Sunday, July 31, 2016

Jenni Holm is here today to tell us that currently, children's graphic novel/comics publishing is a veritable Wild Wild West, the processes of acquisition and production are different for all publishing houses, but the ones that ARE making kids comics are behind them whole hog, which is great to hear!

She recommends you read the Comics Making Bible, aka Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. (I'd add the New Testaments of Comics Making are Jessica Abel and Matt Madden's Drawing Words & Writing Pictures plus the follow up, Mastering Comics.)

She briefly tells us how comics were written, and shows us how the actual script pages compare: the old standard Stan Lee Method, the exhaustive/OCD Alan Moore method, and the classic, screenwriting style of script like a Joss Whedon would use. Jenni recommends using a screenplay format or her storyboard format as mentioned below, but probably NOT the Marvel Comic or Alan Moore format, which most traditional children's book editors might not be familiar with.

All do in some way separate out visually in the script the dialogue vs. action vs. narration. How do you use each part in your graphic novel script?

Dialogue: Same as prose, only now in speech bubbles!

Narration: More complicated, primarily used for scene transitions, major backgroun set-up, or increasingly internal monologue, occasionally even as a character, like the snarky narrator in BABYMOUSE.

Action: Stage directions/everything else that happens.

Jenni shares with us the various ways you rough out a comic, different types of storyboards, some of which are artist driven (sketches are fairly fleshed out and laid out and basic composition is done), some that are author driven.


Jenni and Matt's graphic novels always start with story first. Jenni and Matt come up with a log line, and then Jenni starts planning the story with this sort of storyboard:

Jenni already knows that the final published BABYMOUSE is going to be 96 pages, which equals about 56 pages of this storyboard.

After Jenni writes it all out, it goes to Matt, and then the editor, and when everybody loves it, it goes back to Matt for thumbnailing.

Those thumbnails get laid out page by page and are then sent to the art director who double checks it for clarity and printing guidelines.

After that it goes back to Matt to do the final art and color spotting!


Jenni lists the children's publishers doing kid's comics today:

GRAPHIX (probably biggest commercial titles publisher via Scholastic)
First Second (all ages/arty)
Random House (younger/elementary school)
ABRAMS (Nathan Hale and Cece Bell, Wimpy Kid)
TOON BOOKS (via Candlewick, super young end of spectrum)
DC and MARVEL (may want to start YA)
BOOM STUDIOS (Lumberjanes)

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