I was thrilled to be offered a guest spot in the weekly mailing produced by a superb filmmaker whom I follow. Adam Westbrook writes The Third Something full of "ideas, sketches and reflections on the creative process" and it's always deeply thought-provoking and entertaining, very highly recommended even when it isn't all about me! This one is, and I get to talk about figuring out my weird way of drafting this graphic novel, which finally got me unstuck and able to make (slow) progress on it. Click on image below to read.
This is a talk I gave at Laydeez Do Comics in London back in January 2020, about the making of this graphic novel from initial idea to the endless research to page layout methods and more...
Using the instructions from T H Holding's book for making your own tent, I worked out the size of this paper model to be in scale with my little grey man, putting his height at 5'8" which is a good guess for Victorian times. I wanted to have a reference for getting the relative sizes accurate, now they I've reached the part of the story where they've pitched the tent for the first time and started camping. It's still very difficult to imagine four grown men, one rather large, sleeping in such a space but we know they did!
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.
READ THIS FIRST!
I'm making a true-story graphic novel...