Timeframe: Several years ago.
Amount of book complete: Somewhere around 0%. Give or take half a percent.
At this point, I figured I would start by creating a series of illustrations of the main character playing in imaginative and dark ways. I wanted them to look like photographs (in terms of proportion, not style) probably taken by India's parents. These early drawings were a way for me to figure out the character modeling, colors and style. They were also a way for me to think about the story (I tend to think when I draw).
Like I mentioned in a previous post, I'd decided to use watercolor, colored pencil and ink for the book, in spite of the fact that it was glacially slow and the color wasn't as rich as I wanted.
This (I think) was the the first "photo":
A couple of notes:
1.) Notice how India doesn't have a mouth? In the really early stages of the story/character development, India wasn't going to speak. I remember getting a book called "The Snowman" as a kid and reading it dozens of times. The idea that you could tell a story without dialogue or speech blew me away. Originally, this was going to be the approach for "Saturday."
2.) Early in the story, India's doll was going to be featured more. The early idea was that India had this very girly doll (a "Glitter Girl Glamor Doll"), but she didn't relate to it at all the way other girls her age did, so the doll usually ended up playing some kind of unfortunate roll in India's imaginary scenes. While that element of India's character is still technically there, it ended up being mostly left out of the story.
3.) There are two different kinds of pith helmet in this illustration.
Although i thought this first attempt was ok, I didn't think I had pushed the concepts and visuals far enough. So I tried again:
In this version the roles are reversed with India as the mummy and her doll as Howard Carter. I also started experimenting with the idea that India would make her own elaborate props out of cardboard, hence the Tut-like sarcophagus lid with her glasses drawn on it.
I drew several of these photos with India's original design. The more I thought about the story, though, the more I realized she would probably have to talk at some point. Which meant she would need a mouth. So I re-designed India and doubled back, re-drawing all the original photos:
The mouth, it turns out, doesn't just make word noises. It also plays a big role in facial expressions. This is information goes without saying for most people (heh heh: goes without saying...), but I had to discover it. Because I'm a smart.