The Prologue was initially written as a shorter piece, spoken by the Servant. Later on, I adapted and expanded his monologue for use as sample pages in a pitch packet… You can read the original prologue here.
In the first version of the comic, I wanted the Servant to be our narrator throughout. This is no longer the case, as I’ve now asserted my voice as the narrator instead. This doesn't mean the Servant has ceased his original function as storyteller. He just does it in a different way now.Both old and new versions of the Prologue set out to establish the comic's core theme (Alexander’s kaleidoscopic legacy) and its reason for existence (the tradition of storytellers before me in an unbreaking chain of one king’s life and deeds). The Prologue stands in as “an invocation to the muse”, just like in ancient Greek poetry, but modified to become an invocation to both my creative elders and the reader as we embark on a retelling of this story once again.
I also took inspiration from the preambles of Arrian and Nizami Ganjavi, both of whom are authors of Alexander literature, and who also discuss early in their respective books the kaleidoscopic legacy of Alexander and the mad endeavour they were undertaking in writing about this king of many names and many faces. Even between themselves, about a 1000 years apart, they were encountering similiar issues of craft in the researching and writing process.
For example, the line “A keeper of pearls among treasures” is a direct reference to Nizami's invocation in the Alexander Romance epic, Iskandarnama. He described the research process as a kind of treasure-hunting, where pearls are strewn in every Alexander-related text and his job was to string them together into something pretty. In contrast, Arrian called most of it trash, and his job instead was to shift through the garbage and find reliable information for his biography on Alexander. (Well, reliable for the time...)
Personally, I am somewhere between the two. But look, here I am, in 2019 - 2021, a thousand or two years later, dealing with the same things! I could relate so much to their complaints and their fascination for this singular historical figure. All of those things remained true, and I think anyone who has ever written something about Alexander will get it.
Anyway, this theme of shared legacy and shared experiences across time and space and culture is really central to the concept of the comic. It's actually, in fact, the first and only reason why I took on the project. So for the very first pages I wanted to honour this intergenerational intertexuality. Not just through my words...
but in the art as well.
Thumbnailing and Sketching
Thumbnails: Moleskine notebook, mechanical pencil
Sketches: Procreate, iPad with Apple pencil
Thumbnails: About an hour? Less than that.
Sketches: (not counting breaks) 2 hours 16 minutes. In real time? Maybe a day.
Inking and Colouring
Inks: Procreate, iPad with Apple pencil, Huion H610 Pro, Photoshop, Astropad
Colours and Letters: Photoshop
Inks: (not counting breaks) 16 hours 21 minutes in the original pass in Procreate. About 3 days in real time, as I was juggling some other work. Then on Photoshop, about 1 day for additional inking.
Colours: About a week or so. It's much longer than usual because of the details and having to recreate the original illuminated miniature drawings. As you can see in the Prologue, a lot of the art's heavy lifting is in lineless colour.
Additional detail: I custom-made my own font, which took an entire night.
As I mentioned in the FAQ, the way I do this type of comic, the research is interactive and dynamic and ongoing throughout every stage of the process. It'll be the same for every chapter of this comic.
The Prologue is generally light on research, since more than half of the 18 pages are my takes on Alexander Romance motifs and my original ideas, which came from work done during the three years of development. Plus selecting the miniatures to be featured.
The most research-intense pages were the Poets and Painters section of Pages 12, 13 and 14. It was simple enough writing the text, to convey that feeling of shared heritage, but whew, it's not enough to just say it, I had to actually show it. I wanted to show that there were people behind the books that we now see disembodied behind glass cases and picture frames in museums and libraries. I wanted to show the brushes and palettes and stationary these storytellers were using, and I wanted to make a visible evolutionary connection from illuminated manuscripts to broadsheets to zines to modern day comics and book illustration. Like, without the foundations of bookmaking and printmaking and mass printing, comics wouldn't exist. Without typewriters, we wouldn't have laptops. That sort of thing. It's a humbling and amazing thing to be aware of, as someone who writes and draws their own books.
Otherwise, the Prologue is alright in terms of workload. Chapter 1 comes next, and I am simultaneously looking forward to and dreading the amount of research I need to do for place setting (it'll be set in Babylon). But hey, at least I get to finally draw Alexander in his fashionable Persian King outfit.