Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Blog Tour: The Creation of Compass South
By Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock

Tour organized by First Second Books
See full schedule HERE

 I love getting to look behind the scenes, which is perfect because this blog tour is all about how a book gets made. Most specifically, how author and illustrator Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock created their new middle-grade adventure graphic novel Compass South.

Today, Rebecca Mock is stopping by to talk about character and setting design.

Welcome to Love is not a triangle!


Character / Setting Designs
By Rebecca Mock

Before I even started developing, we had already roughly designed the 4 main characters, Cleo & Alex, and the other two brothers, Silas and Edwin--though my style of drawing them has changed dramatically from their first designs.

This was the first drawing I sent to Hope--we ended up including this in the Book pitch, along with the first 12 pages of the book and an outline of the plot.

And this is the design for Cleo and Luther from the first chapter. Beside it is the first page of Compass South I ever drew, as part of the 12-page pitch sample--drawn in December 2012. I wouldn't start drawing the rest until August 2013.

While Hope was finalizing the script and before I started on official artwork, I took a few months to immerse myself in research and development. Hope had already contributed a great deal to the imagery of the entire book--she collected dozens of reference photos specific to each scene for me to work from. I needed to familiarize myself with the imagery of the mid-1800’s in general, as well as many specific places, fashions and items. 

Hope also sent me reference books & comics to help inspire me. A few in particular that I referenced constantly throughout research & sketching were Miss Don't Touch Me by Kerascout, Isaac the Pirate by Christophe Blain and a book called Seamanship: In The Age of Sail by John Harland. I looked to these books to help me solve the visual puzzles Hope was creating in her script. How did Kerascout show a space, introduce a character, build tension? A couple other books that I used a lot were Blacksad by Juan Diaz Sanchez and Juanjo Guarnido,  and The American-Built Clipper Ship by William L Crothers. Hope also suggested thinking about manga-style action scenes like those in Lone Wolf & Cub. 

I love Blacksad. I love it.

William L. Crothers saved my neck a dozen times with his super-clear and accurate ship illustrations. (I can’t claim to be nearly as accurate as his diagrams, though).

Isaac The Pirate by Cristophe Blain

I sketched everything on copy paper so I could shuffle and rearrange it all when I needed to. 

I researched each scene and minor character. This story moved at fast pace, with many exotic locations and a wealth of characters. I have a thick stack of these reference sketches, many of which ended up tacked to my wall. I sent all my sketches to Hope, and she would send feedback. 

Here are the first drawings of one of my favorite side characters, The Mate. We wanted him to have a high, wrinkly forehead and gnarly face, but to also be dashing. Here also is The Captain and the “sea dog”:

Thanks for stopping by and for giving us this peek into how you created your graphic novel! 

About the Book: 

Compass South
by Hope Larson &
Illustrated by Rebecca Mock
Published: June 28, 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Book Description: It's  1860 in New York City.  When twelve-year-old twins Alexander and  Cleopatra's father disappears, they join the Black Hook Gang and are  caught by the police pulling off a heist.  They agree to reveal the  identity of the gang in exchange for tickets to New Orleans.  But once  there, Alex is tricked into working on a ship that is heading for San  Francisco via Cape Horn.  Cleo stows away on a steamer to New Granada,  where she hopes to catch a train to San Francisco to find her brother.   Neither Alex nor Cleo realizes the real danger they are in--they  are being followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure.  How they outwit the pirates and find each other makes for a fast-paced,  breathtaking adventure.


About the Authors: 

Hope Larson adapted and illustrated A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel, for which she won an Eisner Award. She is also the author and illustrator of Salamander DreamGray HorsesChiggers, and Mercury. She lives in Los Angeles. hopelarson.com

Rebecca Mock is an illustrator and comics artist. Her work has appeared  in various publications, including theNew York Times and the New Yorker.  She is co-organizer of the Hana Doki Kira anthology. Compass South is  her first book. rebeccamock.com


  1. Ohh :D Gorgeous blog tour post Lauren. <3 Thank you for sharing about this book :D I loooove all those illustrations. PRETTY :D And ahh, I think the book seems so interesting. Curious about it :D

  2. This was an excellent post!!! The insight into the creation of Compass South was wonderful and I love following the process. Plus beautiful illustrations. Cannot wait to check out this book!


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