Monday, May 26, 2008

Graphic storytelling

One thing I meant to point out in my last post was comic books and other graphic novel-type series. Many of those have certainly found a way to make serial stories work.

Now I wasn't a comic book kid at all. I've often been fascinated by the idea of visual storytelling, but it seemed that when I dipped my toes in (admittedly very randomly), I was often disappointed. The things I found might have good stories, but they often seemed to fail to take full advantage of the unique medium (as well, they seemed to usually fail to engage my mind on anything deeper than the that's-so-cool level). But over the past year or so, I've been more deliberate about finding works that did appeal to me on more levels and that did take full advantage of using their images to draw the reader in to the story, rather than simply speed readers along. The Flight anthology series helped a lot, as did some individual titles that I had recommended to me here and there. Often my favorites of these were the purely visual ones with no words at all--they force the reader (if that's even the right word) to actively engage with what's going on.

So actually, as the idea for doing some kind of serial project grew in my mind, one thought was that it could be a graphic novel/comic series. (I hesitate using the word 'comics' since I think it still has a connotation for many people that wouldn't fit what I'm envisioning...but it's not really a novel either, so graphic novel wouldn't fit either.) Well, when that vague idea ran into my artistic abilities, especially considering that the graphic approaches that tend to appeal to me have quite an accomplished, elaborate style to them...plans changed.

Still, that genesis of imagining it as a graphic series is influencing how I continue to imagine it. I'm still a writer, in love with words for themselves, so it isn't a matter of me writing it in prose only because I can't draw it (or lack the funds to turn it into a TV series). But I find it helpful to keep both the comics model and the TV show model in my mind as a framework as I develop this thing.

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