Historic Hendon Graphic Novel: Jess Macadam

As part of the Historic Hendon project, The RAF Museum has partnered with Middlesex University’s Illustration Course to produce a Digital Graphic Novel. Eleven students from across the First, Second and Third year courses are writing and drawing short stories that bring to life stories of Hendon from 1910 to the present day.

This blog gives an insight into the preparation and work of Jess Macadam, who is drawing a story about new residents moving into Colindale in the 1990s and exploring their connection to the RAF, with an exclusive look at some behind-the-scenes rough drafts. These drafts give an insight into Jess' storyboarding process, planning out the story beats and where the dialogue and images fit. Rough drafts provide a reference point for the final panels as they are drawn.


Finished panels from Jess's submission pitch to the Graphic Novel Project

Finished panels from Jess' submission pitch to the Graphic Novel project


What interests you about the project and your story?

I've been really enjoying bringing life to the five characters in the story, they all have different personalities. I like bringing humour to my work, so that's something I've been playing around with.


Look at Platt Hall - it used to be the Officers' Mess


Rough draft of graphic novel panels

What are your artistic influences?

Molly Mendoza, Nina Cosford, Evan M Cohen, and Norman McLaren are a few artists whose work I'm admiring at the minute. I love bold black lines and pencil textures. 

Cherry Close NW9




What is the most interesting thing you have learned since starting this project?

It's been a learning curve figuring out the structure of the panels in the story in a way which tells the story most effectively - I'm fairly new to graphic novels. I've been studying Chris Ware's work to try and get to grips with it.


What does it take to have a little family time?


Rough draft of graphic novel panels


What do you think makes a comic book a great way to tell RAF stories?

I think the best comics can say a lot with very little. My style is quite minimalist, so I like to keep text to a minimum if I can, while still conveying the narrative. They are also an information-light medium, which makes them an accessible platform for those whose attention might not otherwise be turned.


You can find more of Jess’ work online on Instagram.

Historic Hendon is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Heritage Lottery Fund logo

Joe Sullivan : Heritage Outreach Officer
About the Author

Joe Sullivan : Heritage Outreach Officer

As Heritage Outreach Officer for the Museum's London Site, I am responsible for working with various local community groups introducing the Museum's collection to them whilst assisting them in key events

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