28 April 2009

Nicki Greenberg on writing



Nicki Greenberg, is a Melbourne comic artist behind the comic adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and is currently working on a comic adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ (Preview above)

Here is an edited interview I had with her about her writing process when it comes to comics,

How do you initially jot down ideas, if at all?
Yes. For a shorter comic I will jot down ideas in a mix of words and pictures, as the idea strikes me. For a longer project like a book, I will spend months planning, which includes drawing and refining characters and making lots of detailed notes (visual and in words) about structure, concept, interpretation etc, even before beginning the proper roughs of the pages.

Is there anything peculiar about your writing process, eg, has to be at a certain time, has to be in a certain type of book or paper, pens etc?
I usually plan and do thumbnails in pencil, but for a longer work I write extensive notes in pen as well. Ok, the loose pages. This is something I use when drafting an extended work like Gatsby or Hamlet. I do the rough work on separate sheets of paper and put them in a ring binder, numbering the pages according to a sensible system as I go. (Hamlet is 427 pages long)

For Hamlet the pages are put into the folder facing one another to form double-page spreads, as the layout of the spreads is really important for how the book works. One of the benefits of loose pages is that if I decide to change something (eg, add pages, move scenes around etc) it is easy to cut up the pages and sticky-tape the relevant parts together.

My Hamlet roughs are quite detailed - they are pencilled and then loosely inked with a brush pen.
I hadn't completely settled on the aesthetic of the book and the characters when I began the roughs, so the inking allowed me to experiment - although much of the experimentation happened simultaneously in my sketchbook rather than in the roughs.

The roughs in that instance were more about planning the very difficult editing of the prose novel into graphic form.

What concerns do you have when starting out in the writing process, eg, to not spend too much time, to get compositions right, to make it flow etc?
Enjoy it, and feel free to play around with knotty problems in the planning stage - explore different approaches. It doesn't have to be perfect or set in stone until much later in the piece, so be open-minded about how the final piece might be.

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Thanks for your time Nicki, Looking forward to Hamlet when it is done.

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