Wednesday, March 19, 2008

SPLAT! Graphic Novel Symposium

I attended SPLAT! Graphic Novel Symposium on Saturday and had a good time and learned a few things too. PW did a good job of covering the symposium and the reporter went to some different sessions than I did. Check out the article here: PW SPLAT! Symposium article

I started the day with a storytelling workshop with Mark Siegel from First Second. He talked about how your story isn’t ready until it’s ready. It has to be important to the creator and come from inside. “It doesn’t have to be pompous to be great; it just has to have a core.”

The next session was my favorite session of the day. It was Comic Deconstruction with Paul Karasik. He spent almost the whole session deconstructing one comic strip. (It was a Nancy comic by Ernie Bushmiller.) Bushmiller is a great one to study, since he knew how to pace a comic strip, tell a joke in that short space, respect the reader, and move your eye through the strip with the use of black. Karasik also said, “All of your characters should be designed. You should always be able to tell who it is.” (Like Charlie Brown with the wavy line on his shirt – even if he’s drawn really small, you know it’s him.)

My next session was about place in the graphic novel with Brian Wood. He talked about his comic LOCAL and how he and the artist made sure to use specific references and landmarks from the places the comics were set in, with special attention to historical references to make sure that business, etc. was there at that time. He told a story about one of the comics having lots of music references and then getting mail after the comic was published saying that those records didn’t come out until after the time period of the comic. OOPS!

At lunch, I saw my friend Carol and got a chance to catch up, which was fun. She also had done a really great drawing on her badge and ended up winning the badge contest – yay Carol!

After lunch was the Comics for Kids Too panel. The PW article covered this one pretty well, so I won’t add to that, except to say that book fairs are where graphic novels are selling really well, because the kids get to choose their own books and the gate keepers aren’t as involved in the selection.

The next session was on web comics, and the panel really rocked. It’s a lot of fun to be in the audience when there's a great moderator and the speakers are engaging and having fun and playing off of comments that others on the panel are making. PW covered this session too. The big theme was web vs. print and whether you could cross over and make money (yes for some, but not all). The success of web comics is the interaction between the creator and the reader. Most newspaper comics have a web presence now too.

Then I went to the DIY comics and self promotion session with Edwin Vazkez. He showed a lot of really cool hand-made promotional items and suggested that you should always print on both sides of your business cards and postcards.

The final session of the day was with Scott McCloud. PW covered that much better than I could, because at that point I was fried from the long and wonderful day of constant information. The 2 things that he said that I did write down were: “Community (in comics) is incredibly important.” and “Moby Dick in 40 pages is always going to suck.” (You need enough room to tell the story.)

I’m glad I went to the symposium and I hope they have another one next year!