Cover Process

After some unfortunate delays, Colonial Comics Volume One (now titled Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750) is readying for a September 2014 release, only six months behind the original schedule. There is still frantic work going on behind the scenes, but there’s enough material coming in now that I can start sharing some awesomeness pretty routinely. And what better way to start than with the cover?

Scott White and I met up at an Anita’s New Mexican restaurant (we were supposed to meet at BonChon Chicken but they were inexplicably closed at 11PM on a Sunday) sometime in mid-December to talk about the cover design. I had some ideas, Scott had some ideas, and combined we had way too many ideas.

I remember saying that I wanted this linear collage that showed England in the upper left corner, the Mayflower crossing, winter, livestock, wars and massacres…just everything. Basically a cover that told every story that was going to be in the book. And Scott was on board! We were going to have the busiest 8x8 cover ever created. And it probably would have been terrible.

It took Scott all of a day to inform me that we were going for too much and he pitched a cover that had the Mayflower landing with Native Americans looking on. The original design can be seen below:

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I thought it looked great, but the Native Americans looked very threatening and that wasn’t the story we were trying to tell here. At all. So I asked him to lose the weapons and got:

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Again, it looked great…but it didn’t tell a story. So I pitched something a bit crazy to Scott. I asked him to make the focus of the cover the land. This vast amount of empty land. Empty beach, empty forest, very few people. One Native American and one landing boat – all in the distance. Small and not the focal point. Make the story about how much LAND existed, so that the eventual story of English colonists completely taking this land, unable to share it, becomes so much more tragic.

This first volume, after all, is about the establishment of the American identity – the good, the bad, and the ugly. So Scott gave me this cover, and I knew we had our cover the minute I saw it.

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And then he colored it:

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And then we needed to title it. I went with 1790 Royal Printing Font in order to make it look like old copy. I also grabbed some pages from the Bay Psalm Book and copped some of the design elements. Designed a title I really wanted to use…

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….but it didn’t fit with the cover. So I had to lose some elements to finally deliver…

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…but I needed the title to be bigger. So here’s where we’re at right now and I think it’ll stay this way…the (hopefully) official cover to Colonial Comics: New England, 1620-1750:

 

Dig it.

That map!

I asked my contact at the Massachusetts Historical Society if she had any leads on where to find maps of New England that I could use in Colonial Comics. She directed me to the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library which has a HUGE database of historical maps from around the world and I believe I’ll be spending the rest of my week there. 

So many wonderful, wonderful maps. The one above is the original plan of Boston from 1630. I love how it points out who will own what lands. Winthrop gets top-billing, of course. 

I am trying to wrap my head around one particular aspect of this map and that’s Corn Hill. According to Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower, Corn Hill was the place where the Pilgrims stumbled across a reserve of Wampanoag corn seed that was buried in the ground. But that was in Provincetown, when they were looking for a place to settle, before making their way to Plimoth. I found another map of Boston from 1635 (below) that labeled the same area Fort Hill.

I must know the reason behind the name change!


The Official Handbook of Colonial America

We’ve been throwing around the term “interstitial” pretty willy-nilly over at Colonial Comics. The fact is, all of the stories need a one-page intro that starts on an even page and sets up the story. We decided to do an evolving map of New England as a watermark for those pages so that’ll be pretty fun to do. I’m going to Boston in three weeks for map collection (among other things) so that we can do that right.

But, the fact is, some stories will have an even-numbered page length so we need something to fill the gap. Additionally, there are several major characters that we simply don’t have the space or the manpower to talk about in the books. So I had an idea…interstitial pages that give bios of these characters but done as an homage to The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Kind of like The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Redux Edition but with colonial-era British/Americans and Native peoples. 

So this is sort of a call for interested parties. You can get in touch with me at colonialcomics@gmail.com for more info. 

Now that my creators are getting more and more work done for the first book they’re starting to make announcements for me.

A. David Lewis (who is also the assistant editor for Colonial Comics) is currently doing some research for his story about Jewish history in Colonial New England and he working with the great JT Waldman

For those of you keeping track, our announced creators so far are…

  1. A. David Lewis and JT Waldman doing a story about Jewish life in the colonies
  2. Erika Swyler and Noel Tuazon doing a story about Elizabeth Glover, owner of New England’s first printing press
  3. Connecticut State Historian Walt Woodward and Matt Dembicki doing a story about Connecticut governor (and alchemist) John Winthrop JR.
  4. Alexa Dickman and EJ Barnes doing a story about Merry Mount
  5. And, I kind of strongly hinted at this earlier, so why not talk up Philip Hoare and Charles Fetherolf doing a story about whaling

That’s just five stories out of the 25 we have planned for this volume alone. 

A quick sketch from friend and frequent collaborator Noel Tuazon. Noel’s working with writer Erika Swyler on a story about Elizabeth Glover, owner of the first print shop in Massachusetts.  

In the meantime, he’s working with Jason Rodriguez — who wrote “National Pastime” for “District Comics” — on another project for Fulcrum Publishing that follows in the District anthology’s footsteps.

“It’s early, early colonial stuff in New England,” he said. “Jason Rodriguez is heading that up. I’ll enjoy handing over the reins and being just a contributor.”

And he’ll even get to return to his roots for it. Dembicki is a longtime resident of the Washington area, but he’s originally from Connecticut, and he will be working with the state’s historian on his contribution to what is tentatively called “Colonial Comics.”

“They’re very interested in making this a historically relevant book,” he said, in a way “that you can only convey in comics form.”

Colonial Comics gets a mention in Roll Call’s profile of District Comics: An Unconventional History of Washington DC. Looks like they forced my hand in officially announcing our first creative team - Connecticut State Historian and Associate Professor at the University of Connecticut Walt Woodward will be working with Connecticut-native and current DC-area artist, writer, and editor Matt Dembicki on a story about John Winthrop JR. 

ladiesmakingcomics:

ejbarnes:

On 18 November “Ladies Making Comics” blogger Alexa Dickman and I went to Merry Mount in Quincy, the site of the notorious Maypole erected by Thomas Morton and his band of rebelled indentured servants in the 1620s.  We were accompanied by fellow Boston Comics Roundtable writer Patrick Flaherty (“Mealtime”, “The Plague”) and my partner, Brian Bixby.

Alexa and I are planning a comic story about Merry Mount for an anthology of comic stories about colonial America.  The merry Morton and the po-faced Governor Bradford of Plymouth, who had Morton arrested and deported back to England, wrote accounts of the plantation at Merry Mount and its friction with the neighboring Puritans and Pilgrims.

Merrymount Road (marked on online maps as Maypole Road) runs from Black’s Creek near where it flows into Massachusetts Bay, to the actual Merry Mount (formerly Mount Wollaston), which is in a small park at the corner of Samoset Avenue and Ridgeway Drive in the Merrymount residential neighborhood near the Quincy Shore.  Merry Mount and the park it sits in are not to be confused with Merrymount Park, which is about a half-mile away on the other side of Black’s Creek.  The trunk of a very tall red cedar tree that stood on Merry Mount not far from where the Maypole was erected is now in the Quincy Historical Society, the tree having blown down in a storm in the 1890s.
In the photo, L to R: Patrick Flaherty, Alexa Dickman, me.  Photo by Brian Bixby.

Yeah, this is a thing I’m doing. E.J. is a fantastic artist too, I’m excited to be working with her on my first comic story!

A report from the field from two Colonial Comics creators!

(Reblogged from ladiesmakingcomics)

Wanted: Assistant Editor for Colonial Comics Book Three

We have a lot of momentum going right now. So much so that Fulcrum has approved a third book in the Colonial Comics series. The third book is scheduled to come out Spring/Summer 2015 and feature stories from the Early Settlement through Pre-Revolutionary periods of the Mid-Atlantic region, mainly Virginia and Philadelphia.

So this makes three books:

Spring/Summer 2014 - Early Settlement of New England

Fall/Winter 2014 - Pre-Revolutionary New England

Spring/Summer 2015 - Early Settlement through Pre-Revolutionary Mid-Atlantic

The plan is to eventually merge the threads into a single Revolutionary Era volume. Ideal candidates would have a solid understanding of Mid-Atlantic history and some experience (or at least a strong interest) in comics and graphic novels. Roles would include research support, schedule support, and potentially sitting in on some local meetings. If you have a background in comics you may be in charge of editing or adapting some of the stories as well. DC/Philly resident would be ideal.

Inquiries should write me (Jason Rodriguez) at ColonialComics@gmail.com. You don’t have to send a resume right off the bat, I just need you to introduce yourself and give me an idea of your background. 

I spent seven days in the Boston area. I visited local comic artists at the Boston Comics Roundtable and the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE), toured the Longfellow House, Harvard, Plymouth, Wayside Inn, New Bedford, and Concord, and met with folks from the Mass Archives, Concord Museum, and the Mass Historical Society. 

It was a wonderful trip where I met lots of fantastic folks and conducted some great research for the books. Lot of exciting things came from this trip, and I’ll be sure to share them all with you as time goes on.

Above are a bunch of pictures from my travels. They are:

  1. Plymouth Rock
  2. John Harvard statue
  3. Boston Comics Roundtable meeting
  4. Mayflower II
  5. Plimoth Plantation
  6. A whaling ship from the New Bedford Whaling Museum
  7. MICE
  8. The Printing Offices of Edes & Gill
  9. The (Reconstructed) Old North Bridge at Minute Man National Park
  10. A picture from my meeting at the Massachusetts Historical Society