This past weekend’s Graphic Novel symposium was unspeakably amazing and exciting and interesting and fun. We spent 3 days talking about nothing but comics. It’s a bit lonely back in my studio with only the radio and Twitter for company now.
The best part was the 8-page collaborative comic, though I was nervous about it at first. How could 30 people possibly work together to produce a coherent comic? They’d all start picturing their own versions, and wouldn’t let go of them easily....
The solution was to slow the writing process down, and make it impossible to predict the end result. Even if someone did leap ahead and write the whole comic by themselves, they’d have to go through it all again with the group, and while their story could be incorporated into the final outcome, it wouldn’t survive unchanged. They’d have to fit it into what the group was doing.
When it came to drawing, all the intense storyboard discussion meant that everyone knew what the point of the story was and what needed to be communicated. We sketched in the basics and started drawing anywhere on the giant pages, trying to get everything done to an equal level all over before filling in the details. It didn’t matter that you were good at faces, or feet, because someone else would be drawing over your drawing when we tightened everything up. You couldn’t protect your perfect little bit of drawing. Much the same as the scripting process, it had to be relevant to the story to survive.
We ended up with a comic that no one person would have been able to produce if left to their own devices. Someone, looking at our pages, said: “I’ve never seen this style of comic before.
And that’s because it didn’t exist until we made it. We developed our own style, and it came out of the story we told, and because we didn’t start with an end-result in mind.
What we made isn’t the best comic ever written, but it is a comic that shows off the nuts and bolts of comic-making. I’m really, really proud of what we did.
(Pictures will follow at some point; I was too busy walking around grinning to take any decent ones. And regular craft-related posts will resume tomorrow!)