Help? My New Graphic Novel Is Not a Graphic Novel!
My Comic is not a Comic
Have you been following my new web comic, Jack Tinn and the Aquanauts? Well, I have some news for you: my comic is not a comic.
What is Jack Tinn?
I don’t expect many people to know about Jack Tinn yet, since I’ve only been sharing the comic online since the beginning of the year. What you need to know is that Jack Tinn and the Aquanauts is a comic that I’ve been making and publishing online at JackTinn.com.
Jack Tinn is a teenage inventor who has traveled as a stowaway on Charles Darwin’s research vessel, the Beagle. Tinn and Darwin make their way to the Galapagos Islands, where they discover that their captain and crew have vanished without a trace. The two meet up with a young blind girl and stumble upon a human-like race with a dark secret, finding themselves in a struggle for their lives.
It’s an adventure filled with action, inventions and bizarre creatures–all of it housed within a strange mystery.
In a Nutshell
But, as I said before, my comic is not a comic.
It’s news to me, too. I’ve been working on the comic for close to a year now, and have been filling up sketchbook after sketchbook with characters, props, environments and plot twists. I had originally planned on making the web comic early last summer, but wasn’t satisfied with the drawings I was making, and so I dedicated a few months to developing the drawings and palette–the look I wanted for Jack Tinn.
Long story short: I’ve been drawing finished pages for two months now and have been publishing the comic online at JackTinn.com, with new pages Monday through Friday. It was about a week ago, while drawing a page filled with crawling plants and soaring birds that I realized the book I have been working on for close to a year is not a comic at all. It’s a novel.
Why a Novel?
I don’t know entirely. I trust my gut, though, and my gut tells me that this story is a novel. The frustrating part is that my gut has been telling me this the entire time, but I’ve suppressed the thought in order to focus on the drawings for the comic. There’s no helping it, though–Jack Tinn and the Aquanauts is a novel!
The more I think about the book in novel form, the more I see that this is the natural form of the story. It is the proper structure for Jack Tinn. It is its nature. Of course I love drawing and I love making comics, but I’ve been seeking out the needs of the book for such a long time and have finally received an answer. I’ve always tried to give each project what it needs in order to make it what it needs to be. Some comics turned out to need clay characters, and others required only two colors. This book requires the written word.
So Now What?
It took me a few days to really accept the idea that I need to recreate everything I’ve done over the past year. I didn’t ask to recreate the book, and I wasn’t looking for a book to write, so it caught me completely off-guard. It’s an incredibly humbling feeling to be at the mercy of a thing, especially something that you’ve already put so much time and effort into. Once I was able to accept that I would be writing for the next foreseeable months, I got excited about the idea and the change of pace.
For the last several days I have been writing, very slowly, getting into the frame of mind required to put words on paper. So, at the risk of coming off like a complete fool (and in the light of being true to my creation) I’d like to share a brief sample from my rough draft of Jack Tinn and the Aquanauts. Please keep in mind that this is simply a rough draft and will be cut mercilessly once I’ve finished the first pass. This is from page 7:
The chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean were known to many as The Enchanted Islands, owing to their many mysteries. Though the islands were discovered by accident in 1535, they were thought to have been inhabited by the Incan people nearly a century before its discovery.
The islands were promptly ignored until the seventeenth century, when whalers decided to stop regularly along the archipelago to gather food and supplies. The islands had also been frequented secretly by British pirates, and the first and most widely used navigation chart of the archipelago had been created by one of the pirates.
There were many accounts of sailors who had passed through the island chain claiming that islands would vanish and then reappear right before their eyes. There were also reports of islands shifting from their place in the waters, and of islands that seemed to be made up purely of “shadows with no substance”. Several bizarre and frightening encounters with all manner of beasts had been spoken of, though there didn’t seem to be any official account of any of the confrontations. There were equally perplexing accounts of more commonplace sightings of feral cats and black rats, which only added depth to the question of how the animals had originated on the island, though the cats and rats were probably passengers on the countless pirate and whaling ships.
Darwin thought back to his voyage to the islands, where just moments before crashing, he had been writing in his diary. He thought he had seen a mermaid in the ocean, trailing behind the ship.Then again, he thought to himself as he walked, it was early morning and the sunlight was weak. We’ve seen plenty of sea lions and fur seals swimming along, as well. Charles shook his head. Perhaps I am simply feeding off of these accounts of mystery too much, he concluded, and stopped to look at a lizard sunning itself on a rock. Lava Lizard, Darwin recorded. Female, with a red throat. Darwin thought he had seen the dark body of a snake beside him, but there was no trace of such and he continued to step through the forest.
I’d feel guilty if I hadn’t shared all of this with you. I mean, I started posting pages of my new comic, in the promise of making the full comic, and now I’ve learned that it’s not a comic at all! Will you help me?
Will you help me make Jack Tinn what it needs to be by asking me about it? Will you let me know what you think of the story, or the writing? Will you help keep me focused in your own way? I feel a strong sense of community via this blog and I wouldn’t ask for help if I didn’t think it was necessary. You’ve helped me come this far; will you help me finish?
While I write, I’ll continue posting the comic pages I’ve completed (what else am I supposed to do with them?). You can read them all at JackTinn.com.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this post. I don’t expect it to make perfect sense to everyone, but it’s something I needed to share. I’m excited about this book and the possibilities of what can come from it. I’ve created a status bar to mark my progress in the writing. See it? Up there in the left sidebar, below the ‘Categories’ menu? I’ll use it to track my progress for writing the rough draft of Jack Tinn. I’m shooting for 80,000 words and have currently written 10,000, putting me at 12.5%.
Thanks for all your support and encouragement. Now…back to writing!