13 March 2011

Weekly Robin Dance Party!

Last month I had the pleasure of meeting Jesse Lonergan, the cartoonist behind the image above. And Lonergan had the wholly unrelated pleasure of seeing the Comics Alliance site praise his ongoing dance party of pop-culture characters, including boogieing figures from the DC, Marvel, and Star Wars mythologies.

Lonergan has created the graphic novels Joe and Azat, about a Turkmen and a Peace Corps volunteer, and Flower and Fade, a love (?) story, both from NBM.

One Thursday in February, Lonergan brought one of his filled-up sketchbooks to the Boston Comics Roundtable and left it on the table for anyone to look at. Under questioning from a pesky audience member (okay, me), he described his method of creating rough drafts.

Some author-artists write out a full script before designing pages. For example, Bryan Lee O’Malley says here: “I was thinking that I should write more visually, but it fizzled.” And here: “Last time I didn’t quite make it to the end of the script, and I think it hurt the story overall. I had some delusions about how I would write the book in sketches and thumbnails, but that just didn’t work for me.”

In contrast, Lonergan has found he gets the best results by starting with a six-panel page and then sketching out the action and dialogue. As with any draft, a lot changes in revision. Panels disappear, or expand. Dialogue gets edited. Scenes shift. But these stories start out in visual form.

I’ve heard prose novelists discuss their equally variant ways of working: plotting and plunging, starting in the middle versus starting at the opening, focusing first on character or on plot. All that matters is how the story comes out, not the route the storyteller took to get there.

I’ll close with another image of rockin’ Robin, from Bill Walko at Titans Tower. Walko is providing a series of nostalgic looks at the Teen Titans of different eras. This group comes from the mid-1970s, for example. Walko’s renderings have won attention from Comics Alliance and Every Day Is Like Wednesday.

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