How to create a graphic novel
Updated: May 23
My first graphic novel, Starblood, came out May 29th 2016. For those who are interested in the process I will describe what Anna and I did. The second graphic novel (the sequel) Psychonaut, based on the second book in the Starblood trilogy is being illustrated now. The images I’ve included here are from that book and the process of making it, including script and preliminary sketches. Anna and I will be launching a Kickstarter for Psychonaut this summer and I’ll give you a sneak peek at the sorts of rewards and likely costs of supporting the project. These are however subject to change.
After releasing Starblood I was told it was a very visual book that would work well as a film. Realising this ambition personally was beyond my means I looked for an artist to adapt it with me into comic form. I found Anna Praskovich on Deviant Art and we discovered how closely we were able to relate to my vision for the finished book.
In addition to the normally expected issues to be considered, about how language can be interpreted differently by the reader, English is the second language of my artist, so I had to ensure that instructions were clear and unlikely to have more than one meaning that could be corrupted by a translation tool.
The graphic novel is much shorter than the novel so the next thing I had to bear in mind was what to keep and what to lose. I chose to concentrate on three characters' story arcs. We agreed the concept art for these three characters before we started on the panels, but we still needed to make a few changes at each stage of the process.
After the character sketches I wrote a script for the graphic novel. My artist, Anna, first hand-sketched the idea for each panel and then created the final art. This was vital as for many pages her vision and mine varied significantly. Sometimes my vision won out and at other times I agreed with her changes. In this way the graphic novels are very much a series of collaborative work.
Before writing the script I did plenty of research, both of finished graphic novels and of scripts I had been lucky enough to obtain. I used certain industry standards, such as capitals for text that appears on the page and lower case for descriptions of how images should appear. At this point an example from the Psychonaut script I handed to my artist might be useful and of interest.
The script took about two months to write, but the book it was based on took 18 months, so no doubt a script from scratch would take longer. The art took over a year from concept art to finished pages, 15 months to be exact. During that time the artist and myself were in contact almost daily, discussing what was needed and making changes as the work progressed. Because we have decided to use colour in Psychonaut the process will take longer still. We expect the finished pages will have taken nearer 20 months.
And that is pretty much it. Finding the right artist and establishing a suitable form for two way communication are tricky but essential and the rest is trial and error until you get something both are happy with and proud to own.
If you are interested in owning Starblood the graphic novel in Kindle or paperback you can find signed copies in my webstore (see shop tab above) or you can find it at Amazon here - http://smarturl.it/sgnebook. For more information about the two graphic novels see the writing tab above and click on graphic novels in the drop down menu.
Here is a sneak peek at the reward options and anticipated buy in costs for the Psychonaut Kickstarter campaign. To keep up to date with news please sign up to my blog.