I was leafing through some of my old sketch books the other day and found some of my early sketches and notes for Secrets of Jarrow. These aren't the earliest but rather some I created when I returned to working on the book a few years after I had first played around with the idea.
I wanted to rework my Mordecai Crow character and ended up with these, which I quite liked. At this point I was thinking he might have a crow companion, but abandoned that idea. You will notice that in the book version he acquired a coat and scarf, as he had in my first imaginings a decade ago, but stylistically I was looking for something a bit more simplified. I wanted to render the book with a brush pen rather than pen and ink, as I had on the first pass which you can see in this post here: http://www.billslavin.com/2023/04/from-archives.html
Here are a few of those second round sketches:
|The first sketch is very stylized and stiff I didn't like it at all. But the second, where I abandoned my pencil and went straight to the brush pen captured more of the feel I wanted.|
|Continuing with the second rendering, I sketched out another page of Crow figures. These are obviously a bit looser and more cartoony than the book version but I liked their energy and consulted them constantly as I went forward with finals.|
As almost the entire first book takes place in Jarrow Firewall, I needed to imagine that as well. I draw heavily on things I have seen on our extensive travels but in this case I was looking for something more exotic. I stumbled on some images of Armenian monasteries, and found those to be the sort of thing I was looking for. Armenia is the oldest Christian country in the world (sine 301 A.D.) and as such has had some time to figure out how to build some stunning monasteries! Jarrow ended up being an amalgam of a couple of the structures you can find at this sight.
(These I would love to see in person! Some day, maybe...)
But I knew that Jarrow, although originally medieval, would also need some modernist touches for reasons which will be revealed in the story. I researched some images of integrating modern architecture with historic buildings, and implemented some of that. I also scattered about some re-roofed buildings, some thatched, others tiled, thinking that buildings have that had fallen into disrepair might have been made inhabitable again. I drew a quick sketch of how that might look as a point of departure.