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!