Zeros volume 2, chapter 2 notes

Page 1
This first page – the coma timeline page – was something I toyed with for a while and it could have appeared at the start of chapter 1, really.
I eventually realised that it slotted in well here. 
In panels 1 and 8, you can see how Josh/Toon stuck by Mo’s side; in panel 4, you can see Bubble, Speck and Sunshine checking in on her; in panel 5 you can see Mo’s parents and her little sisters; In panel 6 you can see the World War that happened, and in the following panel you can se the city being rebuilt.
You can’t see the full 10-year coma here – I left a couple of years out so it all fit on the page!
This page took ages to draw – I just drew a little bit each day over a few months.
Oh finally, look carefully in panel 1 – there’s an extra little detail there. Think about what happened at the end of Volume 1.  😉

Page 2
Originally, there was a brand new main character in this panel. I had decided that after Courtney left Class O in volume 1, she was replaced by a lad called ‘Hat’ who had teleportation powers. He’s not a new character – he appeared in Volume 1 as part of the Misc Class. Hat was going to be a big part of Chapter 11 too – but that’s a story for later. But the new character was bugging me and didn’t feel right – and I was struggling with his part of the story, for some reason. And then I thought “okay, how would this work if he wasn’t a main character?” It was a big realisation that I didn’t need him, and a relief too, as he was cluttering things up a bit. It completely opened things up for some of the other characters – Yuki, Rex and Invisigirl – who I was struggling to come up with stories for. By losing Hat as a main character, it made it easier to make the other characters work better.
I do feel guilty though, as Hat is based on a good friend of mine!
Here’s a rough original version of this page featuring Hat – for a long time, this was the final version. You can see how in the original Hat version, the other characters look a bit smaller/younger – I realised I had to make them look older/bigger.

Page 6
Originally, Will was going to be mute – you’ll get to know him more as the chapters progress and you’ll get to know what he’s been through. He was going to communicate with sign language and the other characters – especially Sara – would communicate with him that way too. I eventually decided that it wouldn’t work very well visually so I went with a different idea for him instead – hopefully it’ll become more evident soon.

Here are the layouts for these pages. I often paste a guide onto a page I’m working on so I don’t forget to add a character in and I can get the colours right.
I can’t find the layout for page 3. 😀

As a bonus, I’ve added a cover rough too – the full pic of the chapter two opener, which I used as the cover for the digital issue collection.


Volume 2, Chapter 1 notes

Starting work on Volume 2
Following a break after finishing Volume 1, I started volume 2 back in November 2019 and worked on it almost every day throughout 2020. From March 2020, I was working from home because of the pandemic, so that gave me a little bit of extra time each day to draw (ie, no commuting and no going out!). Most days, I just spend an hour in the evening (after work) on Zeros and I just tend to draw some elements for a couple of the pages of some of the chapters. It’s just a slow, steady progress rather than like drawing whole pages in an evening. Parts of this chapter were drawn in the Philippines (I went there for a couple of weeks in late Jan/early Feb 2020), and also Bognor Regis and Bournemouth (when the lockdown was eased off slightly in the Summer, so I managed to escape!).

Starting Chapter 1
I literally had no idea how to start Chapter 1 so that slowed me down quite a lot! You’re faced with the dilemma of how much to put into the intro chapter – whether to keep it relatively simple or put a load of info in there.
At some point along the way, I decided to model it on an ingenious Daniel Clowes story called ‘The Walk’ (for adults) where someone just literally walks around a few streets (it’s very well written). I’ve always, always wanted to do a story like that, so this is my take.
I wanted to keep Mo’s identity a secret until the end of the chapter and I wanted to keep elements of the superhuman world hidden – but hinted at – until the splash page. I went back and forth for a while on Mo’s current status – whether she was blind or in a wheelchair – but the eventual conclusion was pretty obvious (and having an unpowered person in a world where everyone has powers was something I’d thought about for a story a very long time ago). (Plus, drawing a wheelchair is hard!)
Drawing the cast in one of the final panels was difficult at first – I kept drawing them almost like kids and I struggled to decide how an 18 year old would be drawn. In the end, I realised that they should just look like my other O Men and Spandex characters but look fresher with less wrinkles!

Some more specific notes:

Page 1
Panel 1 – hmm, do you remember what word volume 1 started with?
Panel 2 – note that the kids have no powers here in the photo, back when they really were ‘Zeros’.
Panels 5 and 6 – I wanted to keep it a secret as long as possible that the whole world was populated by superhumans (in case you were new to the series or had forgotten), so I hid Mo’s parents’ superhair in the photo and when the mum appears in panel 6.

Page 2
I still haven’t revealed that the world is a superhuman one, but you can see hints of it in panels 4 and 5, plus Josh does look like his cartoon self.

Page 3
A lot of the characters here appeared in the first splash page of Volume 1. The street is semi-based on a street in Thornton Heath, a place not far from where I live.

Page 4 
Panel 2 – Marinder Kaur is a character from my O Men comic. She had healing powers and was codenamed Shine.
Some people who look like the original X-Men are flying next to the hospital.

Page 6
This was the first page I drew of Volume 2!

Here’s a batch of thumbnails for this chapter (I usually have about 2 or 3 attempts at this).
The original plan was to kick off the series with Mr Kit on the TV – but I thought that would set the tone for the series in an odd way.
You can see some mini sketches of different ideas for Josh’s hair-style.