is not used, whilst for golfing, cycling, pedestrian and fishing exercises it is considred by many to be the ideal garment. Our illustration shows it in its simplest form, viz., with one pleat up each forepart and down each side of the back. Large patch pockets are added to each side, and the general get up of the garment is loose and easy fitting. ... It usually forms part of a knicker suit, the cap being of the same maerial, and the hose made of similar colour to the suit."
-- The Tailor & Cutter, 1896
"He had on his new brown cycling suit - a handsome Norfolk jacket thing for 30s - and his legs .... were more than consoled by thick chequered stockings thin in the foot, thick in the leg."
- H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance, 1896
Sure, we cyclists have potholes and all sorts of bad surfaces to contend with but at least the roads are generally paved (thanks to campaigning by early cyclists, but that's another story). Two WIP panels from page 30.
Clearly this beginning is going to need a little explanation in a short intro... like, for one thing, the author sometimes speaks of himself in the third person, and calls himself The Skipper at times.
Here I'm explaining the process from deciding on the text, to layout, to first draft, to final (??) artwork.
Or rather, lack of buttermilk. Draft of two pages in Holding's book which has expanded to nearly four.
I've been looking forward to drafting this bit where Holding goes on at some length about the need for people to make the effort to get on with each other, rather than rise to unintended provocation or get upset about silly behaviours. He writes this just after the part in his book where he finds the Bantam bicycles being ridden by two of the party really aren't up to the job, and are slowing everyone down terribly. That's why his arms are pointing like that on the left-hand page -- which will be on the right-hand side in the book, rather than these two being facing pages like they appear.
In Holding's book, there's a fair bit more but this seemed plenty to get the point across. One more paragraph I sort of wanted to include but haven't, follows below. Should I?
"May I presume to say that I have had twenty years cruising in the company of many and widely varying men, and each, of course, with his varying mood. This has given every condition possible for criticism and even differences, not to say, sometimes, offence."
Since I'd decided to take up the challenge of #inktober again this year (that is, an ink drawing every single day of October), I thought I might as well use it for what I most needed: getting better at drawing people, and getting used to drawing these bikes from 1897 and, in the final frame, having a go at character development for the four guys in the story.
Read this bit first
I'm making a true-story graphic novel...