Saturday, August 5, 2023

The Art of the Pause: Illustrating Graphic Novels with Rivkah LaFille

Rivkah LaFille (pronounced “lah-fee”) is a children’s writer, illustrator, and graphic novelist who currently teaches online at Kids Comics Unite while also working on a graphic novel about Creative Writing with First Second as well as a YA graphic novel with Candlewick.

Rivkah's session was the perfect one-hour craft class—I was blown away by how well paced the session (on pacing!) was—and am sure session attendees will all become comics pacing experts (a reminder the Zoom replays of all the breakout sessions are free to all registered conference attendees for up to a month after they've been posted). 

If you're reading this before September 9, 2023 then you may still have the excellent opportunity to sign up for SCBWI Nebraska's amazing sounding, virtual 16-week(!) graphic novel writing workshop with Rivkah.

Rivkah's session explored the many ways pacing can be controlled in a comic. To start I loved the way she used the repeated image of a ticking clock to simply and elegantly show how you could speed up or slow down a reader's time on a page by adjusting panel size and amount per page. That variation alone lets the comics maker achieve different visual rhythms per page similar to how authors vary sentence length in prose to vary reading tempo:

Real world examples of various visual rhythms like in FRIZZY by Claribel Ortega and Rose Bousamra

And in Jen Wang's fantastic THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER

Besides panel frequency and sizing, Rivka shares with attendees the other key ways comics makers can control the speeding up or slowing down of a scene, for example how and where lettering and/or speech bubbles are placed in a layout using, among others, pages from Vera Brosgol's BE PREPARED and Raina Telgemeier's GUTS:

Rivkah also shared a really cool drawing and writing exercise attendees could do at home to try out on their own work to vary and improve pacing. Excellent session for any comics creators wanting to learn how to make humorous scenes more effective, dramatic scenes more tense, gain better control over action scenes, and have better control over a book's tone and pacing in general.

Really hope to check out Rivkah's next workshop:

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