Friday, 20 May 2016

The Graphic Canon

I'm a bit behind on posting some of the work I've been doing (pre house move), but my latest comic project is now complete!

I was delighted to be invited to submit a comic for The Graphic Canon- a series of anthologies, in which artists adapt classic works of literature into comics, illustrations and narrative art. I'd seen the books in shops and on Amazon, but never imagined I might be one of the contributing artists. 

Image from:
For the project I was provided a list of novels to choose from and chose Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier to make into a six page comic. Having a choice on what novel was really great, as it allowed me to look through and choose which story might suit my style and way of working better than others. 
Rebecca had some interesting character dynamics and imagery that I knew I could interpret without being too out of my comfort zone, although it involved drawing a lot of humans! Which I always feel I'm not amazing at (even though I'm doing it a lot nowadays!) But I made sure I focussed on drawing hands, feet and expressions to the best of my ability to make the characters more believable (and hopefully not too cute, as is my usual style!)

I was really worried I wouldn't get it finished in time for the deadline, as we moved house right in the middle of the time frame I had to finish it in! But I thankfully ended up getting it done with a couple of weeks to spare which took the pressure off a few busy weekends sorting out the house.

Roughing out the layout of each page

I always take the longest time planning out the comic, as this is something I struggle to decide on and is probably the weakest element of my comic work at the moment. I'm hoping in future projects to play with layout more, as I find it's always too tempting to confine everything to boxes and not be overly inventive with layout. For this comic I tried to vary closely packed panelled pages with larger, sparser spaces so it didn't look too busy which I think worked well.

Starting to create the final artwork.
I used Faber- Castell artist pens and soft pencils for shading.

I found with Rebecca that it's very dialogue heavy and this was also something I struggled to fit into the layouts. For some reason I really hate speech bubbles! And was originally going to make the comic wordless. However, some of the crucial scenes are very dialogue heavy, and as a lot involved conversations between characters, I felt like I couldn't avoid adding in speech bubbles, but made sure three of the pages only have a few lines of text, one being totally wordless just to allow some breathing space. I also made the speech bubbles themselves a bit subtler in pencil so they wouldn't draw the eye away from the images where there is a lot more text.

Spreads laid out on the screen ready to send to the client.
I added extra shading and the red elements in Photoshop to create a bit more depth to my
original pen and pencil drawings.

My idea to have the comic totally black and white changed mid way when I thought it might add a bit of interest to include hints of red throughout. The red in the comic forms a bit of a narrative itself and signifies when Rebecca (who although dead, is in a way the main character of the novel) is present in some form - whether through conversation, to the dress that she wore, to the fire in the house in the final scene that is almost her revenge from the grave*... 
*I recommend reading the book, it's pretty good, and if you prefer films, Hitchcock did a famous film adaptation of it too :)

Here is a montage of some panels from the finished pages:

As always I can see areas for improvement but am happy with the end result, and am pleased I stuck with traditional media for it, as I don't think the comic adaptation of the novel would have suited looking more digitally created.

If all goes well, this should appear in the next Graphic Canon book. This will be the first time my work will be published internationally which is amazing, so I'm really looking forward to seeing it in print if it gets through the editing process and makes it into the selection - fingers crossed!

1 comment:

  1. Wow this looks fab Emily. Rebecca is my favourite book. Love a bit of daphne du maurier x