Update: Design fiction graphic novel

I was shocked to see that my last post was in July. What have I been doing? There are four things, of late, that have been capturing my time. The first was completing a paper for Iridescent the Journal of Design Research. This required a lot of new writing over a period of weeks. I have not heard back on whether they have accepted the new work or not.

Next was collating the comments from the first review of Chapter 1 from the jury of twelve. Overall, I have to say that everything has been quite positive and all the suggestions very constructive. Most of the comments centered around text changes and errors. Some of the more visually sophisticated have honed in on renderings and made some good suggestions there as well. It looks like just a couple of re-renders are going to be required. The hiatus has also given me time to adjust and tweak where I was not 100% satisfied. In the last few days I have made some interesting adjustments to the speech balloons. This is something I have blogged about before. Speech balloons are critical for storytelling, of course, but in some instances they can be obtrusive. In my opinion, if they command too much attention and the pacing is taut, the viewer may end up reading the balloons and missing the art work. Since building a rich visual style into every panel is part of the signature of the book, I don’t want readers missing any of the art work. Hence, I have been trying for a technique that keeps speech balloons on an equal plane with the art — not too loud, not too soft.

One of things I find most challenging is back-and-forth dialog, and techniques for stringing the speech balloons together for each speaker. I am blown away by how well the team of Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez and Sara Pichelli do this throughout the new Ultimate Comics Spiderman. The artwork and dialog are brilliant, but also the way Pichelli and Marquez chain dialog together. See the example below form Ultimate Comics Spiderman #9.

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #9 Bendis and Marquez master the dialog and the flow (click to enlarge).

Here Marquez masters the repartee between Miles and Captain Quaid. My dialog and style are completely different in look and feel but hopefully they’ll flow just as well. Anyway, I have just begun to work on those suggestions and final improvements.

Third on my list, mostly while waiting on commentary, was to complete the web site for The Lightstream Chronicles. Inspired by the way so many movies and other diversions are going trans-media to fill out the world around the story, The Lightstream Chronicles online will provide additional character background, details on rendering and building the world, as well as other bonus features. There will also be a free download of Chapter 1. Once I have the guts to release those first 42 pages to the public the site will go live.

Finally, school has started at OSU. I am teaching first year Typographic Design. As usual, there is a lot of lecture prep, and course planning but even more now that the university has moved to semesters. That means an additional 5 weeks of material over the previous 10-week quarter format. I am also delivering more art and writing on the scholarly side to satisfy my own credit requirements toward graduation next may.

So, all this is to say that the book marches on. As the final adjustments to Chapter 1, complete the web site. I will be putting together a Kickstarter prospectus.

Oh, yeah, I hope that I can get started on Chapter 2 soon.

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One thought on “Update: Design fiction graphic novel”

  1. Yes, refining your Lightstream Chronicles website as THE parallel, in-depth, enhancement to the graphic novel makes abundant sense to me. As if the website were your left hand and the novel your right (as at a musical keyboard).

    Lots more work I’m certain, but probably worth it.

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