In early 2018 I had a chat with my artsy friend Scarlett Nicholson-Jones. We were both knee-deep in degree coursework and contemplating our future post-graduation. Scarlett was interested in doing some illustration work and I loved (and still love) creative writing, so she suggested that we work together on a webcomic. And so, the Graveyard Lane webcomic project was born.
Check out the start of our creative process here.
I finished my first draft of the full webcomic plot at around 4 AM the morning after Boxing Day. My family was still in the throes of Christmas, but I wasted no time in printing out the complete set of plot bullet points and fiddling with the layout of my colour-coded plot structure (a different colour for each plot arc) in between bouts of festiveness. Check out the slightly fuzzy picture that dad took of me pretending to be a plot arc below!
At the time of writing, Graveyard Lane consists of 84 bullet points. I've started to construct a PowerPoint to explain the story to the artist (Scarlett), based on these bullet points. I've decided that the best way to communicate this is to tell the story to her twice: once as if she is the reader and then again with technical details (e.g: visual foreshadowing, character details, etc.). To simplify the webcomic's delivery and ease the editing process, I've also divided my plot into four different parts. This has given me a better idea of what I need to alter from a narrative perspective.
I can't wait to hand over the story to Scarlett and see what she thinks! In the meantime however, here are some more of her beautiful concept sketches.
Plenty of time has passed since Scarlett and I decided to make a webcomic together. A lot has happened in that time. I got into coding thanks to a CodeFirst: Girls short course, spent over 270 hours of my time volunteering with CEN8, launched this portfolio website, went to 3 different conferences (one for ethnomusicology, one for technology and one for undergraduate research), had a career epiphany, and, most importantly, finished my degree and went on to complete my Masters. I didn't have a lot of time for plotting. Nevertheless, the Graveyard Lane story plodded along in the background while life happened.
Since the completion of my Masters, I've been able to properly focus on the webcomic. I started off working on the basic narrative timeline, bouncing ideas off Scarlett when I got stuck. I tried to transfer my bullet point narrative into post-it note format, but the story was too complicated for that to work. I then tried writing detailed flashcards, but that wasn't particularly helpful either. My current plot approach involves sitting in the designated creative corner of my bedroom, brainstorming character arcs in a notebook, and printing out and cutting up the narrative timeline so far. The result is that I'm halfway there! All I need to do is plot the climax and present the story to Scarlett. We can work out the kinks together.
View this post on Instagram
This is me attempting to do a basic outline of my plot for a collaborative webcomic so far. There are 10 characters so it's pretty complicated! My favourite post-it at present is "The furniture give Greg an intervention". 😂 #plotting #webcomic #writerslife #thisisjusthowiroll
First we had to decide on what story to tell. Since I would be responsible for plotting and narrative, this was primarily my responsibility. I pitched several different ideas to Scarlett until we eventually settled on Graveyard Lane. Scarlett was then able to start producing concept sketches.
The story of Graveyard Lane originated from walking up the steep Keele University hill with a university friend. I saw a sign saying Cemetery Road and started to improvise a story with her to distract us from the hill's steepness. Graveyard Lane has since developed into a supernatural murder mystery that explores the lives of the 10 kooky characters who live on the lane. I'm still working on the plot so I won't tell you anything more than that, but you can admire the sketches that Scarlett has produced so far, featuring Angie the undead antelope, cartoon tulips, and numerous other characters.
Watch this space for future updates!