Chasing the tail and making graphic novels

In the course of making the latest book, graphic novel, whatever you want to call it – I have been working in a leapfrog sort of fashion to get ahead of the rest of the issues.

All 24 pages are layed out, and often I find a cover image in this part of the process.

When I started writing the whole thing, I wanted to leave some wiggle room for things in the later chapters in terms of character beats and dialogue. TO that I end I have only been fully scripting dialogue in parallel with the layouts.

The goal was to give writing and art equal time and importance – which is something I have watched writer artists around me struggle with. The visuals become too important and the “adults” in the piece suffer from it at times.

I know at least one creator with whom the opposite issue occurs – his writing and dialogue are where his work truly shines and it’s the art he tends to struggle with in the end. At least that’s how it appears as I watch his work evolve.

I had been giving the art in my books much more weight to carry the books, the earlier books especially. I like atmosphere, environment and composition sometimes to the detriment of readability but to the benefit of beauty in some cases.

And there’s the rub – and I think any artist fan of Blade Runner might run into this when creating their own work with this influence in mind. The films are truly bleak but also beautiful because of it. That’s a dichotomy which a storyteller has to deal with because darkness in cinematic form is extremely seductive.

A viewer can get overpowered by the detail and atmosphere – sort of like actually walking through smog. It’s the kind of thing that would choke you in real life. But in film, or in this case – comics, it can be alluring.

I worked in a really strong atmospheric nod to Blade Runner in my work – but it’s especially isolating in the way I used it in the latest book. I wanted to use it to quiet things down – very little is said in the pages where I amp up the atmosphere. The dialogue is mostly internal. There are no sound effects, the stillness and therefore the loneliness are center stage.

And now I am actually blogging about something it takes a ready to gloss over in a few seconds. But hopefully the impression is left correctly.  And all the blogging I do about it just makes me feel better about spending an inordinate amount of time on making these things.

If you’re interested in my other work, below is the last full color book I finished. Thanks for your support.