I started working on The Gate at the End of the World in June 2016. What I wrote was a script that would eventually be adapted into a comic. This never happened. I ran out of steam toward the end of the story and concluded it fairly quickly, and only drew two maps, a few character designs, and one test page.
The story as supposed to be twenty chapters long, with four parts of five chapters each – each part would correspond to a season, starting in summer. Each chapter would be around 20 pages long, so the comic would be around 400 pages long. I also decided later on – after drawing the test page – that it would be easier to do everything in black and white.
But that doesn’t tell you anything about the story itself, does it? Let’s get to that. Here’s the summary:
Renyeten ton Haraz Fiunel travels from her hometown of Haraz all the way to the arctic country of Kitlin. 795 years ago, the majority of her ancestors, the Visanan, traveled through the Gate at the End of the World. They left behind a monument and fragments of their language and culture, both in stone and through stories told by the indigenous peoples of the arctic.
As there is no one who speaks Visanan in the arctic, Renyeten’s job is to act as a cultural and linguistic interpreter for a small group of people whose main job is to watch the Gate and keep track of everything that comes through it.
These two characters are Sajiiqitin Jukiikiuqanait (nicknamed Sajiiq) and Renyeten, who was primarily referred to as Ren. Sajiiq was an excitable Qitiniina botanist. She didn’t make it into the 2nd version of The Gate at the End of the World, but I did find a place for her in The Land of Two Moons as Sajikitin Jukikynai, a botany professor.
Ren became Ren Fennel in the 2nd version of The Gate at the End of the World and The Land of Two Moons.
Harnur Bardusukålur and Tjarå Mårsur. Harnur was a historian who studied folklore about the Gate. I ended up not really knowing what to do with him, and as a result, he doesn’t have an equivalent in version 2 of The Gate or The Land of Two Moons.
Tjåra was a doctor and one of the more level-headed residents of the area around The Gate. She became Tjära Kvennirna in the 2nd version of The Gate and Tjara Kyvenna in The Land of Two Moons. I’m not quite sure why she went through so many name changes.
Bríthan Tiskur and Håkiakyn Mårsursukålur (or Håki for short). Bríthan was a hunter/tracker and Håki was a doctor-in-training who was apprenticed to Tjarå. They got renamed to Brithan Thiosciáre and Häkirin Mäurkala in the 2nd version of The Gate at the End of the World, and those names stayed the same in The Land of Two Moons, aside from some accents. These two had the most consistent designs over all three stories.
There was another character, Gorten Jornå (who I never drew a reference for), who was the basis for Kallinu Jurne in version 2 of The Gate and The Land of Two Moons. They were the camp priest.
Here’s a map of the immediate area where the story took place. The Exclusion Zone was a roughly circular area around the Gate that fluctuated from time to time. Plant life inside the Exclusion Zone was strange. Occasionally, mutated animals came through the Gate, and it was the job of the people inside the camps to stop those animals from leaving the Exclusion Zone before they contaminated things or caused problems.
Also, the Exclusion Zone was the only place magic could be used. Bríthan was the only character in the main cast who regularly used magic, since he was the one who went into the Exclusion Zone the most, to hunt and track mutated animals.
I don’t think this is a bad premise. But, five years later, I think I have a good idea of why this story didn’t work out. There was simply too much going on: the Exclusion Zone threat and the Visanan stuff. I know stories with two plots running at the same time can work, but this was definitely not one of them. If I’d picked one to focus on, I think things would have turned out better.
In fact, I’d really like to use the Exclusion Zone idea in a future story. I’d have to make all new characters and probably create an entirely new setting, but it’s something that still manages to hold my interest after all these years. It still pops up into my head from time to time.
That’s it for version 1 of The Gate at the End of the World. Next week, I’ll be talking about version 2.