Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Behind the Scenes Look at Joey Fly, Private Eye!

Did you ever think of trying a new genre? Aaron Reynolds did. He jumped from picture books to graphic novels and his debut book, Creepy Crawly Crime (Joey Fly, Private Eye), was just released by Henry Holt.

I was very curious to hear about how the two experiences compared. After all, a graphic novel is really kind of a PB for older peeps, right?

Welcome, Aaron. Did you and Neil Numberman communicate more than typical author-illustrators who are working on PBs?

Though we have talked some since the book came out, we never spoke once – no phone, no email, no nothing – prior to its release. There was no communication whatsoever, except between our editor and us. I have learned that sometimes the word COLLABORATION means letting go and trusting this fellow artist who is just as gifted as I think I am. It’s all still collaboration, even if I don’t have my hands in his paints.

Did Neil do anything that surprised you?

EVERYTHING Neil did was a surprise. I HATED his character interpretations when I first saw them…the main character has no freakin’ pupils, for crying out loud! How do you do a 96 page graphic novel where the main character has no pupils?! But, as often is the case, I came to see just how brilliant and wonderful and cutting edge his interpretation of my characters was. And as I saw more and more sketches of this world he was creating for these characters, the more I fell in love with everything he was doing. He was SOOOO the right person to illustrate this series.

How did the process of writing a graphic novel differ from the process of writing a PB?

The writing is much different, because I don’t write a manuscript, I write a script. Like, for a play or a movie. It looks like this:

Caption: And I was about to dig into a day-old corned leaf on rye, extra mayo…

Sammy: You gonna eat that?

Joey: Slow down, dustbuster. I haven’t even started yet.

Sammy: Just asking.

(A shadow blocks our view)
Caption: …when a shadow fell across the table.

Shadow: You are Mr. Fly?

Caption: The shadow was eight-legged and fuzz-covered.

Caption: It had the stench of death…or maybe it was the week-old aphids on the all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s so hard to tell the difference sometimes.

That’s a sneak peek from Joey Fly 2: Big Hairy Drama. I write the whole book like that, including stage directions and details about the action along the way. Then I break the scenes into panels, the way I think each shot makes sense for the telling of the story.

So, the writing is much different than a picture book. I rarely use an outline…I might walk into the writing with a couple key twists or specifics in mind, but usually the story just unfolds for me at the keyboard. After the story is done, I hand it off to my editor and we do a few rounds of revisions, just like with a picture book. Then she hands it off to the illustrator.

That's fascinating. Thanks for visiting Aaron!

For anyone who missed the super-fantastic trailer for Joey Fly, you can see it here. And come back later this week for a Joey Fly giveaway!


Anonymous said...

Cool. Loved the sneak peek at the next book in the series. We're already buggy over the first book.

Hardygirl said...

I think this would be such a cool way to write--like a screenplay.

The book looks great!


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

That was fascinating. I never thought about how a graphic novel was written. Very cool to know. Thanks to both of you for the interview.

Unknown said...

Looks brilliant, and I loved the book trailer. I must confess, however, that when I read "hand in his paints," at first I thought it said "hand in his pants."

myrna rosen said...

what an education blog that was!
and what a neat sounding graphic novel.

Susan R. Mills said...

That is so interesting. I'd never thought about a graphic novel in terms of a screen play, but I guess that is how it would be written. Thanks for sharing.

neilnumberman said...

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the great comments! And thanks to Corey for spending all this time with us. I am mere weeks away from finishing JOEY FLY 2, and working on the cover this week. I hope you all like stinkbugs and bedbugs, cuz this next book's full of 'em!

Corey Schwartz said...

Thanks for stopping by Neil! I'd love to work together with you on a book some time! (How well do you draw pigs? :)

Tana said...

Awesome! That was fun. I wish all writers can genre hop without there being some sort of literary backlash in accordance to brand. *sigh*

Natalie said...

That looks fun! Graphic Novels seem to be all the rage lately. Are you going to try writing one?

Shannon O'Donnell said...

What an interesting post - my high school students LOVE graphic novels!
I followed you over here from Market My Words. What a great site. Count me in as a new regular! :)

Corey Schwartz said...

Thanks, Shannon!

Natalie, I'm not ready for a graphic novel... yet!

Aaron Reynolds said...

Hey peeps!

Thanks for the great comments, and thanks to the Things for letting us hang out!

While Neil finishes Joey 2, I'm furiously at work on Joey 3 and feeling a little stuck. But BUTT IN CHAIR and I continue to bang away. My world is swimming in aphids, dragonflies and one particularly obnoxious tick. :)

Back to Shannon's comment, I'm THRILLED to see and hear about more and more teachers valuing the use of graphic novels in the classroom! This is a major aha for our culture and I'm thrilled to see this medium being appreciated by awesome educators.

Woot to Shannon and others like her!

Kim said...

I wouldn't even know where to begin writing something like that. It's amazing to me that you can split the job so completely in this type of book.

And, hehe..I had to read the "have my hands in his paints" line twice.;)

Thanks for the interview!