Graphic Novels: Melding Pictures with Stories

Haaken elbowed an enormous paperback book to the edge of his desk to make room for his sketch book. Bone, a graphic novel by Jeff Smith, is at least two inches thick and contains more than 1330 pages.

“It’s nine volumes packed into one giant book!” Haaken said. “I finished it and I’m halfway through reading it again.”Haaken said his own graphic novels are influenced by the style of Bone.

In describing the process of creating a graphic novel, Haaken said putting time into creating characters is key. “You put together a story line, figure out how the characters act, and their physical distinctions, and then create them,” he said. “You figure out how to make it clear and figure out the word/picture combinations. The picture does most of the work.”

One of Haaken’s characters is Loki, a very intelligent cat. He described the character as “low key”, but also known for his pranks and schemes. “Loki is Norwegian for prankster,” Haaken said.

Another character – Carl, the Scout – is essentially a square with a face. “He annoys people very easily,” Haaken laughed.

Haaken’s plot involves the ominous awakening of a beast. “A couple of friends in school have to defeat all of its evil minions that come out to attack them at night,” he said.

Lauren worked at finishing the final draft of her very first original graphic novel.

“I really only read graphic novels,” she said. “They’re easier to read – not as many words – and they’re funny! I decided to do this class because it interested me most. “

The plot of Lauren’s graphic novel is a combination of adventure and humor. “Two kids who get sucked up into space by a spaceship have to defeat an evil duckling,” she said. Luckily, the characters do end up victorious.

Lauren based her story on Captain Marvel plots. “I start generating ideas off Captain Marvel,” she said.

One thing she’s learned about writing graphic novels is “it has to make sense and it has to be in order.”

In the hallway, Emma, Olivia, and Shea worked amidst blackline sketches spread out on the floor around them.

Olivia said she used to draw comics, and thought the Graphic Novels class would help her get better. “We learn how to put stories together,” she said.

“I’m not a great artist but I’m kind of a writer,” said Emma. “It’s actually been working out okay. At first my people looked like giant blobs, but then they started to come together.”

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Written & Illustrated By…Future Famous Authors!

Penelope crouched over her paper, drawing intently. “It’s a thumbnail sketch,” she explained. “Illustrator means drawing pictures. We draw four different pictures for one page. We number them and then we choose which one we want for our page.”

In Written and Illustrated By, students create characters, a story, and detailed illustrations that result in a digital storybook. Penelope’s story involved a horse and pegasus, conflict, magic gold dust sprinkled by angels, and a happy ending full of lasting friendship.

“I love writing stories and I love drawing pictures. Almost everyday I draw pictures,” Penelope said. “I wrote about five stories in my school and read them to my class.”

The plot of Cooper’s “Robo versus Doctor Robot” was a far cry from flying horses and gold dust. “It’s a super hero and a bad guy robot fighting,” he said.

“Robo is a robot and he has lightening bolts on his head that shoot lightening as his super power,” Cooper continued. “He has jet boosters on his feet” that allow him to fly.

Cooper also worked on his initial sketches today. “Thumbnails is to practice the pictures and try to get them as good as you can.”

Eliana was in the middle of deciding which background to use for one of her illustrations. “I like the watercolor one because it looks more realistic.” She picked up her black paper cutout of an adorable dog and a white bathtub and placed them on the yellow and brown striped background.

Eliana chose to use multi-media forms for her illustrations. “I didn’t really want to do just color pencil, so I’m doing cutout paper, water colors, drawings,” she said.

Eliana’s story features three different dogs, all owned by the same owner at different times. “My antagonist is the only mean dog in the story,” she said.

Orange and red colored pencils rolled around Evan’s desk as he colored in an spaceship on fire. In “Eye Wars”, there is an invasion of space ships coming toward Earth. “Eye Warriors are fighting the invasion,” Evan explained. “They shot one down.” He pointed to his fiery ship. “Sometimes when they are shot down they come in like a meteor.”

The students use the software “Story Jumper” to create a digital storybook as the final version. Their text and illustrations can be uploaded onto pages. Not only can they digitally turn pages like a real book, but they can also record their voices reading the story. The stories can be shared digitally, or even purchased and printed out in book form.

Evie edited her story, “Jent’s Clue”, on the computer. “Wait, that’s supposed to say ‘fixated on’ the butterfly, not ‘saw’,” she said as she read a line about Benny. Benny, the two-year-old cat, “fixated on” a butterfly, ran into a tree, was knocked out, and taken to the veterinarian with friend, Jent. A fox on the next vet table scratched him in the eye, and later, after other adventures, Jent and Benny foil a burglary attempt at the museum, involving, of course, that mean-spirited fox.

Kaylani put finishing touches on her precious drawing of Stella the Turtle. “She finds a glass bottle that has a letter in it from a girl in California,” Kaylani said. The literate turtle and the girl become penpals, save money to visit each other, and have wonderful adventures in their respective home cities.