image from The Art of Veiling, by yours truly
There have been posts before (I think) about how to go about creating a world, especially when it comes to fantasy settings. You’re supposed, if you want to do it right, to build everything that makes up the world in general: geography, politics, geopolitics, history, climate, seasons, the lot! The more consistent you are with it, following the rules that real history, real geography vs. climate vs. economies, real climate does, the more your world will feel real and lived in.
That’s it in a nutshell really; but there is something else that I don’t really come across often when discussion world creation and world building- what do you do when it’s not fantasy?
And goodness, do you have to go the whole nine yards EVERY time!?
The truth is that as a creator, especially when it comes to comics and the visual arts, it doesn’t matter whether the world your story is taking place is Middle Earth, Planet X-987 or 1870s Carolina; you are still the one that is going to build it.
You are still the one that is going to have to know the history, know the politics, know the details of what people wear and what people use for transport, how they speak and how they deal with basic social elements. You are still the one that is going to have to be the agent of immersion into this world for your audience.
So in the end it doesn’t matter whether the world is fantasy or not: the work going into making OR representing it is the same- even in the world, time and place we ourselves have been raised and live in, because there’s simply a lot that we don’t know beyond our own social microsystem.
The more you’re in control, knowing your comic’s world and setting deeply, the better this will come out in your story and the experience you provide for the audience, even if the audience is never told and never knows the extent of your painstaking research (hint: never include diatribes on sewage systems).
So when can you cut corners on this monster?
I believe it really depends on what type/genre of comic it is you’re making. If it’s a slice-of-life and/or gag comic, if it’s autobiographical or if it is surreal or dreamlike or fairy-tale-ish, chances are that you can get away without doing much world-building in the sense of researching and determining your comic world’s details: you already know most of what there is to know to be able to deliver the material in its setting and make it feel right, comfortable.
If, however, it is a graphic novel with a long narrative, concrete and specific dimensions and world setting that is supposed to be able to support intricate plot lines and plot twists, then chances are you will need to research at least a few of the elements of the world.
Just consider the needs of the narrative and creative work on the world-building between, say, Garfield and Elfquest or Sandman or Persepolis.
The more that world is supposed to come close to feel epic, realistic or believable, the more you need to have done your homework.
And personally, I think it’s part of the fascinating joy of being a creator.
But more on that next time.
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 8, 2017
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved Google+