Pacific Steel is a game set in the pacific ocean, 1942. The United States Navy (USN) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) are fighting for control of various islands in the pacific.
The graphic narrative for Pacific Steel is a short comic book aims to encapsulate but a small portion of the struggle for naval supremacy at that time. The brief blurb of the comic book would go like this;
“It’s the dead of night, 1942. A lone American patrol boat, USS Erie quietly patrols the shores off a top-secret naval base in the pacific ocean. Suddenly, out of the night appear two silhouetted shapes, familiar shapes. Are they friend? Or are they foe?”
To get the whole story, you can read my storyboard here.
The narrative is more about setting an atmosphere, action and artistic style, than any real story/plot. It’s designed to be a running series, with “TO BE CONTINUED” being the last panel.
This graphic narrative plans to provide Tall Boy Studios with it’s proposed “Online graphic-narrative series” that complements the release of the mobile game of the same name. Pacific Steel, both the game and comic book series takes place in a time period and location that is widely popular and recognisable with the public, the Pacific Theatre of the 1940’s.
The narrative will be both visually engaging and action-packed as America and Japan fight for supremacy on a variety of different military fronts. The narrative will be split up into separate “chapters” depicting different, historically accurate scenarios. Each chapter lasting 3 comics each.
More detail on Legal/Ethical constraints can be found here.
The assets/panels will be drawn using Paint.NET, using very simple techniques. I will then compose all the assets and environments into various “sheets” and present them in a comic book style panel setup.
Copyright constraints aren’t particularly an issue regarding games based around history, as all of the designs/schematics and blueprints are now open to use by the public for educational purposes. Ethical issues however, are an issue.
To avoid any ethical/racial issues, I will not be portraying any disrespectful/negative stereotyping or have one country superior over another, even if these things did occur in history. For example, I won’t be portraying the IJN using kamikaze/suicidal tactics. The main reason I chose the year 1942 was a period where the IJN and USN were on (mostly) equal footings, and the kamikaze had not been developed.
The overall design/aesthetic is traditional of your typical comic book. The style of bold shadows/lighting is present throughout almost all comic books. Part of the reason for this might be simply that the style is quicker and easier to do, but it also lends a far more dramatic and sharper feel to the scenes.
This style is also, massively popular with comic books. Every major comic book uses this style, so it’s clearly effective. The actual designs of the assets are all historical, so they will resemble their real-life counterparts are much as possible whilst keeping within the chosen art style.
Look and Feel/Technical Specifications
Here is a fantastic example of the sort of style I would love to emulate, depicting a similar scene/setting to my own comic. The striking dark shadows really make the scene seem more dramatic and harsh. The effect of the scene wouldn’t be as potent if a softer art style was used.
I will adopt a similar, though far less detailed technique to achieve an exciting and dramatic look for my graphic narrative.
Here is a quick test I did to see if I could pull of this style. I did, to an extent. It’s far from perfect, but it was relatively easy to make. Not only did this style take less layers, time and effort to make that I thought, I reckon it resembles the comic book style well enough.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
When it comes to copyright, the normal issues apply. As far as I’m aware (since these are designs dating back to the 1930s) copyright/creative license does no apply to the vehicles used. I will however be refraining from using company names such as Grumman, Kure Kaigun Kosho, or Mitsubishi to avoid any complications, as these names/brands are still in active use today.
Ethical considerations are always an issue regarding games based on war. As I said, to avoid any racial/ethical issues, I will not be portraying any disrespectful/negative stereotyping or have one country superior over another, even if these things did occur in history.This is simply not to offend anyone or limit my target audience by ways of discrimination.
As documented in Look and Feel/Technical Specifications and in Graphic Narrative – Style Considerations, my art style will be the essential action comic-book style. The graphic narrative won’t feature any blood, gore, sexual themes or even any human characters.
After researching PEGI’s rating criteria, I can say that Pacific Steel will fall under the PEGI 7 rating.
“Any game that would normally be rated at 3 but contains some possibly frightening scenes or sounds may be considered suitable in this category.”
Pacific Steel might be considered PEGI 3, were it not for the requirement of; “The child should not be able to associate the character on the screen with real life characters, they should be totally fantasy” Pacific steel is a fantasy/fictional story, but it’s themes and visuals are based on historical fact.
The end result will be a short digital comic book, showcasing a brief encounter between opposing American and Japanese forces in the pacific ocean.