Chapter 2: Heavy feet is where the main part of our story begins. 5 years have passed since the day young Ioanna found out about Takis’ experiments in the ancient chamber, after which she left for Knossos.
We open up on a half sunken amphitheater and a chilled out Marko listening to a wax cylinder on the “Concert à Emporter”, an Ediphone, connected to what looks like a stethoscope. Some Ediphones you can still find today support both AC and DC currents, probably a side effect of the “War of the Currents”, and Edison eventually conceding that some people might only have AC power. Some of the first headphones used bare electrical connections and that meant users could get shocked when touching exposed metal elements.
Postie breaks up Marko’s relaxed laziness and brings him a letter, along with an unnecessary harangue about apparently wasting his time. The letter is a rejection from l’Institut des Sciences, the university Marko begrudgingly applied to, at the ‘last last minute’ by what Postie says. Not feeling sure how much he cares about it now, or how much he cared about it then, Marko pockets the letter and tries to focus on something else.
The conversation is broken up by the horn of a boat arriving to the island carrying who else but grown up Ioanna, who is just coming back after 5 years of training in the Thyiades school of music (French and Greek sources). She is cool and mysterious AF and she remembers the promise her godfather made to her all these years ago, “something interesting waiting for you” and all that.
Cut to the Lab where Takis has been using beehives to come up with thin nitrocellulose sheets while getting his veranda full of the returning lil buggers, who just want to make some honey. But something goes wrong when a couple of lamps & magnifying glasses get in the way and accidentally set the lab bench on fire.
Cue the explosion seen and heard from everyone the island, including our main characters. The people of the island and Postie have seen this happen before, Takis’ experiments getting a bit too expressive over time and it’s becoming a nuisance, but Ioanna and Marko are definitely on their way to find out the results of this explosion, partly worrying about Takis’ constitution partly, and maybe mostly, due to their inquiring interest of the latest invention.
The chapter ends and we’re off to the races, to see who will get there first.
Work on Chapter 2 started quite a while ago, and most of it’s pages were inked and finished before we decided we needed the preceding chapter with Ioanna and Takis. These things happen with stories that evolve and mature in our heads during the years, but it’s not something that I advise doing too often, or at all. Things had to be added, moved around, changed and redrawn, but we now have exactly the chapter we wanted.
The lab scene was not there to start with and it now seems absurd to just show an out of context explosion, but hey no worries. These two pages up in the lab have been the most difficult thing I have had to draw in sequential form so far. They were originally one page as we were trying to be economical, but it just wasn’t working. It’s a sweet defeat and even sweeter victory when you have to add a page half way through the inking process. I had to review what went into these many times, get friends (thanks Yavor, Ari & Eleni!) to do a once or twice or thrice over, get edits, suggestions, and generally get over the fear of just drawing them, again.
They are extremely tricky though. I had to illustrate the fact that photographic film and the process of photography with film is just being invented, on a small island in the Cyclades, and all that by accident. I also had to show all of that clearly, but leave some interest for Chapter 4, when Marko reaches the Lab and talks to Taki about it. It’s a scene that has to be clear but even more informative in retrospect. It sat for a while in my head as a visual problem, until I thought of the beehives and their slates as a structure. The trick is that the audience has to be sure this is an accident, but also sure that it is exactly this invention, photography. Some things just need time to come together, and I’m glad we had the time. All the information is there for the reader who wants to understand what is happening and I’m happy some fans are already correctly imagining how the first ever photograph of this imaginary Cycladic world will look like (that’s you Stefan), so our work is done here, winner winner, chicken dinner.
The asterisk comments were indeed another 4th wall we had to break for the audience, but the moment they were added they just made sense, especially for a story with so many hints to historical events and inventions. We’ll try to keep them to a minimum as every page could have at least five of them I believe. The asterisks also made their way backwards to the Postie/Marko pages, where Postie is referencing the Stanford wager about whether or not a horse’s feet are off the ground completely during full gallop. This is a bet that was solved ingeniously by Eadweard Muybridge on June 15 1878, with the help of photography, and we are hinting to what is just about to be invented in the next couple of pages. We’re trying to nail that in with the previous comment about not knowing which horse finished first at the races. This world is lacking a clear photo-finish, it’s lacking photographs.
Postie is one of our favorite characters and I believe three of his frames here were actually originally drawn in Fukuoka, 10 years ago, when Rob and I were coming up with this scene. As usual he is fathering Marko, a proud and nosy representative of the whole island and Marko has had enough of it.
The idea of a half sunken amphitheater was always part of our story, and it was an image that has been with me from the very beginning. There is definitely more planned for this structure.
Io’s back with a bang, pun intended for her haircut. I’m looking forward to drawing her with different outfits through this story.
The name of this chapter, Heavy Feet (a song blah blah) is a bit more literal about the horses of Stanford’s wager with their heavy feet off the ground, but our theme is about making decisions. Marko not being able to make any (or not wanting to), Io deciding to come back, Takis buying those damn decommissioned beehives, and ultimately what technology irreversibly decides for us, through portable music devices, bikes, wheels, boats and that damn mechanical reproduction.
Read Chapter 2: Heavy feet here