"Dear Parents" (Rappahannock Station / 9 August 1863)
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Well, the revision continues on Freeman Colby Vol. 2, and sometimes it slows down my "Today in 1863" posts.  (I realize I've started thinking of them as "This Week in 1863," anyhow, and that takes some of the pressure off...)  

I thought today I'd share how a single page changes during this book's editing/revising process.  

It's time once again to draw out one of Freeman Colby's letters!  The PREVIOUS post based on an actual Colby letter drew from his Washington DC / 30 May 1863 "Dear Parents" note.  

The NEXT letter I have here is dated 9 August (location apparently illegible to the transcriber): 

(Checking in Roe's regimental history, we see that the 39th Mass is encamped near Rappahannock Station, so that solves the location mystery.)

When I originally drew this letter last winter, I started out trying to focus LOTS of text into a single page, so as to move the narrative along.  Here's the original draft, compressing the first 3 paragraphs of the letter into 5 tight panels: 

When I reread this page NOW, it just looks waaaay too packed with information.  Watching proofreaders read it is actually kind of painful.  So, I decided to open up the panels a bit & drew this DRAFT 2:

I had to look up some source images showing Union army encampments and General Meade outside his headquarters tent & so on, but this page feels more breathable, more readable.  We get to see the "cars" (i.e. trains) arriving day & night, we get to look o'er the camps... So what if the next three panels get pushed into the next page?

Still and all... 

It feels a bit rushed for a Sunday letter.

What if we open up the first panel & let Colby really sit IN the weather he describes?  Here's DRAFT 3:

That way he's up on his hill, and the trains actually arrive DOWN BELOW him on the page.  

Then we can push the camp overview & General Meade's HQ (which, come to think of it, is off in the distance somewhere, isn't it?) to the next page: 

On this page I'm drawing from the above-linked 50th NY camp photo, which depicts an actual camp onsite @ Rappahannock Station.  Sure, it's a winter camp, which will look more permanent than an August infantry camp, but it gives us a sense of distant hillsides sprawling with tents & wagon trains.

Then we'll expand those final 3 panels from DRAFT 1 on to their own page: 

In the very next month, Edwin Forbes was kind enough to draw newspapers getting distributed in camp...

Well, that's it so far -- one page of dense comics becomes three pages with a bit more source material woven into it.  Hopefully by DRAFT 3 the reader's getting a better sense of what Colby's looking at & describing.  

I need to be careful, though.  If every page I revise becomes THREE NEW PAGES, this book could be over a thousand pages long!  (Nah....)

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