These are two speculative colour pages and the main character designs to a self-set and unpublished graphic novel. Aimed at children from 8-12, the brief was to create an entertaining yet emotional story-driven work that would be communicated in small 2/3-page-at-a-time chunks for weekly publication in an A4 full-colour comic book.
Ms. McKenzie is a wordless narrative set at an undisclosed date in the near future in a Britain recovering from a third world war. It is an optimistic view of the aftermath, following a travelling community of villagers that make their way through the English countryside searching for people to help and is told through the camera-phone of one of the villagers. The stories focus on experiences Ruby records and are about the times her and her friends have and the community growing close due to shared circumstances.
In the background, a second story is told; the story of how they came to be a travelling village – every so often Ruby takes a picture of some of the tinned food, propaganda posters, damaged roads or property, etc. The vehicles, clothing and technology the community uses are from various different periods of the last hundred years, salvaged from the home they had to abandon to fallout.
Each of the stories are stand-alone experiences two or three pages each, but together they paint an optimistic image of a future that has had the potentially worst thing happen to it. The overall arc (6-8 of these 2/3 page experiences) shows the villager's journey to find a new home and their eventual settling alongside Britain recovering and the satellites responding to Ruby's phone once again.
I came up with this particular story based on how aware children are of current events - political climate is never stable, and there is always a war somewhere. As a child (though even as an adult too), the idea of events like these beyond any of your wildest control, events even parents cannot shield you from can be very upsetting. That is why this story focuses on the aftermath, or rather the new beginning that the characters make for themselves through perseverance, community spirit and general optimism.
The dual-storyline mechanism is used to keep interest flowing through multiple readings, and also to entice the reader to return for the next instalment. I wanted to keep it relatable and interactive, so the photographs Ruby takes on her camera phone contain extra information for observant readers.