Birth of a Graphic Novel

I'm trying a different approach to my latest graphic novel...


Since I'm traveling extensively in June I wanted to get a big chunk of my latest book, RAIN, figured out. I first worked up the concept for RAIN about a year ago as just a very vague idea about a traveling sideshow that arrives at a dying town smack dab in the middle of the dust bowl.

On the Cape in May for a week, I worked out some of the concepts of where it might go with my frequent collaborator and #3 son Adam.  We plotted out some ideas all while either walking or running our stated five miles a day goal (some days hitting 13 miles!).   We got some pretty good things on track but there were still holes to be filled, questions to be answered, characters to be combined or eliminated. 

This trip to the Midwest has really helped to gel things. 

My usual method is to type up a plot, and then break that down into chapters and then into pages, from there I thumbnail the whole book in smaller page blocks. 

THIS time I went about it a bit differently, doing everything by hand on scrap paper.  I broke the plot down into three different stories, a failing sideshow, a dying town and a family desperate to be reunited. 

From those three paragraphs I started thumb nailing scenes I needed to show the basic framework of the story-- and after laying the whole thing out I ended up with 51 pages.    Graphic novels have to be a minimum of 4 pages to give them a spine, and then they need to be divisible by four for printing purposes, and since I may release these digitally as stand along chapters I wanted them to be three chapters of 21 pages taking me to 63 pages.  In print It'll be 64 pages, leaving room for sketchbook and notes that meant I have 60 pages of content which gave me 9 more pages to flesh out details of the story.

I go back through the thumbs and see what I can edit, see where I need additional scenes to emphasize character or story points and pretty soon I end up with the required 60 pages.  From here I'll go through it again and do 2nd drafts of all the page layouts.  There are a lot of "talking heads" pages due to the nature of the story so I want to make certain the layouts are interesting and dynamic to hold the readers interest.

Also among the piles you'll see MODEL SHEETS, which is the next step after thumbnailing.  Sort of like doing the casting for a movie, model sheets decide what characters will look like and are essential as I start drawing the pages to make sure the characters look the same from page to page. 

I'll post further progress as this project goes on.