12 Facts You Didn’t Know About Arielle Namenyi’s “The Pony Express”
Here’s a list of a few things that went into the making of “The Pony Express” that you probably didn’t know:
1. “The Pony Express” graphic novel took a little over four years to complete.
“The first character design sketch I made for Dodge after starting The Pony Express project is dated back to August 18, 2009. The last page in the book was finished on December 16, 2013. If you’ve created comics you know what I mean when I say A LOT of work goes into creating a book like this.”
2. The very first drawing of Dodge was created in 2003 when Arielle Namenyi was just 13 years old.
“I would always love to just sit in my room and create characters. And every time I created characters, I would always come up with a quick background story for them. I always loved the history of “The Pony Express” and thought it would be cool to make a “movie” poster of a palomino mustang and make it look like an ad for a cartoon called “The Pony Express”. This horse didn’t have a name yet, but his background story was that he got separated from his rider as a pony express horse and became lost, trying to find his way home. When deciding what story to start with when creating my graphic novels, God reminded me of that picture and I pulled it up and used that as an inspiration for the book.”
3. The original story for “The Pony Express” had no Akmal or Rocky.
“When I first created a background story for “The Pony Express” in 2003 the idea for the story was that Dodge became attacked by wolves while running the pony express and his rider falls off of his back as Dodge rears. Either the rider dies or Dodge just runs away, but either way he becomes lost in the wilderness. After picking up the idea for The Pony Express again in 2009, the plot was modified to have more characters, action, and story detail to make a more exciting and enjoyable story (plus references that reveal the actual history of the pony express).”
4. A lot of research went into the creation of “The Pony Express”.
“One extra time consumer when creating a story that actually takes place at a certain time in history is research. I spent hours online researching the history of the pony express and looking at pictures and figuring out how to design almost everything in the story, down to what type of gun was used during that time period. On square 12 of page 3 in the book, I recreated a scene that I would often see in old pony express paintings I saw on the internet. “
5. The vulture character “Sear” is actually an African vulture.
“When writing the script I imagined the two vulture characters to look a certain way. I had it set that Sear would be a white backed vulture, which I found later lives in Africa and not the United States. I still kept Sear as a white backed vulture because I couldn’t part with his character design, but yes, that type of vulture is not originally from the United States. Gideon is a Turkey Vulture, which does live in the United States.”
6. Akmal’s name was taken from an Arabic baby names list.
“When choosing a name for Akmal I wanted it to be something Arabic. I found a web page with baby names of Arabic origin. I would first look at a name I liked then look at the meaning of the name. When I saw that the name “Akmal” meant “perfect” in Arabic, I thought that would be a great name to use since it fit his personality so well and would be useful in some of the quotes in the book.”
7. Dodge’s past was revealed in the original script.
“In the original script for “The Pony Express”, Dodge shares his past of how he became a pony express horse with Rocky. As he is telling the story the scene changes to flashbacks of his memory. The scene was ultimately cut for timing issues. It dragged the scene on too long and I wanted to further advance the actual story and move things along. Maybe sometime in the future I will create this deleted scene as a behind the scene bonus feature.”
8. Rocky was originally a very optimistic, energetic horse.
“The original idea for Rocky was to have him as a super optimistic and energetic character. He was the one responsible for keeping all the characters together and encouraging them to keep going. I soon realized this personality wasn’t working for the story, so Rocky’s personality turned 180 degrees and he became a depressed, negative, and closed character. This personality type worked way better for the story and for the character inspirations at the end of the book. Interestingly enough, though, even with the personality change Rocky is still the one that kept all the characters together.”
9. Akmal’s last name is an inside joke.
In the book on page 33, Akmal mentions his last name “Alavasadin”. This is actually an inside joke between my family and me. My father has an accent which shows heavily when he writes, and one time he tried to write “all of a sudden” and came up with “alavasadin”. My sister had me try to guess what he was trying to write and I couldn’t get it… I just told her it sounded like an Arabic word. Later on when writing The Pony Express, my husband encouraged me to somehow throw in the word for fun.
10. There is an “easter egg” in The Pony Express.
“I grew up drawing Disney characters (which reflects greatly in my drawing style) and always thought it was fun how they had “easter eggs/cameos” in a lot of their films. For some reason it’s so much fun to spot a hidden Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, etc. I thought it would be fun to include easter eggs in my stories, so there actually is a hidden image of a character from my next graphic novel in “The Pony Express”. I can’t say what it is yet since my next book is still in production, but in this next book Akmal will make a cameo and possibly other characters as well.”
11. Some of the characters in The Pony Express are actually based off of Arielle Namenyi’s relatives.
“The two cowboys that appear on pages 10 and 11, and another two on pages 99-101 were actually designed using my brother-in-laws as a base. The cowboy on pages 97-99 was designed using my cousin-in-law as a base. I don’t like to voice this too much because when I say it people think I tried to make the characters look like them. I didn’t want to make the characters look like them, I just used them as a base for the actual character design. It’s interesting to note it though. Trey’s design was also loosely based on my husband, which, again, very loosely based but everyone I know who sees the book asks me if Trey is supposed to be my husband. Well, no he’s not, but his design loosely is.”
12. The characters in The Pony Express were drawn before the background.
“I always hated creating backgrounds because it always took so much time and landscape never was my thing, so I just drew the characters for the comic book pages and added the backgrounds later. This actually didn’t make sense, since the characters should be in the background and not the background in them. It actually made creating the scenes way harder this way. On my next book I am currently working on, I am creating the backgrounds first and then drawing the characters in. Things run way more efficiently this way and the art is turning out really nice. You really do learn from experience.”
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