A Scene From My Graphic Novel
Sketches, Samples, Progress
I wanted to share some sample illustrations from the graphic novel I’ve been working on. What I would say for now is that the book deals a lot with language, and with words having a shape, a form, a color, and so on.
Silence, too, has these things. The first chapter is about a kid in Catholic school who is almost entirely nonverbal and unable to communicate with the people around him. He’s scared, in his own world, and can’t seem to get on the same page with his peers.
The isolation and loneliness of this condition is something I’ve experienced in my real life, especially when I was a child. I use stained glass to represent that thick barrier between a quiet misfit and the world around them.
It was hard for me to see things for what they were. I was so often confused, so often unable to look at things “the right way.” Other people’s words and actions went through a filter before reaching me through these barriers. It was suffocating.
To display this, I thought of a Catholic rose window closing up and around our main character.
Nothing is final yet of course, and these images are arranged to accommodate a book proposal more so than a page in an actual book, where they will be resized and rearranged. But I’m so happy with how the process is going so far.
I’m working with Mike Renaud (over at Varyer) for this project, which has been amazing. We’ve collaborated before on my immersive speculative biology piece, Life on Other Worlds, that I’m still so proud of, and he also helped redesign this very Substack, so it’s a match made in heaven.
I think my favorite part was being able to come back after a couple of weeks and draw some of the little things, like the kids leaving their glass frames as the rose window starts to close up and the glass doves coming to life and flying away (flight will be an important theme in the book).
Less fun: making a rose window took some math and precision, two things I’m not so great with (how did those goths do it?). But the idea of a rose window closing up like a sinister bud was something I felt I absolutely needed to pursue, so I picked up some graphing paper and got to work.
I will likely be returning to the final image and maybe adding a couple more “movement” scenes. I haven’t decided if I want it to be more or less… flowery. But some time away illustrating other scenes will probably reveal the truth.
One of my friends said it reminded him a bit of Kingdom Hearts, which really tickled me. Maybe I do see Catholic school as a Kingdom Hearts world.
Massive thank you again to Mike, and also to my subscribers, especially my paid subscribers who are helping to make this vision come to life!
Thanks for sharing your work in progress. I am a gay Catholic school survivor too. I think you’re capturing something fresh about it here- the mysteries promoted by Catholicism next to the mysteries of discovering yourself. The “I wanted to talk to someone” made me tear up this morning.
The visuals were strong, clear, shows emotions and it rattled me. It reminded of my says at Little Flower Church in El Paso, Texas, I would walk in and I was either in aw or scared; it's a mystery. Today as an adult, I walk into Most Holy Reedemer in San Francisco and I sit and stare at the stained glass- maybe a sense of comfort? Maybe a focus so I don't look around and see folks I don't know?
Thank you! I hope this project provides much healing. Your story offered that for me. Look forward to seeing more.
I admire your writing.
David m SF