About Beneath The Clouds

A comic of ghosts and gunpowder*, set in eleventh century Japan.

Genza, a exiled nobleman-turned-monk, is offered a chance to redeem himself by undertaking a perilous journey to Heian Kyo. Will Genza be prepared to confront his own demons in order to save the life of the man who exiled him, will his daughter Masako make a new life for herself in the city, and does a stranger met on the road offer a chance for a new way forward?

*Anachronism alert! All will be revealed…

The Historical Setting

Heian Japan ran from roughly 780 to 1160 and is seen as a golden age of Japanese culture. It produced arguably the first novel, Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, and one of the most famous ancient diaries, Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book. The authors worked as ladies-in-waiting to rival empresses. There’s a snide reference in Murasaki’s diary criticizing Sei’s writing as “presumptuous” and “full of imperfections”, and a small but active modern Sei/Murasaki slash fiction fan base.

The Heian period is also known for the art of writing poetry, the founding of the modern city of Kyoto (Heian Kyo) and the beautiful costumes worn by high ranking court ladies.

The Comic

I was introduced to Heian culture as a teenager by Liza Dalby’s novel The Tale of Murasaki, and read as many books written and based in the period as I could get my hands on. Several years later, on the bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, I wondered what it would be like to make the same journey a thousand years before. Eventually that thought became this comic book.

The colouring is inspired by the Hokusai Manga, and the simple page layout and low panel count by the awesome comic Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I would struggle to keep up with regular updates on a super-fancy full colour comic.

The Author

I'm based in the West Midlands of England, sketch compulsively, travel on a budget, and make a kickass Victoria sponge. You can find my personal website here.

Glowing praise, lucrative commissions, frothing criticism, comments, money and fanart can be sent to caroline(at)carolineparkinson.co.uk