After coming to the end of my short comic series Red 348, it’s time to look back on its development and see what the thought process was behind this somewhat obscure little story. 🙂
Red 348 has actually been years in the making, but it wasn’t originally about a boy nor a Ferrari 348.
The original draft I did way back in around 2014 and it involved a girl of roughly the same age named Suzanne who was given a Rolls-Royce as a first car and thus she spends her time trying to hide the fact that she owns it. There wasn’t really much to it and in terms of artwork it never went beyond a few concept images. In fact, one such image I used as my tutorial for how I create my comics on deviantart way back when!
There was an internal evolution to this original series too. For example, the car was initially was meant to be a gargantuan Rolls-Royce Phantom VI but ended up being a Silver Seraph because I had a real love for the Seraph. I was living in London at the time and encountered a specific example from 2000 on a regular basis. In fact, in preparation for the creation of my story, I took dozens of images of the car from every angle in order to get the dimensions and details down as best I could.
The story, much like the original draft of Maddie on the Island Hue, was less slice-of-life and more a deadpan comedy. Suzanne would be a blunt and apathetic young girl who tries to come off as not image conscious, only to find she is very image conscious when all eyes are staring at her in this big, luxury car. One of the stories involved her sneaking out of classes at school to repeatedly refill the parking meter, while another was her being blackmailed into playing chauffeur to a fellow male student to try and make his girlfriend think he was richer than he actually was.
Sadly, as much as I like this story’s development, there were a lot of gaps I felt I couldn’t fill. This is usually how my comic series start, pivotal or memorable moments with huge gaps that will be filled throughout the course of the story’s development.
For this original comic, however, I really just couldn’t think of how to fill the voids. At the same time I was in the process of developing Maddie in America and the first parts of Outsiders so I didn’t have much creativity left to spare for this one.
Eventually, it fell by the wayside and I wouldn’t consider doing it again until January 2018, only this time with an entirely new premise.
I’m sure that most of you are probably thinking right now “Wow, that sounds like a way better story; Ruairidh you’re a fat arse!”
By the time I first put pen back on paper for this series, I had been working on the Maddie/Outsiders series for nearly five years and just wanted to take a little break. Not that I’m tired of that series, more that I just wanted to try something different.
The result was instead a slice-of-life story involving a young boy who has a red Ferrari 348 bestowed upon him and all the baggage that comes with it.
The changes between the original comic and Red 348 were largely down to the fact that unlike the initial draft, Red 348 has both a narrative and is told in a Hunter S. Thompson-esque first person while the original was meant to be vignettes and laid out more like the Maddie series.
The main reasons as to why I considered such a tale came down to a few things.
Firstly, I’ve always argued that supercars like Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s are impossible to live with and difficult to drive. They’re inefficient, heavy to steer, uncomfortable, have claustrophobic interiors, are heroically unreliable, cost far too much for what they are and will leave most drivers with the image of an effete snob (or you’ll have car-spotters literally leaping out in front of you to get a snap; there’s a video on YouTube in evidence of that). Basically, I wanted to explore the idea of being a young but responsible boy who has to live with a Ferrari and use it as their everyday car.
Unlike most teenagers, who’d take one look at the Ferrari and wrap it round the nearest tree at 180mph or be pulled over by the police for engaging in illegal activities on the front seat with whichever girl you were able to woo, I wanted to consider a boy whose every whim is not dictated by their testosterone and instead feels that the image and speed are burdensome rather than complimentary.
Secondly, in my usual manner I wanted to provide something of a social commentary when it comes to modern society. Obviously as this is a short story I couldn’t go into the same level of detail or grittiness as Outsiders, but just something of a fleeting overview of how owning a Ferrari is the ultimate expression of masculinity and thus it’s almost expected that you race it to the max and use it to entice females (or males, depending on your preference).
I’ll fully admit, Jermaine is not the most interesting character because I didn’t give much time to properly develop him; like everyone else in the series. Again, this is only a short story so my ability to go into deep character development was somewhat limited. The first person narrative also compounds this somewhat, but this was again just an experimental idea for a storytelling medium.
Still, Red 348 was a fun little pet project that after years of toying and development finally came to the fore. While Outsiders is truly my flagship creative work, it was nice to take a brief break from the series and consider something different; mainly to give my love of cars a much needed massage. It wasn’t a series without love, just a merry little distraction that allowed me to explore a new line of thought and at the same time create something a little more innocent; no deep social commentary (for the most part), no massive emotional journeys that question who we are and what the world thinks of us, and no swearing. 😉