Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Ouch!" or "Then it's writing instead!"

These are the tendons of your shoulder. Notice the bunch of small tendons that connect the clavicle with the shoulder blade via the acromion and the coracoid process.

At least they DO connect the clavicle with the shoulder blade if you DO NOT try to ride your bike on icy ground. If you DO ride your bike on icy ground you will slip in a turn, fall on your right shoulder and the little guys get ripped, turning your right arm mostly useless for over a week. And that's most likely the point where you'll discover how much drawing and painting with your left arm sucks.

Well, I'll have to wait a week or two until I can continue to work on the artwork for the graphic novel. I'm also not going to work and I'm going to try to use at least a bit of the free time to make some progress with my story. Typing with only your left hand is slow but it works. And if I'm thinking about it, perhaps right now is a really good time to do some writing anyway. I'm still at the point where I have to find out how exactly I'm going to flesh out my story.

I really have to thank all the great people on the internet who provide us with their thoughts and experiences about their own projects. For the last few month I was roaming several blogs and forums and tried to get an overview over the complex thing that creating a graphic novel is. I've started to create a link list on the right menue strip but I also want to expressly point you to my favorite findings. Nate Simpson does an epic job over at Project Waldo. It's well worth to read his blog archives which are full of honest and meaningful posts in which many times I found my own doubts and questions expressed. I also recommend Kazu Kibuishi's Boltcity Blog. He's a real pro with several graphic novels on the shelves and he does not only share his experiences with his Amulet graphic novel but also writes a lot about storytelling and writing. And only a few days ago I discovered Jason Brubaker's reMIND Blog and instantly loved it. Jason also loves to share his experiences and although the current incarnation of his blog is only a few month old there's already a lot of information about workflows and the creative process piled up. Well, and I probably don't have to mention that their projects alone are more then a good reason to visit their blogs and enjoy the wonderful artwork.

My own quest recently lead me to the question which role writing plays in my creative process. For the first chapter I hadn't written anything in advance. The scenes just came naturally to me and I wrote the dialog directly into the layout. However, I currrently don't have the feeling that the dialog suffered from that workflow. That's the thing I would expect from that kind of workflow: that the story tends to be told visually and that the dialog feels arbitrary. I think that I somehow managed to avoid that but I'm not sure if this is a workflow to keep. A few days ago I transcribed the dialog of the first chapter into script form in order to be able to hand it over for proof reading and I started to see what script writing might be all about. To be honest, it has always been a big mystery to me how people are able to deduce a visual storytelling experience from a screenplay. Maybe it's the same mystery like with composers who write their music with notes. I never was able to draw the direct connection between a written page of screenplay and let's say a movie scene. Ok, sure, the actors have to say something. But hey, we have a camera here and we'll have to figure out where to point it on in the first place, don't we? Well, after bringing my first chapter into script form it suddenly began to feel less weird to work that way. It felt a bit like the other side of the same medallion. And it felt fast! Rewriting aside (I did a lot of rewriting in the chapter 1 layout, too), I might be able to do in two or three hours what took me 25 hours in the layouts (meaning that I had the character interaction of the first chapter only after having finished the complete layout. Of course a lot of these hours were consumed by the painting process). With decent panel descriptions I might even be able to do a lot less experimenting in the layouts and save time.

Well, I'm right in the middle of a learning process here and I think I will just have to try it and see what's happening. I guess it's a good idea to do some writing on the second chapter now especially since my injured shoulder keeps me from doing anything decent on the visual side anyway.


  1. I'm working on the beginnings of a graphic novel too. Ever since I saw Wormworld Saga I've been wanting to utilize the vertical scrolling format. Have you ever seen the flash graphic series Nawlz? It uses a horizontal scrolling format.

    I find myself having trouble working from a script as well. It feels tedious and unnecessary. I do find using index cards to chart out the story to be very helpful though. I have only charted out the first act of my story and now need to focus on the layout of the images. Thanks for the inspiration.