Wednesday, July 13, 2011

San Jose Art Museum: The Genesis of a Good Comic Book

At the conference last month, I got to sit in on author and illustrator Dan Santat's session about the world of graphic novels. Although I'd initially figured it was a session intended for illustrators, I still wanted to check it out, and I'm glad I did. Not only did I learn about the writing aspect behind composing a graphic novel, the discussion of art flashbacked me to a era many moons ago when I was a dreamy grade school girl who wanted to be a kidlit writer AND a comic book artist when I grew up. 

Back in the day,  I loved reading Calvin and Hobbes, Luann,  Archie, Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Dennis the Menace, and Peanuts. And I LOVED to draw. But while I've approached writing  as a profession, I've approached art as more of a hobby. Lately, I've been reading more graphic novels, both kidlit and adult. Studying the artwork in the comics, I'd  sometimes it too late for me to try...but can I still...maybe I need a sign...

...A sign arrived in my inbox last week when I got an announcement about an upcoming DIY Art workshop at the San Jose Museum of Art titled The Genesis of a Good Comic Book. Held in the room where THE BOOK OF GENESIS by R. Crumb is currently being exhibited, the event was led by Dan Vado, publisher and editor of Slave Labor Graphics in San Jose. At the workshop, I learned some lingo and techniques for creating comic books, the different kinds of quote bubbles, and I even got to sketch out a 4-page book. 

Some other stuff I learned from Dan Vado:
-Comics are a medium, not a genre. That's because comics can be about anything, although they are often associated with stories about superheroes.
-What makes a great story? Anything we want!  What artists need to do is give audiences a sense of place.  The art must show the setting and location.  
-Artists should not show panel after panel of people just talking. 

After the workshop, I asked Dan Vado how much he considers an artists'  experience when he assesses their art. I wanted to know if it mattered whether an artist had say 20 years or just two years of experience before their work is regarded as publisher-ready. His response: That stuff doesn't matter. What matters is the quality of the art right in front of him. 

That's very useful to know.

For the time being though, I'm going to concentrate on my other writing projects, the ones that I have already committed myself to finishing. And I'll allow the seed of a plot for a graphic novel to continue growing in my head, where many idea seeds are being nurtured. I'm still content doodling just for fun. For now.


Anonymous said...

Cool to learn you're into drawing. I think you've got the right idea with finishing your novel and letting the comic book idea germinate. Look forward to hearing more about them both!

Cynthia said...

Kourtney! Great hearing from you, and I hope you're having fun on your trip!

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