The Prologue of Beyond the Western Deep is drawing to a close, and in two weeks Chapter One will officially begin!

This page has seen a lot of different revisions since Rachel and I started laying out the story. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve made references to an “old old” version of the comic. In truth, it’s not THAT old – 2009 or so was when the first real sets of pages started coming out, the plan being to put together a nice printed version of the comic and pitch it around. Rachel and I are thankful that didn’t pan out, because in all honesty, Beyond the Western Deep (then simply called “The Four Kingdoms”) was nowhere near ready for prime-time.

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The original version of this page was meant to show a kind of montage-from-a-distance of all the kingdoms and races getting along with their business, no nasty wars, no racial confrontations, etc. In theory it seemed a good idea, but executing something like that properly proved an elusive beast. The top two panels show a Tamian farmer in a wheat field and a couple of Lutren fishing ships on the western seas, and the bottom panel was meant to show a bunch of the races getting along fine in a public spot – but in the end, I don’t think any of these visuals really captured what it was we were going for. For the webcomic, a more simplified, streamlined approach seemed a better way to represent the things we wanted to show.

The same thought process was applied to the original script. As you can see, the narration here was originally a bit more heavy-handed than it is now. Knowing when to trim unnecessary exposition or figuring out ways to consolidate it has been a constant challenge, and our original draft of the script had a LOT of exposition. Figuring out ways to trim and consolidate helped streamline a lot of things, and also kept the story moving along nicely page-by-page.

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A streamlining of the script, the ideas, and the page count led us to the latest version of this page, which used the scroll motif (for the last time in this prologue I should mention) to demonstrate the promise of civilization and recorded history for a world that previously benefitted from neither. The “era of knowledge and understanding” was far better represented by our two scholarly races.

As for whose fire that is in the bottom 2/3 panel… well, those are the evergreen forests on the border of the Northern Wastes. Ermehn territory, I should add! Next week we’ll zoom in a little closer to see who it could be, when our Prologue draws to a close.