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1000 Black Lines

:: digital coffee stains on the paper of the blogosphere ::

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Comics & Narrative Non-Fiction Continued



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I had tea not long ago with the writer of a very nice article about Asheville blogs. I didn't realize he was such a comics aficionado. Over tea, he presented me with the idea of illustrating non-fiction narratives and personal memoir (which I wrote about here). I illustrated a 14-panel story about our meeting. The drawings are quick suggestions of setting and characters. I didn't want to get too realistic.

Brian commented: "Such an exercise cannot help but broaden and deepen your writing... This is really fascinating. Taking everyday situations, finding the drama, illustrating them - you're developing a wealth of back-story. I could see one of these scenes popping up under a bigger story... I don't think you're wasting time on this project."

I hope he's right in regards to the exercise assisting my writing.



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Narrative Non-Fiction Comics is not new. Harvey Pekar's American Splendor was famously made into a movie. Jessica Abel's journalistic comic Radio: An Illustrated Guide records the making of a This American Life show. Joe Sacco's books "Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia 1992-95" and "Palestine: In The Gaza Strip" are journalistic graphic novels.

Eddie Campbell's Alec McGarry stories offer extensive inspiration in the genre of autobiographical comics/graphic novels. Alec McGarry is Eddie Campbell's stage name (or rather comic page name). That is like Samuel Clemens writing an autobiography in which Mark Twain was the main character.

I must confess I'm enamored by that idea, but not as a narcissist. In the arena of stories, the most compelling tales are true, personal accounts--narrative non-fiction. Also, persuasive arguments are often won by personal example/experience. That's what makes Elie Wiesel's book, Night, so riveting--he was there. He survived Auschwitz, Buna, Buchenwald and Gleiwitz. He has first hand experience.

I know, I know--I've just sprinkled a lot of names throughout this post like confetti. Mark Twain I am not. Nor have I the life experiences of Elie Wiesel. I don't know if I really want to follow in Eddie Campbell's footsteps, either (he reveals all areas of his life--i.e. no trouble drawing himself nude which unnerves me--but maybe that helps him gain perspective on his own life).

I have a sketch of an idea of where I want to go with narrative non-fiction comics. This is what they call in Corporate America the development stage. It's what I call drawing 1000 black lines before presenting a finished drawing.

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