There are so many resources out there on the subject of comics and graphic novels that it’s hard to know which ones are worth your time and which ones are a waste of time. I’ve devoted many posts on the former Magnum Arts blog format on the subject, for the benefit of my Cartooning and Drawing students.
In this post I’ve assembled some of the best, most helpful resources to help you advance your comics, graphic novel and storytelling skills. Art is not created in a vacuum; to improve you have to expose yourself to other artists and techniques.
Graphic novels are coming of age, finally being recognized for the literary genre they are. Where once they were dismissed as high-brow comic books, they are now looked upon as a serious and established genre of literature, encompassing all genres, art styles and techniques.
Exhibit A: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has released a very cool resource for educators (like myself) and parents called Raising a Reader. It’s a free book about how graphic novels can inspire interest in reading and writing
Click HERE to get your free copy, either print-ready or on-line!among students who have grown up with video game consoles, smart phones and endless cable TV.
The sci-fi blog i09 has a great article about the mistakes writers make when building fictional worlds, and it’s a good read.
If you’re going to build an artificial world, you have to spend some time thinking about how it works, and what kinds of people live in it. What kinds of power sources does this world use? What is the infrastructure like? What kinds of people live there, and what do they do there?
For example this picture. Obviously an industrial society that has been around a long time and is starting to decay, with urban class warfare and a minority that feels oppressed. Standing on the rusty railing looking at this view I can smell the pungent stench of hydraulic oils, grease and pollution the air. There is the clanking sound of tools being used and dropped, huge industrial generator units, the whine of flying cars cruising by, the cursing and shouts of the denizens who work here. At the end of the day they’ll go back to their tiny modular living units in the lower levels of the city.
Thinking about these things will help make the difference between a flat, non-engaging backdrop, and an engaging world your readers will lose themselves in.
Creating Unforgettable Supporting Characters
Another great i09 blog post concerns supporting characters. There will always be supporting characters in stories that sometimes support, sometimes hinder the main character’s quest, goals or struggles. Supporting characters play a very important role in storytelling; sometimes they can bear the weight of the plot to give the main character a rest, and serve to add interesting conflicts, counter-points and twists to the story.
Supporting characters cannot be bland cardboard cutout characters, however. They need distinctive personalities that differentiate them from the main character(s) and each other. This post offers some terriffic tips fior writing believeable, interesting supporting characters.
How To Create Your Own Graphic Novel
This is a video I produced, edited and narrated that covers the basic steps to creating your own graphic novel, wirth entertaining video clips and a soundtrack. It’s just over eighteen minutes long, and strips the steps down to the essential concepts to help you form a good picture of what the steps are, how to set up your plot, and how to establish motivation for your characters.