I hadn’t planned on writing a graphic novel because I can’t draw. (In my next life I’ll have Van Gogh’s color sense combined with Escher’s drawing skills.) But having the puberty talk with my then 9-year-old stepdaughter gave birth to a story. And because the story involved superheroes and villains, it made sense to me that it take the form of a graphic novel.
When you write a graphic novel you write a script, think screenplay, for an illustrator to interpret. You, the reader, will probably never see my script except for what I share here. Because it’s the illustrator whose drawings bring the script to life.
Which brought up the big question: how will my words be interpreted?
To see how an illustrator would interpret the Hidden Heroes script, I asked Hidden Heroes co-writer, Ilana Ostrar, and one of my favorite illustrators, Michael Bricis, to draw Paraben, a villain from our novel.
They were given the exact same description: “All we can see of Paraben is the back of his head, his scaly back, two super long and wiry arms, and long tail curled into a spiral.” And they both read the scene where Paraben spits toxic sludge at our heroine, Estrogen, in order to kill her.
Close your eyes…what does Paraben look like in your mind?
Can you see him? Ok, now you can open your eyes again.
With a wave of my wand, I received two completely different illustrations of the same character:
Ilana’s version is first, and Mikey’s version is below hers. The same words inspired vastly different looking characters, who inhabit different looking worlds. Then I remembered.
Words are meaningless until we project our own meaning onto them. So each time you read a book you are putting your own spin onto that world, co-creating that world with the author. The same book can spawn many different realms. Neat, huh?
By the way, what did your Paraben look like? Please send me a description, drawing, cut out, etc., whatever expresses what you saw. I’ll share it on my FB, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
Any land from a favorite book will do. Examples that come to mind: Camp Half-Blood from Percy Jackson books, the alien planet found in the graphic novel Zita Space Girl, or Hell/Ghouls from Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.
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