Answers please

By , 11 January 2008 7:33 pm

Well, back to teaching this week. The way the UK system works is that there are now major exams at the end of the year 12 when the kids are aged 16 or 17. These are actually extremely significant exams as any university application largely depends on the results. So, my students have come back from Christmas and you can see it dawning on them that very weighty matters which will affect the rest of their lives are just a few months away. It concentrates the mind wonderfully.

Anyway I want to throw out two questions to you today. I have been asked about both and I have no answer to either.

The first was a serious inquiry as to whether or not I had ever considered turning the books into a graphic novel. Frankly, I used to be rather scathing about such things until we went to France, the land of culture, and noticed that in the bookshops they always have a big section of graphic novels which they call bandes dessinée. (As an aside it is worth noting that whereas on British holidays visiting bookshops is pretty much inevitable due to our weather, we have been weeks in France and never considered visiting a bookshop.) It turns out that the French (as with the Japanese but not the British) are big on these things. I actually know very little about them, but I am now much less cynical. At best, they clearly are a distinctive and attractive art form of their own. In fact, I am reminded as I write that we once had a graphic story book of the Bible, which was so impressive that we lent it to someone and have never had it back. Given that many of my students, some of whom are otherwise very bright, do not read traditional books it seems to me that these are an interesting genre. Anybody out there know anything more about them? Anybody write them? Draw them? Know anybody to contact?

The second question, which occurred on the Lamb among the Stars Facebook page was on how appropriately to celebrate the release of the Infinite Day in June. Incidentally, if you have not visited that page and joined the fan club please do. I take a small – and possibly pathetic – pleasure in the fact that the number of people who are subscribed to the fan club has now just edged up over 70. Anyway there was the suggestion that we might try to have a virtual launch party. It is complicated, because in some parts of the world the books will not yet have arrived or been released. And I really don’t want plot spoilers occurring. But it would be fun to come up with an idea to celebrate what is a small, but clearly global association of fans. Something new that would be good publicity might be a good idea. Anyway over to you again: any ideas?

6 Responses to “Answers please”

  1. Terry says:

    Chris,

    On graphic novels…
    My only significant experience with these was, as for you, a series of Bible stories. When I was a kid, we had a set of paperback books covering the Bible. I think there were about 6 books altogether, with titles like “Kings and Prophets”, and “The Life of Jesus”, and “The Apostles”. I’m not sure if those were the exact names, but you get the idea.

    The point is, I spent hours and hours reading those books. To this day, I can dredge up obscure bible stories to the amazement of all, including myself, and when I think about it, I realize that what I am remembering is the picture stories I read over 30 years ago.

    Needless to say, I would never have spent that amount of time reading the Bible in text. While there is obviously no substitute for the real thing, for a 10 year-old kid, reading through the stories of the Bible in pictures several times a year is no bad thing.

    As far as TLATS is concerned, I can’t think of a good reason, or any reason, for that matter, why it wouldn’t be good. You’ve certainly built enough action and “moving plot” into the story to provide fodder for the artist’s pen, and I would think that you could have a lot of fun putting a “made world” into graphics.

    And such lovely specimens to work with! Instead of Peter Jackson analyzing a prototype of Gollum, we have Chris Walley scrutinizing drawings of a cockroach beast, and saying, “Can you make the armour plating a little less bulky? It needs to allow more movement.” “And the eyebrow ridges should be thicker.” Such fun!

    The problem, of course, as with a movie, is that as soon as the story is put into visual, it messes with a lot of people’s imaginations. “That’s not how I imagined Mr. and Mrs. D’Avanos!” Etcetera. We tend to hold our mental images of stories rather tightly. But I suppose it’s inevitable, and a small price to pay for the benefit of having the story in graphic form. And I would think that a danger would be insisting that the pictures look like YOU imagined them. You may be better off researching how the majority of your reader imagined them!

    ‘Nuff said. Unfortunately, for all my verbosity, I have no cousin who publishes graphic novels or anything so practically helpful. But I think it’s a great idea.

    Take care,

    Terry

  2. Christian Artists Ministry says:

    Hi Chris,

    You might check out http://www.teddekker.com/?content=works_biblio

    I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Ted Dekker’s works or not, but he has a trilogy of sci-fi/fantasy type books that he has allowed to be published as graphic novels. The only critique I can give on graphic novels is that as an artist myself, I pay very close attention to the artwork of such material. I often enjoy a graphic novel that helps me visualize or reaffirm environments that I may have imagined in a book. I do enjoy them and have been known to pick up certain ones for art reference or collectibility.

    As for the launch party, perhaps a newsletter could be developed leading up or coinciding with the launch party. This could be an online PDF publication with question and answer sections, theological discussions or insights pertaining to the books, more in-depth technical looks at The Assembly and it’s hardware (ships, locations, cities, characters, etc). Or what about a Chris Walley podcast?

  3. Boaz says:

    I’m not sure who to contact, but your best bet might be one of the smaller houses or independant ones. For instance, don’t go directly to DC or Marvel, but look at Vertigo or Dark Horse instead.

    One serious issue is to find an artist or artists who draw in a style that you like, or that you think is effective. (I assume that you would retain writing control.)

    So it appears that research may be necessary. Look at comic books and graphic novels for art style, see what artists there are that you like (pencils, inks, paints, etc.), and perhaps who publishes them (if/since Tyndale doesn’t have a comic section).

    Perhaps ask some of your students (especially fans of the books) which artists and publishers they like.

    As for the party timing, unless other stores like Barnes & Noble or Borders here in the states carry it, the earliest we can pick it up from the Christian bookstore is 6/2. (It might come on 6/2 if we order from Amazon.) So perhaps hold off until 6/2, or perhaps a bit later to give people time to get and read the book? (Saturday, 6/7? Is that too long?)

    As far as the party itself, since the following is geographically diverse, on-line is probably the best, but if there isn’t a group IM application (perhaps hosted by Tyndale, FaceBook, or something), then the most likely thing is either a whole bunch of wall posts, or an open thread topic that people add to almost like a conversation in real time.

    Hope that the discussion helps.

  4. Helen Bach says:

    Hi Chris. Regarding the party You can get group IMs at meebo.com

    The beauty is that anyone can use it regardless of which IM they prefer (MSN, Yahoo, Googletalk etc). The group owner will need a meebo account and they set up a “room” which anyone who signs in to meebo with whichever AIM can access. And it does pictures and videos (I think)

  5. Christopher Hopper says:

    Dear Chris,

    First off, let me say thank you for writing LATS. I just received it care of your publisher as part of the CSFF Blog Tour (my aunt also happens to be one of Tyndale’s senior editors). I am enjoying it immensely and I’m keeping your quirky (in all the best of ways) letter enclosed with it, savoring your details of what a true Welshman is.

    Your obvious loves for the Lord, science and a good story are all very apparent, things I appreciate with you. Thanks for crafting such a delightful book. Recommending it to all my peers and my writer’s guild (“The Ink Blots”).

    As to graphic novels, Ted Dekker was already mentioned. He has had good success with the from what I know.

    If you wish, my graphic artist is really into graphic novels and would be more than happy to hear your ideas on a proposal. I can provide his information at your prompting.

    Blessings!

    CH

  6. Chris says:

    Hi Christopher,

    Many thanks for this. I have asked my editor to look into the graphic novel thing. Your word of mouth encouragement is so helpful too.

    BTW I agree with your comments on website on recorded music too. Classical is going the same way; a loud goo!

    Blessings

    Chris

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