JOSEPH LAMBERT MAKES A GRAPHIC NOVEL

Reposted from Schulz Library Blog

 

Joseph Lambert and the Trials of Helen Keller

Joe Lambert is one of The Center for Cartoon Studies’ most accomplished alumni. Between his multiple Ignatz wins and recent Eisner win for Best Reality-Based work (2012’s Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, a tie with David Lasky and Frank M. Young’s The Carter Family: Don’t Forget this Song) Joe is a rising star in the comics world.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Lambert

“What I like about the Eisners is that it’s one of the few awards or industry things like that that I’d heard about before I started making comics and that they’re more visible to people who aren’t immersed in the comics world,” Lambert said. “That feels a little bit special.”

Annie Sullivan,  which was published by Disney/Hyperion in association with The Center for Cartoon Studies, has been a long time coming. Lambert began the initial drafts of the book back when he was a second year at the school.

“I can’t remember what our original projection was, but I’m pretty sure we overshot it by like a year,” Lambert said. “I had written an outline and drawn maybe the first draft of thumbnails, and then took a six-month break to work on my thesis.”

Lambert’s original thumbnails on display at CCS. “Annie Sullivan” was thumbnailed in its entirety and sent to the publisher for review before any finished pages were produced.

“Then I jumped back into it and rewrote a few more drafts. That was a two-year period, the writing period. I was doing a lot of reading, a lot of research, and then for the next two years after that, I drew. A year for pencils, a year for inks,” Lambert said. “So about 4 years, off-and-on. I think condensed, it might have only been 2 or 3 years.”

Lambert wasn’t alone in this process, however: he was ably assisted by members of The Center for Cartoon Studies (CCS) community.

“[CCS Faculty] James [Sturm] and Jason [Lutes] were my editors, the in-between guys for me and Hyperion. They both played different roles,” Lambert said. “James was more a taskmaster, he just kept me on deadline–or he tried to. He would give me encouragement when I needed it.”

“Then after a year or so, Jason took over, because James was busy with some other things,” Lambert said. “[Jason] helped me a little bit with structure, and helped me decide if certain scenes weren’t working.”

“[Alumni] Dakota McFadzean [ ‘12] and Pat Barrett [‘11] helped me with color.”

Original page art on display at CCS’s Colodny Building in White River Junction.

Though Annie Sullivan has prepared him for creating more long narratives in the future, Lambert isn’t about to jump into another graphic novel project right away.

“I like the idea of amassing ideas and life experiences and information, taking a few months to absorb a lot of different things, to play around in my sketchbook and try out a bunch of things in smaller mini-comics,” Lambert said. “[This way,] when it does come time to do a big story, I’ll have a pool to draw from.”

“Immediately after I Will Bite You! and Helen Keller came out I was kind of tapped. You know, tapped for ideas, tapped for anything fresh,” he continued. “So I’ve spent the last year kind of rebuilding from that. I like this process, I’m comfortable with it. I think it will continue to be that way.”

“Annie Sullivan,” seen here in front of Lambert’s completed originals, was printed in a lovely full color hardcover edition, and is available in bookstores nationwide.

Lambert is excited to be able to represent the school with his work.
“I’m proud to have done something with the school’s name on it that they can be proud of,” he said. “I had a great time at CCS, and I’m happy to be able to represent them in a positive way whenever I can.”

This reporter always remembers Lambert as being much taller than he actually is. Photo courtesy of Trey Piepmeier. http://www.flickr.com/photos/trey_piepmeier/with/6304980310/

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