Raymond Briggs has created many graphic novels and here he describes the process.
Book writers have such an easy time of it. They sit down, write their book and when they come to the end they send it off to the publisher. It might be long, it might be short, the publisher doesn’t mind.
Drawing the book
For the picture book illustrator, when he has finished the writing, that is the easy bit done. His true task then begins.
Creating the action
When all this is done, it is time to stop book designing and start making the ‘film’. You become the director. Who comes on from the left and who from the right? A slight nuisance is that the character on the left is the one who has to speak first. What are the characters doing and thinking and feeling? We have their words, but is there a subtext? Can this be expressed by body language? Is one of them angrily scrubbing the floor, whilst the other gazes moodily out of the window?
Raymond Briggs is creator of The Snowman, Fungus the Bogeyman, Father Christmas and many other characters and stories for children, and When the Wind Blows and Ethel and Ernest for adults. Since leaving art school in 1957 he has been a writer and illustrator, mainly of children’s books. He has written plays for the stage and radio and a few ‘adult’ books. In 2004 he designed the Christmas stamps for the Royal Mail, and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, but his proudest achievement is going on the radio programme Desert Island Discs, twice. His fansite is www.toonhound.com/briggs.htm.
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