Some people could look at a graphic novel, comic book, or web comic and can think that seems easy enough to do. Create some characters, draw some background and some action. Add in some dialogue, maybe a little narration, a story plot and you have a graphic novel or web comic. Sounds and seems easy, right? However it is not. For something to go from an idea in the artist or writer head, to a final product on a page, there is a great deal of work and time that the creator must undertake. And going from the person reading the page, to the person behind the page can be an overwhelming experience.
Sometimes the easiest part of creating a work like this is, deciding you want to try and create a work in this medium, and posting your finished product. The tasks and processes in between are not that easy or simple.
During my experience one of the hardest steps of the process was where to start. Should you research the process of creating a comic or graphic novel first or figure out the idea you want to bring to life. Looking back I think the research would have been the better mood. If your search “how to create/make a graphic novel” you will get a variety of articles, videos , and shops trying to sell you “How to Kits” to guide you. One of the sites that I found was written by Mark Fearing going through the process and steps he went through how he creates his own graphic novel, Earthling.
Fearing’s article gives you a brief overview of what to expect during the creation process. However for a more basic introduction to creating a graphic novel was an article on topgraphicnovelreviews.com. Though it is geared a little more for people who are looking to later publish, the article is broken into sections allowing new graphic novelist or comic artists to focus on one step of the process at once.
The first step of creation process is finding an idea to work with. This is harder than it seems because some ideas are too complex to express through images with little text, other can be easily conveyed through images but cannot be stretched out into a graphic novel or multiple comic strips.
Once you have come up with your idea the second step, according to the how to articles is to write out the manuscripts for your story. Not necessarily the whole story, but a rough draft of the action and progression of that comic or chapter.
Third is to sketch out your images. Draw out the world your novel or comic takes place in. Add in your characters, and try to convey action and movement through visual interpretation. This is just putting down your ideas and creation of the line art.
The next step is to apply your written work to your sketches, and adjust for changes to the script or to your sketches. This is an important step, especially when working with a group. Because in a group you are all working of your personal interpretations of the others thoughts. So sometimes adjustments need to be made.
Once you have created a harmonious pairing of visual images and written word you can begin the process of lettering and coloring. This can be done by hand or have the line art scanned in and coloring, as well as lettering can be completed using a computer program like Paint or Gimp. For those out there who are more tech savvy and more comfortable with their abilities on the computer versus paper and pencil, there are web-based applications that allow you to create your own stories.
Comic Master, which I first found through an online review, is a basic web hosted program that does just this. In the article it is geared more towards elementary or school aged to create a fun, unique interactive way to promote literacy into classrooms. Comic Master allows you to create your own story lines and dialogue. It also provides you with the visuals: backgrounds, speech bubbles, characters in multiple poses, and a is a good starting place for ideas if you are looking to create a superhero comic or graphic novel.
Another web-based program I stumbles upon was Graphix. This program not only had a comic builder, where you could change gutter layouts, backgrounds, characters, and bubbles. It also lets you explore the gutters and layouts of well-established comics and graphic novels. Another feature is that it has various tutorials for to help guide you. There is one for the comic builder itself, as well as ones for how to draw, and it is broken down into specifics of what you are drawing. As well as a section that connects you to information about published graphic novel authors and illustrators.
Once your graphic novel or comic is complete, the next step if you wish is publishing. The quickest way is to use a site like WordPress. However there are other sites online that you can submit your work to or use to send in to have your work published in paper form. The choice is up to you how you wish your work to be shared with the world!
Though the process is long and at times stressful, creating a comic or graphic novel is a wonderful experience. You try something new and hopefully when you are finished you come out with something that you are proud of and ready to share with others. I know my group is!