Bee and Rose Thornhill, who holds up her Lore Library ID card

How I Do: The Big Idea!

Monday, April 11th 2022

A while ago, I wrote a series of threads on the Lore Library Twitter account talking about how I'm making my first graphic novel. I left a whole bunch of stuff out due to time and space constraints, so I thought expanding on these might be a nice way to start off the new website. So: where did the idea come from?

There are two main inspirations.

The first is my daughter. She's curious and adventurous (and all the other good ousses) and she loves to read.

Her constant companion is Charlie Fox. She's had him since she was eight months old (she'll be nine this year) and Charlie goes with her everywhere, whatever the weather. She talks and sings to him, serves him tea, and describes his rich inner life in great detail. It's kind of magical.

I was daydreaming away, as one is wont to do, and just followed the idea of what would happen if Charlie was alive to the rest of us the way he is to my daughter? What adventures would they go on as they grew up? What secrets would Charlie know and share with her?

The second inspiration is Hellboy. I've loved the character since I first saw him in the pages of Wizard Magazine in the late 90's. I started collecting the books, drawn in by the idea that the magical world of folktales never really went away, just... faded around the edges. That if you knew where to look, you could peel back the veneer of the human world and catch a glimpse of something more...

What will she be like when she grows up? How about someone who fact-checks the secret history of the world, keeping the hidden knowledge up-to-date? Yeah, that sounds cool. And Charlie can be her assistant! Although for the visual shorthand for "stuffed animal", a bear is probably more universal than a fox...

Very early sketches of Rose Thornhill and Bee
The very first sketches of Rose Thornhill and Bee, her very-much-alive stuffed bear.

...and I arrived at Rose Thornhill and Bee pretty quickly! I thought about making Rose a grown-up version of Little Red Riding Hood investigating fairy stories, but... it's been done. A lot. Rose is just a girl. She doesn't have a secret past, just a talking bear and an interesting job. And I'd been looking for a book of my own to write, something that I could read to my daughter at bedtime, something that would be uniquely hers. This ticked all the boxes.

But what would Rose and Bee investigate for their first case?

A troll adressing a larger gathering of creatures, complaining about the humans on the surface above.
Trolls. So many trolls!

My daughter was reading a lot of Hilda books at the time, and I liked the idea of a peaceful village gradually encroaching on Troll territory and the conflict that would arise from that situation. They could meet a troll guarding a bridge! And solve riddles! And find a hidden troll city! All fun stuff to write and draw.

I spent a few weeks mulling things over, fleshing out The Lore Library as an organisation, and decided that yes thank you, this is a world I'd like to play around in. All I needed to do now was write the damn thing...