My Graphic Novel is (mostly!) Out!
Last fall, I was commissioned by Petersen Games to write a graphic novel adaptation of their upcoming board game Planet Apocalypse. The game itself is designed by Sandy Petersen, who you might know from the original DOOM computer game from the 90s. This new board game shares similar DNA, with a storyline about a demonic invasion of earth, and the hapless human defenders who must save the remnants of humanity. There’s lots of blood and gore, and if you liked the old DOOM game you might appreciate this one, too.
That being said, I went into this project with my anxiety riding high, because I’d never written a comic before. How do you do it? Every industry has their best practices, and I had no idea what they were for comics.
Fortunately, there was help out there. My good friend Chris Helton who runs the Dorkland blog knows a metric buttload about comics and pointed me in the right direction. First off the greatest resource was the book Understanding Comics. If you’re remotely interested in the medium, read it. It’s a great look at the history of comics as a medium, and how they work to tell stories.
The main thing I learned in that book was about the pacing of visual stories via the medium of comics. Also fortunately, this confirmed my suspicion that I could fall back on my degree. Years ago, back in the dim dark period before the rise of the internet, when modems screamed like banshees (c. 1989) I went to SF State (go ‘Gators!) and got a degree in film production, with an emphasis on screenwriting and directing. One of my Directing professors had said something that stuck with me over the years: “if you really want to understand storyboarding, read comics.”
And this was absolutely true. As I was writing the comic, I realized it was sort of a combination of writing a screenplay and blocking one out as a director/cinematographer would do. Framing, pacing, all that just clicked into place as I started writing.
The process was really interesting. I was writing the book a chapter at a time (roughly 24 pages) and handing them off to the artist. By the time I was deep into the next chapter, I was starting to see sketches come back of what my script was directing him to draw. And when those pages then got inked, and the colorist took over with her magic, the whole thing just started to blow me away.
Well, I think the thing turned out pretty great. It was released just this past weekend at the GenCon convention in Indianapolis. From everything I’ve been led to believe, it should be available to purchase via Amazon and all the usual suspects in the near future. I’ll be sure to let everyone know when it’s available.
Hope you like it!