graphic novel notes
Posted by jeanne
this is my first test of the directions i’m trying to follow about making your own graphic novel. i’ve imported a line drawing and am adding layers for each of the rings of the quantum antarctica game.
next i have to go in and draw some more bounding areas and fill them with details, effects and so on on more layers. i’m learning the principles, and so far the first one i have learned is that, like the silk painting serti technique, you have to have enclosed areas to put the colors in, so jim’s line drawing is going to have to mark where the color changes are, rather than the edges of objects. i guess the lines usually do just that, but i’m going to have to go around his drawings after i scan them in, just like i do when he designs a scarf for me.
oh and i’ve been thinking about names. quantum antarctica. quant’artica. q’ant. i had some other names on the dog walk this afternoon, but they’re gone now. must have been a lie, as my dad used to say. wish i could remember. they were good names. not quantum quest.
we’ve been discussing which parts of the story to do as graphic novel. we feel comfortable with maybe an eighth of the story illustrated as comic book pages. most of it will be prose, just every now and then there’ll be up to 5 pages of full color insert.
i can see the finished book. the cover is like an old worm bible, leather, embossed, worn down to the brown skin. inside there’s marbling. there’s a list of illustrations, and there loads of illustrations. there’s a list of maps, and there are 46 maps at the very least. there are maps of each level and each ring, and each town, and the trade routes, and the weather, and the heroic journeys, pirate maps and symbolic maps and flowcharts. maybe we can switch typeface for different situations or developmental levels. i hate stories without pictures, and i’m going to have loads of pictures in this one. jim will do all the illustrations, i will do the maps and anything that’s better done on computer, like scanning and inking, coloring and lettering. but especially i get to do all the maps, because jim’s never done it, and i’ve always loved drawing maps.
we can’t illustrate the whole story, but we could illustrate a thread, or two, that runs thru the story. like the dragoncons. like the real world events. like the quantum lessons scattered about. that way we touch on everything with every graphic section, because everybody’s appearance and the appearance of the world, and the style we use to illustrate it, change thruout the story. there would be other threads running thru the game that we could illustrate, and a lot of this could be covered by spot illustrations that appear at each level or ring or chapter heading and inside the level/ring/chapter wherever it needs it.
all of these threads, or pieces of the story can be really cool as a graphic novel, and so the question arises, why not do the whole thing that way? but we’re talking about several hundred pages of written script (finished about like i did train wreck, which is first draft and might as well be notes) and several hundred pages of graphic novel, which jim doesn’t have time or energy to pencil, and i don’t have time or software to process into tiffs. thanks gimp for not doing cmyk, me hole.
this is so much work it’s not funny. we’d need a team to actually do this the right way. but all there is is us, so we’ll do it our way. the story comes first, however. and it’s got to be a final, full outline before we can proceed to either scripting or prosing each chapter. we’ll have figured out which ones to illustrate by then, i hope, but maybe not. no, i’m pretty confident we’ll have it figured out.
the way this process is working is that i’m struggling along with one little aspect of it that seems to be going so slow (like rush-hour traffic in atlanta – bumper to bumper at 70 miles an hour), and it goes along and limps along, (notes on the political mind, research on graphic novels, doing character sketches) and i have to stop and do other things, and the days rush by without my doing very much at all, and then all of a sudden we go for a dog walk and i voice my frustrations, and jim comes up with a little twist that makes everything fit together in a really elegant way, and i start sputtering and flaming and pretty soon we have an entirely new understanding of how the story works, and i come home and scramble to write it all down before it’s tomorrow and a whole nother day.
of course, i stll have to go back to taking notes and figuring out what the characters look like.
on the dog walk this evening, jim and i went over the various aspects of the story that could be illustrated.
the seven dragoncons can be illustrated as a graphic novel. i can just see the hyatt flooded with people on two floors, a crowded escalator going diagonally across the page. the fairy tale vision would work very nicely as a graphic novel. illustrating all the dragoncons would function on its own as a summation of the action and progress.
creating and testing the game would be very easy as a graphic novel, because the scientific details escape me and have to be shortened to the rudiments to begin with, and because it’s easier to show a wireframe landscape than to describe it. illustrating the principles of classical and relativistic (and quantum) physics is probably easier than talking about it. especially judging by all the quantum physics books (without equations) that i’ve tried to get thru.
the seven rings of playing the game, which is essentially following the boy and girl as they play the game, as they change in their appearance and grow in their actions and responsibilities and finally face each other and let the add-ons drop away.
playing the game is a very large part of the story, about half, and as such you couldn’t illustrate all of the game. this is where we might could illustrate learning the quantum lessons, doing the exercises that enable you to think quantum and act quantum. it’d be a whole lot better to show this learning process than it would be to lecture about it.
the real world. there is a lot of the real world, and it takes up the other half of the story, so you couldn’t illustrate all of it. but there are various facets.
the public reaction goes the whole gamut from unease to rabid mob, a parody of the right wing reaction to socialism, for example.
their actions from installing spies to directing sabotage, to suppression and syrian military diplomacy. this is a metaphor for all the uprisings against the elite now occurring in the world, and best left as indescriptive as possible, since i don’t really want to pay attention to it – it’s so unpleasant and i just get mad.
then there’s the pivotal dramatic sequence where the boy is coopted, but changes his mind after the game and is forced to watch as the girl is captured and tortured and the kernel is destroyed, but the boy fights them, rescues the girl, and seeks shelter and aid.
there are lots of realworld and game effects when the kernel is destroyed, and it goes from bad to worse, doing catastrophic things that would look really good visually, and the prose description would pale by comparison.
there’s the final realworld showdown, when we see the defeat of quantum, the cruel celebration of the victors, and find the losers in fema camps. is irony best captured in visual or text?
and how to play it when people find themselves playing the game in their dreams, and the whole quantum thing finally reaches critical mass, where players go around creating the parallel worlds they want to live in, and they coalesce, and collapse into a new, shifted reality that doesn’t normalize a power-hungry, fear-based mindset.
as an epilog, at the final dragoncon, there’s a new baby who already thinks and acts in quantum, the first of her generation, an improved game, and a world settling in to a new reality where we are all one and love is all you need.
the character sketch
the boy is tall and lanky, unkempt and slouchy, a self-conscious wannabe geek who uses his smarts to get ahead. in the course of the game he turns into a swashbuckler, a gengis khan, a red-haired fabio with a kirk douglas chin, and then an old bodybuilder in a khan suit.
the girl starts out as a waiflike thing half the boy’s size, pixy black hair, and grows thru a dumpy and somewhat bitchy and put-upon middle age to be a mother earth crone with a halo, leaving flowers where she steps, all that.
kurt looks like my ex the computer genius, and acts like those dysfunctional guys in project x, but once he becomes ex-kurt in the game, he is a bundle of light, a moving finger, a face in random patterns, and in the realworld he is a face in the clouds and a gust of wind and a shadow on the sun.
snake is lithe and quick and has triangular shaped head and fanged teeth, long fingernails, lots of tattoos, and shaves his greasy hair in diamonds. he is smart, and snide, superior and snarky, and mean. his appearance doesn’t change in essence but gets more exaggerated. he dresses in black. in the game, as pope, he is smarmy and perverted.
fairy is a plump little thing with frizzy hair and pimples, and she giggles and is quietly hostile when people go against what she thinks is right. she hides her fear under a layer of saccharine optimism. she quietly clones herself onto a good portion of the non-playing characters, who meet out information according to how players treat them, and have very long memories.
then let’s talk about art style, panel style, lettering style, coloring style. and variation of styles, using what when and to show what?
but not tonight.