This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
glble creaLlve endeavor ln lLs own rlghL."
- 1revor Mayes, wrlLer/dlrecLor of My uemoo CltlftleoJ
ºcteotloq Ctopblc Novels by Sarah 8each ls enLerLalnlng, lnforma-
Llve, and mosL lmporLanLly, an lnvaluable resource for Lhe beglnner
and Lhe seasoned pro."
- Cary Þhllllps, 1be klose
ºLays ouL all Lhe essenLlals for greaL sLoryLelllng. 8lghL Lools, rlghL
- uave WaLson, edlLor, Movles Mottet
ºSarah 8each does a wonderful [ob of Laklng readers Lhrough Lhe
process of produclng graphlc novels, from Lhe creaLlve slde Lo Lhe
- naLhyn 8rendan MasLers, Nlqbt lboeolx ltess
ºl Lhlnk l own every book abouL creaLlng comlc books and cteotloq
Ctopblc Novels has earned lLs place on my shelf. Sarah 8each pro-
vldes lnvaluable lnslder lnformaLlon and clear examples Lo anyone
who ls serlous abouL creaLlng, publlshlng, and selllng graphlc
novels. WanL Lo make your own comlcs? uo yourself a favor and
read Lhls book!"
- ScoLL 8ogers, creaLor of 8eJboq, auLhor of level up!
1be ColJe to Cteot vlJeo Come ueslqo
ºcteotloq Ctopblc Novels ls one of Lhe besL books Lo come ouL on
Lhe sub[ecL ln years. 1houghLful and fllled wlLh lnslghLs lL would
Lake several careers Lo acqulre, lL offers new creaLors greaL lnslghLs
and pracLlcal Llps for geLLlng Lhelr vlslon ouL lnLo Lhe markeLplace."
- ArL Polcomb, comlc book creaLor and screenwrlLer
ºComprehenslve, conversaLlonal and, dare l say lL, hopeful and
opLlmlsLlc. 1hls ls Lhe book l wlshed l'd had when l was sLarLlng
ouL. lL would have saved my head a loL of bumps. Sarah knows
whaL she's Lalklng abouL and she's Lalklng Lo you. ?es, you!
8e smarL and llsLen."
- Ceoff 1horne, sLaff wrlLer on levetoqe, wrlLer/co-cre-
aLor of Lhe comlc ltoJlqol. íqq of lltst llqbt
ºSarah 8each - comlc book wrlLer, edlLor, and arLlsL - explores
Lhe unlverse of graphlc novels from Lhe lnslde ouL. 1aklng Lhe
reader from concepL Lo scrlpL Lo arL Lo dlalogue, 8each helps
wrlLers develop and creaLe a markeLable, oLherworldly producL.
lurLher, wlLh her book cteotloq Ctopblc Novels, she guldes Lhe
reader Lo poslLlon LhaL producL Lo LempL fans, especlally fllmmak-
ers - even Leachlng Lhe reader how Lo lnLerpreL a conLracL. Þow!
Zap! 8ang! 8uy Lhls book!"
- Mary !. Schlrmer, screenwrlLer-edlLor-lnsLrucLor
ºÞarL arL, parL sclence, parL commerce, brlnglng a graphlc novel
Lo Lhe world ls a daunLlng challenge for anyone, buL wlLh so much
solld, pracLlcal, nuLs-and-bolLs advlce on Lhe end-Lo-end process
crammed lnLo lL, lf Lhere ls such a Lhlng as a blble for creaLlng
graphlc novels, Lhen Lhls ls lL."
- 8oberL CranL, auLhor of wtltloq tbe 5cleoce llctloo lllm
ºcteotloq Ctopblc Novels ls Lhe book l've been walLlng for! lL's
acLually wrlLLen wlLh screenwrlLers ln mlnd, knowlng LhaL evenLu-
ally we'll be asked Lhe dreaded quesLlon by a producer, 'ls Lhere
a book l can see?' lrom Lermlnology and creaLlon, Lo neLworklng
and markeLlng, Lhls book has lL all. l can'L recommend lL hlghly
enough for screenwrlLers looklng Lo Lurn Lhelr sLory lnLo a graphlc
cteotloq Ctopblc Novels goes well beyond 'Pow 1o' - lL covers
how Lo sLarL, how Lo work, and how Lo flnlsh so you can conLlnue
Lo move forward. ?our copy of Lhls book should be dog-eared,
marked on, hlghllghLed and sporLlng a worn splne. lf your copy
of Lhls book lsn'L well worn and well read, Lhen you haven'L done
- 8eau SmlLh, ulrecLor of MarkeLlng, 1he Llbrary Cf
Amerlcan Comlcs, wrlLer/dlrecLor of wyooooo íotp,
cobb, lost & loooJ
º?ou don'L have Lo be a graphlc novellsL Lo appreclaLe Lhls book.
lf you are, lL's a fanLasLlc lnLroducLlon Lo Lhe arLlsLlc and pracLlcal
nuances of Lhe medlum. lf you're noL, lL's a Lerrlflc lesson ln cre-
aLlve and economlc sLoryLelllng, wheLher your sLorles llve on fllm,
Lelevlslon, or Lhe pages of a novel."
- Chad Cervlch, wrlLer/producer of copcoke wots, Aftet
lotely, wlpeoot, auLhor of now 1o Moooqe ¥oot Aqeot
and 5moll 5cteeo, 8lq llctote
ºSarah 8each's cteotloq Ctopblc Novels ls a Lhorough and welcome
prlmer for novlce and pro allke - parLlcularly for screenwrlLers
who've spenL years adapLlng comlcs Lo screenplays, and have
begun Lo wonder lf Lhelr llves wouldn'L be beLLer had Lhey slmply
creaLed a comlc of Lhelr own. noL LhaL l know anybody llke LhaL."
- 8lll Marsllll, screenwrlLer, uejo vo
ºSarah 8each challenges screenwrlLers Lo enLer Lhe mlndseL of Lhe
graphlc novellsL as she explores Lhe process of Lurnlng a Lransme-
dla sLory lnLo a graphlc novel from sLarL Lo flnlsh. l would hlghly
recommend Lhls pracLlcal, sLep-by-sLep gulde Lo any screenwrlLer
who wlshes Lo uLlllze Lhe vlsual lmpacL and pop culLural cacheL of
graphlc novels Lo up Lhelr plLchlng game."
- nlcole Chapman, lull Sall unlverslLy faculLy and
5toylot1becteJlts.oet assoclaLe producer
ºln cteotloq Ctopblc Novels, Sarah 8each lnLroduces screenwrlLers
Lo Lhe world of graphlc novels, ouLllnlng Lhe lmporLanL dlfferences
beLween screenwrlLlng and graphlc novel scrlpL wrlLlng and why
graphlc novels are an lmporLanL parL of geLLlng a sLory Lo spread.
l came Lo Lhls book knowlng LhaL l love Lhe graphlc novel formaL
of sLoryLelllng. WhaL l loved abouL Lhls book ls Lhe conLexL Lhe
auLhor sLarLs from on why a screenwrlLer would wanL Lo adapL
Lhelr sLory lnLo a graphlc novel. 1he auLhor sLarLs from Lhe conLexL
of bulldlng an audlence around your sLory Lhrough a graphlc novel
represenLaLlon and uslng Lhls plaLform Lo show LhaL your sLory has
Lhe power Lo engage an audlence. 1he formaL of Lhe book lends
well Lo Leachlng Lhe reader abouL graphlc novel creaLlon wlLh Lhe
frequenL lnLerrupLlons by a graphlcal characLer called 'Þrofessor
LxposlLlon.' 8eadlng Lhe book, a screenwrlLer wlll learn how Lo
adapL a sLory for a graphlc novel, as well as learn abouL Lhe graphlc
novel lndusLry. lL's a fun book and very helpful."
- 1om larr, 1om lott kevlews
ºSarah 8each has collecLed her experlence and research lnLo
produclng cteotloq Ctopblc Novels as 1PL LexLbook for anyone
seeklng Lo make a career ln Lhe buslness of graphlc novels.
M I C H A E L W I E S E P R O D U C T I O N S
Þubllshed by Mlchael Wlese ÞroducLlons
12400 venLura 8lvd. #1111
SLudlo ClLy, CA 91604
(818) 379-8799, (818) 986-3408 (lAx)
Cover deslgn by !ohnny lnk. www.[ohnnylnk.com
CopyedlLed by MaLL 8arber
lnLerlor deslgn by Sarah 8each and Wllllam Morosl
ÞrlnLed by McnaughLon & Cunn
ManufacLured ln Lhe unlLed SLaLes of Amerlca
CopyrlghL 2014 by Sarah 8each
All rlghLs reserved. no parL of Lhls book may be reproduced ln any form or by any means wlLhouL
permlsslon ln wrlLlng from Lhe auLhor, excepL for Lhe lncluslon of brlef quoLaLlons ln a revlew.
Llbrary of Congress CaLaloglng-ln-ÞubllcaLlon uaLa
8each, Sarah, auLhor.
CreaLlng Craphlc novels : AdapLlng and MarkeLlng SLorles lor a MulLlmllllon-uollar lndusLry /
1. Craphlc novels--MarkeLlng. 2. Craphlc novels--Þubllshlng. 3. Craphlc novels--AuLhorshlp. 4.
Comlc books, sLrlps, eLc.--MarkeLlng. 3. Comlc books, sLrlps, eLc.--Þubllshlng. 6. Comlc books, sLrlps,
eLc.--AuLhorshlp. l. 1lLle.
ÞrlnLed on 8ecycled SLock
C o n t e n t s v
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
MAKE IT POP! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Lxplorlng popular culLure and Lhe place
graphlc novels have ln Lhe arena.
A Script IS A Script, ISN’T IT? . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
WhaL ls Lhe purpose of a scrlpL, and whaL
does each dlfferenL Lype of scrlpL do?
INTO THE GUTTERS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
1he Lermlnology of graphlc novel scrlpLlng.
IS THERE A BOOK? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
1he physlcal naLure of Lhe book and how lL
affecLs sLory paclng.
PANEL BY PANEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
ScrlpLlng meLhods and how Lo approach
breaklng Lhe sLory.
GiVE ME SOME Credit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Who geLs credlL for whaL, and how do you
flnd Lhe arL Leam?
CHARACTER ARC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69
Learn Lhe general shape of Lhe buslness and
how Lo reach Lhe audlence.
THE PROS, THE CONS, AND THE FANS . . . . . . . .81
WhaL happens aL comlc book convenLlons?
Getting Physical . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
1he naLure of Lhe process of golng from
scrlpL Lo book.
TORN PAGES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 103
WhaL can go wrong, and how Lo plan for lL.
A Contract Hit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111
know Lhe meanlng of whaL ls ln Lhe conLracL.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h vi
Credits And Permissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
About The Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 172
It’s A Misprint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 121
WhaL Lhe graphlc novel form can do besL.
Shelf Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129
1he advanLages of puLLlng your sLory ln
Hollywood Comes Calling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Pow Pollywood mlnes Lhe graphlc novel
markeL for properLles.
Tell Me A Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
Pow Lo hold on Lo your sLoryLelllng lmpulses.
End Credits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149
What About A Sequel? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
Colng from graphlc novel Lo fllm scrlpL.
I n t r o d u c t i o n vii
loL of facLors prompLed me Lo wrlLe Lhls book.
llrsL off, l happen Lo love Lhe comlc book
medlum [usL for lLself.
Secondly, graphlc novels are a growlng corner of Lhe
sLoryLelllng arena. 1he comblnaLlon of words and
lmages has a seemlng slmpllclLy LhaL many readers
can qulckly grasp. 1he medlum appeals also as a sup-
plemenLary means of geLLlng Lhe sLory ln fronL of a
broader audlence. As a resulL, more and more wrlL-
ers are Lurnlng Lo Lhe graphlc novel form as a way of
bulldlng or lncreaslng Lhelr audlences. ln parLlcular,
screenwrlLers are hoplng Lo use Lhe graphlc novel as
an addlLlonal way of communlcaLlng Lhelr sLorles Lo
Lhose who are ln a poslLlon Lo buy Lhelr screenplays.
1o explaln Lhe growlng connecLlon beLween screen-
plays and graphlc novels, conslder Lhls: Lhere was a
Llme when screenplays, no maLLer Lhe naLure of Lhe
plece, sLood on Lhelr own feeL. SomeLlmes a work
mlghL be an adapLaLlon of a book or graphlc novel,
and Lhose were ofLen works LhaL were far from ºmaln-
sLream" ln sub[ecL maLLer. 8uL more and more, as
money has goLLen LlghLer and LlghLer, producers boLh
ln and ouL of Lhe sLudlos have been greeLlng wrlLers,
whose scrlpLs Lhey have found moderaLely lnLeresL-
lng, wlLh Lhe quesLlon, ºls Lhere a book l can see?"
lnlLlally, wheLher lL was prose or a graphlc work dldn'L
maLLer, lL was Lhe pre-exlsLence of a seL LexL LhaL
reassured Lhem Lhe scrlpL was noL a fluke. lor Lhere
are Lwo Lhlngs happenlng behlnd LhaL quesLlon: Lhey
do wanL Lo know whaL Lhe noL-malnsLream fllm mlghL
look llke, ln a sorL of pre-producLlon vlsuallzaLlon, buL
Lhey also wanL Lo know lf Lhe sLory has an audlence.
For a “real-
of this, here’s
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h viii
- o tetm l ose fot qeoetol meet-ooJ-qteets tbot
sptloq op wbeo yoo´te cltcolotloq o oew ptoject -
fot o sbott fllm tbot l wtote ooJ JltecteJ colleJ 8azor
Sharp. (nete comes tbe sbomeless ploq.) 1be sbott fol-
lows tbe oJveototes of o poltky cotpotote tblef oomeJ
vetoolco 5botpe lo o oeot-fotote Ametlco toleJ by
loslJloos cotpototloos. nowevet, bosloess totos ooy-
tbloq bot osool wbeo tbe Joto otcblve sbe´s blteJ to
steol totos oot to be oo eleveo-yeot-olJ otpboo qltl
oomeJ lsls wbo ls botbotloq o JeoJly sectet. MoJe
oo o sboesttloq boJqet ooJ o beop of fovots tbot l
omosseJ wotkloq os o scteeowtltet, 8azor Sharp come
looJeJ wltb speclol l\, stoots, ooJ eveo o few looqbs.
lo oJJltloo to petfotmloq tespectobly oo tbe festlvol
cltcolt, tbe sbott olso belpeJ looocb lts stot, cosslJy
lteemoo, to Smallvllle fome, so oll of os lovolveJ wete
pleoseJ wltb tbe tespoose.
1be fllm wos olwoys JeslqoeJ to wotk os o ptoof of coo-
cept fot o feotote-leoqtb vetsloo, ooJ wltb tbot sctlpt
wtltteo Jotloq post ptoJoctloo oo tbe sbott, l beqoo to
poooJ tbe povemeot lo bopes of tokloq tbe oext step.
5o coe tbe meetloq, ooJ coe tbls execotlve potloq
ovet tbe exboostlve omooot of coocept ottwotk l´J
nollywooJ bos lts owo pecollot set of toles, ooJ fot
most of os lo ooJ ootslJe tbe tlosel lloes, tbey bove
o teoJeocy to ftosttote ooJ coofoooJ. lt´s oo lotetool
system of cbecks ooJ bolooces, JeclJeJ by commlttee
ooJ otqoolzeJ lo bosbeJ bootJtooms of people wltb
Jeqtees fot mote lmptesslve tboo my 8lA lo cloemo
ptoJoctloo. AoJ bowevet sttooqe ooJ olleo tbey moy
seem wbeo opplleJ to octoolly mokloq fllms, tbose of
os wbo btove tbe tteocbes of tbe movle bosloess lo
bopes of bovloq oot wotk qtoce o scteeo eltbet blq
ot smoll ote sobject to tbem. 8ot fot tbose wbo moke
qeote fllms tbelt bome, ovet tbe post few yeots tbose
toles bove toJlcolly cbooqeJ.
The first time I became
aware of the necessity for
a “built in fan base,”
I was sitting across from
an incredibly well put together
studio executive during my
couch and water tour
I n t r o d u c t i o n ix
boseJ ptlmotlly oo wbot type of foo bose tbe ptoject
olteoJy boJ lo ploce.
1be foct of tbe mottet ls, fot qooJ ot fot boJ, nollywooJ
bos oevet beeo mote cotpotote wbeo lt comes to
molostteom, blq-boJqet, l\-beovy qeote cloemo tboo
lt ls toJoy. 1be stoJlos koow tbese types of teot-pole
ptojects moke op tbe btoot of tbelt sommet teleose
slotes, wblcb lo toto occooots fot tbe lotqest petceot-
oqe of tbelt oooool qtoss. 5o lf yoo ploo to klck otoooJ
lo tbot coveteJ sooJbox, yoo´te expecteJ to come wltb
wblcb ls wby comlc books bove oevet beeo mote vltol.
1be teosoos fot tbe tteoJ of mloloq comlc ptopet-
tles lo seotcb of tbe qem tbot wlll become tbe oext
blllloo-Jollot box offlce qtosset ote octoolly ptetty
sttolqbtfotwotJ. os fllm ptoJoctloo costs cootlooe to
skytocket, popet ooJ lok ote stlll compototlvely cbeop,
oo loexpeoslve woy to teollze oo lJeo. llos, stoJlo
loqlc Jlctotes tbot tbe some ctowJ tbot ftepoeots
scl-fl ot footosy tbemeJ fllcks woolJ llkely sootcb op
oo lssoe ot two of tbe some stoty off of o sbelf, so wby
oot toke lt fot o test Jtlve lo tbe comlcs meJlom ooJ
see lf lt plcks op ooy foos fltst? lt ls o woy to beJqe
olteoJy commlsslooeJ fot tbe feotote, lo oJJltloo to
tbe bolf-boot sbott sbe´J seeo. Aftet teoJloq tbe sctlpt
ooJ sookloq lo tbe vlsools, sbe lookeJ op ot me wltb
o sott of wlstfol exptessloo ooJ solJ, ´¥oo koow, lt´s
teolly cool. 8ot l jost wlsb tbls tbloq wos o comlc book,
tbeo l´J teolly koow wbot tbe movle ls sopposeJ to
l wos stoooeJ. noJ sbe oot seeo wbot l´J btooqbt bet?
5bloy plctotes of costomes ooJ sets ooJ olfty ptops!
Not to meotloo tbe fllm l´J olteoJy sbot. wbot wos
tbe movle sopposeJ to look llke? l moJe lt so yoo´J
koow - tbot´s wbot lt´s sopposeJ to look llke! lt
wos oo lofotlotloq momeot, ftosttotloq, ooJ o wbole
mess of otbet expletlves. 8ot tbe teolly Jlsbeotteoloq
pott wos. tbls woso´t tbe lost tlme l´J beot tbe some
tespoose. Altbooqb loltlolly l wos completely tbtowo
by bet teoctloo, tbe mote l tbooqbt oboot lt ooJ
JecoJeJ lt, tbe mote lt beqoo to moke seose.
wbot tbls execotlve, ooJ mooy otbets os my qeoetol
meetloqs oofolJeJ, wos ttyloq to soy woso´t tbot o
comlc book vetsloo of 8azor Sharp woolJ tell bet bow
tbe movle wos meoot to look vlsoolly. lt woolJ com-
moolcote bow blq of o fllm we woolJ be oble to moke,
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h x
A whlle ago, a good frlend, who had [usL flnlshed
shooLlng hls lndependenL horror/suspense fllm,
declded LhaL he wanLed Lo adapL lL as a graphlc novel
Lo help wlLh markeLlng and posslbly securlng dlsLrl-
buLlon of hls fllm. l asked hlm whaL hls plan was. Pe
sald he was golng Lo flnd a comlc arLlsL, preferably
one new and lnexpenslve, glve Lhe arLlsL Lhe screen-
play and a bunch of screencaps from Lhe fllm, and leL
hlm go aL lL. l had a sLrong LempLaLlon Lo go pound my
head agalnsL a plllar somewhere. 1here was so much
LhaL was unworkable abouL LhaL plan, l wasn'L sure
where Lo begln. 1he mosL unforLunaLe Lhlng abouL Lhls
ºplan" was LhaL lL exposed a compleLe lack of aware-
ness abouL Lhe process of produclng a graphlc novel.
lL was aL LhaL polnL LhaL Lhe ldea for cteotloq Ctopblc
Novels began Lo Lake shape. ?es, Lhere are cerLaln
skllls from screenwrlLlng ln parLlcular LhaL wlll Lrans-
laLe lnLo scrlpLlng graphlc novels. lor lnsLance, lf you
have managed Lo masLer sLoryLelllng sLrucLure for a
screenplay, you should be able Lo puL LhaL sklll lnLo
wrlLlng for a graphlc novel. 8uL, unllke fllm and Lelevl-
slon, whlch are so close ln means of producLlon LhaL
masLery of one medlum LranslaLes easlly Lo Lhe oLher,
Lhe graphlc novel ls very much a dlfferenL medlum.
bets - eveo lf evet so sllqbtly - wbeo lt comes to
tbe sloqle scotlest tetm lo nollywooJ vetoocolot. tbe
´otlqlool lJeo.´ lottoootely, l boJ olteoJy lockeJ loto
comlcs by tbe tlme my meetloqs wete lo foll swloq, so
mokloq tbls ttoosltloo woso´t eotltely netcoleoo.
1here wlll be more from Marcus Þerry ln ChapLer 7,
abouL bulldlng LhaL audlence ln Lhe comlc book world.
So, Lhe hoL Lhlng now ln Pollywood ls for screenwrlL-
ers Lo Lurn Lhelr scrlpLs lnLo graphlc novels. lL should
be easy, shouldn'L lL? AfLer all, a scrlpL ls a scrlpL, lsn'L
lL? 1hen, [usL flnd some up-and-comlng arLlsL, possl-
bly rlghL ouL of arL school, pay Lhem Lo whlp ouL Lhe
pages and everyLhlng's good Lo go!
l've had my feeL ln boLh Lhe screenwrlLlng and comlc
scrlpLlng worlds for several years. As wlLh Pollywood,
breaklng lnLo comlc books (especlally lf one wanLs Lo
wrlLe Lhe already esLabllshed characLers of Lhe ma[or
companles), Lakes Llme. And llke Pollywood, you need
Lo learn Lhe buslness, aL leasL a llLLle. 1hls ls Lrue, even
when you [usL wanL Lo do a one-shoL graphlc novel.
Whlch brlngs me Lo Lhe Lhlrd Lhlng LhaL lnsplred
I n t r o d u c t i o n xi
or appreclaLed by anyone oLher Lhan your close clrcle.
lor wrlLers who have produced Lhelr sLory ln anoLher
formaL, such as a novel or shorL sLory, a graphlc novel
expands your audlence yeL agaln, reachlng Lhose who
mlghL noL care Lo sLarL wlLh a prose work. And Lhe
nlce Lhlng abouL readers ls LhaL once Lhey flnd a wrlLer
whose work Lhey llke, Lhey wlll follow LhaL wrlLer. 1hey
pay aLLenLlon. lf you culLlvaLe your audlence, you wlll
have a guaranLeed base for any word of mouLh LhaL
you wanL Lo puL ouL abouL a fuLure pro[ecL.
1hls book ls noL abouL Lhe baslcs of sLory sLrucLure, nor
abouL how Lo draw a graphlc novel. lL does noL conLaln
a full-blown hlsLory of Lhe comlc book medlum. lL ls
for wrlLers, Lo lnLroduce Lhem Lo Lhe speclal processes
of sequenLlal graphlc sLoryLelllng. lL wlll help wrlLers
of any sorL add Lhe graphlc novel arena Lo Lhelr Ler-
rlLory. Along Lhe way, esLabllshed professlonals ln Lhe
comlcs world wlll offer some of Lhelr personal experl-
ence, Lo help screenwrlLers new Lo Lhe comlcs fleld
undersLand whaL Lhey are Lackllng.
1he need for a scrlpL ln order Lo produce Lhe sLory,
and Lhe facL LhaL lL needs Lo be vlsually orlenLed, Lhose
Lwo polnLs are [usL abouL Lhe only ones of slmllarlLy.
lor sLoryLellers comlng from oLher forms of wrlLlng,
Lhere was a greaLer need Lo explaln whaL happens ln
shaplng Lhe scrlpL for a graphlc novel Lhan Lhe currenL
few books on comlc book scrlpLlng provlde.
cteotloq Ctopblc Novels ls deslgned Lo lnLroduce wrlL-
ers Lo Lhe crafL of scrlpLlng graphlc novels, and Lhen
lnLroduclng LhaL wrlLer lnLo Lhe comlc book world
- Lhe means of producLlon, Lhe publlshers, and
Lhe audlence. lor when lL comes Lo graphlc novels,
knowlng Lhe audlence and connecLlng wlLh Lhem ls
of prlmary lmporLance. And Lhe burden of dolng LhaL
work ofLen lles on Lhe shoulders of Lhe wrlLer.
Successfully geLLlng your sLory adapLed as a graphlc
novel ls no guaranLee LhaL a sLudlo wlll plck up Lhe
properLy, of course. lor screenwrlLers, Lhe reward ls
LhaL lf you love your sLory enough Lo do Lhe addlLlonal
work of geLLlng lL lnLo graphlc novel form, and you geL
lL before an audlence (no maLLer how small), you have
Lhe saLlsfacLlon of seelng lL llve as lL was supposed Lo.
lL won'L slL locked ln a drawer or cupboard, never seen
Make It Pop!
M a k e I t P o p ! 3
movles, Loys, and of course comlc books (lncludlng
graphlc novels). 1hey buy Loys and books and L-shlrLs
relaLed Lo llcensed properLles Lhey love. 1hey sLand
ln llne for hours Lo geL lnLo a presenLaLlon hall LhaL
seaLs 6,300 people aL a shoL, ln order Lo see advance
Lrallers for fllms LhaL wlll noL be released for anoLher
14 monLhs (and posslbly see Lhe sLars, dlrecLors, and
producers of Lhose fllms). Lach nlghL Lhey wlll plug
Lhemselves lnLo Lhe lnLerneL and Lalk on message
boards abouL whaL Lhey saw and heard (lf Lhey're noL
on 1wlLLer durlng Lhe presenLaLlon lLself), and Lhou-
sands more fans around Lhe world wlll read and Lalk
back. And Lhose are [usL Lhe ordlnary aLLendees.
n Lhe heaL of !uly, masses of people gaLher for
Lhe Comlc-Con lnLernaLlonal. ln 2011, Lhe 42nd
annual San ulego convenLlon saw well over
120,000 reglsLered aLLendees flll Lhe clLy's ConvenLlon
CenLer Lo capaclLy. 8eglsLraLlon had been sold ouL
monLhs ln advance. 1here were no admlsslons for sale
aL Lhe door (unless lL was by scalpers, lllegally dolng
so), as aLLendance has a cuL-off polnL ln order Lo sLay
ln compllance wlLh Lhe llre Marshal's regulaLlons.
lor Lhe duraLlon of Lhe Comlc-Con lnLernaLlonal, Lhe
mosL avld consumers of Þop CulLure lndulge ln Lhe
advance vlews Lhey geL of upcomlng vldeo games,
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 4
Accordlng Lo lcv2, whlch covers popular culLure from
Lhe buslness and markeLlng slde, Þop CulLure repre-
senLs a $10-bllllon segmenL of Lhe annual economy
of Lhe u.S. alone. WhaL ls lL LhaL drlves Lhls sorL
Comlc-Con lnLernaLlonal ls only Lhe largesL of Lhe
comlc book convenLlons. 1hroughouL Lhe year, across
Lhe counLry, convenLlons of slmllar sorLs occur. Some
may have a speclallzed genre focus, some cover Lhe
whole specLrum buL on a smaller scale LhaL Comlc-Con
lnLernaLlonal. 8uL Lhey all serve Lo lncrease audlence
access Lo Lhe producL of ºÞopular CulLure."
1he comlcs lndusLry ls a breedlng ground for maLerlal
Lo feed Þop CulLure. 1he reason for LhaL ls LhaL comlc
book readers don'L [usL read comlc books. SLereoLypes
aslde, comlc book readers go Lo work aL Lhelr day [obs,
as docLors, lawyers, denLal asslsLanLs, hoLel managers,
nurses, Leachers, llbrarlans, englneers. 1hey Lake Lhelr
work and Lhelr famllles serlously. 1hey also Lake Lhelr
play serlously. 1hey wanL Lo be enLerLalned, and Lhey
wanL good sLorles Lo enLerLaln Lhem. And Lhey llke Lo
geL Lhelr sLorles ln many ways: obvlously, Lhey love
Lhe comlc book pages, buL Lhey also waLch movles and
Lelevlslon, Lhey play vldeo and board and card games,
Lhey even read prose books. 1hey amuse Lhemselves
wlLh Loys of Lhelr favorlLe characLers (acLlon flgures
make excellenL desk Loys aL work). 1hey buy merchan-
dlse LhaL feaLures Lhelr favorlLe characLers. ln shorL,
Lhey spend money.
The simple answer
is “good stories.”
There is no set formula
for where a story has to
…to have the greatest impact
on the market. A story may capture
popular imagination first in a movie
and then move on to TV, novels,
M a k e I t P o p ! 5
ln recenL years, Lhe flow of a sLory from one form
Lo anoLher has grown. ºSLorles" LhaL orlglnaLed ln
vldeo games have been Lransformed lnLo feaLure
fllms. Some of Lhose have led Lo comlc books based
on Lhem. novels, of course, have long been sub[ecL
Lo adapLaLlon Lo oLher medla. 1he flow can also go ln
Lhe oLher dlrecLlon, from comlc book Lo fllm Lo game.
Lach year a new varlaLlon of cross-lnfluence appears.
ln 2008, a hlghllghL of Lhe comlc book lndusLry was
Lhe publlcaLlon of a volume of graphlc shorL sLorles
lnsplred by Lhe songs of 1orl Amos. 1he works ln Lhe
volume were noL Lhe sLorles of Lhe songs, buL Lhe
resulL of each creaLor's response Lo Lhe slnger's work.
1here are Lhe feaLure movles as well as some speclals
and anlmaLed serles, buL Lhere are also many novels
based ln Lhe 5tot wots unlverse, Lhere are vldeo games
(mulLlple games), and of course, a seemlngly never-
endlng sLream of Loys and oLher llcensed producLs.
Star Wars is
It won’t be surprising
if some of these stories
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 6
uo you wanL Lo geL ln on Lhls advenLure? A loL of
people do. AL Comlc-Con lnLernaLlonal, panels and
presenLaLlons abouL wrlLlng are frequenLly fllled
Lo capaclLy, wheLher lL ls abouL comlc book wrlLlng,
screenplay wrlLlng, or [usL plaln wtltloq. ln !uly 2009,
Lhe WrlLers Culld sponsored a panel dlscusslon on
graphlc novel wrlLlng LhaL was sLandlng room only.
1here are dlfflculLles ln Lhe process of lnvadlng Lhe
Þop CulLure world Lhls way, as lL ls noL [usL abouL geL-
Llng Lhe graphlc novel lnLo prlnL. 1he wrlLer has Lo
look beyond Lhe compuLer screen and reallze LhaL he
or she has Lo become parL of bulldlng Lhe audlence
for Lhe work ln a personal way.
lew wrlLers are pracLlced ln Lhlnklng abouL dlrecLly
bulldlng and lnLeracLlng wlLh Lhe audlence. Pow do
you do lL? 1hls ls whaL cteotloq Ctopblc Novels ls
all abouL. 1hls book ls abouL lnLroduclng lnLeresLed
wrlLers Lo Lhe crafL of comlc scrlpLlng, as well as
Lhe processes of publlcaLlon and audlence bulldlng.
Addlng Lhe comlcs arena Lo your skllls as a wrlLer can
broaden your access Lo Lhe world, and lncrease Lhe
poLenLlal audlence for your sLorles.
1he Þop CulLure manlfesLed aL Lhe Comlc-Con
lnLernaLlonal exempllfles Lhe Lype of lmpacL any sLory-
Leller wanLs Lo have on Lhe audlence, Lhe ablllLy Lo
lnsplre LhaL expanslve creaLlve response, someLhlng
LhaL flres Lhe lmaglnaLlon.
So how does one
Is it as simple as
making a graphic novel
out of your story?
Adapting a screenplay,
short story, or novel
as a graphic novel is
It is only one step
in the process.
There are also aspects of
and audience building.
M a k e I t P o p ! 7
Think about it--
At some future convention---
the splashy banners
at a booth display
the action figures
are your creations…
the games are
based on your
fans dress as
and it is you
they want to
1haL ls whaL can happen when a wrlLer plugs lnLo Lhe
pop culLure sLream, and Lhe world of comlc books and
graphlc novels ls Lhe mosL acLlve meeLlng ground for
A SCRiPT IS A SCRiPT, ISN’T IT?
A S C R i P T I S A S C R i P T , I S N ’ T I T ? 11
L Lakes a wrlLer a few years Lo masLer Lhe arL
of wrlLlng ln any parLlcular medlum, such as
novels or screenplays. usually, Lhe wrlLer
beglns by masLerlng prose wrlLlng. Some move on
Lo oLher forms of wrlLlng, such as screenwrlLlng. 8uL
ºscrlpLlng," wheLher for sLage or screen, presenLs dlf-
ferenL challenges Lo a prose wrlLer. A famlllarlLy wlLh
Lhe dramaLlc and vlsual arLs asslsLs Lhe screenwrlLer
ln shaplng screenplays. Many playwrlghLs also masLer
screenwrlLlng, and someLlmes screenwrlLers go Lhe
oLher dlrecLlon, Lo wrlLe ºfor Lhe boards." 8uL Lhe
oLher sLoryLelllng medlum LhaL uses a ºscrlpL," graphlc
novels (or sequenLlal graphlc sLoryLelllng, or, less
preLenLlously, comlc books), has, by and large, been
regarded as a sLep-slbllng. 1hls ls perhaps due Lo Lhe
hlsLory of comlcs havlng arlsen from popular culLure
and pulp publlshlng.
lL ls easy Lo fall lnLo Lhe Lrap of Lhlnklng LhaL masLer-
lng one scrlpL form auLomaLlcally glves a wrlLer Lhe
masLery of anoLher scrlpL form. 1he reallLy ls raLher
dlfferenL. A vlsual arLlsL would noL make Lhe mlsLake of
Lhlnklng LhaL masLerlng pencll drawlng auLomaLlcally
glves masLery of wleldlng oll palnLs, or carvlng wood,
or modellng clay. lor Lhe vlsual arLlsL, Lhe dlfferences
beLween Lhe medla are lnescapable: Lhe black llne
of a pencll or lnk pen ln no way does Lhe same Lhlng
as a llne of color, or a llne of many colors. 8uL for a
wrlLer, Lhe prlmary Lool ls a vocabulary. Words, sLrung
LogeLher ln paLLerns, are whaL Lhe wrlLer uses Lo bulld
Lhe work of arL. 8uL alLhough Lhey all sLarL wlLh words,
a novel ls noL a sLage play, a sLage play ls noL a screen-
play, nor ls a screenplay a comlc scrlpL.
The first thing we
need to consider is
the nature of a script,
What is its purpose?
AL lLs mosL baslc meanlng, ºscrlpL" means ºsome-
Lhlng wrlLLen." WrlLlng developed as a means of
capLurlng for posLerlLy, or even [usL capLurlng for com-
munlcaLlon. 1he ldea was Lo glve Lhe communlcaLlon a
permanenL form LhaL dld noL depend on Lhe memory
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 12
vlsual sLoryLelllng has been a parL of Lhe human expe-
rlence [usL as long as verbal sLoryLelllng. 1he Lomb
palnLlngs of LgypLlan pharaohs Lell Lhe sLorles of Lhe
rulers' llves, and even Lhelr [ourney lnLo Lhe under-
world Lo face Lhe [udgmenL of Cslrls. Many pleces
of anclenL Creek poLLery are decoraLed wlLh lmages
of Lhe messenger, a form whlch could be reproduced
accuraLely, and Lhus shared wlLh many people, espe-
clally Lhose who were ouL of earshoL of Lhe orlglnal
pronouncemenLs. 1he advanLages for sLory Lellers
were lmmedlaLely obvlous: here was a way of holdlng
on Lo Lhe speclal Lurns of phrase, sLarLllngly effecLlve
lmages con[ured ln words, Lhe rhyLhms and wordplay
LhaL each lndlvldual sLoryLeller mlghL come up wlLh.
lrom Lhere, Lhe posslblllLles of orchesLraLlng mul-
Llple volces Lo Lell sLorles lnsplred Lhe beglnnlngs of
drama. A wrlLer could compose a sLory for a group of
people Lo enacL, and by glvlng Lhem a scrlpL of Lhe
sLory, Lhe wrlLer could ensure everyone ln Lhe group
was ºon Lhe same page." And lL could be repeaLed.
AcLlon and sound became cruclal elemenLs ln LhaL
form of sLoryLelllng.
8uL runnlng parallel Lo Lhls LexL-cenLrlc form of sLory-
Lelllng was a vlsual-cenLrlc form. 1he earllesL cave
palnLlngs were clearly lnLended Lo Lell a sLory of sorLs.
a massive hunt by the tribe.
A S C R i P T I S A S C R i P T , I S N ’ T I T ? 13
almosL excluslvely only speclflc momenLs. 1he amounL
of labor lnvolved ln Lelllng Lhe whole of a sLory ln a
graphlc mode was prohlblLlve. 8uL varlous Lechnolo-
gles developed LhaL began Lo make lL much easler:
pens more advanced LhaL feaLher qullls, easler repro-
ducLlon of arL. 8y Lhe LwenLleLh cenLury, many llLLle
advances made lL posslble for an arLlsL Lo slL down and
devoLe a mere few monLhs Lo Lelllng a whole sLory
ln a graphlc form, someLhlng LhaL could easlly have
Laken well over a year, lf noL mulLlple years, ln pre-
vlous ages. 1hen, suddenly, Lhe parLnershlp of vlsual
arLlsL and wordsmlLh became lmporLanL.
A novel or shorL sLory conveys lLs Lale by sLrlngs of
words, elLher wrlLLen or spoken. A sLage play conveys
Lhe sLory by means of sound and a llmlLed amounL
of acLlon. 1he boundarles of a play are seL by whaL
can be performed physlcally ln Lhe dramaLlc space.
A movle conveys Lhe sLory by means of sound and
lmage and moLlon, and lLs llmlLs are seL by budgeL,
Lechnology, and lmaglnaLlon.
LhaL Lell parLs of myLhlc sLorles: ALalanLa raclng her
sulLors and belng dlsLracLed by Lhe Colden Apples,
1heseus bravlng Lhe LabyrlnLh Lo flghL Lhe MlnoLaur,
Cdysseus Lrlcklng Lhe Cyclops. All llLLle blLs of graphlc
The “Bayeux Tapestry” shows
the actions of the Norman invasion
of England and the subsequent
battle of Hastings.
uurlng Lhe LwenLleLh cenLury, Lhe Lwo forms of sLo-
ryLelllng sLarLed drawlng close LogeLher agaln. lor
ages Lhey had gone Lhelr own way, runnlng paral-
lel courses LhaL only rarely crossed each oLher. Ch,
occaslonally vlsual arLlsLs would capLure momenLs
from dramaLlc (or prose) sLoryLelllng, buL Lhey were
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 14
for Lhe audlence. 1he sLandardlzed form of screen-
plays asslsLs ln Lhls.
8uL a comlc scrlpL ls deslgned so LhaL a mere handful
of people can produce Lhe sLory: Lhe arLlsL needs lL,
Lo know whaL wlll go on each page, Lhe leLLerer needs
lL, Lo know whaL ls sald by whom and ln whaL panel,
Lhe colorlsL (lf Lhe work ls Lo be ln color) needs lL Lo
know how Lo color Lhlngs, Lhe edlLor needs lL Lo over-
see Lhe sLoryLelllng.
Lach Lype of scrlpL ls a blueprlnL for consLrucLlng Lhe
speclflc form of Lhe sLory. 8uL Lhe speclflc forms are
A sLage scrlpL ls deslgned Lo make sure LhaL all Lhe
players know whaL Lhe dlalogue wlll be, and where
each should be on Lhe sLage. 1he scrlpL Lells Lhe sLage
crew whaL sorL of llghLlng ls needed, whaL props are
needed, when Lhe curLaln should be rung down.
A screenplay scrlpL ls deslgned Lo leL everyone know
whaL Lhe dlalogue ls, whaL Lhe sequence of lmages
should be, whaL locaLlons are needed, whaL props are
needed. 1he cameramen need Lhe scrlpL, as do Lhe
cosLume deslgners and Lhe edlLor. Lveryone needs Lo
have Lhe scrlpL, so LhaL Lhls Lemporary communlLy can
produce Lhe flnal sLory verslon as a unlfled producL
a graphic novel has no sound,
and it has no motion.
It is a static object.
Its images are frozen, not in motion.
Motion may be implied, but that is all.
Sound may be implied only.
These are important things to remember.
A S C R i P T I S A S C R i P T , I S N ’ T I T ? 15
Cnce you are sure you know your sLory and are wllllng
Lo Lackle learnlng a new sLoryLelllng medlum, you are
ready Lo begln Lhls new advenLure. lf you can make
Lhe elevaLor plLch for your sLory, you should be ready
Lo shape lL lnLo any formaL you wanL: afLer all, lL ls Lhe
stoty you wanL Lo Lell, noL Lhe meJlom.
ln LhaL case, Lhe flrsL Lask ls Lo break ouL Lhe sLory
ln lLs mosL general shape, Lhe baslc sLrucLure of lLs
beglnnlng, mlddle, and end, Lhe challenges and LesLs,
Lhe confllcLs and Lhe cllmax. 1hose aspecLs are noL
golng Lo change, regardless of whlch medlum you casL
Lhe sLory lnLo.
Pe may have read comlc books aL some polnL ln hls
llfe, buL LhaL doesn'L mean he can hlmself Lell a sLory
ln LhaL fashlon. SLlll, Lo geL Lo LhaL graphlc novel ver-
slon he's been dreamlng of, he's golng Lo have Lo learn
how Lo go sldeways, and Lry someLhlng new.
Many writers work in
only one medium, be it
novel, stage play, or
There’s nothing wrong with
this, of course.
But a writer
shouldn’t think that mastering
one form prohibits him or her
from mastering another.
The writer chose to write
a novel or screenplay out of
a love for that medium.
But now he’s
being asked to recast the story
in another medium, one he doesn’t
know very well.
ready to move forward
the new script format
and go with it?
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 16
1hls book wlll help you wlLh each of Lhese maLLers.
8uL Lhey are Lhlngs you need Lo conslder before you
So, you've declded Lo glve lL a Lry, Lo adapL your sLory
as a graphlc novel or comlc book. no maLLer how
long lL Lakes, or whaL formaL you need Lo geL lL lnLo,
you're golng Lo go for lL. ?our flnal ob[ecL ls Lo geL LhaL
book ln your hands. And lf you geL so far as markeLlng
your sLory Lo Pollywood, you wanL Lo be able Lo walk
lnLo Lhe producer's offlce and show lL Lo Lhem before
Lhey haul ouL Lhe dreaded ºls Lhere a graphlc novel?"
lL can be done.
Well, no. uo you know whaL formaL Lhe graphlc form
wlll be publlshed ln? Who ls golng Lo publlsh lL? Wlll
lL flrsL greeL Lhe audlence ln Lhe form of Lhe monLhly
pamphleLs before belng gaLhered lnLo a slngle
volume? Cr wlll you go sLralghL Lo Lhe square bound
long form? WhaL abouL arLlsLs? uo you have an arLlsL
who does boLh penclls and lnks? WhaL abouL color,
wlll lL be ln color? ?ou need a colorlsL. (lL doesn'L have
Lo be ln color, as Lhere are a loL of black & whlLe books
done. 8uL lL ls a cholce you need Lo make, and a black
& whlLe book ls ofLen lnked dlfferenLly Lhan one LhaL
wlll be done ln color.) And you wlll need a leLLerer,
who wlll flll ln Lhe dlalogue balloons from your scrlpL.
Do you have
any idea of how to find
Or what to pay them
for the work they will
Where can you find this information?
INTO THE GUTTERS
I N T O T H E G U T T E R S 19
nless you are really lnLo comlcs, Lhe Lerm
º!"##$%" doesn'L have very poslLlve connoLa-
Llons. 1here ls Lhe sLreeL guLLer, where run-off
waLer sLreams lLs way Loward Lhe publlc sewer llnes.
1here are Lhe guLLers on Lhe edges of house roofs,
LhaL serve a slmllar purpose, guldlng Lhe waLer LhaL
runs off Lhe roof Lo a dralnplpe, whlch furLher dlrecLs
Lhe run-off well away from Lhlngs llke doorways.
the space between
panels is “the
It is not just
can happen in
happens here --
the first and second panel
“in the gutter.”
Comlc scrlpLlng has lLs own Lermlnology. lL wlll help
anyone deslrlng Lo wrlLe a graphlc novel lf Lhey Lake
Lhe Llme Lo learn Lhe Lerms. 8efore you shrug lL off
as a wasLe of your Llme, conslder Lhls: every arena
of endeavor has lLs own vocabulary, Lhe ºllngo of Lhe
Lrade." Þrofesslonals sLrlve Lo learn Lo Lalk Lhe Lalk
of Lhe speclflc buslness Lhey are worklng ln. no one
wanLs Lo be regarded as a LourlsL when Lhey are Lrylng
Lo be professlonal. (And º#&"%'(#" acLually ls a Lerm
used ln Lhe comlc book world: lL means, speclflcally, a
screenwrlLer or novellsL who comes lnLo comlcs wlLh-
ouL Lhe flrsL ldea of Lhe comlc buslness and crafL.)
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 20
1he Lerm º)&*')" or º)&*') ,&&-" ls used for Lhe
form lLself, wheLher speaklng of Lhe floppy pamphleLs
LhaL geL publlshed monLhly or Lhe square bound
graphlc novels or collecLed sLory arcs of ongolng
serles. AccepL your faLe and geL comforLable Lalklng
abouL your ºcomlc book pro[ecL."
1he Lerm º!%./0') 1&2$3" refers speclflcally Lo a long
sLory, one LhaL may be abouL 88 pages, lf noL longer
(Lhe lower llmlL for shorLer ones ls 48 pages). lL ls a
compleLe sLory ln lLself. 1he Lerm º*.!.4'1$" has come
Lo mean Lhe monLhly lssues, where Lhe sLory conLenLs
run abouL 22 Lo 32 pages. As you adapL your sLory as
a graphlc novel, you need Lo keep Lhose monLhlles ln
mlnd: lL's posslble your publlsher wlll wanL Lo puL Lhe
sLory before Lhe audlence ln Lhe monLhly formaL flrsL,
before publlshlng Lhe square bound ºcompleLe sLory."
lf LhaL happens, you need Lo conslder each lndlvldual
lssue as a chapLer of your sLory.
By the way…
take however much space
they need to take in the
Two pages of script
for one page of comic.
I N T O T H E G U T T E R S 21
As you geL lnLo comlc scrlpLlng, Lhe followlng Lerms
wlll become your worklng Lools: page, panel, guLLer,
splash, Ller (or row), landscape, porLralL, sequenLlal,
graphlc, comlcs, magazlne, funny books, arLlsL, pencll-
ler, lnker, leLLerer, colorlsL, edlLor.
ln Lhe pasL, slx equal-slzed panels were Lhe sLandard,
buL LhaL has changed as arLlsLs have developed more
dynamlc sLyles. A wrlLer llke lrank Mlller (1be uotk
kolqbt ketotos, 5lo clty, J00) mlghL requlre Lwelve
panels on a page, Lo achleve a speclflc effecL. 8uL Lhe
currenL sLandard averages abouL flve panels (of vary-
lng slzes) on a page.
Slnce Lhe 1990s, Lhere has been greaLer accepLance of
ºpanel" arL LhaL breaks Lhe frame of Lhe panel. 1hls ls
usually someLhlng Lhe arLlsL decldes upon, raLher Lhan
someLhlng Lhe wrlLer denoLes. lL can creaLe a very
exclLlng page, buL lL needs Lo be used [udlclously.
These top panels are
in portrait format.
This second row is in
This last panel
takes up the whole
row or “tier.”
breaks the frame all the time.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 22
1he Lerm º($5"$1#'.3 .%#" ls used Lo
descrlbe Lhe graphlc sLoryLelllng on Lhe
comlc book page. lL means Lhe flow of
Lhe sLoryLelllng from one panel Lo Lhe
nexL, so LhaL Lhe lmagery makes sense
ln Lhe sLory. A serles of dlsconnecLed
lllusLraLlons of momenLs from a sLory
does noL equal ºsequenLlal arL."
I N T O T H E G U T T E R S 23
Speed lines are used to convey fast motion.
Whether they are curving or straight,
they indicate the direction of the motion.
This is a dialogue balloon.
This is a thought balloon.
The only “bubbles” are
the tail for a thought
can describe setting,
time, or location.
Or they can be used
to convey internal
thoughts as an alternative
to the “cutesy” look
of the thought balloon.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 24
WrlLers are wrlLers, of course, and LhaL doesn'L change
when you come Lo comlc scrlpLlng. ?our [ob remalns
slmllar Lo LhaL of a screenwrlLer or playwrlghL, geLLlng
Lhe sLory you wanL Lo Lell lnLo Lhe blueprlnL so LhaL
oLhers can compleLe Lhe vlslon.
1he nexL member of Lhe Leam ls Lhe ArLlsL. And Lhls ls
where you need Lo pay some aLLenLlon.
Some comlc book arLlsLs are only whaL are called
º/$1)'33$%(." 1hese are arLlsLs who do all Lhe prellml-
nary drawlng of Lhe pages, worklng ln pencll (hence
Lhe name). 1he penclller ls generally your vlsual
deslgner, who wlll seL Lhe look for Lhe book ln Lhe way
Lhe characLers appear, Lhe naLure of Lhelr wardrobes,
whaL Lhe world of your sLory wlll look llke. 1hey are
also Lhe hlghesL pald of your arL Leam. A good pencll-
ler, who dellvers an exclLlng page wlLh excellenL deLall,
can spend more Lhan a day worklng on one page. ºA
page a day" mlghL sound llke a good rule of Lhumb,
buL you have Lo conslder whaL you are expecLlng from
1he penclller mlghL also be called Lhe º3.6&"# .%#'(#,"
because he ls provldlng Lhe general lay-ouL for Lhe
page, whlch mlghL be compleLed by oLher arLlsLs on
nexL comes Lhe º'1-$%."
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 26
the dialogue balloon
takes up space
-- space you may want
for specifics in the art.
If two people are talking,
that is more space gone.
Break speeches up
As you can see,
dialogue in a graphic novel
is a visual element
on the page.
can also show other things--
by devices -- shown
by visual cues.
In the tail,
Or without a tail.
I N T O T H E G U T T E R S 27
1he nexL on Lhe Leam, lf you are golng Lo be dolng a
color book, wlll be your º)&3&%'(#." 1hese days, almosL
all colorlng for graphlc works ls done on compuLer.
8uL LhaL does noL mean LhaL all colorlsLs are equal.
Some are beLLer aL lL Lhan oLhers, so you need Lo
check Lhelr work.
?our arL Leam, and your lnker ln parLlcular, wlll need
Lo know lf Lhe flnal book wlll be color or black &
whlLe, slnce lL affecLs Lhe flnal look of Lhe page. lf Lhe
lnker knows Lhe book wlll noL be colored, Lhere are
Lhlngs he can do ln Lhe lnklng Lo lncrease subLleLy ln
Lhe lmages. lf he knows LhaL your uoroLhy's speclal
sllppers wlll noL be colored a brlghL, obvlous red, he
wlll flnd ways Lo lnk Lhem so LhaL Lhey wlll look llke
Lhe gllsLenlng sllver LhaL L. lrank 8aum lnLended.
1he flnal member of Lhe arL Leam ls Lhe º3$##$%$%."
1hls ls Lhe person responslble for geLLlng all Lhe dla-
logue balloons lnLo Lhe panels, and maklng sure Lhe
balloon Lalls all polnL Lo Lhe correcL characLer.
Fonts can be used
to convey additional
!" $%&'( ) *&"'
+( **$.$"' $**$)'0
! #$%& '(% ()*$
+,-). &/0 1*0 $# (
But do not get carried away
and use too many fonts. Don’t
overload the reader’s
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 28
uo you know how your sLory wlll be publlshed? Wlll
lL be ln monLhly lnsLallmenLs? lf so, whaL wlll Lhe
monLhly page counL of Lhe comlc be? 1wenLy-Lwo
pages or someLhlng more?
A comic book
publisher may want to test
the market by first printing
your tale as a limited series
in the monthly format.
ºWhy can'L Lhe arLlsL do Lhe
scrlpL?" you ask.
ºWhy can'L l [usL glve Lhe arLlsL Lhe sLory (wheLher
screenplay, shorL sLory, or novel)?" 1he blunL answer
ls LhaL lL ls Lhe wrlLer's [ob Lo do LhaL. 1he arLlsL ls
already commlLLlng a day of work (aL leasL) Lo produce
one page of arL for you. Asklng Lhe arLlsL Lo provlde
Lhe blueprlnL for Lhe resL of Lhe Leam as well means
LhaL you are asklng hlm Lo do Lwo [obs lnsLead of one.
Are you wllllng Lo pay Lhe arLlsL double for LhaL?
You need to plan your pacing in
chapters. That way, if the publisher
wants to do it as a monthly,
you’ll be ready.
Cnce Lhe prlnL formaL has been declded, you can
plan Lhe paclng of your sLory. knowlng Lhe number
of comlc pages you wlll have, you can plan your cllff-
hangers. ?ou wlll know how many pages you have
leadlng up Lo Lhe hook LhaL ends each ºchapLer." And
you can anLlclpaLe Lhe placemenL of vlsual elemenLs
ln each Lwo faclng pages. (We'll Louch on Lhls ln more
deLall ln Lhe nexL chapLer.)
I N T O T H E G U T T E R S 29
GETTiNG INTO THE COMiC SCRiPT
1he arLlsL ls your flrsL audlence for your comlc scrlpL.
8y ºflrsL audlence" l mean LhaL lL ls Lhe arLlsL LhaL you
wlll need Lo engage Lhe mosL wlLh your scrlpL.
lf Lhe sLory ls already wrlLLen, Lhls should be easy,
lor wrlLers who are lnLendlng Lo adapL a ºnon-
scrlpL" sLory, Lhe demands of Lhe dlfferenL formaLs
of comlc scrlpLlng are accepLed as ºnew rules."
1he clueless-abouL-comlcs screenwrlLer, however,
mlghL ask lf he can'L [usL glve Lhe arLlsL a copy of
Lhe screenplay. 8uL we've already Louched on one
of Lhe problems ln Lhls: you'd be asklng Lhe arLlsL
Lo become Lhe comlc scrlpLer on Lop of Lhe [ob
you hlred hlm for. And agaln, unless you are wlll-
lng Lo pay for Lhe double duLy, don'L Lry lL. (MosL
arLlsLs wlll probably refuse lL anyway.)
Know the heart
of your story, and
you’ll be able to adapt it
to any format.
If you trust your story,
you can tell it in any format, including
a graphic novel script.
So make it exciting for
your art team.
So, you slL down and make Lhe changes Lo your
sLory needed for Lhls new form of sLoryLelllng. ?ou
break up your scenes lnLo Lhose panel descrlpLlons
and pare down Lhe dlalogue. now you're ready Lo
rock. AL leasL, you Lhlnk so.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 30
CAUTiON: DANGER AHEAD
1here are Lwo (almosL sLandard) complalnLs from arL-
lsLs and edlLors abouL Lhe comlc scrlpLs from Lhose
sLoryLellers who are new Lo wrlLlng graphlc novels.
1he flrsL complalnL ls LhaL Lhere ls Loo much happen-
lng ln one panel, Lo Lhe degree LhaL lL lsn'L golng Lo
work, no maLLer how hard Lhe arLlsL Lrles.
The artist will get a
script that says something
1he arLlsL wlll look aL Lhls descrlpLlon and despalr.
1he acLlon descrlbed ls a slmple enough Lhlng ln
fllm (alLhough lL would probably lnvolve aL leasL Lwo
If you do a quick
sketch, you will discover
the limits of your
Doing thumbnail sketches like
the one below will give you and your
artist some visual guidelines.
I N T O T H E G U T T E R S 31
1he second complalnL abouL Lhe scrlpLs
of novlce graphlc novel wrlLers ls Loo
much Lalklng. 1alk, Lalk, Lalk.
Too many people
talking at once--
Or one character
trying to say far too much
to fit into the panel.
It is very easy
for writers to forget that
their wonderful and witty
take up visual space on
the comic page.
of paring down dialogue to its bare
essence while retaining characterization
is perhaps the most challenging for
1he arLlsLlc value of Lhe dlalogue
balloon ls, for Lhe mosL parL, very
small. very, very small. And Lhe
blgger Lhe balloon Lhe smaller Lhe
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 32
lL could be very easy for Lhe wrlLer Lo sLarL Lhlnklng
aL Lhls polnL LhaL maklng Lhls meLamorphosls from
screenplay, novel, or shorL sLory Lo graphlc novel [usL
lsn'L golng Lo work.
the growing popularity of
graphic novels creates an enticing
opportunity for audience growth.
For screenwriters, to
answer that “see the book” question
may produce a feeling of being between
a rock and a hard place.
If the “pro” options
are worth it, the storyteller
will have to press on.
1he soluLlon ls Lo learn more abouL Lhe naLure of
Lhe comlc book and lLs graphlc sequenLlal sLoryLell-
lng. lL ls noL lmposslble.
1he flrsL, mosL lmporLanL Lhlng for Lhe wrlLer Lo
remember ls LhaL Lhe deslred end producL ls a book7
IS THERE A BOOK?
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 35
8uL a graphlc novel or comlc book lnherenLly com-
blnes Lhe vlsual lmagery ln a sLaLlc form wlLh Lhe
words ln a vlsual form. 1he sLoryLeller ls worklng ln a
medlum whlch has Lhe end resulL of Lhe creaLlve pro-
cess ln a physlcal ob[ecL.
creenwrlLers are used Lo Lhlnklng of Lhelr sLory
ln Lerms of Lhe movlng vlsual lmages wlLhln a
space of Llme. 1hls makes Lhem focus on Lhe
fluldlLy of moLlon wlLhln a scene, as well as how long
lL Lakes for dramaLlc momenLs Lo occur. novellsLs (or
prose wrlLers) Lhlnk of Lhelr sLorles ln Lhe conLexL of
how Lhelr language shapes Lhe emoLlonal lmpacL of
Lhe sLory. 1hose who work ln prose dwell on how
Lhe words Lhemselves bulld Lhe pace of a momenL ln
8uL for sLoryLellers uslng Lhe medlum of graphlc
sequenLlal narraLlon, Lhere are addlLlonal concerns. ln
parLlcular, Lhe sLoryLeller has Lo be concerned abouL
Lhe physlcal naLure of Lhe medlum lLself.
º8uL a prose book ls a physlcal ob[ecL Loo," someone
Well, yes and no. MosL prose work does lndeed reach
Lhe audlence ln Lhe form of LexL on a page (or screen,
whaL wlLh e-books Lhese days). 8uL Lhe lmporLanL ele-
menL of prose ls Lhe acLual words Lhemselves. 1he
sLory would have equal lmpacL lf read aloud - hence
Lhe popularlLy of audlo books, whlch are an aLavlsLlc
reLurn Lo Lhe oral LradlLlon ln sLoryLelllng.
If you’re going to
work in this medium,
you need to keep in
mind that your end
(We wlll Louch on Lhe naLures of moLlon comlcs and
dlglLal comlcs aL Lhe end of Lhe chapLer, buL Lhose are
sLlll bullL on Lhe foundaLlonal undersLandlng of Lhe
physlcal prlnL book.)
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 36
Okay, then. We’re headed
toward a print book that contains
graphic imagery, drawn by
task is to determine how
many pages of art you need
for your story.
You need to know
how it will be published so
you can plan the pages.
Will it be one big book?
Or will it first be
a limited monthly series
with 22 to 24 pages for
A 48-page count is about
the shortest you want for
a perfect bound book.
“Perfect bound” means the
pages are cut on the interior edge
and glued to a flat, squared-off
card stock cover.
“Saddle stich” is when
the pages are folded and then
stapled on the fold.
66 pages can
be saddle stitched
but it will be very
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 37
Þrose wrlLers who choose Lo do a graphlc novel adap-
LaLlon of Lhelr work slmply Lo expand Lhelr audlence
may noL care abouL Lhe Pollywood producer's aLLl-
Lude, buL a screenwrlLer golng Lhls rouLe wlll. LeL's
remember LhaL ln LhaL slLuaLlon whaL we are afLer ls
a poslLlve answer Lo Lhe fllm producer's quesLlon: ºls
Lhere a book l can see?" ?ou wanL Lo have a producL
you can puL lnLo LhaL producer's hands ln order Lo
[ulce up your plLch. And you wanL lL Lo be a sLory LhaL
wlll hook an audlence.
When your deslre ls Lo really lmpress Lhe reader, you
wanL Lo glve Lhem Lhe sharpesL producL posslble. 8uL
Lhe flnal conslderaLlon for you may be Lhe producLlon
cosL, so you do have Lo keep Lhese deLalls ln mlnd as
you lay ouL your plans. ÞerfecL blndlng ls llkely Lo cosL
more Lhan saddle sLlLchlng.
ln any case, you have Lo declde how many pages you
wanL your graphlc novel Lo run. lf you feel your sLory
wlll work ln 88 pages, LhaL means you have four chap-
Lers of 22 pages each. lf you wanL Lo sLreLch your
sLory longer, say Lo 132 pages, you are deallng wlLh slx
chapLers of 22 pages.
Figure out the key
theme for each of your
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 38
lor Lhe momenL, leL us assume LhaL you have Lhe
funds for a Lop-noLch arL Leam, LhaL you wlll be
dolng lL ln color, LhaL lL wlll be prlnLed on hlgh-grade
paper wlLh perfecL blndlng. And for Lhe purposes of
examples here, you are worklng on a four-parL (or
four-chapLer) sLory. ?ou've declded your Lale can work
ln four secLlons, and you're ready Lo reLool lL lnLo a
1he flrsL Lhlng you need Lo make cerLaln ls LhaL Lhe
endlngs of your flrsL Lhree secLlons sLop aL a cllff-
hanger momenL. ?ou woot your reader Lo be lefL aL
Lhe end of Lhe chapLer wlLh a ºWalL, whaL!? WhaL
happens oext?" experlence. ln Lerms of ploL descrlp-
Llon of Lhe sLory, uslng Lhe model of screenplays,
Lhen, lL ls llkely LhaL Lhe flrsL chapLer of your graphlc
novel wlll end [usL before Lhe end of your llrsL AcL,
[usL before your hero makes Lhe declslon Lo commlL Lo
whaLever quesL your sLory wlll Lake hlm on. ?ou wanL
WlLh LhaL ln mlnd, you need Lo evaluaLe your Lale
for Lhe polnLs LhaL wlll really sLand ouL ln Lhe graphlc
novel form. ls lL a really good sLory? Well, slnce you've
been Lrylng Lo geL lL ln fronL of as large an audlence
as posslble, we can assume you belleve LhaL lL ls. Wlll
readers geL lnLo lL? Agaln, you're a bellever. So how
blg a book do you wanL lL Lo be?
?ou need Lo keep Lhe slze of your sLory ln mlnd. lor a
screenplay, Lhe wrlLer conslders how long lmages and
scenes wlll lasL on Lhe screen, and Lhey make sure LhaL
scenes do noL run Loo long and sLarL geLLlng borlng.
A slmllar conslderaLlon applles Lo comlc scrlpLlng.
You do not
want long sequences
of talking heads --
writing for images to carry as
much of your story as possible;
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 39
face each oLher, lylng slde by slde when Lhe book ls
open, and Lhen pages LhaL are hldden by a physlcal
Lurn of Lhe page. 1hls physlcallLy can be used Lo affecL
suspense and Lenslon ln your sLory, Lo puL ln sur-
prlse LranslLlons from one scene Lo anoLher. ?ou can
suspend Lhe resoluLlon of one scene by lnLerposlng
someLhlng else behlnd Lhe Lurn of Lhe page.
Cenerally speaklng, all sequenLlal arL sLoryLelllng
beglns on a rlghL-hand page, Þage Cne. And a book or
a chapLer wlll end on a lefL-hand page, an even-num-
bered page. As you prepare Lo block ouL your comlc
scrlpLlng, Lhese are polnLs you need Lo keep ln mlnd.
We wlll go lnLo greaLer depLh abouL Lhe acLual scrlpL-
lng for comlcs ln ChapLer 3. 8uL for now, whaL you
need Lo geL a sense of ls where Lhe dramaLlc momenLs
for Lhls chapLer come ln your sLory.
Lhe chapLer Lo end aL an unbalanced polnL, wlLhouL
resoluLlon, so LhaL Lhe reader ls Llpped forward lnLo
Lhe nexL secLlon of Lhe sLory. 1hls ls Lrue for Lhe end-
lngs of each secLlon excepL Lhe lasL. uo noL glve away
where Lhe sLory Lurns nexL. lnsLead, make Lhe answer
of LhaL quesLlon a drlvlng lssue for Lhe reader.
Cnce you know LhaL polnL for Lhe end of Lhe chap-
Ler, you know whaL lL ls you are drlvlng Loward ln all
Lhe pages LhaL come before lL. lL ls oecessoty Lo deLer-
mlne Lhls polnL, because lL shapes Lhe paclng of how
you geL Lo lL.
Whlch brlngs us back Lo Lhe physlcal naLure of Lhe
comlc book. We are Lalklng abouL pages here, physl-
cal pages. 8lghL-hand and lefL-hand pages, pages LhaL
You want to pace
your storytelling so that as
many of your “What?!” “Oh!!”
reactions fall on either side
of a page turn.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 40
1hey should be used sparlngly, for genulne dramaLlc
momenLs. ÞuL Loo many lnLo a chapLer and Lhe reader
may feel LhaL Lhe wrlLer ls belng lazy abouL Lhe sLory-
Lelllng. 8uL be sure you are uslng Lhe large space for
whaL ls Lhe genulne drama.
lf you wanL your lasL page of Lhe chapLer Lo be a hlghly
dramaLlc momenL, you and your arLlsL may choose
Lo glve LhaL lasL page over Lo a slngle panel lmage.
cbotlle ls blowo off tbe cllff.
These panels involve a real
cliffhanger. What’s going to
happen to our hero?
This was on the
bottom of a right-hand page.
The big reveal came after
the page turn.
Llsewhere ln Lhe chapLer, you may have a dramaLlc
revelaLlon LhaL you wanL Lo glve a full page, a reveal
LhaL comes afLer a suspenseful page Lurn. Make noLe
of LhaL commlLmenL of space. 8uL don'L overdo Lhe
buslness of asslgnlng Loo many full-page spreads.
You need to figure
out how much “page space”
each moment of your story
will take up.
?ou can use an lndex card program. SeL up a flle of 22
cards or blocks, one for each page of Lhe flnal comlc
book. Color code Lhem ln a slmple fashlon, whlLe for
rlghL-hand pages and a pale yellow for Lhe lefL-hand
pages, for lnsLance. 1hls leLs you see all 22 blocks aL
once, lncludlng Lhe placemenL of pages wlLh speclal,
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 41
When you search for your arL Leam, you wanL Lo be
able Lo say ºl have Lhls momenL when we see Lhls
characLer lose - or Lhlnk he has losL - Lhe love of
hls llfe." Cr º1here's Lhls one momenL LhaL l wanL Lo
be as scary as all geL ouL! SomeLhlng blg and dark
and dangerous comlng ouL of shadows. And Lhen
we Lurn Lhe page and reveal-"
Lvery wrlLer wlll flnd Lhelr own way Lo achleve Lhls
end resulL. ?ou mlghL use a spreadsheeL program and
use alLernaLe hlghllghLlng for even and odd pages. Cr
slmple llned paper wlLh a slngle llne for each page
and some sorL of lndlcaLor for Lhe even and odd
comlc pages. 8uL however you do lL, Lhls prellmlnary
declslon-maklng wlll help you when you geL lnLo Lhe
nlLLy-grlLLy parL of adapLlng your sLory Lo Lhe comlc
scrlpL. lL ls useful for sLrucLurlng ooy sLory for Lhe
graphlc novel form.
Cnce you've done Lhls much ouLllnlng (for yes, Lhls ls
a Lype of ouLllnlng of your sLory), you can seL lL aslde
for Lhe momenL, aL leasL ln Lhe sense LhaL you're noL
golng Lo be addlng more scrlpL lnformaLlon yeL.
The reason to do
this much upfront…
is so you can more
easily engage your
artists in the project.
You want to
your art team to shine on the page.
You want them to make your story
8ecause when Lhe person who asked ºls Lhere a
graphlc novel l can look aL?" flnally opens Lhe covers
of your graphlc novel, you wanL Lhem Lo be blown
away wlLh your sLory. And Lo geL Lhere, you have Lo
do LhaL Lo your arL Leam.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 42
Know what sort of “look”
you are going to want for
your graphic novel.
ÞresenLaLlon ls everyLhlng. lf you care so llLLle abouL
your sLory LhaL you flnd Lhe flrsL arLlsL you can afford,
Loss Lhem your novel or screenplay and say ºMake a
graphlc novel ouL of Lhls, please," whaL ls Lhe arLlsL
Lo Lhlnk concernlng how much Lhls means Lo you?
WhaL do you conslder Lhe lmporLanL momenLs ln
Lhe sLory? lf you aren'L golng Lo do Lhe work of pre-
parlng a comlc scrlpL for Lhe arLlsL Lo work from, you
wlll geL whaL Lhe ungulded ottlst flnds of lnLeresL.
So, Step One:
Know what the dramatic
moments of your story are and
where you want them to fall
in your graphic novel.
knowlng whaL Lhe ºlook" of your book wlll be lnvolves
your second blg conslderaLlon for Lhe physlcal produc-
Llon of Lhe work. Where Lhe flrsL was Lhe number of
pages and Lhe blndlng LhaL wlll be used, Lhe second ls
wheLher or noL you wlll do Lhe lnLerlor work ln color
or black & whlLe. 1hls ls noL [usL a haphazard cholce.
lL ls a facLor Lhe arLlsL needs Lo know.
When Lhe arLlsL knows a work wlll be prlnLed ln color
he may make dlfferenL cholces abouL composlLlon
Lhan he would lf he knows lL wlll be [usL ln black &
whlLe. 8e sure you have budgeLed for your colorlsL
from Lhe beglnnlng, because lf you have a penclller
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 43
Don’t fall into
the trap of thinking you can
“do it yourself” in Photoshop,
with that infamous “Comic
and lnker who LhoughL Lhe work would be colored
afLer Lhey were done, and you suddenly run ouL of
money and declde Lo go ahead ºas ls," Lhey mlghL noL
be so happy wlLh Lhe work. 1hls ls noL abouL Lhem
noL ºdolng Lhelr besL," lL ls abouL Lhe huge dlfferences
LhaL exlsL ln drawlng for color and drawlng for black &
whlLe. CerLalnly, lL ls posslble Lo color black & whlLe
work afLer Lhe facL, and noL have lL be much of a serl-
ous composlLlonal problem. 8uL Lo go ln Lhe oLher
dlrecLlon can be a problem, parLlcularly for your lnker.
lor lnsLance, an lnker who knows LhaL Lhe page wlll
be colored mlghL lnk ln nlghL-shadows dlfferenLly Lhan
she would lf she knew lL was golng Lo be prlnLed ln a
flaL black & whlLe (or greyscale).
Cnce you have resolved Lhe maLLer of color versus
black & whlLe prlnLlng, your nexL conslderaLlon should
be your leLLerer. 1here ls lndeed an arL Lo leLLerlng
a work of graphlc sLoryLelllng. 1he selecLlon of fonLs
can be an lmporLanL enhancemenL Lo Lhe sLoryLell-
lng, especlally lf your sLory ls ouLslde Lhe malnsLream
llLerary genre. lf your Lale lnvolves sclence flcLlon or
fanLasy or supernaLural elemenLs, havlng a leLLerer
who knows how Lo sulL fonL selecLlon Lo Lhe characLer
and sLory wlll be a greaL advanLage Lo you.
1o address Lhe speclflc maLLer of Comlc Sans fonL:
never use lL ln a graphlc novel. Lver. lL ls noL acLually
an accepLed fonL for comlc books. lL ls a mlsgulded
fonL deslgner's mlsapprehenslon of whaL comlc book
leLLerlng acLually does and ls.
!"#$ #$ &'(#) *+,$ -',./ 0'$. .12. #, 34+5"#)
,'617$ #$ 8',1 #, 9:;&< &=>?!=: :@!!@A*/
9B! !C@D E; F;! B*@ !C@ &=>?!=: G?G
?F !C@ 0?EE:@ ;H I;AE*/ =$ J'K )+, $11L
Comic Sons does fhis. If doesn'f Iook good.
If sfonds ouf Iike o sore fhumb.
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 44
lor mosL wrlLers, all of Lhese elemenLs are new con-
slderaLlons ln Lhe sLoryLelllng. A graphlc novel ls vlsual
ln some cruclally dlfferenL ways Lhan a movle ls vlsual.
lor a fllm, Lhe lmages have moLlon and Lhe dlalogue
has sound. 1he words LhaL are necessary ln Lhe flnal
producL for Lhe sLoryLelllng do noL Lake up physlcal
or vlsual space. 8uL Lhose same words ln a graphlc
novel Jo have a physlcal presence, and Lhey musL be
lncluded ln Lhe over-all deslgn.
lL ls llkely Lo be a new experlence for mosL wrlLers Lo
have Lo conslder deslgn lssues, buL such ls Lhe case
when lL comes Lo puLLlng LogeLher a graphlc novel. 1he
cholces for an arL Leam (or slngle arLlsL, lf you flnd one
who wlll do all Lhe vlsual chores lncludlng leLLerlng)
are lmporLanL, for you are enLerlng lnLo a parLnershlp.
A good leLLerer wlll undersLand Lhe need for clar-
lLy ln selecLlon of a fonL for your work. 1he ob[ecL ls
for Lhe LexL Lo communlcaLe clearly, wlLhouL drawlng
Loo much aLLenLlon Lo lLself. lf a reader ls spendlng
Loo much Llme golng ºWhaL Lhe heck ls Lhls word?"
because Lhe fonL ls Loo ºarLlsLlc," lL's Lhe wrong fonL
for Lhe [ob.
Powever, Lhere may be occaslons when Lo beLLer
serve your sLory, a dlfferenL fonL mlghL be used for
speclflc slLuaLlons or characLers.
!"#$%&' )*+ %#" ,"--./0 % '1."/1" 2.1,.*/
',*#) 3.,$ % '"/,."/, 1*4&+,"# %' */" *2
,$" 1$%#%1,"#'5 6$" 7.',./1,.8" /%,+#"
*2 ,$" 1*4&+,"# 1%/ 9" ./7.1%,"7 8.'+%--)
9) 0.8./0 .,' 7"1-%#%,.*/' % 7.22"#"/,
2*/, ,$%/ ,$" */" 9"./0 +'"7 2*#
%-- *,$"# 7.%-*0+" %/7 1%&,.*/'5
Such arLlsLlc cholces can add greaLly Lo Lhe reader's
experlence of your sLory.
The art team
will be putting flesh and
blood on the bones of
and you will want to
be sure it is the right
flesh and blood.
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 45
1be setles tbot we boseJ tbe CN oo ls o
ttlloqy ooJ we JlJo´t koow bow mooy
CNs we woolJ be oble to Jo. lf tbe CN
ptoveJ oopopolot, we JlJo´t woot to qet
stock wltb o bolf-tolJ tole ooJ oooble to
ptoJoce oo expeoslve book lo otJet to flolsb lt. 5o, we
lookeJ obeoJ lo tbe setles to qet oo lJeo of wbete tbe
stoty wos qoloq. we wooteJ to cteote oo eoJloq tbot
coolJ setve os tbe octool eoJloq of tbe stoty, bot olso
keep tbe Joot opeo fot o sepoel lf we qot tbe cbooce
to moke ooe. we oseJ tbe secooJ oovel fot o few key
sceoes ooJ elemeots tbot woolJ ollow os to Jo tbot.
we coolJ wtop op some, bot oot oll, of tbe loose eoJs
lo oot oJoptotloo of tbe stoty lo o sloqle volome.
8ememberlng all of Lhe elemenLs LhaL wlll be on Lhe
page ls lmporLanL when you hunL for Lhe rlghL arLlsL.
lf you have a loL of dlalogue LhaL absoluLely musL be
lncluded, LhaL excellenL arLlsL wlLh Lhe energeLlc and
busy sLyle mlghL noL be Lhe rlghL cholce for Lhe pro[-
ecL. ?our ob[ecL ls Lo make Lhe experlence of readlng
Lhe graphlc novel as seamless as posslble, so you do
noL wanL Lhe dlalogue balloons and Lhe arLwork flghL-
lng each oLher for Lhe aLLenLlon of Lhe reader. 1he Lwo
elemenLs should work LogeLher.
?ou mlghL feel aL Lhls polnL LhaL Lhe underLaklng of
Lurnlng your sLory lnLo a graphlc novel was a mls-
Lake. ?ou sLarL wonderlng lf Lhe sLory acLually can be
adapLed as a graphlc novel. uon'L be dlscouraged. 1he
form ls adapLable Lo dlfferenL sLyles and Lones. ?ou [usL
need Lo make some declslons abouL Lhe adapLaLlon.
WrlLer C! PurLL speaks from hls experlence ln adapL-
lng a properLy.
You Adapted 2 Novels From A Series
into One 140-Page Graphic Novel.
What Sort Of Divisions Did You Set
For The Graphic Novel?
How Did You Choose Elements
Or Events From The 2
Original Books For The
Graphic Novel? What Did You
Look For in Deciding What To
l lookeJ fot tbe mojot tbemes. l teolly wooteJ to qet
octoss wbot tbe ootbot of tbe oovel setles loteoJeJ.
5loce so mocb of tbe sootce motetlol woolJ oot be
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 46
we eoJeJ op cottloq o lot of tbe cbot-
octets ooJ combloloq mote tboo o
few. ¥oo look ot tbe tole some of tbe
cbotoctets ploy ooJ see lf tbete´s ooy
ovetlop. lf tbtee qoys ote tbe ´boJJy´
moybe yoo coo cot tbot Jowo to ooe. Mloot cbotoc-
tets wbose otcs Joo´t qteotly offect tbe molo stoty otc
coolJ osoolly be cot. 1bot´s oot to soy tbot we JlJo´t
bove o sobplot, bot lt teolly ls o boJ lJeo to bove o
cost of tboosooJs lo o self-cootoloeJ 140-poqe CN. l
JlJ loveot o coople of cbotoctets, bot tbey wete foltly
mloot. 5ometlmes yoo oeeJ o plot Jevlce petsoo tbot
Joes sometbloq ootewottby ooJ yoo Joo´t bove ooe
lo tbe estobllsbeJ llst of cbotoctets. 1be cbotoctets
wbete we combloeJ people sometlmes oeeJeJ to
bove tbelt ´volce´ cbooqeJ o blt. we boJ o few cbot-
octets tbot setveJ slmllot potposes, bot boJ Jlffeteot
petsooolltles. 5o lo o seose tbey qet loveoteJ os yoo
oJopt tbem to tbe CN sctlpt ftom tbe oovel.
lo tbe CN Joe to spoce, lt become vety lmpottoot
to moke sote tbot bls vlsloo of tbe wotlJ be cteoteJ
woso´t totolly wosbeJ owoy. Aoy sceoe tbot telofotceJ
bls mojot tbemes wos bookmotkeJ ooJ tevleweJ to
see bow we coolJ ose lt ooJ bow mooy poqes lt woolJ
toke to ptoJoce tbe sceoe. 1be oovels cootolo o lot of
octloo ooJ vloleoce. we obvloosly coolJ oot locloJe
oll of tbe bottles ooJ flqbtloq ooJ stlll bove toom left
ovet fot stoty, so ooy bottle tbot JlJo´t ptovlJe o Jecl-
slve ootcome boJ to be cot. Cloot cbooks of tbe stoty
boJ to be moveJ otoooJ ooJ teottooqeJ to moke tbls
wotk. wbeo Joloq oo oJoptotloo llke tbls, ot some
polot yoo bove to stop lookloq ot lt os lf yoo ote cte-
otloq stotybootJs fot o oovel. A lot of stoty elemeots
moy bove to cbooqe lo otJet to btloq tbe oovel lo tbe
sepoeotlol fotm. ¥oo bove to be vety ecooomlcol wltb
wotJs, octloo, evetytbloq. 5ometlmes yoo bove to
vlew lt os ´yoot vetsloo´ ooJ moke cbooqes so tbot lt
wotks os o comlc.
Did You Have To Leave
Characters Out? Or Add Ones
That Didn’t Exist in The
I S T H E R E A B O O K ? 47
Powever, as a Lool for bulldlng your audlence, shorL
Leasers of Lhe sLory ln Lhe form of a moLlon comlc can
be worLh conslderlng.
1here ls growlng acLlvlLy ln comlcs speclflcally deslgned
for Lhe dlglLal experlence. noLed wrlLer Mark Wald
has acLlvely engaged ln Lhe endeavor, as one of Lhe
founders of Lhe 1hrlllbenL webslLe. lnsLead of anlma-
Llon, Lhese dlglLal comlcs use Lechnology Lo geL more
effecL ouL of Lhe panel arL, such as renderlng a fore-
ground ln sharp focus wlLh Lhe background blurred,
whlle a foreground characLer speaks or acLs, and Lhen
on a second swlpe of Lhe screen Lhe reader geLs Lhe
same panel, buL wlLh changed focus, so LhaL whaLever
ls background becomes Lhe cenLer of aLLenLlon.
1he slmplesL form of Lhls conslsLs of sLralghL scans of
prlnL pages, so LhaL Lhe lmage on screen ls LhaL of Lhe
speclflc page lmagery. 1here are oLher developmenLs,
however. ºMoLlon comlcs" as well as comlcs deslgned
speclflcally for Lhe e-book experlence.
A *&#'&1 )&*') comblnes a vlsual recordlng of Lhe
arLwork wlLh slmple anlmaLlon. Speclflc panels may
be expanded Lo show Lhe whole arLwork of Lhe panel.
narraLlon capLlons and dlalogue balloons are also
usually removed ln order Lo beLLer show Lhe arLwork.
Sound effecLs and volce acLlng are added. 1he formaL
has had a mlxed recepLlon, because Lhe sLoryLell-
lng proceeds aL Lhe speed Lhe producer has chosen.
the physical book form
remains the primary format
have been taking
These are new
ways of presentation,
but by and large, print still
shapes the nature of
C r e a t i n g G r a p h i c N o v e l s B e a c h 48
Lhe sLory on Lhe page ls noL golng Lo do Lhe [ob for
you. ?ou wanL a book LhaL plques Lhe reader's curl-
oslLy from Lhe sLarL, wlLh an engaglng cover lmage.
1hen Lhe pages and panels lnslde need Lo keep Lhe
reader hooked, so LhaL Lhey wanL Lo know whaL hap-
pens nexL, Lhey wanL Lo know lf Lhere ls more.
(And afLer all, LhaL ls whaL Lhe Pollywood producer
ls looklng for Loo: someLhlng LhaL holds onLo Lhe
SLlck wlLh your deLermlnaLlon Lo compleLe Lhe graphlc
novel. llnd Lhe arL Leam LhaL besL sulLs your lncllna-
Llons, and LrusL Lhem. A good arLlsL wlll ofLen see
someLhlng ln your maLerlal LhaL you do noL, and wlll
surprlse you wlLh an lnslghLful Louch.
1he lmporLanL Lhlng Lo remember ls LhaL Lhe ob[ecL ls
Lo geL Lhe reader - whoever lL mlghL be (LhaL general
reader or Lhe Pollywood producer who mlghL wanL Lo
make a fllm) - enLlrely engaged ln your sLory, Lo Lhe
polnL LhaL Lhey wanL more of lL. ArL LhaL merely geLs
Consider what your
primary audience will be,
how receptive they might be
to an alternate form
and make your plans
The best option is
to plan for print and keep the
additional forms of distribution
as supplementary options.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?