Concepts & Development of ‘Good Reminders’
Originally, Chapter 3 was meant to be Chapter 2, and it revolved around a torture interrogation scene between Jericho and Lil. However, I didn’t fully understand how a script translated into a comic book format at the time of writing, and I realized that it would be boring for readers to pick up an issue filled with dialogue but no action. Therefore, I rewrote the chapter. In the final version of the script, we get to see Lil and Isis’ espionage mission before they were captured, how the terrorists in Chapter 2 hijacked the weapons cargo trucks from The Legion, and finally, the original interrogation scene.
This rewrite proved to be very beneficial for me as it allowed me to develop Lil’s character further. In my initial conception, Lil was merely a plot device to create the inciting incident for K’s conflict with Jericho. However, through the rewrite, I came to appreciate Lil’s complexity and potential as a character. In fact, I am now very interested in exploring his story further in a spinoff series at some point in the future.
Isis was a new character that we created to serve as Lil’s love interest. She added a classic love interest dynamic to Lil’s character, raising the stakes and allowing readers to sympathize with him. Originally, we had intended for her to be a Middle Eastern male character, but Dicky Siregar pointed out that the story already had too many male characters. He was right, of course. In the totality of the story, we had only sketched out three female characters, and only two of them were part of the main storyline. Dicky quickly came up with a sketch concept for Isis (as a female character), and as always, he nailed it. She was the perfect contrast to Lil’s nerdy, hacker-type character, exuding a sleek beauty that was silently dangerous.
The espionage sequence with Lil and Isis was fun to write. I intentionally avoided any dialogue and wanted the action to drive the scene. There were some panels where readers questioned the purpose, and I encouraged them to look more closely at what was happening and fill in the blanks. Other than the last few speech bubbles, there was absolutely no verbal exposition; it was all driven by action. The panel depicting Isis getting sliced in half by Grims is also the strongest one we’ve created in the series so far.
The Thing about The Program
In the interrogation scene, Jericho mentions a thing called ‘The Program’ and how Lil was a prodigy of it. Later, Lil also alludes to Grims and Locke being part of the same program but shames them for losing their way to it. There are several Native American characters in The City, including Comox, Elvis, and Rowan. To research these characters, I interviewed my friend’s dad, who was a chief of a local Native American band. During our chat at a café, he broke into tears while telling me about the residential program that he and his brothers faced, including the suicides, addiction, and mental illness that they encountered.
The Program in The City is based on the residential program that Native Americans were forced into to ‘integrate’ with the rest of society. In The City, The Program is a military conscription that forces refugees of The Great Concrete Ruins to serve The Legion as soldiers. The recruits who excel are enrolled in an elite course, which Lil was a part of until he dropped out. I wanted to allude to the fact that Lil and Isis were a part of that elite and were highly trained killers capable of achieving what more than a troop full of Legion soldiers could not.
Big Bad Veale
The protagonist and anti-hero of The City, Jericho Veale, is finally introduced in Chapter 3. I was quite anxious about how people would perceive an old aging mafioso as the central character. To my surprise, at least from what we saw at conventions and popups, Jericho actually made a positive impression on people. They commented on how cool he looked, and I even overheard kids claiming that they were “him,” the boss. The way Dicky drew him and the way Dave colored the scene were perfect. People immediately knew who he was and what he represented – an aging crime lord and a powerful syndicate boss.
No Troopers, Please
One thing I had a hard time with in this chapter, despite the fact that Lil and Isis are super covert ops elites, is the amount of Legion soldiers they kill. Almost makes them look too easy, like they’re stormtrooper equivalents, which is something I really tried avoiding. Thankfully in a few chapters, we will see how much more powerful they are than regular gangsters or terrorists.
Another afterthought was that there were some pacing issues that could have been solved with smarter panel arrangement. Oh well, gotta make sure it doesn’t happen again!
The Choices We Make in Life…
One unique aspect of The City is its non-linear structure. Although it may be initially confusing for readers, it was a deliberate choice on my part to tell the story in this way. In hindsight, I understand that it may have made more sense to start with Chapter 3, followed by Chapter 2, and then Chapter 1 way later on, but I believe that the current order adds to the overall mystery and intrigue of the story. Regardless, I am aware that this choice may not be for everyone, and I respect that.
The Love Petrol
In Chapter 3, we catch a glimpse of the weapons cargo trucks that were hijacked by K’s terrorists in Chapter 2. This little scene was my favorite part to write because we get to showcase Albert in a unique and fascinating way that may not make logical sense. She is first seen wearing a cloak over her head, sitting guard with a gun by the gas station, with a crown of thorns. Does it make sense for a soldier to wear a crown of thorns to battle? No, but it’s undeniably cool. It also plays into the idea that these terrorists are viewed as messiah figures by the refugees of the Ruins.
The image of a guard with a gun at a gas station is something I witnessed in real life during my time in Pakistan. Additionally, the scene where children holding garbage bags curiously wave at the passing trucks was also influenced by my experiences in both Pakistan and Senegal. These scenes provided an opportunity to showcase the classism that exists within The City, which is based on the lived realities of people in third-world countries. During my travels, I was advised to ignore street children because they were considered beggars and drug addicts. There was a reason behind this societal attitude, just as there was a reason for the gas station to hire a guard with a gun.
I wanted to depict an extreme reaction from the truckers who work for The Legion against the refugees of the Ruins, which is why I wrote the lead trucker to shoot a refugee child in the head. K’s terrorists represent a breaking of this cycle, and that is why they are so revered by the refugees.
On another note on how Dicky brings a different perspective to my writing is that, originally the lead trucker was a man. Again, because he probably feels it more physically since he’s drawing them, Dicky realized that there are still way too many male characters. So he did what he does and drew the lead trucker as a short haired female operator with the word ‘LOVE’ tattooed under her eye. And of course I loved it.
As for the colors in this gas station scene, I think Dave Praetorius did an amazing job. He really conveyed the heat of the sun and the anxiety of the truckers stuck in it. In the espionage scene, he used neon cyberpunk-style greens and purples, while the interrogation scene was mostly dark and muted except for the striking red that pops from the page. Compared to Chapter 2, where he used two different palettes, in Chapter 3 he came up with three, and he absolutely killed it.
Katanas, am I right?
Although they’re not major characters, Jericho’s henchmen Grims and Locke are introduced in Chapter 3. Grims appears in the espionage scene, while he and Locke are introduced together in the interrogation scene. When developing these characters, I provided somewhat generic references, simply hoping that they would look somewhat cool. It wasn’t a big deal if they looked generic. Locke ended up looking like your typical mafia muscle, but Grims turned out to be super hot, all thanks to Dicky.
What Dicky did was add katanas to Grims. Oh boy, what a glow-up that was for Grims! And what a scene he got to have in this chapter because of it!
A wee bit of Problem.
In Chapter 3, we encountered a significant printing issue when the delivered prints had a slight page shift of about 0.12 inches. Although it might seem like a small margin, it was remarkably noticeable and affected the overall quality of the work. Despite some people suggesting it wasn’t a big deal, we couldn’t bring ourselves to sell flawed products. Fortunately, after several weeks of discussions and negotiations with Mixam, they acknowledged their mistake and sent us a new batch of prints without any errors. We are immensely grateful to the Mixam staff for their understanding and quick action in resolving the problem.
We decided to use the 150 copies with the printing error as giveaways, while the 150 copies without the error were sold at our usual events. Our launch event at The Sidekick Comics in East Toronto was our most successful one yet, followed by Toronto Comics and Arts Festival, which was also quite successful. We also sold copies on the streets of trusty ol’ Yonge-Dundas Square. With every convention, launch event, and pop-up, we’re gradually building a loyal local fan base. It’s heartening to see our regular supporters come out and offer words of encouragement.
Be on the look-out for our next Compilation issue for Chapters 1 to 3!
The cover for The City, Chapter 3 is a play on Toronto icon, Drake’s ‘Nothing Was The Same’ album cover. It features Comox and Elvis, who will star in chapter four.
Shakey Dogg Style
Shakey Dogg is the character in Chapter 2 that after showing cowardice to The Legion, gets thrown out the truck by Mo then becomes roadkill. He appears in Chapter 3 alongside with Albert, Mo, and Camus in the desert gas station scene where they hi-jack the weapons cargo. I feel uncomfortable with the possible continuity on why Shakey Dogg would suddenly get frightened of The Legion when he participated on the hi-jack mission. Perhaps he trusted completely in K’s plan and Lil’s competence and thought he’d never be in a situation The Legion would chasing after him? A stretch? Perhaps?
I believe I can speak for the entire team when I say that we are immensely proud of the work we accomplished in Chapter 3. Each and every one of us has grown so much since our work on Chapters 1 and 2, and it is a true testament to our team’s dedication to this project. We continuously push ourselves to improve and were able to bring our vision to life. As we look ahead to Chapter 4, we are thrilled with what we have in store and can’t wait to share it with our audience. Our team is committed to pushing the boundaries even further and we are excited for what’s to come.