To celebrate the German publication of Pepper-Chronicles, I am planing on a series of making-of posts about this comic here on my blog in the upcoming weeks. Get more info about it here: pepperchronicles.com - considering the English edition, we are still working on that.
In the year 2009, I moved to New York City to study. While studying, I had the dream & vision to create a graphic novel based around a female investigator. I had already created stories around a character like that: Mary Jenkins Brown first appeared in a NSFW comic short I created for the Comicmagazin “Comicgate” around 2007. It was the story of an occult investigator who has sexy & occult adventures.
Next, I created a few short-stories with a more serious tone that took place in the same universe of my Lovecraftian graphic novel “Xoth!” (published by Zwerchfell in 2007). These came out only online in the years 2008-2009.
In New York, I had a really amazing dream at night. I dreamed I was an occult investigator, inspired by my character Mary J. Brown, and I investigated a group of Nazis hiding in the mountains alongside a secret lair built on the cliffs next to a river. I found out that they needed Hitler’s heart for their secret & evil plans. I woke up and liked the idea of a murder mystery centered on a magical heart.
After a lot of trials and attempts (I started at least two different comics with the idea described above in mind, but in a different setting) I decided to ask two of my best friends whom I knew via the NYC nerd community – Rebekie and Dan – if they wanted to help me and be part of this project.
This is also when Mary J. Brown turned into Mara Payne, the main-character of Pepper-Chronicles, and the setting turned into a fantasy world inspired by Western Orientalists. Together with Becky, I created the final character design of her for the story. Why she looked the way she looked in the ending…I don’t quite remember – we didn’t want her to be too beautiful, more cute and nerdy. Her hair is purple just…because. It looked just good I guess.(left my first concept art, right Rebkie's)
I had previously worked with Rebekie before on various T-Shirt designs, and her strengths definitely complemented my weaknesses and vice-versa. She is a master of inking and knows more about anatomy & background designs – she also did some amazing concept art for the comic that helped a great deal to develop a believable work. Plus, I am a huge fan of her style, and she infused a good junk of it into the final artwork.
Dan is a good friend and I had previously gamed with him and his girlfriend Melissa. I hadn’t known much of his writing yet, but I knew his taste and mine were very similar in terms of what we loved in a story. When I saw his first pages of script I was convinced at once. He made the comic complete with amazing details & dialogues, filling in the rough framework we had of the story so far.
Next time: More about the evolution of the story & the other main character: Jacop, the wizard!