Mac McCool - Children's Book Illustrations and Graphic Novels

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Little Delights to Artists

Two beautiful high quality bristol pads arrived in the mail today! Smooth, two-ply, 14 x 17" bristol pads on which to pencil and ink comics! I want to compare Canson high-end bristol to Strathmore's 500 bristol, so I ordered one of each. I haven't drawn on them yet, but Canson's is whiter and feels a little thicker. Can't wait to get started!!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Another Beautiful Space Shuttle Landing!

A "BROOFF!" and sudden tremor shaking the windows announced the flight of the shuttle Atlantis over our air space. NASA played live the landing on its online "NASA TV". Simply beautiful and magic! Congrats to everyone involved in this latest successful mission!!! Next take-off: August 9th with an astronaut, who attended Calstate Fullerton! (Photo credit of space shuttle Atlantis touching down at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.: NASA TV)

Friday, June 15, 2007

How Many Pages Should a Kids Graphic Novel Have? The Artist's P.O.V.

French and Belgian comic artists produce on average one to two black and white pages a week (add more time for fully colored pages). In Japan, several pages per day is not uncommon. The big difference? Division of labor.

In Asia, a comics page will go through many studio hands: penciler, inker, letterer, "special effects"/toning artist, etc. In Europe, most comic artists work alone and handle every task (except for the coloring).

While mangas have many uncontested strengths, European comics hold the upper hand in favoring authorial voices. In that sense, the creative and artistic processes in European comics resemble more our tradition of children’s books.

American publishers like Marvel or DC Comics factor about three days to complete a page: one day for the penciling, one day for the inking, and one day for everything else (writing, lettering, coloring, etc.).

Presuming an artist wants to create a 100-page children's graphic novel in full color at that pace, it would take about one year of full-time employment (3 days/page X 100 pages = 300 days).

What does this imply? Well, will the publisher's advance sustain the artist for a year? What if the graphic novel is a dud and the publisher could have found out about it with a book half as long? Finally, longer children’s graphic novels don’t bode well for artists who produce their best work on shorter and more varied assignments. At 100-page or more per children's graphic novel, the industry risks weeding out talented sprinters (who could earn more in other trades) in favor of marathon runners and assembly-line worker bees.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How Many Pages Should a Kids Graphic Novel Have? The Reader's P.O.V.

Most films last between 90 minutes to two hours. Perhaps this norm has survived decades and huge cultural and technological changes because one of the constants - how long we can tolerate B.I.C. ("butt in chair") - hasn't!

Now, for kids reading graphic novels, can we define a page count range that would work too? After all, picture books have their own norm: 32-pages.

Because the word "novel" in "graphic novel" implies a rather large page count, adults in the publishing industry have come to expect larger page counts. Some folks even believe 100-pages to be a benchmark for a "real" graphic novel.

But what do kids prefer?

It's easier to keep a child's attention with a shorter page count. In French-speaking Europe, the norm is 44 pages. My memory of such books was that they were just long enough to feel substantial, developed, vivid, yet readable in one sitting.

Contrast that with the children's graphic novels that the pioneering publisher in this field, Scholastic, is releasing. Each volume of Bone and Babysitter's Club exceeds 100 pages. An 8-year old girl reading the second volume of Babysitter's Club told me she could not read it all in one sitting. Now, do you like stop-and-go reading anymore than stop-and-go movie-watching? Do you agree that each reading break puts a chink in the magic of the reading experience? And do you feel that powering our suspense of disbelief become more and more burdensome with each restart? -- And keep in mind we are talking about young readers, not mature folks like you and I who have acquired the discipline and patience to read War and Peace. Right?

Next: the creator's perspective.