The Graphic Novel: How They are Made To the Most Influential …
The Writer … • Although most people think of a graphic novel as a series of pictures, it is the written plot that gives the story its direction. • The writer and artist discuss the proposed story and exchange ideas. • During the course of their discussion, they decide on the situations, locations, characters, and other details of the story. This helps define the overall plot from beginning to end.
The Writer … • Because most comics have a fixed number of pages, the writer and artist must then decide how to break up the story to fit each page. • They discuss which scenes and dialogue are critical to keep the story flowing and how the characters and action should be depicted to have the greatest impact. • Once the story has been refined, the writer creates a script.
The Artists … • The artist reads the script and makes a rough sketch of each page, called a thumbnail. • The thumbnail helps the artist decide how each scene should be depicted, and how the different scenes should be arranged on the page. Some artists sketch each scene on a small piece of adhesive-backed note paper and then move them around on a larger piece of paper to achieve the desired effect. • Using the thumbnail as a guide, the artist begins drawing each page in pencil. Some artists like to work on standard 8.5 x 11 in (22 x 28 cm) white paper and then photo-enlarge the pencil drawings onto 11 x 17 in (28 x 43 cm) illustration boards before inking the final copies; others make their pencil drawings directly on the larger boards.
The Artists … • The artist usually starts drawing the main elements of each scene with a hard pencil that makes very light lines. When all the main elements are in place, the artist considers the overall effect and makes any changes before proceeding. • The artist then darkens the main elements with a softer pencil and adds the backgrounds and other details. Areas for the dialogue balloons, sound effects, and narrative boxes are blocked out in blue pencil to distinguish them from the illustrations. • At this point, an editor may review the pencil drawings and make changes. Sometimes the editor may ask the artist to redraw a portion of a scene to correct an error or clarify an item. In other cases, the editor may have to shorten the dialogue or narrative to fit in the space left by the artist.
The Artists … • When the pencil drawings are complete, they are sent to the inker. • The inker's job is much more than just tracing over the penciled lines of the artist with black ink. It involves the selection of line widths, adding shadows, visually separating the foreground from the background, and creating special effects like splatter or wash to give the illustrations texture. • The inker uses a variety of pens and brushes to produce a finished black and white page. Many inkers have their own unique style that adds to the artist's original drawings.
The Artists … • The final step in the drawing process is adding the lettering for the dialogue, sound effects, and narratives that appear in the script. • This can be done using hand lettering, adhesive labels, or computer-generated digital type. • The letterer selects a typeface that not only conveys the actual words or sounds, but also conveys the action or emphasis of the scene with its size, style, and placement.
Coloring … • The finished pages, including the front and back covers, are sent to the colorist who adds the colors and prepares the four-color separation films required for printing. • The original artwork is first photocopied and then scanned into a computer. The photocopy is hand-colored using colored markers, pencils, and paints to become a guide when coloring the pages on the computer. The scanned copy becomes an electronic file that forms a digital outline of the page to be colored. • With the color guide as a reference, the colorist begins to add colors to the digital outlines of each page starting with the backgrounds and working forward. This is done using a custom software package that allows the colorist to trace the outline of any part of the image with the cursor, and then apply and blend colors to that area to match the color guide or to achieve a special effect.
Coloring • As the colorist selects and applies each color, the computer automatically assigns a code to it. This code is used to identify the four color components that make up that particular color—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. • When these four colors are printed in an interlocking pattern of tiny dots, our eyes perceive them as hundreds of different colors, even though there are really only four colors of ink on the page. • When all the pages have been colored, a proof copy of the entire comic book is printed from the computer for final review and approval.
The Most Influential Graphic Novels of All Time • According to comic book expert, teacher extraordinaire, and all-around good guy Scott William Foley, the most influential graphic novels are as follows:
Ticket Out The Door • On a half sheet of paper, write down whether you’d prefer to be a writer, an pencil artist, an inker, a letterer, or a colorist accompanied with an explanation. • I do expect a complete sentence.