Thursday, December 8, 2011

Arche-Lady Primer: the surrounds

Wow, this is where I really start to get obsessed.

The series predominantly takes place in a fictional city, in an undisclosed location. But with episode #9, the Mayor officially changes the city name to Arche-City as a way to thank the heroine who has saved it so many times.

Of course, her ancestral mansion and its underground Arche-Lair is several miles outside of the city proper. It is connected to the city by a subway tunnel for her private use. More on the subway later.

Adjacent to the city was a small island, known as “M City” which was mysteriously not connected to Arche-City…always eluded to, but no stories took place there. Many stories take place on Science Isle, where Professor Peppercorn maintains an extensive complex.

But most oddly of all, many stories take place in Eastern Europe. When the series began in the early 90s, the Iron Curtain had just fallen and the mystery of forbidden lands now open to us and our imagination. Add to it the mysticism of places like Transylvania, and it was ripe for all sort of un-Earthly activity. The Freak, the Tomato Witch from the small nation of Tomatia, the tiny demon, and many more, found their roots in Eastern Europe. Hence, Arche-Lady had to go there a lot.

Early in the series, I created a rough city map, with a subway system, calling out key districts of the city. Over time, the map evolved to include neighborhoods, major thoroughfares, and points of interest. All utilized in the series. Places such as the Famed Institute for Insane Persons, the Northside Home for Unwanted Children, the Happy Harbour School for Girls, the Rocky Point Boys’ Academy, M University, the Belbicon, the Arche-monument, and Miriam Blvd.

Over time, the map grew in detail, and those details were fed into the stories. Named streets and the street grid appeared in backgrounds. The end result was a to-scale map of the city, with maybe about 75% of the streets names, most neighborhoods named, and key places (stadiums, parks, transit stations) named. Yes, TO SCALE.

The city evolves as many do, and though the street pattern is relatively stable, the names change quite often. Once, my friend Adam was blessed with a street, but then he annoyed me and it was changed. Things like that.

But the subway is a different story. Putting the Paris Metro to shame, the most efficient and useful system is always changing, and under experimentation. You see, the city is built atop a series of caves, so all that needs to be done is throw down some track and open a new station. It’s that easy!

But, then, sadly, in early March 2009, this all came to a screeching halt—my copy of Adobe Illustrator stopped working. So the city may sat dormant for years, and people of influence in my life went unrecognized on the map. Until my PC crashed earlier this year, and this time when I reinstalled AI, it worked!

So, the map was updated! Adam didn’t get his street reinstated, but he got a neighborhood. Robert—obsessed with dogs—got a park in the neighborhood of Dogtown (which was named many years prior, after the 'hood in Saint Louis). And after some investment in mass transit and a bi-city vote, M City became absorbed into Arche-City, and the streets named, inspired by details of Matt’s life.

Of course, Miriam holds the record of most number of things named for her in the greater metropolitan area!

TOMORROW: tracking the series quality against my personal happiness, 1991-2001

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