Picture this.

DredpicsPhil: If a picture is worth a thousand words, is a graphic novel a better read than a normal book?

While I might be as nerdy as they come, graphic novels always passed me by. I suppose it’s easy to group them in with the comics I used to read as a kid. Fun, but for a fast reader, even as a child, Buster or Whizzer and Chips didn’t hold me for very long.

When we write, both of us picture the scenes in a series of images or as a piece of film. There are segments of our book that are very visual indeed with elements of slapstick or action movie going on. Would these translate to a series of drawings?

Out of curiosity, I spent a whole 99p on the first issue of a new partwork based on the Judge Dredd character from 2000AD. I know a bit about the main character, have seen both films, although the cognoscenti tell me the first one is a million miles from the comics, and am a bit curious.

Book 1 is titled “America” which you might think refers to the country but is in fact the name of a female character, admittedly named after the USA but long after said country had ceased to exist in the way we know it.

America represented a serious turn for Judge Dredd and the first 4 stories are found in this collection. All are complex and not a little disturbing in places. There are twists and turns along the way and you do find real character development.

I was fascinated by the way the artwork moves things along. Many of the panels are narrow to pick up the pace of the story. They only provide glimpses of the action for the same reason. Unlike the sort of comic I was expecting, the size and detail within each picture varies enormously – there are a lot of subliminal messages being given before you study the picture itself.

Stylewise, I was reminded of the sort of smokey, dirty world that Phillip Marloe lived in, even though this is over two centuries after he would have been around. Maybe, like with the detective novels, audiences like a vicarious view into the underbelly of society that they prefer to view from a safe distance.

Reading the book took me longer than I expected. Not as long as pages full of text but a more than a couple of hours for the whole thing (sorry, no page numbers and it’s too late for counting). More to the point, I really enjoyed it. Not enough to buy the full series, which while it looks like an excellent deal would consume too much valuable shelf space, but at least I sort of get why people like this stuff.

So, could Kate vs The Dirtboffins be a graphic novel?

Possibly. We’d need a talented artist and then have to agree how every scene would look. Maybe this spoils the “pictures are best in your head” thing but they that won’t stop us when Hollywood comes a callin’ will it?


Filed under Phil, Writing

3 responses to “Picture this.

  1. Sorry to mention it again, but here in France the graphic novel is big, really big, business. Whole sections of bookshops are devoted to them and although there are children’s editions they are mainly adult in content with many classic British novels (including Shakespeare) translated into the genre. A new bibliotechec (library and media centre) was opened recently in a small town near us with a large range of graphic novels and which was celebrated with an expo of graphic novel artists showing off their skills. The UK seems to out of step with the rest of the world in relegating the graphic novel to just being a children’s format – they are big in all European countries, Japan and America so to expand your future market you could ‘go graphic’.

    • Nothing wrong with a graphic novel. I always knew they were big in France thanks to Asterix and Obelix. Remember reading them from the local library as a kid and they seemed different from the sort of cartoons we used to read. Longer stores and much more involved than the stuff in comics.

      I can certainly see the appeal as you have something that is both book and art. There’s a heck of a lot of skill and time involved in the creative process.

  2. Forgot to mention that I knew one of the artists who worked on the Judge Dredd stories as he had a studio near me in Colchester. In some instances he would photograph a model from odd angles to get the correct perspective. It was all done in black ink on layout paper and coloured in later – now, of course, it’s drawn on a computer.

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