Novel Graphics

Besides working at the day job and noodling around on odd comics, I’ve got a big side project in the pipeline– my first graphic novel!

I’m working with an author from Houston named Kirk Blackard on a story tentatively titled Makin It. It deals with a young man who grows up on the streets, makes some tough choices, and lands in juvie. Along the way, he meets Christ and learns (with a little help from a mentor) how to break the cycle of violence in his life.

(Just coming off a year teaching high school English, this subject hits close to home– I’d be lying if my time with the kids didn’t inform how I’m depicting the protagonist and his world.)

We’ve got a piece on the book with an interview and some page previews coming up in the next issue of BLEEP Magazine, and I’ll post the link soon. Until then, I figured I’d show you a peak at the process of how we take things from script to page.

The Making of a Page:

We start with Kirk’s script. He writes in a unique two-column format. One side contains the protagonist’s narration:

We all stayed with my grandmother.
She seemed like my mother and my mother seemed like a sister.

I called my grandmother “Mama Ruth” and my mother by her name, “Mary.”

Mama Ruth was gone a lot. She worked very hard for long hours. Drove the metro and school busses. Sometimes she worked as a maid.

The other column contains action descriptions for the page, usually matched with a piece of narration listed in the first column. What we needed to depict on this page included

Perhaps picture of two of them (Grandma and Mother)

Buses, actually doing work

Working grandmother—tired look

After Kirk sends me the script, I break it down in really loose pencils and send it back to him for revisions and suggestions.

20111008-193307.jpg

In this case, we were pretty much in sync (and usually are– it’s been a good match!), so I started blackening in panel borders and putting ink on figures. That way it looks clean and scans well.

20111008-193419.jpg

(The above is actually an experiment in inking on my iPad. I thought the lines were too pixelated, however, so I ultimately stayed with traditional pen and ink.)

Finally, after all the ink is finished, I scan the page and type the captions and dialogue in Photoshop. For this book, we used WildAndCrazy, which is a font you can get at Comicraft for pretty cheap.

And that does it!

At this point, the first chapter is finished and polished, and we’re shopping it around to different publishers and agents. We feel pretty optimistic that we’ll be able to get it to market, so be on the lookout for updates!

6 Comments

Filed under Comics, Sketchbook

6 responses to “Novel Graphics

  1. This is so cool, Ben! It’s neat to see the process and I can’t wait to read the whole thing!

  2. Pingback: A Smattering of Side Projects | Benjamite

  3. Pingback: Pages in Progress | Benjamite

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