[Mail Call] 2017/07/08 – Reading between the lines

I normally do mail calls in order, but this one was juicy enough that I couldn’t resist. That, and we’re having computer issues. >< So here’s hoping everything works out.

Just a quick question on the picture with Iowa and the POW-MIA dinner, who are the other 4 girls/ships? A friend and I figured that the 3 at the table with her are the destroyers Hull, Monaghan, and Spence who all sank in a typhoon that Iowa was in, but the one at the other table is throwing us off. Any possible insight?

The POW-MIA dinner is probably one of my favorite ways to “advance” a particular character’s story. In other words, I love planting key details all over the place. My team often complains that the hints are so subtle they’re subterranean, but the instant they figure things out, it’s an “ooh! awesome” sort of moment.

So, thanks for writing in and thanks for checking out the art. I’m going to be simple and say that those are none of the shipgirls in the picture.

In fact, to understand that particular picture – and to look beyond the simple presentation of the Missing Man’s Table, you need to …

  • Even without me telling you that the blond-haired girl is a good friend of Iowa’s, you could probably tell in the first frame that it’s someone important to Iowa. After all, there’s their picture on the wall together.
  • Remember Pacific is a setting that’s relatively “high” in fantastic capabilities, while very “low” (in other words, very consistent within the universe) in unusual/miraculous occurrences. This image is either implying that the sort of “spirit vision” or whatever it may be is a regular occurrence, or it’s indeed one of the “rare” events that happen.
  • Of the identity of the mysterious girls, other than Des Moines (Daisy Mae, which we spoilered), the other girls can be identified using what’s in their picture alone. For the two standing, look at their hair color, outfit “style,” and think to which particular cities those correspond to. Hint: they were both immediately recognizable styles (albeit somewhat obscure) found in fashion history. In addition, silver is another hint. For the one sitting, look no further than the style of her clothing (boots) and that drink she’s holding.
  • Consider what you know of Iowa. Here’s a new clue. Unlike the “summoned” shipgirls (such as the ones in vol. 1 talking about their memories – look at Enterprise or Northampton), Iowa seems to have literally appeared out of nowhere. What’s more, she immediately went and sought out the human military command and explained – in extraordinary detail – the nature of the Abyssal threat. There’s no ambiguity here. She seems to understand what the Abyssals are capable of. It’s what managed to get STEC to start researching the right things.
  • Now, think to yourself. Why is that? How would she know? Abyssal corpses disappear within minutes to seconds, and it’s been established that that particular Abyssal scout in 1950 was the first time humanity has encountered the Abyssal fleet. Iowa may be powerful, but even powerful shipgirls shouldn’t just curbstomp an empowered Abyssal like that – especially after it has gouged itself on thousands of soldiers. It’s almost as if Iowa knows what she’s doing because she might have done it before…
  • Last panel.

“Why don’t you answer the question?”

I could, but I prefer that my readers figure it out on their own. I hope you understand that it’s not that I have no answer, but that I genuinely don’t want to give the answer away just yet.

After all, a small part of our “job” as a content creator is to create wonder for our audience. With the exception of core values which I do and consistently beat people over the head with (as I’ve said many, many, many times Pacific isn’t a thematically complex work), I generally prefer a hands-off approach.

In other words, I think in our day and age fiction tends to fall under two broad categories. Force-feeding you every little detail so that there is really only one way to interpret a narrative, or presenting something so skeletal that there’s barely anything there. Pacific is very much a work under construction. The foundations of which that makes up this tale is slowly being built. I’ve been taught a few simple tricks to essentially give the readers free reign in this world that I’ve built.

After all, there may be more than one correct answer. Sometimes there is only one. But, there are definitely wrong answers.

Again, to reiterate. I’m not a good writer. Nowhere close to good. Haven’t put in my hours yet. But I do know what good writing looks like. Recalling back to my college days – where my professors taught me just why myths and legends persist even to today – you can’t help but to try to replicate those tales.