Guest blogger, Kate Brown: The Cherry Tree

Hello! For my third post looking at Fish + Chocolate, I’m going to focus on ‘The Cherry Tree’. This is actually the oldest story out of the three – I started making it when I was in university, and then stopped it. And then started it again for a competition, and then stopped it. And then started it again, I think, a few more times. The general structure of the story has remained the same, but the angle I took with it changed a bit over the years: it used to be a basic horror story, though the contents became more and more focussed on the internal workings of the characters… initially it had been more to do with the actual location being haunted, I think… I can’t really remember now! I don’t have those old drafts…

On that note, I would probably regard F+C as a collection of horror stories. I mean, they’re not slasher-horror, I guess… but the characters are facing their own worst fears. I am interested in horror as a genre. More specifically, I am deeply interested in “domestic” or “personal” horror. One of my favourite video games is Silent Hill 2, and (without being spoilery) I am always blown away by considering the main character’s role in the storyline events: how the events occur, the effect they have, and the results they produce. I consider SH2 to be a fantastic example of “personal horror.”

The musical aspect of ‘The Cherry Tree’ was one of the last things to go in. It ended up shaping the story a lot, though. I came up for a background for Mary (and thereby some context for the thing as a whole) when I started sketching her. I find that happens sometimes… something will emerge when you start drawing that just wasn’t in place when you were writing. These days I try and do them both at the same time when making comics, just to see what happens. Um… I’m straying… yes! So, the music. Ewan Parry of Talanas very kindly agreed to compose the piano music, which I was very grateful for. I needed something that sounded a bit like an intro, and a few bars of what looked like someone smacking the keys. The snippets were recorded and the music transferred onto sheets so I was able to copy them into the illustrations. You can listen to the snippets here [this link opens a window for RealPlayer].

Without completely laying down what my thoughts were when I made this story, I did design Prisca’s appearance along the lines of a Snow White image. That’s about as direct as I feel comfortable with – I don’t like speaking frankly about the stories in F+C or any other comic I’ve made. Personally, one of my chief loves of fiction is digging down into it myself, and considering what the author has said and why. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. It does cause me to be leery about any “what I meant when I made this” talk because I worry it will influence or render null any fictional digging… and I think that kinda kills off the fun a bit, doesn’t it?

Anyway. In terms of colour for the entire book, I think it was ‘The Cherry Tree’ which got me thinking about how, for these stories, I could use colouring as an additive to the story-telling. ‘The Cherry Tree’ was the story I worked on first with layouts and with finished pages, since it was the oldest and I guess the most familiar to me, so, as with colour, it lead the way for a few things in the other two stories, and helped set the mood for the whole book.

I’m not really sure if it’s fair to pick favourites, but… ‘The Cherry Tree’ is my favourite out of the three. I’m not sure it ended up being the most “together” out of the three… but it’s definitely my favorite ^_^

Trivia! Whilst the context is really rather different, the scene with the violin string is something that happened to me as a kid. It was pretty unpleasant.

More trivia! I made a mistake when creating the posters of Mary’s album covers for her music room. The poster to the right of her piano should read Mary March – Square Heart. In fact, it reads Sqare Heart. I thought it was sort of a ridiculous mistake, so I left it like that! Her other album, by the way, is called “Missing You.” I’m not sure which album she recorded first. Probably “Missing You”, I think.

Thanks for reading! The next and final post will be about ‘Matryoshka’, the last story!

Take care, all! ^_^

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You’re reading the behind-the-scenes story of Fish + Chocolate exclusively on the SelfMadeHero blog. Lucky you! Join us on Wednesday for the fourth and final guest post by Kate, where she’ll be writing about her tale ‘Matryoshka’, the last of the three stories in Fish + Chocolate.

Fish + Chocolate by Kate Brown is published by SelfMadeHero this month! If you live somewhere remote or heaven forfend… abroad, you may like to consider purchasing it from our online store, powered by the mighty Amazon. But, if you live or work near a comicshop or bookshop, we ask that you consider supporting them first as it is widely stocked.

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