Behind the scenes with Captain Polo: the black and white experiment

by | Jul 9, 2020

Normally when I create a comic book I first finish all the artwork right up to the final, fully colored frames. I then switch over to Adobe Indesign to lay out each frame in comic-style boxes, page after page, adding in the speech bubbles, narratives and texts, and thus create the book.

Quite a process.

This time, for my new book The Adventures of Captain Polo: Pole to Pole, I thought I’d try something new. For this book, I’m only completing the artwork in black and white before laying it out in Indesign. One page a day.

This means that for the same level of effort, I get two products because I’ll have the final colored book but also a fully independent black and white edition, which I can promote separately as a coloring book.

This approach has other benefits: I get complete, black and white pages as I go along, which motivates me and allows me to monitor the look and feel of the story as I develop it.

I can also promote this pages right now, to build buzz about the final book, which I am launching in November 2020.

A black and white edition, which can be completed much sooner, also allows me to use that edition as an Advanced Reader Copy to send out to targeted individuals to get those all-important editorial reviews. I will then include these reviews in the final versions of the book in time for publication and launch.

Another benefit from doing things this way is that my daily process is more varied, and less tedious: in the mornings I complete the black and white drawings (10-12 per page), and in the afternoons I put them all together in Indesign and add the speech bubbles and texts. At the end of each day, I get a fully coherent result, which gives me satisfaction and a sense of having been productive that day.

When I am ready to transform the black and white book to colour, I will go back to Photoshop and add the colours there, frame by frame, and again, one page a day.

Over in Indesign, one click of a button will magically replace each black and white page with a fully coloured one. Hey presto!

Page 1 of ‘Pole to Pole’

The climate change element seen on this page extract from the new book in the making is one of the many consequences of an abnormally warming Arctic. This region of the world is heating up over twice as fast as anywhere else due to human-induced global warming. Summer temperatures this year in Arctic Russia have exceeded the worst predictions.

This is bad news for everyone, including Arctic wildlife of course. Polar bears are unable to hunt as effectively on melting ice floes, and in consequence they are forced to migrate south to seek food. This inevitably leads to confrontation with human settlements, where the bears rummage through trash bins, landfill sites, and even enter buildings in search of food.

In this new adventure, Captain Polo draws attention to this and many other serious climate change issues, and also the solutions that already exist and that await only political will and public awareness to make happen.