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The World Afloat – Storyboards

The World Afloat is about hoping for change and seeking out the things that we are missing. The story takes place in an alternative future where ever rising flood waters have divided Australia into three rival nations – Westralia, Fort Victoria and Freeland. The project is aimed at 7-12 year old boys and will be developed as a full colour picture book over the next two months. The concept itself may lend itself better to a graphic novel for older audiences.

The script was by far the biggest challenge. It really destroyed my brain trying to build a complex world and relay a multi-layered story arch in 32 pages. Books aimed at this age bracket typically have less than 300 words per spread. The backspace key was seriously my best friend. I have discovered that writing for picture books is extremely difficult. Whoever thinks it is as easy as ‘see Spot run, go Spot go!‘ has never actually tried writing to “implied visuals”. I had an easier time of it because I was working on potential drawings and concepts concurrent to developing the text. I really admire those authors who manage to write an engaging text when they are not actually illustrating the book themselves. You really have to trust that the pictures will tell most of the story and relay the action mostly through sound effects and dialogue.

This dummy book has been road tested with about a dozen people (one of whom told me I was “just plain weird”). I am still not sure if I have nailed it, but will continue tinkering with the script as needed. The artwork will be rendered in gouache paint and pencil, with some digital compositing. I even bought a neat art projector that blows my tiny sketches up onto the canvas. This preserves the ‘looseness’ of the original drawings. I will provide progressive updates here once the painting is under way.

I am planning to make The World Afloat a hardback book so if print-on-demand technology provides the quality I am looking for, I may end up selling extra copies online. Some test copies of the book will be published using Blurb in November. If you have any issues with comprehension please let me know before I get too far into the illustrations to fix it. Any feedback helps as this is my first attempt at a children’s storybook. Bare in mind these storyboards are rough and in flux!

The Fort Victoria heraldry will be more elaborate, with scrolls, floral ornaments and a decorative cap of a knight’s helmet and black crow – I just didn’t have a pencil small enough to do this on the dummy. The four panels in the background show Australia progressively sinking.

The emu in this final page will be made of twisted rusted metal, like one of those public art sculptures. The blimp is seen on the opposite side of the Wall in Central Australia

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