Detectives, Superheroes, Witches, Nymphs: Graphic Novels Now! by Candi Lace

Whether you’re interested in fantasylands or outer space, metropolitan cities or vast dunes, the newest breed of graphic novels will transport you there. Laden with colorful imagery and narrative, graphic novels may be considered adult renditions of children’s picture books. Interestingly enough today, they are selling almost as well too, according to Internet retail corporations and bookseller newsletters. Since the whole Batman phenomenon began in the 80s, virtually every book retailer has carried a slew of graphic novels, and popular magazines such as RAW, Entertainment Weekly, American Book Review, Artbyte, and The New Yorker have covered the trade endlessly in their review sections. Recently, graphic novelists have seized some of the spotlight from their escape fiction counterparts, setting the stage for rising hopefuls. Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan), Jessica Abel (Artbabe), Chris Claremont (X-Men), Roberta Gregory (Naughty Bits), and Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) are just a handful of popular industry leaders all over the charts these days. So what will it take for you to enjoy this kind of superstar attention as a graphic novelist?

Let’s start with a niche other than the Ninja Turtles or X-Men! These famed characters and synopses that incorporate them sweep the desks of art directors and editors every day, says Comics International, an Internet publication that delivers the latest in industry news and reviews. If you classify yourself as a science fiction, fantasy, horror, pop culture, or mystery writer, your story could very well fit into the genre. However, keep in mind that story lines must be vivid and sensational, allowing for a greater attention to the visuals that will accompany, whether they’re your own or another illustrator’s. When asked what topics are currently favored, Kim Thompson of Fantagraphics explains there isn’t one particular theme readers are flocking to. If you survey the graphic novel section of your neighborhood book chain, there are literally dozens of subjects personified. The characters on the front covers range from starving graffiti artists, chic fashion designers and wealthy bankers to horrific demons, flying superheroes and fantastical elves. Speaking of elves, Warp Graphics’ Elfquest, which remains alive today, was one of the first independently published American comic series and the most popular comic among female readers in the 70s, asserts the creators. Elf worlds continue to be prevalent in today’s illustrated books. As you determine a theme and sit down to write it, Dark Horse editors stress you should adhere to comic book standards: use the appropriate conventions and language (words associated with academics simply will not do); make sure the script is fit for imagery; be imaginative and bold; and create consistent and believable characters. For more tips, check out The Comic Buyer’s Guide, which is plumb full of insiders and ads from people seeking writers.

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