Critical Reading Workshop: Writing the Graphic Novel

Do you read graphic novels? Ever thought about writing one, but don’t know where to start? This month’s critical reading workshop is for you! Join us March 9 at 7 p.m. for a discussion of Adrian Tomine’s Killing and Dying, a collection of graphic short stories that will change the way you think about comics.

So, we’re reading a comic book?

Yes. And no. The term “graphic novel” has become a catch-all for any illustrated work that is not a serial superhero comic. Not that graphic novels can’t be about superheroes. They can. They can be long-form narrative (like a novel) or a collection of short stories. They can stick to a genre like sci-fi or fantasy, or they can be realistic, satirical, or autobiographical. In short: graphic novels can be about anything.

What about the book we’re reading?

Killing and Dying is a collection of six short stories that are quiet slices from the lives of ordinary, diverse characters: an addict in recovery, a soldier home from the war, an awkward teen grappling with her mother’s impending death, and others. We’re going to focus on two of the stories for our discussion: “Go Owls” and “Translated, from the Japanese,” but feel free to bring your thoughts on any story to the table.  We’ll look at how Tomine (pronounced “TOH-muh-nay”) uses a different style of illustration and narration for each piece, and talk about how words and images work together to tell a story. (FYI: “Go Owls” contains some strong language and brief cartoon nudity. This may be a comic book, but it’s not one for your kids.)

But I don’t draw.

Me neither. Some artists (Tomine included) do both writing and illustration for their work, but writers often will collaborate with a visual artist to produce a graphic novel. As with traditional fiction, the best way to learn how to write a graphic novel is to read a lot of them. And then talk about why they work. With us. On March 9.

OK, I’m interested…

I knew you would be! Grab your copy of Killing and Dying and meet us March 9 at 7 p.m. at the Capital Club in the Doubletree Suites Hotel in downtown Columbus.  We’ll post a few discussion questions soon to consider while you’re reading. Of course, you’re always welcome to just show up and hang out, too. The more you put in, the more you’ll take away, but we’ll enjoy your company either way. See you there!

Questions? Comments? Contact the workshop moderator.