Monday, October 25, 2010

PNWA 2010 Conference: Drawn to Drawn Books

(Image:  Stinz Charger: The War Stories, by Donna Barr)

I was originally planning on attending a thriller/mystery panel hosted by several authors I’m acquainted with. However, the Eyes and Hands: An Introduction to Drawn Books workshop caught my eye.

Hmmm.

Since I’ve produced YouTube movies and posted my first graphic novel, The Bushwhackers of Kashyyyk, I thought this workshop would be right up my alley. So I walked into the assigned room and met Donna Barr, the speaker and her assistant, Hedwig Vinson.

Then two other guys walked in for the class.

That was it.

Uh-oh.

When so few people show up for something like this, it can either be very good—or very bad.

Fortunately, this turned out to be not just good, but a fantastic experience.

We pulled our chairs into a tight circle and discussed some of the aspects of what Donna calls “drawn books.” She coined this term because she’s observed that using the more traditional terms of; comic books, commix, or even graphic novels, was still dismissed as “just for kids.” In fact, it was this perception that led to comic-book publishers into accepting the maturity rating system. This in turn, led to a discussion about censorship within the comic book industry--which she vehemently opposes.

When discussing the books themselves, Donna defined drawn books as “…being the perfect balance between writing and art” (from the workshop handout). At this point I became concerned because, when I think of "art," I tend to think of hand-drawn pictures or painting. So I asked about my work with photographing miniatures, in which I spent several minutes showing her and the rest of the class The Bushwhackers of Kashyyyk.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there’s an actual term for this form: It’s called Fumetti.  This is an Italian word meaning, literally, “little puffs of smoke,” referring to the speech balloons. In English this refers to what’s otherwise called photonovels or photographic comics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fumetti

Wow! Up until now I didn’t know there was an established art term for what I was tinkering around with. This was a revelation for me! I’ve spent the past several years trying to figure out what niche I fit into as a writer. Now I can say I'm a graphic novelist.

Donna Barr is best known for her two series: The Desert Peach and Stinz. The Desert Peach features the gay brother of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel; while Stinz is an historical fantasy about a centaur living in central Europe. Donna Barr’s website is:

http://www.donnabarr.blogspot.com/

Donna also suggested checking out the works of the following drawn book novelists:

Roberta Gregory:

http://robertagregory.com/

Colin Upton:

http://colinupton.com/

Carla Speed McNeil:

http://www.lightspeedpress.com/

Madison Clell:

http://madisonclell.net/

Kevin Bose and Stasio Kato (The Virgin Project):

http://www.artofkdboze.com/

Diana Sasse:

http://www.graphicsmash.com/comics/kt.php

2 comments:

Donna Barr said...

Cool! And the fact that more people DIDn't show up was because I'd used such a cryptic title for the class. After years of having drawn books sneered at, I had no idea so many people really wanted to know about them now. I'm glad we had a little private class -- if PNWA would have me back, we could expand on it. I'm really pleased I could help you with knowing where you want to go with your own work, and giving you a boost. We need more Book Drawners! :)

Stern Rake Studio said...

I recommended inviting you back when I filled out the on-line questionier/critique form. Pam's also teaching the Popular Fiction class I'm attending, so I'll put in a good word for you!

Thanks again, for a great seminar!

Ted