First off, thank you to everyone who checked out the website, talked to Kim at Comic Con or read the pages we’ve posted. Thank you also for the comments, some of which even came from people not related to us! It was the best. After our first little introductory posts with the blog info and the Blackwater story, we thought we might better explain exactly what we’re doing here and how we got started on the project.
Inception : In which Kim and Ari realise that the dream is collapsing.
Pure Steele is a story we’ve wanted to tell for a very long time (6 years). In 2006, Kim created James Alexander Steele III as a character for whom she would write jokey anecdotes and then Flemyng as his ever-present biographer. “Pure Steele” was to be Flemyng’s triumphant catchphrase, uttered whenever he witnessed some feat of excellence performed by Steele. For his part, Steele was a boorish, brutish hunter whose talent for sharpshooting was rivalled only by his talent for getting hopelessly lost in the middle of the Dark Continent. This incarnation of Steele became the subject of a few brief, comedic vignettes posted to a Livejournal community which was promptly abandoned due to clashing schedules of all participants and Ari’s marked disinterest.
Reincarnation : In which Ari and Kim discover that video killed the radio star.
By 2010, Steele was long gone but never forgotten. One day in January, Kim, who had become enamoured of a BBC Radio adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Dr. No, met up with Ari for coffee between classes and pitched the idea of writing a radio drama. We reached back into our creative repertoire and recalled Steele, which would be an easy translation since we already had vague outlinea and fully-formed characters to work with. We wrote furiously. In one lengthy session at the corner coffee shop, we hashed out complete story outlines, some lines of dialogue and a new take on some of the ideas we had already had. It took approximately a week for us to realise that we knew no British voice actors or voice actors at all, had no access to recording equipment and otherwise had no idea how to create a radio drama.
Over brunch, Kim suggested that we could shorten the length of the radio play and fill in the holes with a companion book, which would save us time and money when it came to hiring that all-star cast and booking a recording booth. Besides being a ridiculous idea that makes no sense, the “companion book” was quickly recognised as having worlds more potential than our cobbled-together Steele radio hour. The next hurdle was how we wanted to create the book. We wanted to make something different, something fun and visually-oriented, but knew that neither of us had the artistic talent to create a comic or graphic novel. Thus, Ari’s delightful use of an old-timey radio announcer voice was translated into newspaper articles, the character voices became their personal journal entries and the impossible audiobook became a full-colour scrapbook.
Reinvention – In which Ari and Kim are not graphic designers.
The scrapbook plan came together quickly. It would be a collection of journal entries, newspaper clippings and various other ephemera on period backdrops, a glorious combination of Edwardian aesthetic and graphic design. Lamentably, we soon discovered that both of us had counted on the other having some kind of skill with Photoshop or any other image editing software whatsoever. It was not our finest hour. Undaunted, however, we decided that we would carry out our vision despite our personal failings and elected to create the scrapbook novel we wanted entirely by hand. How hard could it be?
Super hard. The answer was ‘super hard’. But somewhere between dipping fake newspaper articles in tea baths, drafting Victorian-style posters without the use of layers and painstakingly trimming the edges of a printed-out 1909 stamp, we discovered that it was also super fun. We wrote and rewrote the plot and it went from an all-out comedy to a more focused adventure, with elements of humour still remaining but joined by drama, mystery and a bit of romance. Steele went from lovable idiot to dashing hero, Eleanor Pryce from beautiful plot device to bold, independent leading lady and the sycophantic biographer, Dr. Flemyng, remained exactly the same.
The Final Draft – In which Kim and Ari get by with a little help from their friends.
Once it was all written and we began the process of putting it together, we realised that we were still missing something: renderings of the characters. Short of an open casting call for actors and models who resembled a group of people who only existed in our heads, followed by the ageing of their staged photographs (ostensibly by hand and tea baths), we were left with nothing… Except a pool of extremely talented and awesome friends and family.
Kelly Tindall – Concept artist (and the first person to put Steele to paper)
Karl Kerschl – Reluctant Flemyng surrogate, the man behind the doctor’s sketches
Sanjulian – The mysterious and world-renowned cover artist
Stephen Morrow – Up-and-coming comic book artist and provider of character headshots
Glenn Belair – Kim’s Dad and the purveyor of our editiorial sketches
Michael “Atters” Attree - Lovable cad, incorrigible bounder and Steele detractor
Together, we think (hope) we’ve created something awesome. From here on out, we’ll be updating regularly on Tuesdays and Fridays with Steele content and occasionally tedious minutiae leading up to the book’s 2012 release. Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoy the blog as it develops.
Kim & Ari