Urban nomenclatureon September 7, 2012 at 9:19 pm
“I know It’s naive asking people not to call this a comic that takes place in Antwerp, but at least don’t call it a comic about Antwerp.” It sounded even more pedantic once I heard myself say it out loud. And yet the distinction is an important one. We’ve been getting some remarks left and right about how awesome it is that we set our story in Antwerp. A very lovely thing to say, for sure.
Except we didn’t. Not really.
There are some subtle differences between Antwerp and The City -some of them very deliberately written, some merely a case of artistic liberty- but the place our characters inhabit, is evidently and undeniably based on Antwerp. At the same time, though, it’s about as much Antwerp as Brüsel is Brussels. That is to say: it is, but also, it isn’t.
Consider the story locations on these pages and the characters that populate them (similar though they may be to actual streetviews or people you might bump into) as nothing more, or less, than archetypes. That barista from that coffee shop? You’ll find one just like him in Paris. And Moscow. And Puerto Rico. That cosy little plaza with the statue and the musicians and the great, little restaurant? There’s a similar one in New York. And in Bombay. And Johannesburg. The beggars and the police men, the whores and the buskers, the cabbies and the problem youth– All of them: universal concepts.
“Within this city, every city is contained. Those gone, those yet to come or those which never were, in grand simultaneity.” – Alan Moore (Snakes & Ladders)
In short, we’re not trying to make this a story about any town in particular, we’re simply using our personal impressions of one city to spin a tale that hopefully resonates universally. So before people start dissecting A Song Called City for our perspective (or even: our critique) on what goes on in Antwerp, keep in mind that’s not what we’re aiming for.
The reason for choosing Antwerp as our template for The City is our immense love for this town: it’s gorgeous and filthy and caring and problematic. Just like every other city in the world. Even though we knew from the get-go it would cause confusion, there’s never even been any discussion about creating a completely fictional city or basing it on any other town than our own.
In the end, we’re flattered people felt excited about our story seemingly being set in Antwerp–and we hope all of you will still be just as excited about our choice to use this beautiful town as a means to tackle something even bigger.