I am currently working on the Thematic Project. The theme is "Gone" and it's based on the time period during the Cold War. More specifically on the year 1968 back in former Czechoslovakia, when Soviet Union invaded the country ( together with other eastern block countries ) in August 1968. I started off with doing an interview with my father, trying to enrich the research I had ( all pretty much factual historical overview ) and add a little bit of personal experience. The interview went really well and gave me opportunity to have a exclusive chance to see things through the eyes of someone who lived these times through himself.
The initial idea was to create a narrative based editorial graphic novel ( I tried to find a word for it, but as someone mentioned, everyone who can't do proper comic says that he's doing a graphic novel, perhaps for its less strict rules of layout and so on :-) representing the story of regular boy and how he lived through the day of Soviet invasion. Originally I thought of illustrating exactly what my dad experienced, however it changed throughout the process so far and so did the layout of the whole "book". The story stays, but it's more simplified, I sort of left the idea of my dad's day and decided to bring in the ordinary character of the boy, who leaves his house in the morning and in about 5 to 6 images experiences the change and realizes what's happening. Also, this story will be represented on the right page, whereas the left page will be dedicated to more graphic style, pictogram-like images with some factual text. The narrative based part will have no text, I'd rather focus on the image itself and let it speak for itself.
So far I created the final of the end page. This design was originally meant to be one of the story based ones, but it evolved in something completely different which would collide with the other ones and wouldn't fit in I guess. So I didn't drop it completely and took it further as an end page design and this is what I came up with:
And the final:
This idea of men with the bear masks and without is based on the times back in the Communist regime in former Czechoslovakia, where you couldn't be entirely sure who can be trusted and who can't. The design of the men was from the beginning meant to be simple, rather graphic, and represented anonymous person, one of many, if you'd like. No specific facial features, glasses are there so we're not able to see his eyes, he's bald, so no particular haircut defines him as "someone", but simply just "anyone".
Those with the bear masks on are the people who cannot be trusted, rats, traitors or whatever we call them. Simply those who agreed with anything that communist tyranny brought.
I picked rather army looking hue of the green for the background, as its suits the time period I'm working with, the texture and colour of the characters doesn't need any more explaining I guess - that's sort of the quality I'll be looking for within the left page pictogram based part of the book.