__CHAPTER 3 - A Mann On A Journey __story & art by Josef Lee
_Introduction by Josef Lee, Creator of The Life Of Mann
Chapter 3 is out, together with an updated website which is more navigation-friendly. It took about a week longer than promised, but I hoped the end result was worth it.
A number of ‘firsts’ were achieved with these 5 pages. The first to be done up in full colour. The first time I actually scripted out a detailed storyline, type-written with carefully crafted dialogues, including the breakdown of pages and panels. My first attempt in colour-rendering with a limited colour-palette (which was greatly inspired by the works of artist Frank Stockton). The first appearances of new characters the likes of Mocha (the winged talking chocolate-coloured pig), Charon (the ferryman of Hades) and Cerberus (the 3-headed hound of Hades).
So, what was the key inspiration behind the story for this chapter? Well… my wife was constantly mad at me for spending so much time on Mann that she claimed that were she the one to continue the story, she will kill Mann off for certain. To appease her, I decided to send Mann on a one way trip to Hell. Don’t ask me if this means Mann is going to be dead. I’ll leave it to Dopepope, the artist/writer for Chapter 4, to answer the question.
The next few chapters are getting even more exciting. A few global creatives are in the lineup to come onboard as guest contributors. Chapter 4 is currently at work by Dopepope, a New York artist specialising in bizarre character design. Chapter 5 will be continued by a duo from Austria – designer Christian Korherr and writer Norbert Tomasi. I will be taking a backseat for the next few chapters so that more creatives can come in and work their magic.
_The Inspirations and Production Process behind the Making-of Chapter 3
Chapter 3 was unexpected. I did not set out to write the story in this direction, nor was the drawing style close to something I initially had in mind. The shapeless monster slowly developed its current form as I worked on numerous re-writings and browsed through countless references during the 4 weeks of production.
At a very early stage when I first saw the ending of Chapter 2, my mind was already half set on using the highway as the main setting for Chapter 3. A lonesome highway presents endless possibilities and the best thing is that it sets Mann on the start of a journey. And journey stories are always good (think classics like Journey to the West, Wizard of Oz).
A journey is only as interesting as its destination. I need Mann to embark on an incredible journey and the only way to do that is to make him go somewhere totally unexpected. My mind hover between 2 possibilities. A travel through time, or a trip to hell. Somehow, the latter seemed more extreme. And knowing that Dopepope (artist/writer for Chapter 4) is famous for his bizarre character designs, I can’t wait to see what kind of outlandish imageries he can cook up with a story like this.
With the direction set, I worked on injecting fresh ideas through introducing new characters. I wanted to pull St.Elvis out of the limelight for a while and pair Mann off with a new travelling companion.
___________________Breakdown of Story into Panels and Pages
I’d always loved the short story ‘The Hitchhiker’ by Roald Dahl ever since reading it in school for literature class. The idea of meeting strange people while hitchhiking a ride in the middle of a deserted highway fascinated me. For a long time, I dabbled with the idea of letting Mann hitch a ride with a pair of twins speaking in rhythms, who actually turned out to be demons on their way back to Hell.
The turning point came when the idea of hailing a cab in the desolated highway crossed my mind. Very soon, the cabbie idea led me to the image of a ferryman. I recalled there was a ferryman from Greek mythology who rowed a boat across the river Styx, ferrying souls to Hades. I hastily googled for some information and Charon and Cerberus were thus born. The rest of the story soon wrote itself.
As for St.Elvis, it was my initial intention to write him out of the story for Chapter 3. However, a friend feedback to me that St.Elvis is fast becoming his favourite character. As a result, I decided to branch out a subplot and added in Mocha, the winged talking pig as St.Elvis pet and trusted aide. And the idea of St.Elvis pulling out his Vespa from within a haversack… that was definitely inspired by Doraemon, the single most creative comic character ever created.
When I was almost finished with the scripting for Chapter 3, I started scoring through loads of references for a suitable drawing style to execute the artwork. I reckoned that a sketchy drawing style (almost like rough sketches in journals) would be most appropriate for this chapter. The whole idea is to make the 5 pages seem like they were torn out of a traveller’s sketchbook. What happened next was that I got obsessed with the realism part and before I know it, my sketchpad was already filled with layers and layers of details. The end result, though very much different from planned, was still pretty satisfying.
___________________A testing of the drawing style though a sketch of Mann
The limited colour palette was an easy choice. I was enthralled with the works from artist Frank Stockton and the warm orange hues was most fitting to convey the heat from a land eternally baked in fire.
Well… all these reasonings and justifications seem a tad too elaborated for 5 pages of story. But I do hope I had managed to push the envelope on my part, and created a big enough challenge for the next creative to follow-up.
_Introducing : Charon & Cerberus
Greek mythology is a great source for story ideas. And I especially love it when the well-known characters are ‘upgraded’ and re-adapted to fit into the modern day context.
Charon and Cerberus are my personal interpretation of two very popular characters. Charon remains a ferryman, except that his mode of transport is now a cab instead of his trusted boat.
Charon is always portrayed as a lonely old figure, wading quietly across the Styx. Well… I reckoned that thousands of years are long enough for a man to be alone. Too long in fact. Cerberus was thus added into the story as his pet dog. And dogs are meant to be cute so I chose a less fearsome breed, namely the Pug. Of course, it was also because my wife likes Pugs.
__________Early sketches of Charon, Cerberus, and the Mini-Cooper cab
About Charon In Greek mythology, Charon (Greek for “The Bright”) was the ferryman of Hades (Greek for “Hell”). Charon is often depicted as a cranky, skinny old man, or as a winged demon wielding a double hammer.
In modern times, he is commonly depicted as a living skeleton in a cowl.There is a single ferry run by Charon to bring the souls of the newly dead across the river Styx (or the river Acheron, according to other versions). Only those who can pay the fare of 2 “obulus” (coins) placed on their lips / over each eye when buried, will receive passage. The rest are trapped between the two worlds.
About the River Styx
Styx is a river which formed the boundary between Earth and the Underworld / Hades. It circles Hades 9 times and is said to possess miraculous powers to make someone immortal. Achilles (hero of the Trojan War) was held at his heel and dipped into the river when he was an infant. The result was an immortal that was invincible, except for his heel which was left dry and vulnerable (the Achilles’ heel).
Cerberus, or Kerberos (Greek for “Demon of the Pit”) was the hound of Hades, a monstrous three-headed dog (sometimes said to have 50 or 100 heads) with a snake for a tail and serpentine mane. He guarded the gate to Hades (the Greek underworld) and ensured that the dead could not leave and the living could not enter.
____________Cerberus, by William Blake 1757 - 1827
__________Hercules capturing Cerberus, by Sebald Beham
The Life Of Mann is a global collaboration in creative storytelling. Every 5 pages of the story will be attempted by a different artist/writer. There are no restrictions to the style of drawing, direction of story, or way of presentation. However, the story must CONTINUE. Characters can be included or excluded along the way, but the story must always revolve around the central character - Mann.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer as an artist/writer. Enquiries and feedbacks are most welcome.