Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Graphic Novel Panel, Part 1

On Jan 28, Abe and I went to a Graphic Novel Panel hosted by the Seattle Graphic Artists  Guild. We missed the last one and I had heard of three or four of the five speakers that would be there this time. It’s a panel, so it was directed at Q&A basically. The moderator would start things off and then the rest of the time was spent with the audience asking questions.
We spent almost the whole first hour listening to them introduce themselves – entertaining, but not useful. I took 9.5 pages of notes in my 8×5 inch drawing pad, so I will try to just hit the highlights.
  • Mark Monlux – moderator and member of the guild. He has been an illustrator and cartoonist since the 80s. I think he was a decent moderator. Forgot his own rules sometimes, but he was jovial about being reminded.
  • Megan Kelso – she was supposed to speak at a Cartoonist NW once, but she lost her voice from having so many speaking engagements! I have two of her books, Artichoke Tales and Squirrel Mother, but neglected to bring one for her to sign. Whoops. Oh well.
  • Matt Southworth – He draws Stumptown for Greg Rucka and does some more mainstream DC/Marvel stuff for the money. He had a lot to say and is a charismatic speaker.
  • Emi Lenox – of Emitown. She was the newest to the comics game and the only web comic. She felt too new but added a good voice from both the web and newb point of view.
  • Brandon Jerwa – mostly writes for licensed characters. He was the most mainstream of everyone, but still had interesting stuff to add. Not that mainstream Marvel/DC is bad, just not my interest.
  • Kim Thompson – co-owner of Fantagraphics, who hosted the event. He was pretty quiet. Felt like he felt he didn’t belong, but I thought he brought a good voice from the publisher viewpoint.
They went into their histories more than I did here. Those were just the final impressions I am left with.
I thought Emi had an interesting planning process for Emitown. Emi town is a daily autobio comic. Each day she writes down notes of interesting things that happened over the day. That night or even that weekend or later, she goes over her notes to draw some pictures that she later adds text to, if I understood correctly. She stayed on top of it for a year, but fell behind. Then she went back to her notes…1 year later! And had to decipher her notes from each day. She mentioned that Flickr, Tumblr, and Facebook were handy references to decipher her cryptic notes.
Megan likes to go to a place and get a few sketches down to cement the idea in her head. Then she can use those sketches as a memory jump later. She seems to do a lot of planning work. For instance, she did lots of sketches of a climbing knot for a scene in Artichoke Tales. She knew it wouldn’t be prominent, but wanted to get it right, make it authentic. She also solves her visual problems in the layout.
Matt said editors for a comic are not like editors for prose. In comics, they are more like a film producer. For mainstream comics, they really just keep hold of their licenses, making sure the guidelines for the character are followed. Brandon called them traffic cops.
At this point, the dreaded graphic novel v. comic book question came up. However, (and they all agreed with my point of view, that in the end, it doesn’t really matter), we did get some interesting information from Kim out of it. The difference in publishing a monthly/pamphlet vs. a whole graphic novel I 30 days vs. 30 weeks or more. This panel was the end of January 2012 and Fantagraphics had already locked in their publications through March 2013! He also mentioned that monthly/pamphlet format is dying out for indie comics.
Part 2 coming Wednesday! Art and writing portion of the panel.

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