Monday, February 13, 2012

Commit This to Memory

Hello All-

Well, we've got some hopefully teasing images up.  In the coming weeks, you'll see more character sketches and other goodies we've been working on as we gear up for the big release in early summer.  Hope you guys are as excited as we are.

In the meantime, I am trying to keep up weekly blog posts, keeping you all in the loop on what we've got going on over here.  This week, I'm gonna talk about the research Evan and I are doing for this book.

Now, you might be wondering what the hell we'd need to be researching...we both went to high school, college even, and we were young once right?  Oh, sure.  But the thing is, we're not now, and rather than have every single teenager in the book sound like a 25-year-old, we decided that we needed to go back and figure out exactly what the deal is, because see...the world's changed since we were in high school.  Kids carry their phones around, text rather than pass notes, among other things.  I'm not saying we're dinosaurs ready with the, "In my day..." speeches, but life moves quick, and the kids these days do thing a bit differently.

For instance, from my end, I have no idea how kids do the text-speak this.  "OMG", "SMH", etc...I can't do it.  Call me the old-fashioned kind, but I use full sentences when I text.  So, for the phone promo image for instance (As seen below here):

...I had to ask my little brother, who's just finished high school, how to write like that.  What would you say?  What does this stand for?  What's the proper use for smiley faces?  These are questions I had.  It's research.  Investing time in learning to write like someone else, which from a dialogue perspective, can be difficult.  Hearing these voices is important as well.  Evan and I are interviewing high schoolers we know currently just to get a sense of what's important, the trends, the speech patterns.  It's all to get a sense outside ourselves, so we're not just writing about us, but more about people we can make up.

A huge portion of the research is also dedicated to location.  It never crossed my mind that Evan might have a hard time understanding what I was talking about in terms of location for the school because he went to a high school that had prominent outdoor facilities.  Being from the Midwest, particularly Northeastern Ohio, my high school was completely indoors, classroom-wise.  We walked halls, and only went outside to go to our cars.  

Last weekend, Evan and I (along with my fiancé Andrea and my dad, Pat) went to IHOP.  We ate our pancakes and respective meals, and then I pulled my iPhone out, got Google Earth up and running and showed him my home town high school.  For those of your A-town alums and such out there reading, 'Youth' is set in the very non-fictional town of...Aurora, OH.  All people are fictitious of course, but the setting and geography is as close to what I can remember as possible.  Below are a couple photos of Evan and I going over the schematics via Google Earth of the geography of the high school, which is where most of the action in the book takes place.

My dad in the background there.  He's looking up AHS while I show Evan  the route Jim flys to school.

Evan draws from my description of the Interior of AHS
Basic mapping of a few miles of Aurora by Evan.  That's from the high school to the movie theatre, I think.

Explaining where the Movie theatre and Starbucks is in relation to the school, where Jim and Stacy live in relation to the school...It was a quick jog down memory lane.  Then, describing the interior of the high school. In the Midwest, it's common practice to add on to the facility existing to accomodate a larger student population.  My high school graduating class was around 250, so the ultimate count in the school was somewhere around 1100, maybe (no way of verifying that)?  But, additions to schools change the interior geography so much that it's hard to describe without it sounding like something from an MC Escher sketch, so trying to describe where certain stairwells go, and how they connect to other parts of the school was a challenge...but Evan is obviously a great visualist and understands the basic geometry of even a place as added on as good ol' AHS.

Research, in every avenue of creative work, is of the utmost importance.

Now before anyone throws a fit, no one from real life shows up in "Youth" with the exception of a teacher cameo from my high school days in Issue #2 (I'm not telling, mostly because I have to ask them for permission to use their name, perhaps likeness.)  But I picked Aurora because I wanted it to be a tangible place and I wanted to give Evan something very real to draw from.  It's my homage to where I grew up, and my thanks for the way it made me.

What we've tried to map out in "Youth" is a story that relates to very basic needs in the high school sense.  Whether that be acceptance of any kind, happiness, hubris, all the other latin words...I think that by and large these are not just high school emotions, but the basic driving forces behind any human personality.  We're hoping you guys latch onto any of that, and allow us to take you through this story from your perspective, and make it something as palpable as can be.

Alright...that got a little preachy.  Anyway, until next time friends, keep up with us on our facebook page and ask us questions and whatnot.  We like that!  Talk to you soon.


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