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What goes into a graphic novel?

It’s a lot more work than you might think.

If you’ve never put together a comic books or graphic novel before, it is pretty easy to underestimate the time, effort and resources that go into getting a book market ready.

Most single issue comics weigh in at about 21 pages; it can be quite easy to flip through one in a few minutes if you aren’t really interested in the story or if you are in a hurry. So, how long did it take to create that book you just flipped through?

I am fortunate to work with some very talented artists who have decades of experience in creating art. Even then, a page could be a full day of work, maybe even more depending on the level of detail. As a non-artist, I usually can’t provide much help beyond a description or visual reference, so these are people that sometimes have to literally pull an idea out of my head. Not easy by any means.

artwork by Zdravko Jandric for The Last Man

And then of course, the script. Like any writer, I tend to have moments of self-doubt, over plan, and re-write a script over and over. Then, when the artwork is finally ready I start the lettering process [note: not all writers do their own letters, but I do know a few indie comic writers like myself that prefer it]. This is yet another opportunity to decide that guess what? I don’t like the words or direction of the script. I have yet to have my script make its way word for word to a completed page; there is always at least one change. Sometimes I just don’t think the dialogue matches the scene, or if it is my first time seeing a character represented by artwork, I decide that it may not fit. Lettering a complex page can easily be an hour of time. Also, many of our titles are available in Spanish, and a direct translation doesn’t always do. Often, we need to localize content so that it sends the intended message to our audience.

Lucha Comics - Super Yeiya Page 2 - Spanish preview
Page 2 of the Spanish edition of The Adventures of Super Yeiya & Tornado Man

Once all of this is done, I once again drive myself (and my creative team) nuts with two important items. First, we come up with interior credit pages, splash pages, chapter breaks for our graphic novels, etc. I think these are really important; they help as a guide to the reader and really set the tone for the book. Next, I ask our creative team to give me short write ups or sketches so that we can share how the development process works with our readers.

Once we have all this, comes the part that I really dread: masthead or title text. This doesn’t mean simply slapping “Usud” or “Failsafe” on a cover in arial font; this means essentially designing a logo for each series that fits the look and feel of the story. This logo needs to convey the emotion that I want to elicit from the reader. As you can guess, this process tends to involve several iterations.

Lucha Comics - USUD masthead
Title text for USUD.

Once this is all ready, then we (finally!) have a book that is ready to share with the world. Up next? Printing…






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