When I put the Graphic Novel seminar as my first choice on the course selection sheet, I assumed I wouldn’t get it. I assumed that all the fiction students with more talented pens than mine would have it all sewn up before they even glanced at the nonfiction preference sheets. But lo and behold, I got a seat, and wound up being probably somewhere in the top 1/3 of the class in terms of previous familiarity with comics and graphic novels and the geek culture they exist in and fuel. So that was exciting. But not as exciting as learning that for our midterm and final we could either write a paper about comics/graphic novels…. or make one. So I started making one.
You may remember the Cathy/Dilbert experiment, where I filled in my own dialogue to some panels I did not draw… And now I’m trying to replace other people’s art with my own art. Disclaimer: I cannot draw. I can make things look roughly like other things, I can draw a cube, I can sort of feign single point perspective. I can trace, and I can collage, and I’m generally hoping all this will add up to something vaguely resembling a comic that will be awesome. I’ve been gradually buying up every possible shape and size of Moleskine sketchbook, every comic and sketching app for the iPad (The winners were Sketchbook X and Comics Maker, plus the Marvel and DC apps for their archives).
I finally bought a spiral bound 9×12 sketchbook, because everything I was drawing before was tiny, and some fancy pencils (instead of the ballpoint pens that are wretched for sketching. Hi, I’m a mistake. NOW I’M HERE FOREVER). Rather than trying to draw everything and squeeze the text in, it finally dawned on me that I’m a writer, and I can do all the dialogue and narration first, and THEN I’ll have some idea what the heck I’m drawing. The best part about it is that when I’m working, like I did for….wow, at least 5 hours tonight… it just feels like playing. I know it won’t always feel like that, but right now it does, and it’s pretty much the best.
Right now my “process” is a “process” and it’s pretty dang “laborious.”
- Step 1, wander around thinking about story and dialogue for at least a week.
- Step 2, sketch random crap and like 453 subway cars.
- Step 3, divide sketchbook pages into quadrants. Fill in speechbubbles from the moleskine you storyboarded in initially with helpful placeholders like “Ellie and Rose talk at a table, 1-3 panels”.
- Step 4, stop everything and design logo. Take pictures of storyboarded pages with iPad to color in/recreate later. SLEEP AT SOME POINT.
- TBD: Learn to draw, finish everything, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . , profit.
- Characters! (click to embiggen)
It is tremendously exciting to be creating things of my own, even when they’re heavily influenced and inspired by other things, instead of just writing about things other people have done or writing personal essays. After it gets workshopped this week, I’m going to share the 3Q Rehab piece I wrote recently, and I think you’ll get a kick out of it. I want to keep doing as many different things as I can for as long as possible, you guys, because life is just so much awesomer that way. Now if the dancing pencil demons would just let me SLEEP