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"In my world, history is written by the victors, but truth is written by the observant ... These written words will be the final echo of events long-passed. Every detail will be committed without expense, every last word rendered... lest future generations forget why our world has changed so." [1] - Cloaked Figure.

Beyond the Western Deep is an ongoing webcomic written by Alex Kain and drawn by Rachel Bennett. It was officially launched on January 01, 2012.[2] It updated consistently nearly every weekend until September 19, 2015 when Chapter Two ended.[3] At this point, the comic went on a temporary hiatus to allow Rachel a break from the strenuous update schedule. To fill the gap, Alex wrote two shorter comics- The Adventures of Cain and Yurk and Song of the Eastern Sands[4], both illustrated by Jerome Jacinto. The hiatus ended October 15, 2016.[5] Chapter Three began on October 22, 2016.[6] The current outline indicates that Beyond the Western Deep will have seven or eight chapters.[7]

Plot

Beyond the Western Deep follows the newly appointed Captain Quinlan as he takes his grandfather's place in the royal court. With the guidance of an experienced veteran, Quinlan and his friend Dakkan seek to end a war brewing to the North before it begins. However, the more Quinlan learns about the history and politics of his world, the more he realizes that the conflict- and his own role in it- isn't as clear-cut as he had believed.

Themes

Beyond the Western Deep is intended to be a story of grey moralities. It has often been compared by fans- and by Alex Kain himself- to Game of Thrones for its undertones "of war, death, backstabbing, and loss". However, the protagonists Quinlan and Dakkan were designed to be as normal as possible. Alex and Rachel wanted a believable pair with a natural friendship and innate vulnerability.[8]

History, and those who record it versus the actual course of events, is another important theme in the story.[9]

Development

The seed of what became Beyond the Western Deep began in 2004-05, and slowly built up over the next few years until Alex wrote an outline for a prose novel, which then became a script for the first part of a comic book pitch.[10]

In 2009[11] when the comic was in its earliest stages, the first pitch issue was printed up and solicited to various professionals at Comic-Con, all of whom turned it down. Despite this, Alex has stated that he feels the rejection led to a stronger comic, because it forced him and Rachel to re-evaluate it.[12] Mouse Guard creator David Petersen in particular gave valuable critique- particularly with coloring[13] and recommended that they take a closer look at the webcomic route.[14] After that, there was a good year of prep work in getting everything set up, getting the story and script finalized, getting the art style and character designs nailed down, etc.[15]

Beyond the Western Deep was officially announced as a webcomic on December 13, 2011 with a teaser page that also served as the cover page for the prologue. The first five pages were posted daily from January 1 until January 5. The regular update schedule- one page every Saturday- began on January 7, 2012.[16]

One of the main goals in development was to ensure both that the different races felt unique from each other and that the characters within said race felt distinct from the characters within their own race. So while all characters of a specific race might display a certain trait on a certain scale, they wanted to ensure that the characters of that race encompassed the entire scale- even if the other races didn’t see that.[17]

Trivia

  • Alex Kain has stated that they have occasionally been asked why they chose animal protagonists, and he cited Chapter One, page 13 as an example of one of the reasons. "We want [our characters] to be able to perform cool things without them seeming unnatural... so Tamian can launch themselves through trees, Lutren can do the same underwater, the Canid are burly berserkers with razor-sharp teeth and a killer instinct." Another reason was because it gave Rachel a better chance to experiment with emotions. The full discourse can be read in the commentary on Beyond the Western Deep: Chapter One, Page 13

References

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