29 October 2008

Sketching Out The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

No other form of literature seems to give as many behind-the-scenes tours as comics. I suppose it's a response to fan demand, but practically every other "graphic novel" comes with some "making of" features: character sketches, scripts, transcripts of discussions among the creative team, retrospectives on those heady days of creation many months ago.

Case in point: Alongside its adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, scripted by Eric Shanower and drawn by Skottie Young, Marvel is issuing a separate Sketchbook next month. UGO Entertainment has an exclusive online preview.

2 comments:

AliceB said...

Maybe you're comparing comics to the wrong medium. This "behind the scenes" phenomenon comes straight out of movies -- with trailers, editor cuts, interviews, cut scenes, flubs, etc. Movies are a visual and aural medium. Comics are a visual and literary one (or arguably aural, if you view the word bubbles as speech). The process of crossing two artistic fields is always interesting -- or at least interesting enough to have an audience, which publishers have the commercial savvy to exploit.

J. L. Bell said...

Yes, I definitely mean my "behind-the-scenes" and "making of" phrases to allude to the movies—more specifically, to DVDs and their extra featurettes.

Indeed, comics and movies both tell stories through a combination of sequential images and words, though the words are visual in one medium and mostly aural in the other.

But picture books are another such medium, and we rarely see "making of" material published in that form. The only exceptions I can think of are retrospective reissues, like David Macaulay's book on how he created Cathedral.

At 32 pages, picture books don't have the space for much "making of" material. Their target readers may not be so interested in "behind the scenes" as in figuring out the scenes themselves.

I suspect the biggest factor is that many graphic novels and DVDs are the second time that material has been issued: in magazine form for the comics, in cinemas for the movies. So the behind-the-scenes materials are added value. Ditto the Macaulay book, created in large part for people who already had access to the first edition.