Moving from fiction to graphic novels.
Hello there AW!
It's been one of my long-term goals for awhile to adapt my books into a graphic novel or comic serial, as I think that's a format that would serve the story really well. However, I'm not entirely sure what the process is.
I assume I should begin by adapting the first book into a comic script-- or should I only start with one issue? Should I find an artist to make a pilot issue? Should I just submit a synopsis and spec script much like with a regular book? Who are the gatekeepers-- agents? Editors?
Basically, I'm well versed in the submission and publication process for both traditional and self-pub fiction, but as for moving into the comic medium I'm pretty clueless. Any pointers would be fantastic.
There are so many ways of doing this, depending on what format you want it in (single-volume GNs, multi-issue moiniseries, webcomic, ...), what kind of public you want to reach (mainstream audience via The Big Four, indie audience, your audience...), how experienced you are with scripting and graphic storytelling in general, whether or not you want to keep all the rights all the time and what kind of process you're comfortable with.
Judging by your books' genre and all, I'd say serialized mini-series? In that case, I'd break the books down in act-1-sized chunks, then break those down into the desired page count (20-24 pages depending on the publisher, 22's most common) and take it from there. (Act-1-sized because the first issue should read like a complete unit, well they all should but especially the first one, and act breaks make pretty good cliffhangers.)
For the beginning, though, just to get a feel for the medium, I'd suggest writing a couple of shorts. They're a bit difficult to publish because there aren't too many anthologies worth submitting to, but that's okay, you can just upload them to your blog if you want to (self-publishing isn't shunned upon in the comics world).
It's best to work with an artist early-on, especially if you can't pay much (the more they can make it their own) and aren't experienced in graphic storytelling. Some artists will work best with just a rough script that you can refine later, some will prefer a detailed script - again, so many "right" ways. You'll have to define your work relationship early-on, be it work for hire or co-operation. Bear in mind that the artist who designs the characters will most definitely be a co-creator and entitled to the credit.
As for submitting to the big publishers, some of them are quite uncomfortable with unsolicited submissions. Here's a blog post about some publishers' submission guidelines. It's a bit dated, but a good place to start. As a general rule I'd recommend to not approach them with just the scripts unless you're really, really good and it shows on page 1. Finished pages are just so much more ... graphic, y'know? Some publishers will accept sample pages and a synopsis, though.
Some books you might want to check out, sorted by experience:
Scott McCloud - Understanding comics (More of a reader's guide, but some helpful pointers.)
Nat Gertler and Steve Lieber - The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel (not for complete idiots, mind)
Will Eisner - Comics and Sequential Arts
Scott McCloud - Making Comics
Alan Moore - Writing for Comics
Thank you very much! In a perfect world I think I would like to produce a Preacher-sized serial for someone like Vertigo or Dark Horse or IDW. I'll get my comic-savvy friend to help me make a list of publishers to approach and work my way down the list.
I actually own both of those Scott McCloud books you posted, in anticipation of this move. I'll certainly look up the others.
Most of the information in old threads on this topic is still valid, in my opinion. Here are a few threads you may wish to read:
She who must be obeyed
Wow, I am very interested in this thread. I have a plan for a novel series that I would one day like to then make into a graphic novel series, possibly even writing both simultaneously. Thanks for bringing this up!
Having read some of Brian's books, if he can put to ink his vision as a sketch there are going to be some adults with nightlights.
Oh, you do go on. :3
Originally Posted by benluby
figuring it all out
I am also a fiction novel writer who was interested in making one of my novels into a comic series. I did a lot of research and read those Scott McCloud books as well. It is somewhat difficult to reduce a full novel into a comic script but it can be done. My comic so far has turned into a multi book series.
I will tell you that once you convert one novel successfully into a comic script you will feel compelled to convert a lot of your other work. It is so much fun once you get the first couple books out. When you find an artist that makes your work come alive it's amazing. Good luck to you!!!