Commitment-Phobia: The graphic novel

It started as a flippant facebook comment: “ I write violent post-apocalyptic science fiction as an outlet.”

A few comments down the discussion, someone else chimed in: “I see a graphic novel spawning from all of this…you write it, I’ll draw it ;)”

….graphic novel?

The tiny bells inside me started to chime.




The bells became sirens, alarms, klaxons.

I don’t really read graphic novels. I’ve read a few here or there. Either the ones that are written by my favorite prose authors (Briggs “Homecoming”, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”), or the ones that were solemnly placed in my hand with the comment “You need to read this,” (“Persepolis”). I read a few because of their films (“The Watchmen” and “American Splendor”). But mostly, I don’t read them.

I have nothing against them. I just don’t gravitate toward them. I don’t need other people’s pictures. I have vivid enough pictures on my own. And the pacing kills me as a reader. They are literary chocolate chip cookies. I intend to only eat one, and then I’ve gobbled a batch before I’m satisfied.

Last night, I told the fiancé about the idea, he mentioned one of my works in progress as a good candidate, and I went to bed.

By the time I woke up this morning, the klaxons were still blaring, and my muse had added a funky drumbeat. Do this.

I have a wedding to plan. Crafty DIY stuff to finish. Dress fittings. I can’t do this.

Do this. Do this. Do this. Do this.

I sent the artist a few notes about the piece my fiancé named the night before. I spent an hour discussing the visuals. I realized that my every first draft is written like a graphic novel waiting for an artist. I write dialogue, action, reaction and scene. But I don’t add color, intensity, tone, or setting until at least draft 2 or 3. How oddly I am suited to write graphic novels.

Do this. Do this. Do this.

I noticed as I sent notes to the artist that the particular piece we’re talking about is already broken up into episodes that would never work as a novel. I’d figured I’d use them as short story teasers or something. Submissions to magazines.

Do this. Do this.

I remembered that I have a Facebook friend with experience in the industry. I asked him for recommendations for which novels I should be reading. I can’t write something I don’t read. I need to read the best, the worst, and a good bit in between those extremes. STAT.

I brought it up in the break room at work with a fellow novelist-by-night, and he recommended a book about the structure and story of comics: a guide.

I bought it.

Do this!

I have no idea how much time I’ll have to devote to this project. I’m terrified that it will die in the water before it gets off the ground. I’m afraid to start. But I have to.

In our chats today, the artist noted “The universe is totally giving this the thumbs up. Sort of like, “ok girls…here’s your creative ‘other half’ go and make the world a more badass place.”…

I’m doing this.


6 thoughts on “Commitment-Phobia: The graphic novel

  1. Here’s the recommended reading list – what would you add?

    “In my own humble opinion, pulled from the stream-of- consciousness off the top of my head therefore in no particular order, and spannin’ the spectrum of genres, includin’ all-ages to mature content:

    -A Contract with God and Other Tenement
    Stories, Signal From Space, To The Heart of the Storm, New York The Big City and The Building all by Will Eisner (actually ANYTHING by Eisner. You may want to check out his Comics & Sequential Art and Graphic Storytelling two must-reads for any storyteller no matter the medium).

    -Fax From Sarajevo and Abraham Stone by Joe Kubert. Fax is based on actual faxes, sent from a businessman and art agent in war-torn Bosnia to Kubert and others usin’ the only means of communication he had w/ the outside world, the fax machine.

    -Any of the Blueberry series byJean-Michel Charlier & Jean “Moebius” Giraud. (Western)

    -Any of The Incal series by Alejandro Jodorowsky & Jean “Moebius” Giraud. (Fantasy/Science Fiction)

    -V For Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd.

    -Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt.

    -Any Tintin by Herge (First read a few of these 64-page volumes in 3/4-inch thick hardcover in our grade school library in the early sixties.The longest comic stories I’d ever read to that point; like little movies. Loved ’em ever since. Great , fun adventure!)

    -Any Valerian by Pierre Christin & Jean-Claude Mezieres (*Fantasy/Science Fiction)

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