THE MAKING OF A GRAPHIC NOVEL/
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
Published in the same style as an old Ace Double, The Making of a Graphic Novel, by Prentis Rollins, presents both the graphic novel The Resonator and a lengthy essay in which Rollins explains the process behind the creation of the work. Rollins's description often provides deeper insight into the images and text he has created.
Rollins recommends that the reader read the graphic novel before reading the making of portion, which is an intelligent suggestion. Readers who fail to take his advice are likely to be lost in his explanations of some of the decisions he made in the creation of the novel.
Much of the advice Rollins give can be made generic in referring to any fiction writing. Other pieces of advice and procedures, however, are very specific to the creation of a graphic novel. In the sections dealing with the artwork, he explains how he used initial sketches to give him an idea of what his world would look like and how it would fit together. One of the more interesting sketches is the one he did of Bronsen and Huggert eating. This is the earliest sketch to have a direct analog in the finished novel (p.27), thereby allowing the reader to directly see how the concept changed over time.
At times, Rollins's description of the process and the message contained in The Resonator comes across as pretentious, notably when he is discussing the meaning he is trying to imbue into The Resonator. If the reader has read the novel already, Rollins's meaning has either succeeded or not for that individual. His descriptions of the meaning in this section of the book will either reinforce the reader's understanding or make the reader wonder how Rollins could have missed his target.
Because Rollins created the entire work himself, rather than have separate individuals write the script, do the pencilling, the inking, and so on, he is able to provide detailed explanations for the various processes. Just as many of the specialties in making a film are unknown to the general audience, the specific tasks of the different specialists in the creation of a graphic novel may also be unknown. Rollins clearly explains what those tasks are, along with providing examples.
The Making of a Graphic Novel is the more interesting half of the book, with The Resonator providing an interesting story, but mostly providing a framework on which Rollins could hang his explanation. Taken together, the two halves of the book do form a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts, and a sum which should be essential reading for all comic and graphic novel fans.
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