First Person – Graphic Novel – Final Group Tutorial

In the tutorial this morning I was able to discuss the developments that I had made to my project. I was able to gain some feedback on the mixed media stuff that I had done. This came back very positively as it felt a lot more personal, however it was suggested that maybe the hearts are too polished at times and should be freer. I could consider making each of the hearts different from one another.

We also spoke about the typography within the graphic novel currently, I was experimenting with two different typefaces at the moment, however, we came to the conclusion that the typeface Letter Gothic Std was probably the better typeface as the other American Typewriter seemed too bold and demanding for the story. Furthermore, we also spoke about developing my own typeface for the novel. I thought that this would be a good idea however, in the timescale left for this project I think that this is something that I would definitely consider when carrying on this project in the future. They thought that through creating my own typeface I might be able to incorporate this better within the lifelines that play an essential part to the narrative. The idea of having the key quotes and phrases within the lines seemed to be most effective.

Furthermore, when explaining in more depth about how I obtained dates of events and names I showed my family trees that I had been able to use. These were created by my great aunt who found out majority of my family history. This sparked the idea of maybe using the family tree either at the end or beginning if the novel to show people in more depth the family. This would also act as a something to show the reader the people that are in the group photos, they would be able to know names, names which I can’t include in the main novel. I thought that this idea could allow me to develop some interesting visual elements to the family trees maybe showing the main characters through the lifelines being showed of the family tree.

I also showed the kettle stitch binding that I had a go at doing as I thought that by binding it through stitching would allow the idea to move forward more. This idea came across really well and was something that I could continue to use the novel was to be developed further. This led onto the idea of possibly using thread within the novel itself, to show the link between the binding method and the novel. The life lines are like threads so the inference could be made.

In the tutorial it we came into the conversation about what we have found through doing this project. I initially start with just an interested in the family generation, as this is something growing up that has always interested me, however, as the project has developed, and I have looked at photographs I have noticed strong similarities appearance wise between the generations. This was something that I never intended to find but something that you can see clearly throughout the novel. It’s an angle that I could potentially avenue down in the future if I wanted to.

Also, in the tutorial I was joined by Megan, we are both doing similar topics for our novels. This has allowed us to work together closely and bounce ideas back and forth between each other. By doing this it has allowed me the chance to gain ideas and perspectives I might not have reach on my own. Even right now in this last stage of the tutorials I have been able to bounce ideas around with Megan after the tutorial. This type of collaborative work is something that works well for me and gives me the impression of what it might be like to work as part of a team/studio.

I now have the ability to push through and try and get as much of this done as I can by next Thursday. I think this tutorial was really helpful to me guiding to more new ideas but also ideas that I could still develop once the deadline as past. I think that this is a project that I could continue to work on in my own time.

 

 

First Person – Graphic Novel – Binding Method Thoughts/Experiments

Initially I thought that I would bind the book together by glue, using a similar method that I have used before in editorial projects. I tested this idea on a smaller scale to what the book size would actually be. Although I want the book to be put together in a professional manner, I also wanted the binding of the book to have a possible meaning to the narrative or characters which I don’t think I have gained through binding using glue/spray mount.

I have done a book binding workshop before within my subject area which has allowed me to gain a brief idea of how I could put together a book. Recalling upon my experience in this workshop I decided to give Kettle Stitch binding ago. Using normal photocopy paper that I had available to me and a needle and thread, I was able to start trying to bind some blank signatures (two pages) together.

I found that through doing the kettle stitch binding allowed me the chance to make the book myself and it gave the book a sense of personality too. This was something that made me think of the topic of the novel, and having known the main people that the novel highlights, we are all very crafty and enjoy making things by hand so I thought that it would be another nod to them and their hobbies which might be nice.

Comparing the two methods together I do think that the stitch would be better suited to this project whereas using spray mount to attach the pages together is more suitable to maybe an editorial project, something that slick and clean. This project is supposed to be about family and connections, it’s something personal and the stitching shows that it’s made personally.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Page Layout/Creation of Chapters

After reading Ethel & Ernest (Briggs, R 1998) I found that the use of splitting the different decades of the narrative through chapters was something really interesting and inspired me to think about how I might do this myself. Until now the decades have just rolled into one another, which as meant that you might jump from 1970 straight into 1975. This might cause confusion to the reader, whereas if I was to include some sort of chapter heading within the book this might help the reader to understand the jump in time. As I am the creator of time within this narrative, it allows me the ability to jump in time however understandability this might cause confusion.

I have found the idea of taking a double page spread within the book and using it to show the dates of the generations. For example, Billie would be 1915- 1940 but then Kathleen would be 1949 – 1970, these double page spreads to be placed in between each of the generations being born. Taking the example of the 9 gaps in time between Billie and Kathleen, I decided that this wasn’t required as my grandmother was born therefore has no link to the story of how the photograph of the 4 generations came into being. These double pages would have the ‘lifelines’ of the characters as you might not see them in all the images within the sections, but this would symbolise that they are still part of their lives.

 

This idea then leads me on to think about how I could show the loss of my great grandfather as he passed away before I was born meaning before the photography (4 generations) was taken. I wanted to include this because I felt that he is an important part to the narrative, and it would be right to just ignore the fact that passed away. Using a double page spread and the lifelines I would have all the lines drawn going from one side of the page to the next which would indicate them moving forward to the next page however, my great grandfathers’ line wouldn’t go all the way across the page. This would make the reader think as I want them to have an active part in the narrative, and through not show showing a photograph of the funeral it allowed the viewer to think more and then understand what the lines are within the book.


References

Briggs, R., 1998. Ethel & Ernest, London: Jonathan Cape.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Development #3

Following from the feedback I was given in the tutorial I thought about how I could incorporate more lines into the images and what the lines represent. I now think that the lines represent the different life lines coming together, marriages forming, children being born and in some cases the lines coming to end. I thought that this might be a nice way for the viewer to track the characters throughout the story, as they might think that a character has disappeared.

To start this off I printed of a copy of the spread that shows my great grandmother’s wedding, as I thought that this shows a clear union of two people. Using a white marker I was able to draw a new line coming down from the top of the spread and then joining up alongside the current digital line. This clearly showed a union of two life lines to that were linked together however, I thought that it didn’t show the audience who the new life line was from. The viewer could probably make the connection that the new line represented the husband however, I think that it would be better to have a nod to the image that shows the new character.

This lead me onto exploring having the two lines intertwined too show that union of two lives but also to show the new character (great granddad) as an individual. I think that this worked well as it add more interest points in the spread. I also feel that by the lines coming together at the end of the page at the same point emphasis’s the fact that they are two people joined together by marriage.

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I then moved onto experiment with having more than two line on the page, as currently at this stage there was going to be multiple lines on the page at once. I thought about keeping the lines together again the lines from my great-grandparents would surround the main line for my grandmother. On reflection though I found that this might appear to complicated and wouldn’t make much sense to the viewer.

I moved on from this idea and felt that it was still important to have all three lines on this particular spread to show that they were her parents. However as they aren’t in any of the photo’s on this spread I felt that it was suitable to have the line drop of the bottom of the page again. This could allow them to appear again later on in the novel if they needed to. I felt that if I kept them at the bottom of all the pages this might become to much for each spread.

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Having the lines appear for each important individual to the story in the main images need I knew was going to need to be consider as for example my grandmothers wedding has my grandfather and both my great-grandparents there which means a lot of lines. Using pens I decided to try and show how the lines would work. My grandfathers line would appear from the top as it’s a new person while my great-grandparents lines would surface from the bottom of the page. Even though there are now 4 lines on the image I think that it would well and that it’s not too hectic that you lose the image. I do however, this that the placement needs more thought as at the moment they are placed a little bit at random.

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Experimenting with Media 

As mentioned from the tutorial it was said that maybe using a Digital line didn’t give the personal feeling that maybe it should have. I decided that if I print of a few of the spread I had created then I would be able to experiment with paint and pens to see which worked best. This also I think allowed me to the opportunity to experiment with colour, even though I think that the pink works I also think that with more lines going to be used maybe it’s an opportunity to use some different colours.

I used acrylic paints to start of with, using the Digital line as a guide for me to paint along. I used a thin brush as I didn’t want the line to be super thick as this would detract from the images which is something that I don’t want to do. I feel that the paint line works well, it does have a more personal sense about it but my only concern with it is that the colour doesn’t always appear the same throughout the line. However, it could be argued that this gives it more charm. For the white line I have used a paint marker which in comparison to the actual paint I think it’s a stronger finish. Maybe I could consider using acrylic paint for the main lines (4 generations) going through the images but then use the paint markers to show the other characters that are coming into the story, for example through the marriages.

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Even though the reds and the pinks I felt worked well with the images, I decided to experiment with blue. Using the blues each generations had a different shade of blue which was similar to what I was going with the reds/pinks. I personally like the blue and think that it works well with the images that I have tested it with. I do understand that it might appear cold to some people as blues/greens tend to be refereed to as cold colours whereas red and pinks are warmer colours. I think that this is something that I need to ask my peers about and gain some opinions about them.

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First Person – Graphic Novel – Tutorial Feedback

In the group tutorial today I received the following feedback about the work:

  • Line works well within the narrative of the story but could be utilised more to work with the under lying themes and values.
  • maybe consider the line being broken at times reflecting what happens in the story, the constant change is the people some maybe the line could reflect this.
  • Consider having more than one line throughout the course of the narrative, maybe to show going of blood lines or show that the generations are all connected.
  • Like how the colour of the line changes subtly in between the generations.
  • Reminded them of a child drawing across old photographs could be considered scribble like.
  • Maybe consider having a hand made approach drawing over the images rather than using digital brush. could provoke a sense of family.
  • What does the line mean? Does it have something to do with family, life line, or blood line maybe?
  • Could consider getting dad or gran to draw the line onto the photographs see how the would draw it? could give inspiration for the narrative.
  • Maybe consider changing the order of the story starting with me moving backwards. See which one tells the story in the better way, maybe play around with composition of the story.

We had a discussion about what the line could mean, currently it seemed little too perfect, maybe consider the pace of the line and how it interacts with the images on the page. Maybe consider breaks within the line to show certain parts of the narrative. This is something that I could consider more and look into.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Development #2

As mentioned before I started to develop the line that goes through the narrative to connect each of the characters together. The continuous line throughout all the images I think could represent the idea of all 4 generations being blood related. The line subtlety changes colour when the generation changes, this is another ideation of a change in time which is something that Duncan said in his lecture about making sure the audience is aware of a change in time.

I decided to use a 4 column gird system and a guttering of 8mm as this I felt would allow the type and image to work together effectively. The margin is 5mm I thought this was a suitable size as this would allow the content of the book to have space to breathe from the edges of each page.

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I think that the line adds an intriguing element to the page composition, and its clearly showing who the key individual in the photographs is. I have also included some key phrases and quotes that go along the lines to help show some context to certain elements of the photographs. The type is either black white or grey depending on the image that place upon.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Development #1

Now that had all the images that I needed and I had the stories that would be contained within the narrative my next stage was to think about development think about how I will put the story together. I wanted to try and show a connection through each of the photos. I first thought that but putting them next to each other would be easy enough for the viewer to navigate through the story. However, after just putting some of the photos next to each other in sequence I found that the viewer might struggle to determine which individual (especially in group images) was the correct character. I knew that I was going to require some sort of way to highlight which individual was how in the photographs.

I started to brain storm all the possible ways in which I might be able to do this. I thought about using colour maybe adding a simple mark to the images. This got me thinking about what marques I might add to the images. As I wanted to show how the same family values have stayed with the people throughout the generations, I decided that these would be a good starting point:

  • family is the most important
  • caring
  • love
  • looking after one another
  • acceptance

These were just a few of the family values that I thought of, looking at them again the same image kept popping up in my mind, a heart. A heart symbol is often used to show love and relationships which is something that my family are about, we always look after one another and care for each other.  The heart symbol I thought could work simply placing this on the images to draw the views attention to that individual in the photograph.

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Experimenting with using a mark 

Even though you could clearly see who the main character in each photograph was the narrative still felt very disconnected and didn’t seem to flow into the narrative correctly. I liked the image of having the symbol still but thought that maybe I could connect the story together with some sort of line. A line is often used to help humans navigate around and area, for example when looking at wayfinding in my previous project lines painted on to the floor often help people to know where they are heading next. Using my  previous learning about way finding allowed me to consider how ‘the line’ could be used within the context of a graphic novel. Instead of just using a straight line from photo to photo I thought that it would be interesting to see if line could flow around elements of the images.

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Experimenting with using a line to make connections 

I start to experiment with this idea by using a pen and paper to try and show how this could work and I found that it worked well and connected the photographs together nicely. With this graphic/illustrative element to the work I think it will give the narrative a even more personal level to it, which works with the context of the narrative. I thought that this line connecting the photo together would work stronger in the overall outcome.

As a I was going to make the outcome digitally I thought about experimenting in illustrator with the line and the heart to ensure that the outcome worked digitally as well as I had hoped. Using my Wacom tablet meant that I was able to draw out the lines and hearts to almost appear hand drawn. The reason that I have decided to develop these illustrated lines digitally is because I feel that I could potentially play around with having type on these lines in the future. I experimented using different brush strokes that were in the program as I felt that used the solid brush wouldn’t work with the narrative or imagery.

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Illustrator Experiment

Colour was also another really important part for me to consider within the development of this system for the novel. Instantly thought about using reds/pinks within the work as these are associated with love trust and care which again are key values for my family. At the moment I think that the red is working the best within the imagery because it seems to be the most striking when looking at it. I think that as this project develops more I will be able to consider how the colour might change as the narrative continues.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Research #2

The next stage of my research was find the images that I was going to use for the story for the 4 generations. I am very lucky to have known a lot about my family history as it’s something that my grandparents have been interesting in finding out, which has meant that I have grown up hearing about my family. I’m also fortunate to have a extensive family tree which I was able to access to give me dates that I would need. From this I was able to draw together a timeline of how my novel would work, as mentioned before the novel would be chronological as this would make the most sense.

The timeline starts with the birth of my great grandmother, see her growing up getting married to my great grandfather. It then leads on to show my grandmother being born growing up and meeting my grandfather before marrying in 1970. Leading onto my dad being born growing up meeting my mother then having me. Along the timeline as well I have also added a few key events that I think are important to mention as they hold true to the fact that family is one of the most important values to us.

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As part of my research I was able to find photographs to show these key events on the timeline. Again, as family This lead to more questions and stories which enabled me to start to shape the narrative of my story and select which elements I was going to be able to include. I was able to start putting names to faces (names that I had read on the family trees) this enabled me to start to envisage the story even further. 

Chat with my Grandparents

As my story was starting to take shape I new that there were a few gaps in there, I had questions like where why my great grandmother had the nickname ‘Billie’ from? and How did my grandparents meet living so far away. I’m lucky to live near them so I was able to go around and have a chat with them.

According to my Gran, when a cousin of my great grandmother (Ada Webb) visited from Canada she brought over her born son William who was known as Bill. The family were fascinated with the little guy as they were mainly girls in the family. Not long after they left my great great grandmother gave birth to my great grandmother. Her sister Leonora (Nora) said ‘well we have our own Billie now”. From then on she was known as Billie by family.

The other main question that I asked my grandparents was how they met. They met through family friends, Lily and Archie Hall were very distant relatives of my great-grandfather Harry’s family (his brother – in – laws cousin). While Arch and Lily knew my other great grandfather Myrddin through the choirs in Cardiff. Another family friend was Trevor who was transferred to another job in Cardiff would stay with Lily and Arch while he waited for his family to move to Cardiff for his new job. Growing my both my Gu and Gran without knowing both spent time with Lily, Arch and Trevor. It wasn’t until my Gran moved to college in Cardiff and stayed with Lily and Arch who she said were like having a second set of parents. That Trevor informed my Gu that ‘ he had just the girl for him’ that they finally met. This was in 1967 when they met and after my grand stay in Cardiff indefinitely to be with my Gu. They were then married in 1970.

From finding out these stories it has allowed me to piece together the gaps that were in the narrative, knowing this will allow me to put the narrative better. From speaking to my grandparents and looking at the photographs I feel as though the story of my family is super important to me.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Research

As suggested to me in the tutorial that I look at some graphic novels/image books that we created based on real life. I thought that by doing this it would give me ideas about presentation and layout, as well as giving me ideas of things that might be worth including in the story.

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Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs (1998)

When looking through and reading this book I liked how Briggs has used a combination of smaller and large panels throughout. (As seen in the scanned images below) It appears that the larger panels are for more significant events or key parts to his parents lives. This is something that I could use to show a significant event in the lives of the family members. Also, the books is organised chronologically which makes sense as it’s showing the period of their life together, however, there appears to be sections of the novel which are divided by years. Each section has a specific year which the events in the section happen. Briggs has used an entire page with the date on, which makes it clear to the reader. This is something that I could incorporate into my work having some type of page to help indicate a change in period. By doing this it will also allow me to easily show the time scale. As the reader of this book you are aware that it’s a true story, which I think made me feel more of a connection to the characters. You know that it’s not a fiction novel which means when you are reading about some of the hardest times in their lives you can feel empathy for the characters. This type of empathy is what I want the reader to feel when they are reading through my novel.

Images Scanned in to computer from Briggs, R. (1998) Ernest & Ethel.

Draw what you See by Helga Weissova (1998)

This isn’t a graphic novel but a series of art work that tells a very personal story of what Weissova saw during the war in Germany. The book contains the childhood drawings of the artist and offer a eye witness account from a child perspective of life in Germany, in the ghetto and concentration camp. When reading the small introduction written by Weissova herself, it gave me a sense of what these images were going to be like even before I saw them. I was moved when reading this it made me feel as though I was her. Looking at her drawings (Images below scanned in from her book) both the ones that she completed in the ghetto and those drawn after the war (She couldn’t draw when she was in the concentration camp) show a sense of feeling, they moved me I felt shocked by what I was seeing. Even though I’d learnt a lot about this during my History GCSE it was still shocking to see her work. While Helga Weissova was just documenting what she saw her work creates an emotion within you, it makes you think about the past. This sense of emotion, the ability to make the viewer feel as though they are there with the artist/writter is something that I think is important for me to consider when putting together my novel.

Images Scanned into Computer from Weissova, H. (1998) Draw What you See.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 

This graphic novel again based on a real story used similar techniques to those used in Briggs’s novel.  The use of larger pannels to signal more important events that are taking place. This further emphasis to me that I could use this to show more important events in the timeline. Unlike the other two books this one for me appeared to be very traditional and reminded me of comic book. Though this works for this novel I don’t think that this is something that I will use within my own novel. It does highlight what life is like to be Iran which is what Satrapi intended to do within the novel.

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Satrapi, M., 2008. Persepolis, London: Vintage.

Overall, I found that this was useful research to undertake. I feel that I am able to now think about the narrative for the story more and think about how I am going to show the viewer the lives of 4 generation. I think that it’s important for me to try and make the viewer think and feel like they are in the ‘characters’ shoes, make them empathise with them. This is something that I am going to try and achieve throughout the novel.


References
Briggs, R., 1998. Ethel & Ernest, London: Jonathan Cape.
Satrapi, M., 2008. Persepolis, London: Vintage.
Weissová, H. & Niedersächsischer Verein zur Förderung von Theresienstadt/Terezín, 1998. Zeichne, was Du siehst : Zeichnungen eines Kindes aus Theresienstadt/Terezín = Maluj, co vidíš, kresby jednoho dítěte z Terezína = draw what you see, a child’s drawings from Theresienstadt, Göttingen: Wallstein.

First Person – Graphic Novel – Group Tutorial 21.11.19

In the group tutorial we showed everybody our ideas and development we had made. I brought along the two storyboards and the family photographs to help me explain my ideas and research that I had undertaken already. From the tutorial I wanted to see which idea my peers and tutors thought was the strongest so I could develop this further. The overall majority felt that the idea of showing change amongst a generation of people would be more interesting to read than showing how we get our information, there was more ability to be creative.

The tutorial also helped me to get some direction for the project to help me progress further and get into the project. I received the following feedback on my project:

  • Look more into value systems (family) to help centre the narrative for the novel
  • Research into non-fiction graphic novels further. Examples/Novelist to look at are Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Joe Sacco, Probably Nothing by Matilda Tristram, Draw what you see Helga Weissara and Ethel & Ernest by Raymond Briggs
  • Think about showing generational change in the family, are there any major events that have taken place that changed something in the family dynamic.
  • Using family images are going to work best for this possibility to adapt them further.
  • Need to think about placement, choosing the correct memories to make the timeline of the novel right. Timeline is really important to this story.

I think the next stage now is look at some of the novels based on true stories to understand more about how they are put together. I also think that I need to start mapping out the important events in the timeline of my novel before moving forward.

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