Graphic Novel

I. Brainstorm + Plot

i) choosing the right story

To begin with, I picked a book. <Introduction by Passi> is a collection of short stories written by Jung-eun Hwang, a South Korean writer. I chose a book I hadn’t read before because I wanted to choose a story that I’d want to make into a graphic novel, not simply the one I like in general. After reading all the stories in the book, I found myself torn between two stories. One was <Falling>, a surrealist piece about someone recollecting her memories on earth while falling endlessly in a mysterious abyss, and another was <Danny DeVito>, a reinterpreted folklore set in modern time about a young spirit who comes back to her husband’s house shortly after her sudden death. After a few attempts to draw rough drafts for both stories, I picked the latter story, and decided to reinterpret it as a queer love story.

ii) reinterpreting the story

I took the names of my main characters from the main characters of an excellent Korean novel <To Where The Sun Sets> by Jin-young Choi. My deep affection and understanding of the characters in <To Where The Sun Sets> helped me develop my own characters.

I picked most essential events in the story, and categorized them into chapters. Although I excluded much of the story, the plot was still too complex and long for a 12-page long graphic novel, so I had to shorten my story continuously as I proceeded in my next steps.


II. Research

I went to comicbook store [Forbidden Planet] to find references from published books. I primarily studied moment-to-moment, action-to-action, and subject-to-subject transitions, because my own work was going to use a lot of those three methods. The following is some examples from my research.

i) moment-to-moment

<Bottled>, Christ Gooch:

<Safari Honeymoon>, Jesse Jacobs:

ii) action-to-action

<Sex Fantasy>, Sophia Foster-Domino:

<Safari Honeymoon>, Jesse Jacobs:

iii) subject-to-subject

<The Divine>, Asaf Hanuka:

<Bottled>, Christ Gooch:


III. Exercise

i) original painting

Among the two paintings, I used the more emotionally provoking piece with complex imagery.

ii) framed

I divided and framed the painting in a comicbook style on Photoshop. I emphasized the two primary and contrasting images of destitution and hopefulness, and filled in the rest of the story in-between. The page starts with a large description of pain and brutality, and close-ups of people’s faces follow, conveying various emotions. A very large picture of the ocean and the ship covers the bottom half of the page, working as the background for the whole story. A big image of hope ends the narrative, as the men are waving towards a distance as if they’ve found another ship. The man in the middle is standing upright and waving actively, in contrast to the men laying down helplessly, making it hard to see whether they are dead or alive.

<Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault, (Museo del Louvre, 1818-19)>


IV. Novel Draft

I folded 3 papers from my small sketchbook to make a 12-pages long draft. Including the front cover, table of content, all the panels and the back cover page, I drew all the components of my book. This step was very helpful for my overall process, especially as I proceeded to my final stages. I used this draft as my reference the whole time I designed and edited my novel on InDesign. The numeric order of the draft below is: Pg.12-1-10-3-8-5-6-7-4-9-2-11.



V. Panel Drafts

Based on the overall draft, I drew each panel on a sketchbook and scanned the drawings. Planning on editing them in Photoshop, I focused on drawing clear shapes and images rather than the composition or coloring. Here are some of the panels:


VI. Background Photographs

I photographed a lot of spaces and spots at my house to use them as the background of my panels. I took approximately 100 photos, and selected roughly 15 of them. I edited them black & white, a little bit bright, and zoomed in, so they wouldn’t interfere with the characters or objects that will be placed within them. Here are some examples of the edited background photos:



VII. Panels

I digitalized, arranged, designed, and edited all my panels in Photoshop. I placed my drawn panels on the background photos, and edited them to look organic as panels. I added colors to some of my drawings, strengthened the black strokes on most of my drawings, and edited levels to create overall harmony in the gray scales. Here are a few examples:



After a long editing process in InDesign, I ended up with 26 pages long graphic novel. As I improved the arrangement of the panels, the novel got longer than I planned it to be. It seems important to note how long the whole process could take, and how important it is not only to manage time under a well-planned schedule but also to have extra time in the schedule, because there are always more things to edit. I’m happy with my story and my story telling, and would like to be able to improve the quality and composition of my panels in the future.

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