The Eunice Williams story – Page 3

The third page of the story I’m working on for the Colonial Comics anthology from Fulcrum Books.  The script for this page (notice a little bit of overlap with the last panel of page 2, I split one scene into two:)


Long march begins, 80 captives and 250 Indians and French soldiers, through the snowy wilderness.

Behind them, smoke rises from the burning houses of Deerfield.

JOHN: “The journey being at least three hundred miles we were to travel …. the place we were to be carried to, a popish country.”

Eunice (mother) can’t keep up with Eunice (daughter).  Mother slips and falls into river as they cross. Mohawk warrior raises his tomahawk to kill her.  Eunice (daughter) turns and sees, cries out. Another Mohawk man comforts her, picks her up and carries her on.

“My wife told me her strength of body began to fail, and that I must expect to part with her; saying, she hoped God would preserve my life, and the life of some, if not all of our chil dren, with us; and commended to me, underGod, the care of them.

“in passing through the river, she fell down, and was plunged over head and ears in the water; after which … the cruel and blood thirsty savage, who took her, slew her with his hatchet, at one stroke”


…Also those last couple passages are from John Williams’ book (full text available here, by the way).  I put them in not neccesarily to use as text in the final comic, but just description to work from.

First a thumbnail:


Then I roughed out the page (assembled from sketches and pulled together on lightbox):

And finally (or so I thought):

Pretty happy with this.  I especially like the weird awkward falling figure in panel two, and the shape created by the prone figure in the next panel (which goes back to this teeny sketch weeks earlier:)

Buuuuuut… I took the finished page into the BCR meeting, and got some valuable feedback, especially from Shelli Paroline.  First off, she recommended restoring the lettering in the first panel, which I’d thought to do without it.  But I think that it will make the transition from one scene to the next smoother for the reader.

Secondly, there was some uncertainty as to the attitude of the Indian who picks Eunice up at the end.  I also realized that, in this “cinematic” style of story-telling (cutting from different angles on the same action for the fall into the water, Eunice seeing her, the killing blow, the reaction), there was an unecessary “beat.”   The middle panel in the middle tier, looking over the mother’s head as Eunice runs toward her: doesn’t really add any new information, and it does something weird to the pacing.  So I could get rid of that panel, and add another beat to clarify the relationship between Eunice and the Indian man:

There now!  Thank you lightbox for allowing me to preserve what I liked in the first version (I re-draw the whole page, I guess so there’s a nice original page as an end product).  Though I’m not sure I don’t like the “striking” panel (panel 4 in this version) better in the one above.

Oh, and in case you’re interested, the finished work is drawn with brush and India ink (Dr. PH Martin’s Black Star) on bristol (Borden & Riley).

Thanks for looking!

Eunice Williams Story – Page 2

My script for the page:


“I cannot relate the distressing care I had for my dear wife, who had lain-in but a few weeks before, and for my poor children”

Eunice (mother) clutches her children (including Eunice, daughter, 7), as Mohawk warriors menace them.

Warriors kill 2 children: a six-week old and four year old.

(“The enemies who entered the house… ….were so cruel and barbarous as to take … two of my children, and murder them.”)

Long march begins, 80 captives and 250 Indians and French soldiers, through the snowy wilderness. Behind them, smoke rises from the burning houses of Deerfield.

JOHN: “Who can tell what sorrows pierced our souls, when we saw ourselves carried away from God’s sanctuary, to go into a strange land, exposed to so many trials ?

One challenge was drawing the panel where the invaders grab an infant from Eunice’s mother.  At first I tried it as a full tableau:

Then I decided the action would be clearer and more dramatic closer up:

Another try:

But as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m pushing toward a more stylized treatment of the characters.  I think that will be more expressive, and more fun to draw. I’m particularly happy with how this worked in panels 1, 3 and 5. Here’s the rough version of the whole page:

As you can see, I condensed the killing of two Williams children into one — for space considerations, but also because the opening of this story is violent enough!  The final version of the page (unless I change it more later):

T hanks for looking!

The Eunice Williams story: time for page one!

The changing face of John Williams

The format of the book is square (8″ by 8″) and I’m planning to tell this story in 11 pages.  There will be an introductory page with some set-up information.  Something like this:

” In 1701, war broke out between England and France. In the New World, the English colonies and New France (Canada) soon followed suit.  Much of the fighting was done by Native American tribes allied with the two colonial powers. Settlements in the western frontier of New England were especially vulnerable to Indian raids; for the French, these raids served to terrorize and demoralize their British rivals, while for the Natives – Mohawk, Huron, Abenaki – a main goal was the taking of prisoners. Most of the captives were then ransomed back to the English for profit.  Most, but not all…”

Except for the scenes in which they both appear, the comic will be divided into “Eunice” and “John” sequences, corresponding to full pages as often as possible.  The John sequences will be narrated, wherever possible with excerpts from his actual writing.  The Eunice sequences will have no narration, and not much dialogue.

My “script” is minimal, since I’m writing it for myself alone.  Here is how I scripted page one (the text in quotes is from John Williams’ book, “The Redeemed Captive.”):


“ON the twenty-ninth of February, 1704, not long before the break of day, the enemy came in like a flood upon us.”

Mohawk warriors scale the fence and enter the town.

 John is woken, in bed, reaches for his pistol but is jumped by several Indians as it misfires. 

That’s all I wrote.  And here are my rough pencils:

For the first time, on this project I am using a light box, so I can stay closer to my planned compositions.  I re-pencil over the roughs on the light box, then ink (with the lightbox off).  Thus:

Nope.  Not happy with it.  For a few reasons, but mainly the drawing style.  In too much of a hurry to get started, I didn’t keep in mind the sort of stylization I was planning to employ.  The style in which I drew John’s face, in panels 3-5, is blandly “realistic.”

I’m happy enough with the composition though, so thanks to my new best-friend the lightbox, I can concentrate on the drawing in the next version:

NOW I’m very happy with that head in panel 3.  Being more aggressive with a stylized approach: fewer and bolder lines, stronger shapes.  It looks like someone better than me drew it!  (panel 3,  on the other hand, looks like an inexplicable cameo by Harvey Pekar, but OKAY!!  Enough!!  Move ON!)

….and yet…  if we can peek forward in time a little, I will have found that, in subsequent pages,  my depiction of John has changed from when I drew that head.  I hate to lose it, ’cause I still like it, but he just didn’t end up looking like that, so I have to go back and re-draw yet again those panels:

Plus I fixed a few things in that first panel.  Okay now I’m done with the first page.  At least for now.

(Oh and don’t forget: these pages are going to have to be colored, too!)

Yes… MORE Eunice Williams sketches and studies.


Studies for Eunice’s father John (a Puritan preacher).   How to draw this guy remains a question…. I’ll figure it out. 

Sketching the attitude of Eunice, wistfully watches some other children playing.


Study of Eunice playing.  I like it – it’s silly.


Just a little head I liked.


Studies for a couple of complicated action tableaus – scribbly, but they mean something to me!  Even THIS means something to me:

Eunice Williams story – more sketches and studies.

More preliminary work for the Eunice Willams story.  Here are some sketchbook pages of character studies, mostly of Eunice and her father John, then of a Mohawk character who takes care of Eunice after the raid.


It’s actually been quite a long time since I’ve drawn a story, and I’m searching for a new style, or at least for the style I want for this story…


I don’t want to draw this story in as “realistic” a style as the sketch above would indicate though.  The process of stylization I’m going for can be seen in the difference between this study…


…and the approach to the characters on this page of studies:

The Eunice Williams story – sketches

For an upcoming anthology on the theme of Colonial New England History (see also, I’m drawing the story of Eunice Williams & her father John, who were among those kidnapped by French & Native American raiders in Deerfield, Mass, in 1704.  Here are some preliminary sketches:

A longhouse, the dwelling of the Mohawk indians of the era.

character & costume studies for Mohawks and Eunice

head of Mohawk raider for page 1

Longhouse interior with Eunice and new family

More soon!