Vol. 3 Sample Pages & Sources: “We Start in 20 Minutes for the Front”

What if the primary source text doesn’t give the whole story…?

It never does. Each primary source text is simply one storyteller’s perspective on history.

Here’s how I combine Colby’s brief letters with OTHER primary sources to expand & explore the world of FREEMAN COLBY VOL. 3… And hopefully get a bit more of the “whole story”!

NOTE: I’ve selected these sample pages from my notes, as shared @ my Patreon; Patrons can click on the images to see the full notes & resources. ~ M

TO THE FRONT: A Rushed Letter Home

Here’s a sample source text — A letter written by Freeman Colby on 28 April 1864 letter:

Clearly Colby writes this letter in a rush — He’s just letting his family know he’s thinking of them, & that he’s okay (so far)…

Here’s a sample page from Vol. 3, drawn from that same letter:

The moment I try to DRAW this scene, I realize how little Colby tells us about it. WHERE is he writing this letter? What does this place look/sound/smell/feel like? In order to draw the place, I can of course “make up” details (= historical fiction?), OR I can try to find some actual historical details about it…

SETTING: “Soldiers Rest, Alexandria, Va.”

Fortunately Colby’s letter gives us a general location: “Soldiers Rest, Alexandria, Va.” This was a common stopping point on the railroads to & from the front lines in central Virginia.

I can use specific details from this 1864 color lithograph to build a setting for Colby’s letter:

In these 2 pages (below), I imagine Colby looking around @ various setting details (found in the source image), & preparing to write:

(Whenever possible, I like to add lots of horse poop into my street scenes.)

Adding a third setting page, we can even zoom in on specific details from our source image. I use aspect panels to highlight actions that contribute to the overall environment:

REUNION: Jonas & Camp!

Colby doesn’t tell us HOW he reaches his regiment; I can only imagine his reunion with friend Jonas, based on camp details supplied in Roe’s regimental history:

ON THE MARCH: The Army of the Potomac

Now that Colby’s back with the regiment, he becomes our eyes & ears on the Army of the Potomac’s advance into Virginia.

To get a sense of what this enormous army looks like on the road, I’ll need several sources — Including the memoirs of General Grant…:

Plus the sketches of Harper’s artist Alfred Waud…:

From all these text & visual sources, I can build a 2-page spread to show how Colby & co. moved south across the central Virginian plain:

PRO-TIP: If the march moves from left to right (= the standard reading direction for English language comics), it gently pushes the reader along into the next pages…

NEXT: Into the Wilderness! >>

This work is PATRON-POWERED!

Published by Marek

Cartoonist, musician, teacher.

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