On Reading Graphic Novels discussion

So, You Want to Write a Graphic Novel, eh?

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message 1: by John (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:25AM) (new)

John The same stories told by different people over thousands of years. What is the common meaning and how is this story told today? The Star Wars saga draws on this book as an inspiration.

message 2: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:25AM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
There are lots of books on drawing and on writing and a growing number of books specifically on writing graphic novels. What are some of the best and most effective tomes you have seen on the subject? There is, of course, Making Comics by Scott Mcloud...

message 3: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:25AM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
And I like Draw Your Own Manga: Beyond the Basics by Haruno Nagatomo. I didn't find the book The Complete Idiot's guide to Writing a Graphic Novel to be very useful.

Edit: On second read, the Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing a Graphic Novel isn't so bad and does include quite a bit of important information regarding the field.

message 4: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:28AM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
Loomis' books on drawing are quite useful. I'm working through his book on Drawing the Head and Hands, right now.

message 5: by Luke (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:28AM) (new)

Luke | 10 comments I have always heard that Understanding Comics is the essential textbook for comic creation.

message 6: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:28AM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
Yep, and Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels...also by McCloud.

message 7: by Rindis (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new)

Rindis | 4 comments Comics & Sequential Art by Will Eisner is also a must. It's effectively a collection of lecture notes from when when he was teaching the subject for several years.

message 8: by Alien (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:06PM) (new)

Alien  Citizen | 46 comments Mod
Ah, Eisner...Nice addition to the list. And, while I'm thinking of it, McCloud has a very cool website including an online extension to the 5th chapter of Making Comics. http://www.scottmccloud.com/makingcom...

message 9: by Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:10PM) (new)

Lynn (camillalynnauthor) | 21 comments Hi! I'm new to your group and am converting a prose novel into a graphic one and I just bought McCloud's book! I have to say it's a great resource even for writers. There are two I'd like to add to the list as well:
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel-- not bad, but not the greatest.
Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel--Everything you need to know to create great graphic works by Mike Chinn. (Better than the Idiot's guide, IMHO.)

McCloud's book is much more informative and I like the fact that he used graphics instead of long paragraphs to describe things and then provide half-decent artwork as examples. It's more effective for getting the feel across and it helps with layout ideas also. :)

Keep on writing,

message 10: by Ethan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:10PM) (new)

Ethan I haven't read it yet, but this book was recommended to me recently, I'm told it's quite good:


message 11: by Aberjhani (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:10PM) (new)

Aberjhani | 3 comments Hello Everybody--

I'm also new to this group and greatly appreciate the information you are sharing. I recently completed writing a novel and want to do what Lynn is apparently doing, convert prose into a graphic novel.

However, I'm not a visual artist, so hope to team up with someone interested in doing that part of it. ALSO: this particular novel involves a lot of music so I'm also looking to team up with musicians interested in setting lyrics in the novel to music and marketing a cd of songs from the book with the graphic novel. Appreciate any and all suggestions--

Poet-I-Am Aberjhani

message 12: by Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:10PM) (new)

Lynn (camillalynnauthor) | 21 comments Hi Poet-I-Am,

LOL. Yes I've just begun that journey myself, but I luckily I already have a good graphic artist who is heavily into comic books. I'm very excited about converting my prose into graphic format. It's not too difficult, really. But with graphic novels, the rules are somewhat looser than going prose. You still need all the fun things like queries, scripts, etc. However, there are places that publish comics/graphic novels that are prefinished by teams of independant collaborators. Marvel and DC will only take on writers, artists, colorists, etc independantly so unless you want to get stuck writing fan-fiction I suggest submitting to Image Comics or a small indy.

There is a nifty little program called Comic Life. Right now, the Windows version is in Beta Testing, but a Mac version is available. Normally I wouldn't recommend softwares, but this program rocks and is easy for beginners. You can find it here: http://plasq.com/component/option,com...

There are many places you can go to and post a 'help wanted' sign of sorts. Here's a few places to find prospective collaborators.

Hope these help you. :)


message 13: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:11PM) (new)

Jason Best thing anyone interested in starting in comics can do is go to Panel & Pixel ( http://www.panelandpixel.com/forum/in... ) and start posting in the Breaking & Entering forum.

Panel & Pixel isn't as good as Warren Ellis' Engine but the Engine closes down on Friday and this forum looks like the best possible replacement. Plenty of pros there willing to give advice when asked. And real pros - not the guys you get on the smaller boards that are just trying to sell you their z-list superhero book. Also, plenty of artists who are also just starting out and looking for someone to collaborate with.

The number one thing to remember with all of these boards is if you go in waving a script and looking for someone to illustrate "your" story it's probably not going to work out too well in the end (or cost you a ton of money you'll likely never get back). Comics are about collaboration.

Hope that helps a bit.

message 14: by Aberjhani (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:11PM) (new)

Aberjhani | 3 comments Thanks Lynn and Jason. I guess the writing part is one major project unto itself and developing the work as a whole is clearly another. I appreciate the guidance and will start by visiting the suggested sites.

Poet-I-Am Aberjhani

message 15: by Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:11PM) (new)

Lynn (camillalynnauthor) | 21 comments Rocking! A new forum for me to test the waters in! Thanks Jason! I wonder if the pros will like my Egyptian graphic novel idea? I can't seem to get any response from readers on whether or not they'd be interested in that type of story because there isn't another one like it anywhere (not even in the world of Prose)! I was reading McCloud's book and was pleasantly surprised as well as encouraged when he said: "This is why I don't think there's a TYPE of story that's RIGHT for comics and why it's a mistake to limit the kinds of stories we tell in an attempt to squeeze ourselves onto someone else's shelf space. Nobody knows what will work until they TRY it. Some of comics' biggest success stories in recent years have been explored subjects that NO ONE was writing at the time. Stories no one had any reason to think WOULD succeed."

I don't necessarily think they are two separate beasts though Poet. They must work in complete harmony words/art. I'm ahead of the game because the artist I'm collaborating with is a. family and b. has read the Prose version of my story from front to back. The pictures in her mind are well formed because of it, she said. Being family, we think a lot alike and have both been interested in "Egyptology" for years.

McCloud has a website as well: http://www.scottmccloud.com/ Take a look at his site. You may find some useful information there too.

Blessed be,

message 16: by Jason (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:11PM) (new)

Jason Re: Egyptian Book - G. Willow Wilson, a Cairo-based journalist, is releasing a book this fall from DC's Vertigo called "Cairo". She's actually on Panel & Pixel.

Re: Different beasts. Before I get into this, I should state my credentials. I am a graphic novel editor. I had two books come out this year through Random House and I'm currently assembling three more.

Graphic novels have a much stronger reliance on subtext to tell the whole story than prose, in my opinion. A lot of new writers make the mistake of loading the pages down with some sort of narrative that completely takes the reader out of the book. There's an old joke about American comics, that every panel is: Superman jumps through a window. The caption says, "Superman jumps through the window." Superman says, "I'm jumping through a window!". Whereas, thankfully, a lot of writers stay away from that I find a lot of new writers (and, honestly, writers who've done prose there whole life) fall into that trap quite often. You have to let the art tell most of the story.

message 17: by Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:12PM) (new)

Lynn (camillalynnauthor) | 21 comments Thank you Jason. Nice to hear from someone in the field. I've read a graphic novel that does exactly what you're talking about. Too much extraneous narration bogged me down. The settings, characters, and readers had no time to live and breathe for me. It is something I'll strive to avoid because the story didn't hold my interest.

I've picked up a few different comics and graphic novels the last week or two since all this came about and picked up McCloud's book. I'm one to do my homework. My aim is to let the pictures do more talking than narration. After all it is a Graphic Novel, not prose. :-) In my mind, I've always seen this story in anime; I tried writing with those options in mind.

I'm using Comic Life to do the layouts, opposed to writing it in script form, for my artist, Renee. I've made my descriptions for art in Captions with Blue lettering and things like dialogue and regular Captions that will stay in black. This method helps us distinguish what stays in the final draft and Renee can work dialogue bubbles/caption boxes into the art, making them unobtrusive.

If you wouldn't mind me asking, what's your view on two page spreads for graphic novels? Is it accepted normally or frowned upon by editors? What makes you snatch up a graphic novel and read it?

I've samples to my writing here as well, but it's tough being the new kid on the block. lol My beast is vastly different than "Cairo", but it's nice to know who you're competing against. I'll be grabbing a copy for certain because it sounds like something I'd like.

I so appreciate advice you've already given.

Blessed be,

message 18: by Darcy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Darcy | 11 comments "You have to let the art tell most of the story."

Yeah, I agree, although I think graphic novels become most interesting at the points where they are clearly blending the two modes of representation. So, for example, where a character is talking about one thing, and something else is going on graphically. Those are moments in the text where graphic fiction (or non-fiction) is doing something that is really difficult to do in prose or poetry. Just as an example, the two opening sections of *Black Hole,* by Charles Burns do this really well, I think.

message 19: by Aberjhani (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:13PM) (new)

Aberjhani | 3 comments Those are some interesting observations Darcy and Lynn that reinforce my own vision of my novel as a graphic novel. Thanks for the exchange--it's helping to clarify and further define what I believe my book, as a graphic novel, is supposed to do.

Poet-I-Am Aberjhani

message 20: by Lynn (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:14PM) (new)

Lynn (camillalynnauthor) | 21 comments Terrific, Poet-I-Am!!!

It's funny, just this morning I received a reply at the Critique site of which I've been a member for 6 years and the poster said: "This is a great idea. It suits your story perfectly." She's been following the story through every draft. My prose wasn't the greatest in the beginning, but I've learned a lot these last few years and the story as well as my writing style have drastically evolved.

I'm hoping Ra's Warrior will be completed by the end of next year. I'm not certain how accurate that deadline may be, because I'm just the writer and am pretty clueless as to how long it will take Renee to draw all those pages. I have noticed, though, that about 1-1/2 to 2 pages seems to convert to 1 page with a default 6 panels per page. The only things really staying as far as narration goes are my dialogue and some very brief captions. Those mostly tell the reader what time frame they're reading about--a necessary evil when writing time travel stories. I'm sure there will be some narration captions, but with Jason's wonderful advice I know to keep them minimal.

And I agree also Darcy. Must check out Black Hole to see what you're talking about.

Blessed be,

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