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Christian Comic Contest 2007 – Production Note 03: Building Story

Miles undersea, a captain seeks his own justice for the tragic death of his beloved, instead God gives him a chance to experience mercy from the deep.

I wanted the captain in my story to be a father. Old enough to command a crew of younger men, but still young enough to be flexible to change and also to get worked up. Thoughts of Gene Hackman’s character from the Red October movie came to mind. But Gene’s character was a bit old for me. So also making the crew younger would help make the captain appear older.

Dad & Daughter

Afterwards I needed someone for the captain to share words with, in order to immediately dispense the message of the 4-page story quickly within a page or two. So his daughter’s onboard the sub as well. A girl would stand out more onboard an all male 20-something crew.

The Japanese manga 漫画 version of Koji Suzuki’s Spiral (part of The Ring trilogy, illustrated by Sakura Mizuki), helped me peg a clearer vision of how I could get the story rolling. It begins with someone sinking into the depths, someone important to the lead character. So that became another character in the story. It’s more of a plot device really, it is to explain why the captain is hunting leviathans in the first place. This victim is the captain’s wife.


This story is a metaphor of how a Christian may react to tragic circumstances. In fact, as I was writing and illustrating the comic, I couldn’t help thinking about the Holocaust, the tragedy of 9-11, Christian soldiers losing their lives in Iraq, terrible deaths of Christian friends of mine, and of course the families left behind.

It’s very heavy for a person to carry the weight of such loss. This is a weight that can drag people down into the abyss of doubt & despair. But this doesn’t have to be the case, as the story goes.

I only have 4 comic book pages to work with. It’s therefore a challenge to have a story where the drama doesn’t jump. An example of this “jumping” is when a character goes from love to hate without passing through steps. For example: from love, to concern, to doubt, to irritation, to suspicion, to fear, then to accusation, mistrust, then to unforgiveness, to spite, to raging hate! A logical progression.

If repentance is involved the story, you can imagine how difficult it is for that to happen naturally and logically in only 4 comic book pages! Because there is something supernatural about repentance!

Besides the jumping… there’s a matter of how to make the readers connect to character in the story. I must say there are writers who are able to pull that off in 4 pages, but considering that I work in a fantasy setting (I love doing so) – it takes a little more effort. (I just add more talk balloons, unfortunately…)

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