Something I've never been good at is drawing backgrounds. I've barely started trying to apply the Eddie Campbell rule to my comics (you must show a character's feet at least once per page), let alone drawing elaborate crowd scenes or detailed mystical world building. Not because I don't want to (I can imagine in my head exactly what I want things to look like), more because I lack the technical skill to draw it.
But as I've drawn and read more comics I've realised that the panels I'm really happy with and the artists I really like have something in common: they gots backgrounds.
So going into making my first full-length graphic novel, I wanted people to get a feel of the area I grew up in and the type of people my family are; I wanted the reader to be able to fall into the world of the book; and most of all I wanted it to feel Australian.
I don't have a lot of confidence in scene setting and one of the main questions I brought to my mentor, Pat Grant, was how to help the reader feel like they are in the same world as you. Pat took me on a tour of his hood and we took turns drawing a scene from the area. It turned out like this:
When I got home from visiting Pat, fired up with a new mission to capture my childhood neighbourhood, I walked around the main suburbs where I spent my time as a kid and a teen taking photos and feeling a touch nostalgic.
I got myself into the studio and came up with a variety of scenes that I feel sum up the places I visited, walked past and loved. Here are the scenes that have made it into my thumbnail draft of the book so far.
I also realised that I could use these scene-setting breaks in the story to expand the main characters in the book too. I could show not only snippets of toys and bedrooms but also items that describe different people's takes on the same issue.
I also used this as a chance to try to replicate a few family photos - we have quite a few as dad got on board the digital camera train early on and we are pretty much a family of visual learners.
Now that I've set the scene, I think I'd better show off some of these thumbnails I've been working on!
I'll talk about my writing/drawing process and where I'm at with the script in the next blog post.