Ever wanted to write a story set in Manhattan or San Francisco in the United States? London in the United Kingdom? Have you ever been? Most people who write comics don’t really get that chance. But it’s sometimes necessary for when you’re researching the setting for a comic.
The writer of the webcomic Crescent City Monsters, Newton Lilavois, was kind enough to share his experience researching the setting for his own comic. So it’s his voice from here on out!, Please enjoy and check out his work!
Let’s get to it then.
Researching the Setting For A Comic
My webcomic’s story, Crescent City Monsters is set in New Orleans, Louisiana.
I’ve never been there; so I decided to research this unique city. I was piling up tons of interesting tidbits about the city off the internet, but I couldn’t get a real feel for the city. It was then that I realized that I needed to visit the Crescent City.
I wanted to meet the people, breathe the air, taste the food, and experience the rich culture. In the end, I’m glad I did. Taking that trip profoundly reshaped my story.
If you’re writing a story that takes place in a city, town, or area that you’ve never visited, I recommend that you try to visit that location if it’s within your resources. I could only visit New Orleans for four days, so these are a few things that helped me make everyday count.
Research Specific Areas in your Story Ahead of Time
I used Google Maps to see the possible streets, blocks, and neighborhoods that my characters would journey through. Google’s street view was helpful in scoping out neighborhoods ahead of time.
Instagram was also useful for researching the setting. I followed accounts of New Orleanians. Besides pictures of places, I viewed pictures of people, events, and cultural styles to prepare for my trip.
I also reached out to a New Orleans podcaster who offered his service as an itinerary planner. I told him why I was visiting and my story’s plot. Based on this information he gave me a list of people and places to visit that could help my story.
This service was not expensive, but if you’re on a tight budget, you probably can get the similar results on forums like the ones on TripAdvisor.com or City-Data.com. It will take a bit more time to go through the forums and filter through the information, but it’s a good alternative.
So your research is done. You have your itinerary. You hop on a plane, train, or automobile. You’re now in the middle of the place that will breathe life into your story.
What’s the Most Important Thing You Do?
Walk as much as possible
Especially through the neighborhoods that are relevant to your story. Don’t drive through them.
We’ve all once walked down a neighborhood that we’ve only ever driven through. You start seeing little characteristics of the area that you’ve never noticed while you were driving. Walking let’s you get more up close and personal with people and neighborhoods. You really get to experience the little things.
Immerse your mind in your surroundings. I put myself in my characters’ place and imagined I was them walking through the streets of the city. My characters became alive during those walks.
Visit the Local Libraries or Historical Societies
Not everything is online yet, so they may have information you can only find there! You can grab some precious nuggets of information that can add some richness to the world in that you’re building for your story.
The librarians or clerks would be glad to help you if you mention you’re researching a story.
I’m Not a Fan of Tours, But In This Case…
I became an official tourist
I attended walking tours of course. Besides learning bits of information I didn’t find online, it was great to hear how a local viewed their city. Often when a tour guide talks about their area, it gives you some insight into the city’s psyche.
Don’t forget to take a ton of pictures and videos! You can never take too many pictures (unless they’re mostly selfies).
Besides serving as references and helping you remember things they’re ideal for providing social media and newsletter content. Sharing your journey with your followers help build your brand (and add value to any crowdfunding campaign you’re maybe planning on starting).
Last But Not Least
Researching your story’s location should be done wisely and efficiently.
Just remember to have fun. Enjoy the adventure!
About The Author
Creator of Crescent City Monsters
Newton Lilavois is the creator and writer of the action horror webcomic Crescent City Monsters. As a child, Newton was surrounded by other children who also loved to draw super heroes or collect comics. It was in this environment that Newton took his passion for comics to the next level. At the age of eleven he started drawing his own comics and selling them to children in his class.
As Newton got older, his other passion, computer programming, took precedence in his life. But the stories were always there. Year after year new stories sprawled through his mind.
Then one day while backing a project on Kickstarter he discovered the comics category. There he saw a bunch of first two me comic creators and experienced indie creators who were fulfilling their dreams of creating comics. He was hooked and determined to finally put his stories out into the world. Crescent City Monsters is his first story with many more to come.