Robert Smalls: A Life Reclaimed – Page 9

Robert Smalls: A Life Reclaimed - Page 9
Robert Smalls: A Life Reclaimed – Page 9

Robert Smalls: A Life Reclaimed – Page 9! This page!! This darned page!!!

Good things first: There’s a Spotify code at the top of the page. If you open Spotify on your device, go to “Search”, then tap the camera icon next to the search bar and point your device’s camera at the code, you’ll hear a version of the song being sung by the worshipers as they file into the church, as you read the page!

It’s a feature I mentioned I wanted to implement months ago and I’m glad I have managed to include it here!

Reading the comic digitally, it does require you to have two devices, but I’m hoping it’s a neat feature for the print version. 🙂

Now then…

I drew this mostly according to the same methods I always use (Roughs, Pencils, Inks, Flat Base Colours using the Lasso and Fill tool, Rendering) but it took FOREVER!!!

There must be a quicker way! So with the next page (which is already available to my Patrons), I slightly changed up the way I do it. The drawing of all the people on page 9 took ages, but nowhere near as long as it took to colour them all! I’m concerned that this page doesn’t look like it took as long as it did and that you might be looking at it going, “Cripes! Why on Earth did it take so long?!”

Part-way through, it became a real slog, and for the first time since starting this project, I wasn’t enjoying it, which no doubt didn’t hasten things along. I was reluctant to pick it up and work on it, and I was easily distractable. Once I’d finished flatting it though, I found the joy in this page again, but I’m concerned that the lack of joy has somehow transferred to the page. What are your thoughts?

I’m thinking that flatting lots of tiny components (like each colour in each person) using the Lasso tool and Fill might not be the most efficient method. It works for larger areas of colour quite efficiently, but I think next time I have tiny selections to make like this, freehanding the flatting might be a much better option. 

You’ll be the first to know!

This page shows Lydia taking a young Robert to Beaufort Baptist Church.

Below is an extract from the wonderful book, “Yearning to Breathe Free: Robert Smalls of South Carolina and His Families” by Andrew Billingsley:

“The Reverend [Richard] Fuller also inaugurated quarterly sessions, which took place approximately four times per year. All the black members came to the church dressed in their Sunday best. Outside the church they formed a single-file line that sometimes stretched all the way down Charles Street to the river. The black deacons took their place at the head of the procession, facing the sanctuary. White members took their seats in their usual pews in the sanctuary. Then, on signal from the pastor, the black deacons led the joyful, hymn-singing, tapping, smartly dressed black procession through the front doors — held open by the white ushers — down the aisle to the pulpit. They proceeded across in front of the pulpit and back down the center aisle, passing through the singing and hand-clapping white congregation. When they reached the rear of the church, they ascended the stairs on both sides to take their assigned places in the galleries, often overflowing onto the stairwells and the rear of the first floor. All during the procession the seated white congregants reached out to extend the right hand of fellowship to their marching black brothers and sisters in Christ.”

(The church still stands at 600 Charles Street, and for anyone that knows the church in question, the spire it currently has was added in the 1950s, hence it not being shown in this page, set in the 1840s.)

You can view all of the rest of the publicly released pages on my Homepage.

I’ll be back with more updates soon!


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.

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