Volga Story I: Salt Sea - Draft 1

Establishing the environment notes:

The set up for the world revolves around a large basin that formerly housed a large sea. What remains of the basin is a massive circular canyon, cavernous along its sides with many holes where scaffolding and excavators crawl and assemble in rows. There are islands of crags that plummet below in stalagmite fashion. Rails are everywhere for pole cars. They circle the walls, some spiraling down into the sea bed darkness below. Along the top of the canyon, the main railway travels. There are branches that split where smaller mine and excavation cars can travel in a winding maze of engineering glory.  The technology around the salt sea is mostly in diesel-punk fashion but less rusty. This story doesn’t focus on weapons but more so a rapidly improving technology founded on “poles” two energy sources that push and pull mechanisms and create a means of powering various means of life. Things are sparsely ornate, sleek, and functional. 


There are various climes found around the massive dry bed of the salt sea. South and western cities have desert climes with oasis the further north you go. Further south beyond that are endless deserts and secrets beneath.  North and westerly paths become mountainous, spreading into forests areas. Beyond there are peaks and ranges creating a border packed by dense snows. 


(If you need a reference for this landmass, research of the Caspian Sea, Turkish, Azerbaijani, and Russian cities can be researched)


Fashion and dress of the general population.

This part of the story takes place in Deana’s home city of Ixmir (pronounces Eeks-meer) with a softly rolled “R”. The commanders wear loose pants and tunics, skirts, aprons, boots and soft slippered shoes. hair is tied and kept up with the lower classes. Upper class citizens often wear their hair down or ornately braided. This is an arid climate so linen and canvas clothing are worn. Revealing clothing or sexuality isn’t taboo, but older generations wear more layers of clothing. Desert excavators wear scarves to cover their mouths less they inhale salt. A sign of being a mine worker are bright rims of skin around their mouth and eyes.



Layout Notes:

Between tiers are called gutters. See Bizhan Khodabandeh’s rules on golden ratio for layout ideas. http://www.makingcomics.com/2014/05/07/panel-layout-golden-ratio/ Inspirations also include Sergio Toppi, Tony Cliff.


Script notes:

Inspirations from Kelly Sue DeConnick, Brian Lee O’Malley and Tony Cliff.


Page 1

A pole train is featured on most of the page here in splash format. 2 small panels are nested near the top panel. It has about 9 cars as it rounds a bend atop the salt sea excavation site. The first car shows a sleek black opulence, shining in a cloudless sky. It is larger than the matching but smaller coach cars trailing it. The light bends around the power car and its main feature, a large ornamental sculptureof a woman in prone position, her rising bust the front of the car, her head held confidently aloft with sightless eyes, adorn with a thin band where a jewel hangs from it in front of her forehead. This jewel is the southern pole power source, a teal-colored gem incased in a bronze accented dynamo which propels the train in one direction on its rails. It mate is on the opposite end of the train, which when in power would pull the train back in its opposing direction. Each dynamo is a switch. One runs north, the other south. These are the means that powers the rail system along the salt sea and in the cities beyond in various methods. 


Dean andMeral ride inside of the palace car, used for royalty and government officials. They are around 13 years old and currently the only two riders in this car on its return trip to the capital city of Ixmir. It’s city’s people are called Ixmirii. 


1st panel: Focuses on the dynamo


2nd panel: Pans out to show the sculpted woman’s face and jeweled tiara


Page: Pans out to show the entirety of the car as it rounds the salt sea bend. Swirling below are rows of scaffolding, an excavation site leading down to the salt mines below. It is a scene to make anyone stomach drop should they be afraid of heights.


Bottom right has two internal monologue boxes from the perspective of Deana.


Page 2

We’re in the interior of one of the trailing cars. Thew view out of the window shows another angle of the head car around the bend further along the track. Everything is warm here, the sun casting a shimmering glow on the backs and heads of our two riders. The interior of the pole car is wooden with some matching ornamentation on the support poles and arm rests. The floors are wooden if we see them in any frames. 


Page layout:

1st tier: One wide panel

2nd tier: two panels

3rd tier: two panels


1st Panel: Single wide shot of the view from Deana’s window behind her. It shows the car as described above.


2nd panel: Closeup of Deana’s bowed head. She wears a cowl up, but several long curly hairs can be seen fighting to escape shrouding what is visible of her face. The light bends around the back of her hood, warming her back and casting her in cool shadow.


3rd panel: Closeup of Deana’s hands. She is rubbing them together. Soft swish sounds.


4th panel: Meral sitting across the aisle as seen from behind Deana’s shoulder. How it would look from Deana’s perspective.


5th panel: Close up on Meral’s face as she looks at the camera/Deana. She has a defeated and sympathetic look.





Page 3

Still inside the train, there is a tension between the characters and Deana is despondent. Meral attempts to sooth her feelings after an event that took place that they are returning back to the city from. We find out through their discussion in bits and pieces.


Page layout:

1st tier three panels

2nd and 3rd tier: one large panel, frameless


1st panel: Shows Meral getting up from her seat across from Deana

2nd Panel: Deana looks to her left as Meral sits close to her, their shoulders make a ruffling sound.

3rd panel: Meral places her hand on top of Deana’s to stop the fidgeting while placing blue rock candy inside her already cupped hands..

4th panel: Zooms out to show an exchange of dialogue facing the two seated. The window behind them is extremely bright, casting the two of them in silhouettes. After some silence, Meral speaks:



Briney-mouthed bastards. I was sure they would let us in. 


Inserts rock candy into mouth, muffling her dialogue:

Uncle will just say they were following the law. You could’ve gone in without me.


Its just hair! Why does superstition keep us from the caves?


…and you shouldn’t insult the workers like that. Technically they work for your dad.


Page 4

The scene shows the train pulling into the station. It is in a desert style, white stone structure with palms and topiary. Behind the station the rolling hills of the desert city can be seen. The sun is seen setting off the side of the buildings casting a warm orange-white glow. The buildings in shadow are bluish and cool. (Great references are greek island architectures in sunlight)


Page layout:

1st tier: one wide panel

2nd tier: two panels

3rd tier: one wide panel


1st Panel: Meral faces Deana and pulls back her cloak cowl giving her a look of amused sympathy.

2nd Panel: Deana looks angry and thoughtful, she looks off panel and down to the ground.

3rd Panel: Close up of Meral assuring Deana things will be okay

4th Panel: Viewer sees Deana walking towards the camera and Meral waving enthusiastically in the background. Could use some blur or focal shifting to show the distance between the two.


MERAL (1st panel)

I know you don’t like this, but you can just wash it out later.


MERAL (1st panel; con’t)

Ill make Alva come by tonight. She’s good, okay?


DEANA (2nd panel)

It feels wrong. Disingenuous…


MERAL (4th panel)

A smarmy smile while yelling to Deana’s back:

No more than my make up, right?


Page 5

This is a splash page that shows the city in darkness. There is a quarter moon and various lanterns and gyros lit across the city doorways. Deana can be seen entering her small home, down a small side street. The street has trolley car tracks grown over with small desert grasses and cracked cobble stones. The palace where Meral resides is in the far off distance. This scene is meant to show the distinction between class and location of the two main characters in this short arc.


Kelley HarrisComment