Friday, 22 August 2014

Making Long Gone Don: Creating an Underworld - part 1!

Long Gone Don: The Monstrous Underworld month continues!  Today, a little World Building. Nothing too ambitious then...

Very early in the LGD creative process, Lorenzo and I sat down to discuss what we wanted the land of Broilerdoom to look like, to feel like ... even to smell like.  As with all our books, the adventures of Don and his best friend Castanet had to take place in a living, breathing universe.  The land, though fantastical, needed to be constructed on the solid foundations of a sort of pseudo-reality.  Gravity works the same, buildings stand upright, the citizens have jobs and homes and worries and dreams.  The fact that talking crows and giant worm monsters also live there is almost beside the point; Broilerdoom, and it's capital Corpse City, had to feel like they were entirely possible.

And so, by combining architectural styles from across the world and across the span of human history, Lorenzo got to work. With the heat on his junior alchemy set turned all the way to 'HOT SAUCE', he began to bring the world to life in eye-popping detail.

But architectural style is only one aspect of the creative process.  Colour plays a major part in our design approach, and never more so than in defining the Krapookerville Slums, where our heroes eventually find a home.

We wanted to use a sort of twisted adobe style for the majority of buildings in this sector, reflecting the simple lives of the inhabitants. But their outlook on life is amusing and positive, and so Lorenzo used a vibrant palette, with pinks and yellows and blues. He then peppered the whole design with bright green plant life.

Scale was another important consideration. How big was the city? How many people lived there? Now, we don't like to paint ourselves into a corner, so although we actually feature a map of Corpse City in the first book (see below) we made sure that the scale of the drawing was so small that it left a LOT for us to discover in future adventures!  And then of course there's everything outside the city walls ...

Ripley's organic home (centred above) and the walls separating the slums from the city (directly above) inspire drastically different feelings. One is warm and one cold. One welcoming. One intimidating. This sort of contrast is used throughout our world design process.  It might seem obvious, but for a fictional city to truly work in the mind of a reader, you need to be able to easily differentiate between the realms. It can be as subtle as the choice of curtains in a window or as visceral as piles and piles of skeletons lying about the place, but each area should feel new, distinct and always exciting.

We'll have more soon, when we delve further into the art of world building!