I don’t think about it a lot, but maps are kind of a big deal to me. As a kid, I would sit in the back seat of the mini-van while my mother ran errands to the grocery store and the dry cleaners, and I would use my crayons and spiral-bound notebook to scrawl maps of the streets we drove and the stores we passed, like Ben does in Song of the Sea.
Most of my favorite books include maps to help me chart my way through the story — books like The Lord of the Rings, The Wingfeather Saga, Jeff Smith’s BONE, Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet, The Chronicles of Narnia, and — of course — The Hobbit. In fact, one of the main recurring plot devices in The Hobbit is a map, one which sets the entire plot moving and often takes center stage as the characters try to find their way to a secret entrance. I can’t quite claim a Bilbo-level affection for maps, but every explorer knows that a journey requires a map — especially if that journey is in the pages of a good fantasy story.
As I’ve mentioned before, my graphic novel series ‘The Dragon Lord Saga‘ has been in some stage of preparation for almost ten years, and the map was one of the first things I constructed. It has seen some additions and adjustments over the years, but the basic structure of this fantasy world remains the same as my sketchbook doodles from way back when.
The first book, Martin and Marco, was a one-man show — I drew every panel, wrote every line of dialogue, and designed the entire production. As I work on the sequel, it has been a joy to open this story up to collaboration with the Rabbit-Room/Hutchmoot community, working alongside others on inking pages, photo reference, and some secret side projects.
I’m excited to premiere one of those side projects for you today. It’s the official map of the lands of The Dragon Lord Saga, rendered by the talented Stephen Hesselman!
[click image to view full size]
I connected with Stephen initially through the Hutchmoot community and the Martin and Marco Kickstarter. We quickly formed a bond in sharing our work, collaborating, and generally geeking out about comics. When I saw a map he had drawn for an earlier, abandoned project, I knew he was the one to bring this map to life! Check out this Facebook page to see some of Stephen’s other work and collaborations!