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Monday workshop…

March 2, 2011

As a writer and an illustrator, it is sometimes difficult to keep balance between the two roles. A “deep” writing project can easily monopolize all of my attention for days or possibly weeks at a time. The same is true with illustrations. Bigger illustration jobs can demand many hours of devotion, leaving very little time to spend writing treatments or even blog posts.

 On Monday, I attended a graphic novel workshop coordinated by the MNSCBWI. The workshop was headed by Mark Siegel, the Editorial Director for First Second Books. Within the first 15 minutes of this workshop, it was clear Mark was interested in sharing something greater than a simple art lesson.

 After a brief history of First Second Books and a glimpse at his personal history, Mark began to talk about Frist Second’s bread and butter; graphic novels. He explained that today’s graphic novels are far from the superhero comics of our childhood. The new generation of graphic novel covers an endless list of subjects. Ballet, American History and friendship now share the same space as stories about superheroes, aliens and fantasy worlds. In many ways, graphic novels are bridging the gap between traditional novels and feature films. They combine literature and images to create a complete story-telling experience.

  I learned a lot from Mark on Monday, but I must admit it wasn’t clear what I had learned until that evening. As I sat at the dinner table, I flipped through my notes from the workshop and noticed something I had missed earlier in the day. When Mark talked about these graphic novels, he talked about illustration and about story as if it was one entity. Then it hit me. A story, regardless of how many words it is told with, is a collection of images. Even in a non-illustrated story, the images are there; to be created in the mind of the reader. Obviously, this isn’t a ground-breaking revelation, but it is a great reminder. Whether writing or illustrating, it is vital to always keep one thing in mind; it’s all about the story.

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