HOW TO MAKE A GRAPHIC NOVEL
This week I’ve been teaching a group of 13-16 year olds about making comics. We’ve talked about storytelling, writing, drawing, comics terms and forms, character development, perspective and page layout. It’s been a very busy week!
On Wednesday I gave a short presentation on how I made my graphic novel, Upside Down: A Vampire Tale, from start to finish. I start off by showing the students a photo of a blank piece of paper and I tell them that “This is an actual photo of what my book looked like when I started making it.” We start with nothing and then I walk them through the idea stage–brainstorming, pulling from our interests and scenes from life, listing things around us, our hopes and fears, our favorite memories and people. Eventually there is a spark and we begin connecting our strongest and best ideas to form even greater ideas. It always amazes me how our brains automatically weed out the weaker ideas and focus on what we like best. We kept track of our ideas by listing them in categories in our sketchbooks, and by making idea maps (or webs).
At the end of class, I made sure to give each student the above handout, which I made to simplify and keep track of the comics-making process. I made sure to point out that this is only one way to make a comic. There are different methods that work better for different people, but by starting with one process, we can learn for ourselves which practices make the most sense to us and which don’t work in our own comics. It’s something to start with.