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November 10th, 2011

Lucky Seven: The Dee Brown Incident Page 02 of 06 Comments about this page

Lucky Seven: The Dee Brown Incident

(PG; Boston History/Drama) In 1990 a black resident and Celtics rookie got detained by police who concluded without much evidence that he had robbed a nearby bank. Read the story overview for more behind-the-scenes details.

After a decade of producing comics purely digitally, returning to traditional was a blast. It was also scary, using this wet ink stuff. The change came from teaching traditional media for Art of the Comic Book. Looking at it now, everything seems rougher than I remembered. The word balloons aren’t very smooth and the inking is inconsistent. The title is based on a font that I traced over in ink on a light table. The bystander checking his mail in the first panel is based on Neil Todd, my son’s grandfather.

The banter between Dee and Jill Edmondson is entirely fiction, based on known events. They were young and head-over-heels in love, both looking forward to their wedding. Dee was about to get a lot of money from the Boston Celtics. They lived in a Wellesley Hills hotel, checking their mail regularly at the nearby post office.

This scene takes place inside the Wellesley Hills branch of the United States Post Office. The clerks wouldn’t let me take reference photos (taking pictures of a federal building in the post-9/11 era is impossible.) Since this story points to a negative chapter in Wellesley’s history, I lied about my motives and told them I was researching old post offices for an architectural project. On this basis, the manager let me draw reference sketches. In such a small post office, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with customers standing in line. I got a few odd stares, but was allowed to finish my work.

Getting reference for Jill Edmondson, Dee’s fiancee at the time, was a lot more difficult. Searching through Google, microfilms from the Boston Public Library and even Northeastern University yearbooks produced nothing. Running out of time, I based her on early ’90s famous women (Shannen Doherty, Tiffany Thiessen, Ashley Renee). Midway through production, a photo from the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine turned up.

This struggle was part of my overall challenge to crowbar narrative fiction into historical facts. Knowing when to stop research and simply tell the story has always been difficult for me. Looking at the finished product now, I’m proud of how the background details enhance the storytelling. My traditional inking and lettering skills, on the other hand, were still too primitive.

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