On Isolation

I’d like to talk to you about something. It’s a recurring theme in my works. Do you know what that theme is? It’s isolation. It turns up frequently in my creative work.

The theme of isolation is prevalent in Sunnyville Stories. As I’ve explained before, Sunnyville is a very remote village surrounded by wilderness. There’s nothing but trees all over and there’s a feeling of being cut off from the outside world. Time seems to stand still in Sunnyville. However, it’s not just the locations in my work that are isolated. It’s the characters too.

Take Rusty. At the start of the series, he was isolated himself. He was new in town. He was also in a completely new environment that was radically different from where he used to live. Rusty went from living in a metropolis to a tiny village. This is largely based on some of my own experiences of moving from New York City to rural North Carolina many years ago. Besides being in a different place, he doesn’t know anyone. Things change of course once he befriends Samantha Macgregor. (See episode 1 of the series for more details, available for free to read here on the blog.)

It’s not just Sunnyville where this happens. I’ve also been working on a Gothic horror work Von Herling, Vampire Hunter. (Samples of that are available to read on my other blog.) That saga revolves around August Von Herling, a red fox and precocious youth who’s dedicated to battling the creatures of the night. Like with Sunnyville, the setting of the story is the mountains of Eastern Tennessee in a fictitious town called Ricthen (named after the character Rudolph Van Richten, from the tabletop role playing game Ravenloft). The town itself is surrounded by both forest and mountains, meant to resemble Transylvania. But there’s also a sense of physical isolation too. Von Herling is a stranger in a strange land. His way of talking is that of a person who is very precise and matter-of-fact. This, combined with a refined accent, immediately sets him apart from the Southerners inhabiting Richten. His dress too marks him as an outsider; Von Herling wears suits, resembling someone out of the late Victorian/Edwardian era. This also sets him apart and in the future, I was going to make that clear in the stories.

Some of the other works I’ve done before creating Sunnyville also reflect my theme of isolation. Perhaps it’s that I’ve always felt like an outsider. It’s turned out that even familiar places can start to feel isolating to me after some time.

Well, that’s it for now. I have to get back to work on my books.

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About Max West

I am a freelance artist and the creator of Sunnyville Stories, an independent slice-of-life comics series.

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