Beaufort: Page 4

Here’s Beaufort: Page 4!

Robert Smalls: A Life Reclaimed
Beaufort - Page 4
Page 4

If you’ve been following the updates I’ve been posting about this page then, firstly, sorry for the sudden jump to a completed page. I was away for the last few days and so worked flat out beforehand to get the page finished and didn’t pause to post updates. I’ll post a more complete progression later.

Secondly, you’ll notice that the layout is different.

After speaking to a fellow artist, I decided that this worked better giving McKee’s entrance and his looming over Lydia and Robert a full page for his presence to be felt, before softening initial impressions of him in the next few panels. (This also means that the panels for the next page are almost entirely inked as that is the stage I was at when I decided to separate them so the next page should take too long to complete now!

TRIGGER WARNING: I will be mentioning sexual abuses below.

So, in the first panel, I decided to have it shown almost from Lydia’s point of view. The last panel on the previous page is one of Lydia serene with Robert. Here, McKee comes up from the floor to disrupt that serenity. The angle is, to borrow a film term, “dutched” or on an angle to reflect the unease Lydia feels. I am absolutely happy if this panel evokes some sort of horror film scene, as the monster rises up from the floor or somewhere below.

In the second panel, we see Lydia framed through McKee’s legs. He is large and imposing as she, a much smaller figure in the distance, cowers. If a reader reads some sort of sexual undertone from this image as well, that’s fine. I didn’t want it to be overt, but I did want it to be a possible reading.
You see, historically there is an argument to be made that, fond as he was of Lydia and Robert, McKee was actually Robert’s father. There are also arguments contesting this (such as one claiming that at 43 when Robert was born, Lydia would have had a very involved hand in raising McKee, and so he may not have viewed her sexually). The question of the identity of Robert’s father remains unknown to this day. Whoever Robert’s father was though, it is a horrible fact that enslaved women were often raped by their owners and then went on to bear mixed-race children who would also be owned and enslaved by the same Master – a free acquisition of new chattel for him. How incredibly messed up that is staggers me whenever I think about it.

I’m happy with how this page has turned out, and though there’s not a lot of action in them, I feel like (and hope!) a lot is happening within these two panels.
Originally, I made the light coming in from the window a lot stronger, but after taking a break after finishing the page, then coming back to it with fresher eyes, I felt that the strong lighting distracted from and diluted some of the story-telling I was trying to achieve so I dialled it down a bit. I’ll show that in a future post.

I’ve been drawing nearly every day throughout lockdown; the most consistently I’ve ever done that and I think it’s paying off. I’m getting quicker and more confident creating these pages, with fewer false-starts and fiddly revisions.

Next page coming soon!

You can view all the pages to date on the Homepage.

Unsung Superheroes is an ongoing project, creating graphic novels based on the stories of real-life historical figures whose stories may not be as well-known as they could be.

New pages are added to the current story on the Homepage.

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