When putting together Code 45‘s story, I had to make a conscious decision about how ‘realistic’ I wanted the representation of Montreal’s metro system to be.
Personally, I’ve always felt that story should come first when depicting a certain technology or profession in media, as long as it made sense within the universe that the characters are living in. I decided that staying faithful to the key aspects of the metro, without getting bogged down in the details that only trainspotters would notice, was the best path forward for this book.
Some parts of the Montreal metro system are harder to represent on the page. The fact that it uses rubber wheels – and was one of the only transit systems to do so for many decades – makes it much quieter than what you’d find in other cities. I can remember traveling to New York and being shocked at just how loud and jarring the subway was after having gotten used to the metro’s relatively soft character.
To me, it was the visual aspects of the Montreal metro – the unique station architecture, the color schemes of the trains from the early 2000s, and the atmosphere of the system itself – that were key.
That’s not to say that artist Joe Ng didn’t study as many photos and diagrams of the metro system as possible when laying down the foundation for the book. It just meant that things like uniforms and control surfaces for the trains were a little more flexible.
This approach allowed us to capture the spirit of our story’s setting, while also giving us the freedom to create our own version of that world.