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August 23, 2010

on Characters and Backstory

This post comes to us from the desk of Alec Longstreth, who did the coloring on The Unsinkable Walker Bean.  He works up at the Center for Cartoon Studies, so that's a very exciting place to have a desk!

There are a lot of characters in Walker Bean, and every one of them has a backstory.  Before I started coloring the book, Aaron sent me a massive email with the names of all the pirates on the Jacklight, their jobs on the ship, and where they lived originally, before they set to sea.  It's quite a diverse crew!  On just one ship there are sailors from Japan, Africa, Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Mongolia, Hawaii, and India, to name a few.  Aaron also included dozens of reference photos for me to work from, so that I could create a unique color scheme for each character.  The following character sheet helped me keep the characters' colors consistent throughout the 200 plus pages of the book:

WalkerBean_Characters
When you read Walker Bean, most of these characters are never mentioned by name, but if you keep an eye on them in the background, they are always attending to their duties for the Jacklight.  For example, let's look at the ship's blacksmith, Tibca.  When the ship pulls in to Spithead to get some supplies, Tibca heads straight to a blacksmith's shop to pick up some new tools.

Tibca_Spithead

Then, later, when the Jacklight hits some trouble, Tibca jumps right in and lends her skills to the rebuilding effort.

Tibca_Hammering
Every panel of Walker Bean is packed with this level of detail.  You can read this book over and over again, and each time you will notice something new.  I colored every square inch of every page, so I'm confident that I've seen everything there is to see in the book, and all I can say is that I'm excited to see what comes next!

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See more from Alec:

illustration: http://aleclongstreth.com/ blog & comics: http://alec-longstreth.com/

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