Last October at our local Austin SCBWI conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Siegel. Mark is himself an illustrator and he is the head honcho of First Second.
First Second is an imprint of Roaring Brook which mainly focuses on Graphic Novels. I was lucky enough to have Mark critique my portfolio. While looking through my illustrations, Mark found interest in a character that I had developed and made into a picture book. Mark suggested that I take the Character and change the book into a graphic novel. With his encouragement I decided to try my hand at it. After several months, I felt overwhelmed. Just getting started proved to be very difficult. I called a good friend of mine Sean Petrie and asked him if he would be interested in helping with the project. We have the same sense of humor and I thought it would be a great collaboration. After our first meeting, I knew I was right! After setting up the beginning dialog, It was up to me to put the words into a visual world. In a graphic Novel, the illustrations and visuals are very important. The pictures tell the story, the words help it along.
The first thing I ever do before I start a project is research , research, research. I cut and paste any visual that I like. This gives me a nice sampling of images and helps me figure out what my subjects might be like. It also gives me a good idea of what something looks like in reality…then I can tweak it and change it to my whims. Here is my sketchbook with the starting sketches.
I played with the layout ..then started inking it onto an illustration board. This was a bit nerve-racking and I can only believe that it gets easier the more you do it. I think most inking is done at one time…but I was impatient and wanted to see the color along with the ink. I did chunks at a time to satisfy my curiosity. In the future, I will first draw it all out, then ink it all, then paint. No more skipping ahead ! Well, maybe a little bit.
Finally, I’m done with the first panel.