Blog/ Comics/ Writing

Because interpretive dance is not an option.

I’m trying to figure out whether to write an as-yet-unformed narrative as prose or as the script for a graphic novel.

Prose Pros:

— Control. Being totally in charge of the world I’m creating.

— Being free to write about things that are hard to draw without fear that I’ll eventually make an artist’s life hell.

Prose Cons:

— I can’t use silent pages, which can be a great way to create breathing space for a reader and convey moods.

— I can’t use the kind of narrative counterpoint that I love so much in comics, when the pictures convey something different from and perhaps in opposition to the text.

Graphic Novel Pros:

— Collaboration. Getting the insight and talent of another creator.

— A graphic novel script doesn’t take as long to write as a novel.

Graphic Novel Cons:

— The script might not take as long to write, but I still have to wait for the artist to draw it, and the artist almost certainly has other projects competing for their time.

— There are still a lot of readers out there who don’t speak the language of graphic novels, who aren’t confident in their ability to parse panels, or are just disinclined to make the effort.

How am I going to decide? I don’t know.

I can already visualize certain scenes very clearly. But does that mean the scenes will be most effective as comics, or that I simply need to convey them as clearly in prose as I’m seeing them in my head?

Other writers of both comics and prose, how do you decide which format is best for a particular story?





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  • Claire Hennessy
    March 7, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    Can we vote? ;)

    I do wonder if there’s a way of playing about with text or formatting to create a similar effect to silent pages – that point in particular just has me pondering.

    • Sara
      March 12, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      Ha! (For some reason WP has stopped emailing me when I get comments, so my apologies for the delay in response.)

      The textual equivalent of a silent page…that is a really interesting idea. Hmm…

  • gosh george
    March 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    why do you have to choose one? i am a fan of nicole georges’ zine ‘invincible summer’, where she usually draws but sometimes writes prose, especially in the earlier editions. there definitely seems like sometimes there is a ‘i just felt like writing/drawing today’ vibe, but there is a clear a continuity of character and theme between the two media. cmon someone must have done this.

    you could write the novel then draw every page, like the guy who did ‘moby dick in pictures’. you could alternate chapters. you could start each chapter with a cartoon, like the ‘for dummies’ books.

  • Sara
    March 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    I like Invincible Summer too!

    And the idea of a mixed-media kind of storytelling is also intriguing, though it would be a different process for me because I can’t do my own illustrations. Or rather, I suppose it would be technically possible, but I do not think the results would be optimal.