Location, Location, Location – It’s all about Character!

Creating an environment for your comic tale involves more than just picking a location and drawing.

It’s all about character.

Sure, if you’re setting something in New York’s Times Square you need to make to add details that are specific to that locale to really plop your reader into that spot. Then it becomes all about what angle you chose or how your characters interact with the environment to tell the rest of the story.

Spider-Man never sees Times Square the way we do. He’s always upside down and way up high, swinging past it in a blur of neon. A hot dog vendor below might act like the entire corner is his office and expect his customers to behave accordingly if they want to get served. This kind of thinking of thinking helps turn Times Square into Spidey’s Time Square or Hot Dog Larry’s Times Square.

Click the image to go to Sony Pictures official Spider-Man site.

When we are making up a location we have more freedom to make the setting unique and present subtle information that colors the story that’s happening there and the characters within that environment.

Take Number Two’s office at Holmes Incorporated.

Despite the constant ribbing Sherlock the Second endures from his brilliant family and bossy father, the patriarch of the Holmes clan is a formidable character. As Holmes Inc, editor Ty Templeton once put it,  “Number Two is the smartest man in any room the rest of his family isn’t in!” This is the man who built a world-wide empire based on what his family does best, solving mysteries. And it would be most unwise to ever underestimate him.

Number Two (Sherlock the Second) as designed by Rachael Wells.

While the other Holmes and Watson family members are more gifted at observation and deduction, Number Two’s unique skill is organization.

Like his namesake, Sherlock the Second has grown the family fortune and he personally supervises every Holmes Inc. mission, commissioning resources, assigning the proper people for the job, providing equipment information and transport, negotiating with entire countries.

Number Two is constantly dealing with dignitaries, world leaders and superstars of all types. His office, designed by artist Jeff Rusland, is designed to impress the powerful egos he deals with day in and day out.

Number Two's Official Office - Designed by Jeff Rusland.

As Ty noted, “This is the office of a well-travelled, and highly eccentric man.”

In the end, Holmes Incorporated editor Ty Templeton directed Rusland to swap out the bearskin rug (It steals focus and would seem too politically incorrect to Number Two’s visitors) with a Persian rug and added two or three curved steps from a sunken area when people enter to give the desk “a literally elevated sense of power”. Later, Jeff also adjusted the design to match the curve of the exterior building design more. (The exterior design wasn’t available for his first pass.)

The lobby outside Number Two’s office, designed by artist Pierce Desrochers-O’Sullivan, is equally impressive and loaded with Holmes memorabilia, not just from the original Sherlock and Watson’s adventures but also the many from the many adventures of his descendants as well.

The lobby outside Number Two's office. Part museum, part first impression, all awesome! Design by Pierce Desrochers-O’Sullivan.

For his story in issue #2 of Holmes Incorporated, “Safe!”, writer Aaron Feldman makes it clear that Number Two is in constant contact with every Holmes Inc. field team. Now that’s dedication!  “Safe” artist Rae Wells designed a private monitor room for Number Two to keep tabs on Holmes inc. worldwide.

Number Two's inner sanctum. Design by Rachael Wells.

Rae shared her thought process:

I’ve done up a partial (ie as much of it as I need for this story) proposal for #2′s private office design for where he actually works, as opposed to the presentation office where they meet with clients (which I always thought was old Edgar’s office anyway). It just didn’t seem natural to me to have the action from this story take place in the big fancy room, and besides, #2 needs his own space.

“It’s practical, but not utilitarian because that’s the way it seems like he would roll.There’s enough empty space for him to pace when he’s anxious, because that’s definitely in the gene pool, but I figure he keeps a lid on it until he’s behind a closed door. The furniture is a blend of antiques and high-tech: antique mahogany desk, filing drawers, and bookshelfs, but super-modern ergonomic chair and a wall of monitors. The screens are for both communications for mission control for the missions that need his personal attention, and computer monitors for research.”

Even when making up a brand new, imaginary location, it helps to have real details, like this late 19th century mahogany kidney desk that inspired Number Two’s private desk.

It’s details like that that create a totally believable world!

Always  remember, your location is as important a character as your leads!

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Posted on July 15, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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