I've been working on a special project over the last several years as a means of sharing a story that I've wanted to tell, and those with ties to the South Park may be particularly interested. The series will follow the lives of a footplate crew and married couple [imagine a Ward-&-Betty-Kimball-esque duo] working out of Como's great stone cathedral of a roundhouse in the turn of the century, just as the C&S is coming into its own. Their engine, one of the tired old Brooks moguls, has seen better days but faithfully carries on. However, there is one addition to the world in this series that allows it to occasionally wander from the historically fictitious into the truly fantastical:
I've had the idea of juxtaposing draconic critters and steam locomotives for a long time, for thematic parallels abound between the two. One is a grand and fearsome breed, oceans churning in their bellies, infernos raging in their hearts, their laborious breath thick with embers and soot, their large golden eyes beaming brightly as they fly across prairies wide and mountains tall… and the other is, well, a dragon. Both encompass a sense of wide-eyed wonder and gallant stature, though an inevitable theme will be how their presence is impacted by a world that changes around them, threatening to pass them by.
While some of the characters are quite whimsical, the locations, the general flow of time, and the early days of the Colorado & Southern are being extensively researched and faithfully recreated down to the tiniest details, often while I'm buried face-deep in one of three massive DSP&&P/C&S books with thousands of stories and images. The roundhouse scene above is a work-in-progress that I'm drawing up for the opening of Act 1. I've been disappointed with other fictional works like AMC's Hell on Wheels, which failed to capture the nuance and spirit of early railroading via its dull imagery and tangential plot that seems to treat locomotives as dusty background props rather than shining characters in their own right, so extra care and effort are going into the balance between character development, the art style, worldbuilding, and concise, over-arching themes that will hopefully draw the reader further into the experience.
Beyond just a simple webcomic format, a multi-media aspect comes into play in the form of a musical score--which will be written and performed myself--for each uploaded set of panels, as well as occasional small bits of animation to enhance certain scenes, like this gif of No. 17, "Alma," which was written off the actual C&S books around 1902 but remains under the care of the comic's characters. The engine was chosen to avoid writing over the stories of actual crewmen who worked with the surviving C&S fleet, who will make frequent appearances.
I'll post more updates as Act 1, Chapter 1 of this project progresses and the comic hosting site gets set up...
Re: Upcoming Webcomic: C&S Narrow Gauge with a Twist
This post was updated on .
Very interesting scenes, Jim and Daniel. I currently don't have any stories based around these two locations; however, both will likely be shown at some point or another, since both the Clear Creek and Platte Canyon areas will be seen in various misadventures on the high iron.
The past few days have been spent working on background artwork for various scenes, including this unfinished scene inside stall 1 of the Como roundhouse: (edit: fixed a broken image link)
Since only two known photos exist of the roundhouse's interior during operations (and both are very rough and dark with limited perspective), I have instead opted to use Don Pacetti's fantastic modeling of the roundhouse interior as a guide for placing machinery and other details, since the interior is shown with good lighting, high resolution, and multiple angles. You can find more of his modeling at the Como HOn3 link on the C&Sn3 main page: