The Lore Keeper
A graphic novel by Megan Baehr
The Lore Keeper is a prehistoric fiction about a teenage boy named Hodei. He has a great talent for art which begins as his secret and then later becomes his salvation. The story follows his struggles to find his place in the cold and often bitter Ice Age world he lives in.
The idea for this graphic novel all started with a book. In the summer of 2006, I was leisurely browsing the Art Section at a much loved book store I only get to visit once a year during my annual trip to Martha’s Vineyard. I buy a book there every year to support the store and perhaps discover something new to muse about. On this particular trip, I stumbled upon The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis-Williams. I started reading it before I even left the store. I couldn’t put it down. I am deeply fascinated with cave art and the ancient artists who made it. I would often wonder… Who were these artists? What compelled them to make art? Were they anything like me?
At the time, I was struggling to come up with an idea for my final project for my final year at the School of Visual Arts. After reading The Mind in the Cave I knew I had found my topic. It would be a graphic novel, a prehistoric fiction, about one of those artists I somehow feel a kinship with even though they lived and died so long ago. I devoured every book I could find on the subject. I even wrote a script and started drawing pages. Halfway through the school year, I realized this project was more, much more, than a school assignment. I switched gears, put my graphic novel aside, and produced a different project for my final. I wanted to do this right. I wanted to give it the time it needed to develop. I needed to do more research.
Fast forward three years… After reading countless books, writing and re-writing and re-re-writing my script, I had come to a serious roadblock. My story was lacking context. I had never been to a painted cave. How could I possibly know what it felt like to experience cave art? If I didn’t know, how could my characters know? There was only one way to get the context I needed to make my story real. I had to go to France.
I had entertained the idea many times between 2006 and 2009, but I was fresh out of college with no job and no money. When I finally landed a steady job, the dream suddenly became a possibility, the possibility suddenly became a reality, and in September of 2009 I was on a plane destined for France! Visiting painted caves is actually fairly difficult. Especially if you a) are traveling alone, and b) don’t speak French. Luckily for me, I found a tour that turned out to be more prefect than anything I could have ever hoped for. The Caves and Castles Tour is conducted by Steve & Judie Burman out of their lovely home in the Vezere Valley. They made me feel like I was a house guest visiting family. I couldn’t have asked for better hosts!
During the tour I visited Lascaux II (replica), Rouffignac, Cougnac, Font de Gaume, and Les Combarelles. I also a visited the National Museum of Prehistory and several abri (rock shelter) sites. Not only was I privileged to experience these amazing prehistoric sites for myself, Steve is an extremely knowledgeable archaeologist who answered my endless questions with enthusiasm! I learned more during that one week tour than my years of book research. I went home with my head bursting with all the things I had seen and learned. I couldn’t wait to apply the new insights and important context I had gained to my story.
Fast forward to now… Where did the time go?! I’m still working feverishly on this graphic novel. I have recently come up with the working title (The Lore Keeper) and I’m getting really, REALLY close to finalizing the plot. It’s gone through so many changes and has evolved so much since I first picked up that book in 2006. I’m so glad I took the time to do it right, do the necessary research, and gain the experiences I needed to bring life and context to my story. I’m really excited to begin sharing it with you and hope you’re in for the long haul while I design and draw the 300 or so pages I’m expecting it to span.
This is the journal comic I kept while traveling in France!