[PROCESS] THE DRIFT
Mike Huddleston and Mike del Mundo discuss the latest [MAPS] story's designs and unique challenges.
With another new [MAPS] story in the wild, we hand the mic over to Mike Huddleston and Mike del Mundo to talk about designing the concepts and visuals that went into bringing THE DRIFT to life for the upcoming [MAPS] Graphic Novel Sourcebook.
Thank you to James Stokoe – the artist, colorist, and letterer of this story – for knocking absolutely every part of THE DRIFT out of the park. We sat down for a conversation with him in this week’s [DISPATCH], so if you’re a fan already or curious about James’ work, be sure to give that a look.
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Mike Huddleston gets the [PROCESS] party started with the location, building on previous in-universe ideas and building on top of them with new concepts from the script.
Mike Huddleston: In the first year of 3W/3M, Mike del Mundo created some fantastic designs for pirate ships. He created these colorful, exotic looking vehicles that used the shells of sea creatures as a martial form of decoration.
Not long after, I was asked to imagine what a grouping of these boats would look like at sea. I pitched what was basically a floating village, composed of ships tied together, connected by gangplanks at multiple levels, hosting an array of traders and shop tents. What we ended up calling “a Drift” would be a little oasis of pirate culture and commerce in the middle of the ocean.
Jump ahead to this year and we have a script with a larger, more developed “Drift City.” This was a fun expansion of the idea that really just meant “make a bigger Drift with more stuff.” The fun part was trying to imagine how these small groupings of boats would collect into larger and larger groups. Eventually boats near the center would just be totally overrun with shops and gangplanks and become semi-permanent skyscrapers anchoring the whole Drift together.
The ultimate version of this larger, skyscraper idea for the Drift was a central fortress / capitol. I imagined that the ships at this location had become so tall that they needed a frame of large ships around them to act as both support and defense. These immense ships of course had similarly oversized claws and shells from terrifying sea monsters. It’s outlandish and ridiculous in the best way. I love it when you have the opportunity to push a concept to near its breaking point.
The real treat of working on this story though was finding out that James Stokoe would be illustrating it. I love James’ work and I knew he’d elevate anything we gave him, and clearly he knocked it out of the park!
And now let’s hear from Mike del Mundo, who shares some back and forth with the 3W/3M team as ideas from everyone helped hone the final design of the brother pirates.
Mike del Mundo: Hey all, once again, another fun [PROCESS] post. This time a deep dive into the abyss where we meet the brother/zombie pirates.
Two brothers trapped to a sunken ship by sea moss, algae and ocean gunk.
Here are my initial roughs:
This time around I wanted to try something different and really get you all deep into our process. Below I’m sharing some real-time dialogue, which was interesting because this zombie pirate duo went through a few stages. It was a big collaboration between the 3W/3M crew and ultimately great collaboration leads to a great final piece.
Here ya go:
Mike del Mundo: Hey team, first take on the zombie pirates. Lemme know if it’s nightmare fuel enough or needs to get even more insane
Oh wait, are the two pirates supposed to be conjoined?
3W/3M Team: Yes! And submerged into/trapped moss inside the ship. But this is awesome!
Mike del Mundo: Hey Guys, here’s the fixes on that Sea Pirate Monster. I added the two heads within the Crab Leg Cage.
3W/3M Team: This is awesome! My only suggestion would be to pull them apart a bit / put a division between their two heads just to make sure it’s clear these are two different people in there conjoined. Might also be cool to see their other hands trapped at where each other’s throats would be, but maybe that’s too much.
Mike del Mundo: I like that trapped hands suggestion. OK, I’ll work out another sketch.
Mike del Mundo: Hey Team, here’s the fixes on the Brother Pirates. Love that suggestion of them being fused together at each other’s throats. What I came up with is two versions. One where they’re looking ominous when the Crab legs are closed creating the face cage, and when they begin to settle disputes with pirates, the cage opens revealing two brothers fused together choking one another.
3W/3M Team: These are crazy, man! Love the opened / closed versions of the cage
Mike: Thanks! Yeah, I didn’t want to lose the look of the cage and it’s a lot creepier now that the legs open and close. I was channeling a deformed zombie version of Bert and Ernie.
Mike del Mundo: and here’s the revised full body image.
And that’s that. Sometimes these concepts can get heavy with the back and forth and sometimes it’s just right but in the end, if you have great collaborators that you can trust and I trust these guys with my heart, it ultimately leads to something that I would’ve never landed on. Something even cooler then what I previously thought. Hope you all enjoyed this deep dive into the process – no pun intended. Thank you!