Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sunshine on Leith

Now that The Bee-man of Orn is finished I want to concentrate on this project. I think I can finish it quite quickly now - thanks to the gestation period of about 6 years, and the constant revisions and redraws.

Sunshine on Leith is an unreliable autobiography, in other words it is a work of fiction that pretends to be true. In this sense it is as fictional as any autobiography, and as true as any fiction. It is peopled with composite characters and amalgamated names, but the situations and the backdrop are all real...ish.

I was born in Leith and I did attend a lot of Hibees home games. I did get 'lift-overs' and I did move to Southhouse and kiss the gypsy girl and Violet Marlowe, and I did move to Gilmerton and I did form a superhero gang, and I did spend a lot of time scrumping (nicking apples).

The sectarianism that creeps into the young lives of my characters was then and is now still very real, as was and is the bullying.

I will be redrawing large sections of the book because it was all happening too fast. I was cramming things into the small pages that should have unfolded and been presented as single images, so I'm drawing it larger (see my Bee-man notes on not drawing same-size again).

As some of you know, the book centres on a character called 'Tommy Apple' and the original title of the book was 'Strange Fruit' (a reference to intolerance and Tommy's predicament) but I changed it. The story begins not with Tommy, who is introduced much later, but with a character based somewhat on me, and like me he is born and grows up in Ballantyne Place (now demolished) at the foot of Great Junction Street, at the bottom of Leith Walk, and the one sight that makes a great impact on him is the way the sunshine floods the wide area at the foot of Walk (the Walk was the widest road in Edinburgh and the side streets are often cast in shadows), it's like looking along a long tunnel to a great pot of gold somewhere in the distance:

I'm pencilling the enlarged pages and changing them to slow the story down in some parts and speed it up in others. It's not such a huge task because I hadn't inked the newest version anyway, so really it's just like an extension of the pencil work. In the first revision I'm already up and on the wall, in the second revision I'll be up on it on the following page, and that allows me more time to establish a new character who enters the story at that point:

With any luck, this will be finished by Summer. Of course when I say 'finished' I really mean that will be when I have had quite enough of it, thank you very much. It will, of course, find its way back to me to sort spelling mistakes and to redraw hands and space word balloons better - I have no doubt.

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