For many years, the drawings and paintings I did were like illustrations for stories — but the stories didn’t exist yet. Many people asked me if I illustrated children’s books, and if the images were from a story. I had to say no, but one day I might write a story about them.
Now that I’m doing comics, I’m going back and looking at those old drawings and paintings in a different way. I think I really could tell their stories now, either in prose or comics form. So it’s kind of like illustration in reverse; crafting the story around the picture, instead of crafting the picture around the story.
Here’s an example of one of my reverse illustrations. The title is almost a story in itself: “They Came Singing”.
Who are those people in the boat? Why are they singing? What are they singing about? Why do they look as if they are made of wood? What does the bell do? Who are the figures in the forest? Are they ghosts, or do they just like wearing long white robes, and if so, how do they keep them so clean? what kind of lizard is that? Is it intelligent? What civilization produced the ruins beneath the lizard? How long ago? What fantasy world is this? Or is it science fiction?
These are the kinds of questions I have to answer before I can unravel the mystery of what this story is about. Since I drew it, I am well placed to do that — but I think it would be fun to find out what other people think it’s about, too! Sometimes cooperative storytelling can be fun.
So please comment if you’d like to suggest what the answers to these questions might be, and perhaps they will become part of the crafting of a story. (And yes, if I use your suggestion, you’ll get a mention in the credits!)