Blogging IN a Graphic Novel


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In this week’s post I’m going to go over some of the latest television and computer-screen graphics we’ve added to the art in the pages of American Terrorist. One of the themes I really wanted to include in the book was the ubiquitous nature of these screens in our lives. They’re always around us. We’re constantly using them to get news and information, record and document our lives, and communicate with each other.

And as much as I wanted to show this in the pages of American Terrorist, I did have a couple of concerns about it. The first was that I didn’t want them to dominate the story or slow down the pace. This is still a comic after all (or graphic novel), and I wanted it to remain about the characters and driven by their actions. That’s why even though these screens are around, they’re often in the background and many times they’re only partially shown, giving the reader just enough information before moving on.

My other concern was that I didn’t want these graphics to look out of place in the artwork, like a screen shot or photo simply pasted onto the page. There is a time and a place for comics that have that collage-type feel to them, but I didn’t want that for this story. That’s why when we did put the screens in, they were mostly created by line art and Photoshop.

The main graphic element we created was Owen’s blog. You may notice the header looks pretty familiar. I figured if I had a good title I might as well use it for both the blog in the story and the one about the story.

This is the second version of Owen’s blog. The first version was a little earlier in the story and wasn’t quite as nice looking as this one. I could have gone back and updated that one, but it occurred to me that since they were on the run from the law, maybe it made sense that their first attempt was a little rough around the edges. They could update it later.

I also really wanted Owen’s blog to feel like a typical blog. One you might see by anyone on the internet. I felt that level of normalcy was important, and somewhat ironic. There’s even an “About Me” section, which is pretty funny for a fugitive terrorist to write in a little bio about himself. Then, of course, there is the “Follow” option, because why wouldn’t people want to make sure they get the latest newsfeed from their local terrorist.

Moving on to the next set of pages, we’re back in the control room of the National Counterterrorism Center. I wanted to have screens all over the place to give the feeling of the agents absolutely inundated with information. They’re trying to monitor everything at once. The 24-hour news cycle is going, they have a constant stream from the internet, and maps are everywhere as they search for the location of the fugitives.

Finally, here are some pages from the part of the story where I show the reactions from ordinary citizens. I didn’t want the story to just be about the fugitives and the authorities. Part of the idea was that the people of this country should play an active role. This is why independent news websites start to pop up in response to the one-sided portrayal by the mainstream media. They provide a less biased view of the group’s actions.

You can see I modeled these panels after some of the news websites on the internet. I put in a rotating screen where each story is numbered as it scrolls through. There are also thumbnail images for the other stories along the side. Then, each news article itself had little touches added in such as the “Like” (thumbs up) and the “Dislike” (thumbs down) buttons to poll the reactions of readers. Then, of course, there is the comments section where people can really speak their mind.

I actually wrote a number of comments to include in the story. They’ll be placed on the page in caption boxes that look like comment boxes. They represent responses from both sides of the spectrum, arguing for and against what’s going on. It was fun to write this and very true to life of the kind of comments often found on the internet about political issues… or any kind or issue really.

That’s it for now. Next week I’ll put up images going over the process of creating the cover for American Terrorist #5. See you then.

# # #

Tyler Chin-Tanner started his own publishing company, A Wave Blue World, where he wrote and drew layouts for Adrenaline, its flagship series, Adrenaline and wrote its latest graphic novel, American Terrorist.

© 2010 Tyler Chin-Tanner.  All rights reserved.
Email: tyler@awaveblueworld.com


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