14 April 2018

Cruising towards disaster

For the third year in a row, our Teen Advisory Board (TAB) is creating an original lock-in murder mystery night as the finale of our Teen Summer Reading Program. Since the theme is "Reading Takes You Everywhere," interpreted as "travel," I suggested they place their murder on a bus to Washington, D.C., for their annual choir concert. No, they said, a bus didn't give enough scope, they wanted to fly. Okay, I said, murder on a plane!

They thought about it for a while and decided that this was likewise lacking in scope: Where would they accomplish the murder? A bathroom was too, erm, icky, and nobody wanted to be crawling around in the luggage space. How would they discover the murderer? After all, the audience is supposed to be able to walk around and question the suspects and the innocent standers-by, but how would that happen in the close confines of a plane? Also, they wanted more of a theme for their merry band of possible killers.

So the final choice was, murder on a cruise ship. And most of the suspects (and the murder victim) are members of an acting troupe hired to entertain the passengers, so the murder could take place on stage. I was happy to go along with this, as long as they gave me their venue and their title for this year's passion play.

Oh, a title. Much brainstorming ensued. The favorite (to much laughter) was "As-sea-sination," but they ultimately decided that while it showcased them as the ultimate punsters, it was a little hard to grasp for the uninitiated, let alone spell. So the final choice was "Death on Deck," and now it was my turn to provide an appropriate illustration.

Here it is. We'll see what they think of it.

My only personal concern is that the smoke "effect" is too realistic to go with the somewhat cartoon-y nature of the rest of the drawing. After looking at a lot of photographs of actual cruise ships, all of which were unimaginatively shot horizontally from the side, I ended up semi-copying someone else's drawing that had the qualities I wanted—the looming prow, the row of life boats, and not too much complexity in the windows. While cruise ships today don't have the smokestack, since the TAB has already decided that this might have taken place "back in Titanic times," I appropriated and added the smokestack so as to be able to also add the atmospheric suggestion of death coming out of it!

I also neglected to put a ship name (the USS Sappy Seas?) on the prow, as would normally appear. I'm going to ask them about that and will perhaps add something, though I don't want it to distract too much from the title of their "play." We'll see.

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