How to Create a Graphic Novel Pt.2

These are the rest of the books in Central Library’s collection which specifically deal with creating graphic novels as opposed to mere cartoons… sorry! Did I say mere? That’s like talking about novels and then mere short stories, or sonnets and then mere haikus. Or poetry and then mere cartoons. Cartoonists get patronised a lot by other creatives*, that’s the point I’m trying to make.

Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel
by Mike Chinn
Barron’s Educational Series, 2004

The advice given here is a bit generic, but it’s well-illustrated and the well-chosen graphic novel pages they use for examples are inspiring enough to warrant seeking out their sources.

You Can Do a Graphic Novel
by Barbara Slate
Alpha Books, 2010

This one is really aimed at raising the self-esteem of teenagers by encouraging them to express themselves through drawing comics, and has a cover quote from Stan Lee saying “I shudder at the thought of having to compete with a whole new gaggle of graphic novel creators!” Um, yes… knowing something of Stan Lee’s working relationship with many artists and writers over the years, I can’t think of any comment about that which isn’t utterly libellous, so I’ll stop there.

Drawing Words & Writing Pictures
by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
First Second, 2008

This is downstairs in the Young Adults section and is presented in 15 “lessons”, so it’s aimed more at students, but aren’t we all, really, deep down, students? It’s hard to argue with the quality of the examples they use, as well. I think I’m starting to see a pattern here, the books aimed at kids are about self-expression while the ones aimed at adults are about making a buck.

The Making of a Graphic Novel
by Prentis Rollins
Watson-Guptill, 2006

Blimey, this is a bit of a serious one. Rollins takes us step-by-step through the construction of a graphic novel called The Resonator, and you can flip the book and start from the other end to read this portentous work, which is spiffy if you want to create something a bit like Dune without the wry, self-deprecating humour.

How to Draw Graphic Novel Style
by Andy Fish
Search Press 2010

So what precisely is “graphic novel style”? Is it like Drunken Boxing style? Does it require drawing more pretentiously than usual? It’s defined here as art which is “somewhat more advanced than a regular comic book”. Come back, Scott McCloud, all is forgiven. This is followed with a demonstration of different drawing styles from “limited line” to “heavy line”. Unfortunately it’s impossible to tell the examples apart.

This book does have some useful parts, you just really have to dig. The digital environments section is interesting and up-to-date, but there are some real howlers, like a couple of pages of gurning which demonstrate how to create new expressions by combining others, such as Fear + Surprise = Awe. Spend two minutes in a stalled lift with Fitz Bunny and you’ll learn that one.

*And by other cartoonists, as well. Twelve photocopied A5 pages which will be read by less than 20 people > a comic strip read by 100,000 people. Because the twelve pages are art, you see?

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