Today, I laid out the first page of the graphic novel, and started sketching some ideas for each panel.
Before I did that, I collected together reference images that I would be using. As I did this, I realised that there are, unsurprisingly, very few photographs or even drawings of the ship Robert Smalls escaped in and then served in for years for The Union. Most of the images I have found show it from very similar angles and are not overly clear. Given that the actual Planter has been at the bottom of the sea for over a hundred years, I’m unlikely to be seeing any new images of it any time soon either.
Given that I am going to be drawing this boat a lot over the course of this project, the lack of reference material isn’t ideal so I’ve spent some of today looking for more.
Excitingly, I came across this fellow, Dennis Cannady, a retired mechanical engineer and now a model-maker who has made several fabulous models of The CSS Planter!
I reached out to him via his Facebook page, Scale Models By Dennis to ask if he would be willing to photograph one of his models from different angles for me to give me a few different references I could base my drawings on.
His son, who manages the Facebook page, has replied saying he will pass my request on to Dennis, and that Dennis is always happy to talk about The Planter and Robert Smalls so this is hopeful!
I don’t even know if Dennis still has access to the models. I know one is in an exhibition. He may well have sold or given away the others, but hopefully, he does have access one and may be able to help. I really am extremely grateful to anybody who can provide any help with this project.