Comics and Narrative Non-Fiction

pencil layout

A few years ago I illustrated a four-page comic version of a poem by Nate Pritts. To my knowledge there aren’t too many literary comics that tackle the idea of visually representing a poem in comic format. Not that my four pages was ground breaking. It was good exercise for me and provided the kernel of expanding comics into the literary realm.

You’re probably familiar with the publisher of Great Illustrated Classics. However, comics as a whole tends to be marginalized as tights-and-capes adventures at best or adolescent porn at worst.

comic page layout

A couple weeks ago, another comics aficionado presented me with the idea of illustrating concert reviews, interviews, non-fiction narratives and personal memoir. I jumped at the opportunity and began sketching out ideas immediately.

The biggest challenge for me was the limitation of the form. Illustrating a concert review requires a simple plot: I went, I saw, I reviewed. But will anyone read something that simple? I thought about adding a bit of narrative. In other words, tell a story about people who attend a concert; include brief backstory, dramatic tension, climax and conclusion.

inked comic page

Last weekend I began with two pages. The story was simple: my meeting with the other comic aficionado/publisher.

Backstory: artist has been trying to publish his comics for over ten years.

Tension: interviewer loves artist’s work and desires some new samples.

Climax: artist feels intimidated by the task but accepts.

Conclusion: artist begins a new direction in creative communication–comics.

One thought on “Comics and Narrative Non-Fiction

  1. Fascinating.
    Such an excercise cannot help but broaden and deepen your writing.
    It might be interesting to apply Campbell’s Hero Journey or Propp’s Folktale to such situations.
    This is really fascinating.
    Taking everyday situations, finding the drama, illustrating them – you’re developing a wealth of backstory. I could see one of these scenes popping up under a bigger story – the protagonist passes an office, and your interview scene is occuring inside it. Maybe only a snippet of the dialogue is available as the protagonist passes the office.
    I don’t think you’re wasting time on this project.
    Fascinating.

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