I am currently hard at work on a piece about the Dyatlov Pass Incident for the nonfiction unsolved mysteries anthology I’m editing for Hic & Hoc Publications (accepting submissions until Sept. 15th!). This story is a part of a project I’ve been working on for a few years adapting the Wikipedia list of unusual deaths. Normally when researching these stories, I read about an incident on wikipedia and then search the internet for more credible articles and useful images for reference. Often, the search for photographs is the most frustrating. For the last story I finished (which I’ll talk a bit more about in the upcoming weeks) my searches yielded very little more than a few courtroom photographs, and nobody looks the way they normally do in court.
This story, however, is different. The nine hikers who died in this incident documented their adventure well, taking several rolls of film that were discovered with their bodies. The search party that found them also took tons of pictures of the area, as well as crime scene photos. I’ve found these photographs all over the internet, and some of them are really great. It’s very unusual for me to have access to this amount of visual reference, especially for a story that takes places somewhere as remote as Siberia.
I’ve decided to share a few of these photographs with you guys so you can see what I’m working on and get an idea of where I’m headed with it. Outdoor scenes and organic elements like trees have always been incredibly challenging for me to draw for whatever reason, and it’s been great to have the setting of this story so well documented. I’m excited to be working on this story for the anthology; it’s something I’ve been meaning to make a comic about for quite some time. A lot of the comics I make wind up being pretty depressing, since I tend to focus on these death stories, and while this one is more creepy than depressing, looking at these photos does make me kind of sad. Before the mysterious incident that caused their deaths, these hikers were obviously having a terrific time. You can see them goofing around in the photos, and you can see how close they all were. These make terrific reference photos because normally all I have to work with are pictures of characters after the fact, when everyone is either terribly upset, or dead. These allow me to see how my characters interacted with each other on a regular basis, before tragedy struck.
I hope you all will check back periodically to see more updates on my progress with this story, as well as others, and for updates regarding the anthology as a whole. This week I’ll start posting previews of other comics that will be included in the book, so be sure to check those out!