I am currently wrapping up what I hope to the first in a series of historical graphic novels. Having never taken upper level history courses when I was in college, all information was pulled together from my own research of going to the library. The process of research and illustration I fell into is not something I would recommend to anyone who wants to quickly complete a comic project.
The idea was to try an put together information and images from a more interdisciplinary or sociological point of view during a time period, this project follows the lives of the first generation of English colonists to New England in the 17th century, beginning at 1588, this being the first page.
Aside from drawing and gathering information I was left with having to decide how to arrange the information through page design. This may sound strange, but selecting the text and the images left me with my philosophical questions about what is the meaning behind pages, which can take a long time. Needless to say, contemplating relativism (that is how does this history relate today) drives me a bit nuts. My goal was not to say something about today, simply make an artistic interpretation based on what I read and learned about the period. But of course me, living today, is very much part of the process, and I needed some time to figure out my own footing on this historical perspective.
Aside from lining up different sources on the same time period, I had to choose what were going to be some of the relevant themes. From my own, very American perspective, I thought that economic history needed to be one of the important drivers of the narrative. The economy matters to most people. The difficulty in talking about economic history is that I sense many people are unaccustomed to talking about it. From my understanding, economic history is a history of complicated trade offs that create a variety of changes. It involves a discussion of wealth and class, which can be difficult for people to have unemotional conversations, especially if you're talking about fairness. Also most economic actions range from practical to shrewd to down right unfair. I've always said that money isn't everything, it's what helps me get through all of this stark economic information that involves the struggles of common people.
Little Ice Age - The early to mid 17th century includes The Little Ice Age, from what I understand, the jury is still out on how exactly global temperatures can affect a society. I'm not sure, but right now I'm considering the changes of a society internally instead of externally. Learning about different histories, there is a long history of aggression/war on other groups. Internal conflict is a different matter and I contemplate the internal stresses within a society or community when resources become more scarce.
Everything all at once - Going through the process I was able to find a lot of different perspectives on the same period and consider all of their relationships, but it is a lot, over all I wonder if I'm emphasizing the right things, or giving a clear enough indication that the finished book is more about giving people context, not a definitive last word, history never had a last word.