Comic Interlude

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to blog, or, in fact, much of anything writerly to blog about. Christmas and New Year were lovely, and the break gave me a chance to let my head fill with all the projects I want to work on this year. I’ve been raring to go but not entirely sure of where to start. Yesterday, though, I woke up, sat down at my desk, and almost without consciously deciding to do so, went back to working on something I started a couple of months ago. As a result, this morning I finished the first draft of the first script for the first issue of the first comic I’ve ever written.

I actually didn’t set out to write a graphic story – I love them, but it’s not a field I’ve ever supposed I’d be able to enter. I have several incredibly talented comic writer/artist friends whose abilities I am in awe of and could never even hope to emulate. But a couple of months ago, I had a nightmare that was so linear, complete and vivid that when I woke up, I immediately wrote down the plot. It was a very filmic story, and I could immediately see it as a graphic novel. So I thought I’d give it a try. Even if nothing comes of it, it’s practice in a different discipline. My friend Steve White, an extremely talented writer, artist and editor of comics as well as many other things, kindly gave me one of his own comic scripts to learn format from, as well as other advice, such as the fact that he thought I should break it down into four issues.

Though I’ve never tried writing one before, I have written audio scripts, and looking at Steve’s example, it struck me that the two are quite similar. The main difference is that of course a comic script contains many more references for the artist to follow for visuals. Some people have told me that they find my prose writing of descriptions to be very visual. That might be because when I write, I often have a static image in my head that effectively I’m describing – a very clear ‘snapshot’ of where my characters are. In fact, I often find that for me, story ideas begin with a single image in my head and then expand and coalesce into something larger as I think about them.

With this story, I already had a whole series of images in my head from my dream, and all of them lent themselves very well to comic tableaux. I’ve spent the last couple of months making sense of the bits that were, in true dream fashion, jumbled up, and also researching a few extra things to tie together to make it a complete story.  It’s not my usual sort of fiction at all, but it feels whole to me, and I guess there’s no better reason than that to make it a physical piece of work. I wrote the initial six pages of the first issue around the beginning of December. The rest of it has come out very quickly over the past two days. I’m under no illusions that the other three issues will flow as well, but I feel pleased with what I’ve managed to get down and how closely it resembles what’s in my head.

The story is set on an old timber plantation in Sweden’s far north. Don’t ask me why – that’s just what was in my dream!