When Cervantes started writing Don Quixote he had no idea where it was going, he certainly never imagined one 500 page novel, let alone two! That sense of a book growing in the author’s hands is there for the reader to see: there are inconsistencies and shifts in style and purpose that indicate Cervantes’ thinking as his strange, original novel grew.
I had eight months to do the first 150 page volume and, with that restriction in mind, decided to follow Cervantes’ lead. I did no more forward planning that was required, I wrote the script and then began on page one of the art and working forwards at one page per day. Each day I would take a page from script to final coloured and lettered art. Looking back through old files, these are the only designs I can find for the book.
There are no other designs anywhere. I made up everything on the page as I went. The style shifts around as the book travels into different territory and the characters shift as I fit them to their personalities, and as I learn more about who they are.
This is anathema to those brought up on animation studios where characters are modeled to 3D perfection before they are allowed onto page or screen. I love that consistency, but there’s something about the self-creating nature of Quixote and Sancho and flexibility of their world that almost demands a more organic approach.
The difference between a tale told, like the ones mentioned in my previous post, and a true novel is the development of character, characters should come alive and have depth if the story is to have depth beyond the events that occur, in Don Quixote we see the main character develop from an idea into an incredibly deep, complex and frustrating character.
In truth Don Quixote has such clear visual motifs that however I warp his appearance you can always tell it’s him.
It’s the introduction of Sancho that really brings Quixote to life as a character. Much of the book is the insane, beautiful, hilarious, pointless, profound conversation between the two that stretches through the full 1000 pages. The fat/thin, short/tall double act the form can be seen throughout the history of double acts in film, theatre, literature and stand-up. Visually it makes for a great shorthand allowing me to do draw them as little more than scribbles and still be instantly recognisable. I’m eternally grateful to Cervantes for that!