Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Death Mask: Act I: The Research, part 1

I think that I've now sufficiently covered the concept for my graphic novel. After I spent a lot of time thinking about the story and the characters and the kind of world that they lived in, some two years had passed. In that time I also did some concept art and some illustrations for Death Mask, among other things. But it wasn't until this summer that I really set a goal for myself and began some of the hardest work for the project.

So, before I could sit down to work on the script, I had to do some research. Research is a very important step, especially when writing and portraying a world that I do not live in, and thus do not know intimately. To make it easier on myself I could have picked the US as the setting. True, it still would have been in the future, but such projections are easier to make when you are familiar with the present culture. But no, I went with a culture that was considerably different from what I know.

So the task because to get acquainted with modern day India so that I could more accurately portray it in the future. Knowing this, I began to compose a list of the various things that I would need to research, continually adding to the list as I thought of something new for the story or thought of an aspect that I had previously disregarded.

Aside from the culture, a large part of my researching quest was to find out about the police, and especially SWAT and its Indian analogues. American television, while engaging and fun, probably isn't the best source of real-life information. I need to know about how things work in the real world so that I can make my own storytelling decisions about what to change and what to keep.

Research is really important to me because I want to create a world that is grounded in reality, even if it takes place years into the future on a continent far away (from me, at least). While a big part of the story certainly is the world that the characters inhabit, I wanted it to be a believable and seamless aspect so that there weren't any jarring errors or completely off the mark aspects of the world that would steer the audience's attention away from the characters' plight.

Aside from illustrating the actual pages, I think that this is one of the most labor intensive parts of the project. Granted, I'm still at this stage and haven't yet gotten to the others, so perhaps I will be proven wrong in the near future. This is a daunting task for me, for many reasons. For one thing, I am not as patient as I would like to be. I'm excited about the project, so I just want to start writing the script now. But that would be problematic later when I have to edit the script and fix any glaring world errors.

So perhaps this stage of the webcomic creation process isn't all that exciting to read about. At least not now, when I'm not dragging out fun facts! This, I will be sure to do next time. Tune in next time when I talk about my researching methods, some obvious things that I didn't even know that I should research, and possibly some fun facts. Next week will be another comic recommendation, but the following week will be Death Mask: Act I: The Research, part 2! I KNOW YOU'RE EXCITED.

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