In the story for “Salvador,” the down on his luck Captain and his ship mate, Skip have a turn of fortune when they befriend a colossal baleen blue whale. After being ridiculed by the local villagers, and unable to bring in a decent catch, the Captain and Skip are washed out to sea. They realize the whale wants to help them. They fashion an grand mast from nearby pine and stitch together what they can for sails in order to create an enormous saddle for the whale. The creaky, run down, tugboat instantly becomes the helm of the fastest, best fishing ship that ever sailed, err swam, the seas.
This is the very early part of the process where I begin designing the characters based off the rough outline I have for the story. I usually write the story in conjunction with the design/illustration phase because they feed off each other so well. The raw idea sometimes comes from an image or a drawing of a single character or it can come from a single sentence, or verbal conceptual idea. The writing then instructs the drawing and the drawing feeds back and instructs the writing. I suppose this is the benefit of being the writer and the illustrator as usually the writing is completed and illustrations are filled in after the fact; however, this can pose a challenge as well being that the writing is not in stone and allows for much variation and meandering. I think the visual aspect of illustrated stories (hence being illustrated and not novels or short stories) plays a stronger role than many give it credit and needs to inform the very construction of the story.
Here are the first few pages of the Captain character. Like I said in my previous post, this story has some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough.” The main characters are going through a similar sort of learning, exploring the world around them, but yet have a bit more wisdom than the naysayer villagers. That said, he needs to be reminiscent of a boat captain, but not too stereotyped. He also needs to seem wise, but eager to learn anew as well. He is not hardened by the bitter landscape or the cynical villagers so his face needs to be somewhat kind. I fear already that he begins to look much like the character from “The Island and the Plough” so it may be that the beard needs to go. This is one of the most fun parts of the design phase, but can also be fairly frustrating. These are just four of the twenty plus character pages I have done for him. If the “what I think I want” phase does not work, then I often go in a radically different direction, maybe tall and thin, or short and beardless, perhaps younger even and begin to veer far away from what I had originally envisioned. That type of process usually helps to refocus what is working, what is not, to bring a vision of it I may have yet thought of but also help show me from what to stay away.
I will post some concepts of the village and landscape next.
While I sort out the ISBN registries for “The Island and the Plough”, and navigate the intricacies of publishing a picture heavy book to the many eBook formats that are out there, I am busily working on writing and roughing the designs for my next project which I will begin to post about very soon. I am super excited about my next book, as the story is really getting to me. Everything is falling together pretty well. Interestingly, it certainly has, unintentionally, some of the same themes as “The Island and the Plough” but in a very different way. I have a pretty strong outline completed, promising concept sketches, and a few ideas for page spreads that I think will look really great. I have yet to find a title that suits it but I am sure that will come along in time, but for posting purposes I will refer to it as “Salvador.”
The basic concept is a story of a fishing boat captain and his young ship mate, Skip. The two are amidst a sleepy fishing village perched at the rocky cliff’s edge where the land meets the ocean. Their ship is but a small, single sail boat that barely seats two, not to speak of nets full of fish. The captain also has an old tugboat, in severe disrepair, that he wishes to fix up and use because it is larger and could get them to deeper waters and carry more fish. The naysayer villagers laugh at his inability to catch fish as well as his dream of using the tugboat for fishing. Whilst readying themselves to push out one morning, a very unlikely new friend washes ashore. The story unravels into three parts as the Captain and Skip adventure out to include high sea sailing, wrangling/wrestling with nature, and a hunt for an unusual treasure which can only be had with the help of their newly found friend, all while the cynical villagers laugh from afar.
Until then, I leave you with this book page layout-mock up of “The Island and the Plough” until I bring more news of a release date.