Week thirty two - In which our hero sets the scene

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:

We still have the final colouring to do. The little bit of colours that have been done were by Pat.

We still have the final colouring to do. The little bit of colours that have been done were by Pat.

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.

Mum will always be a pen and paper gal.

Mum will always be a pen and paper gal.

And Dad is a techno-lover from way back. 

And Dad is a techno-lover from way back. 

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.

xx