Grr(aphic) Mondays: Art, Tone and Snotgirl

Last Week we found out that Scott Pilgrim creator, Bryan Lee O’Malley, is working with Image Comics on a new title ‘Snotgirl’. The title is interesting in a lot of different ways but what concerns me today is that O’Malley has partnered with artist Leslie Hung. In all of his previous works O’Malley has done his own artwork and the visual style has complimented the writing style well. But how can writing that works well with this sort of visual style:

Extra-LifePicture source:

Also work with something like this:
Frankly, it won’t, not exactly in the same way at least. Some of O’Malley writing style will be complimented by the change and some of it will not work. Right now, somewhere out there, O’Malley is probably trying to access this change and alter his style to work with it. I would assume that he is going to lean away from a lot of the geek references and instead find humour in his characters, which has always been a strength of the writer. Of course, there is also the chance that the internal art style might be something closer to O’Malley’s, as seems to be the case with Hung’s previous work.
But what should you do if your in O’Malley’s position or, worst, your trying to decide your ‘style’ and have no idea what it should be? Well, the first step is to decide the story you want to tell, is it an action or a comedy? Sci-Fi, fantasy or super heroes? First person or Third? Interpretive or clean cut? All of the above? These choices will help you to identify the tone you are trying to present. If your leaning towards a lot of action then you need to an art style that will be easy to follow and will make your explosive fight scenes pop off the page. On the other hand, if your looking at a character drama then you might want to consider an art style that reflects your character’s personalities (especially if the drama is narrated by one of the characters). There is a veritable cornucopia of art styles and story styles to work with or to take inspiration from, often you will find that several different art styles blended together will work best with your story.
This doesn’t just apply to one-man teams like O’Malley, any artist and writer duo needs to consider the tone, this is normally an early stage in the creative process but a crucial one. It’s very important that a writer understands the limits of the artist and what sort of  art style the artist can work with. This doesn’t tend to be as much of a problem in the professional scene but when your starting out in the amateur market it’s a large consideration. I know writer’s that dismiss this process as part of the artists job, this is the wrong approach, the artist and the writer should be constantly working together so that each compliment each other.
This is an important consideration for readers as well,  as often a reader won’t consider these stylistic choices and the affect that it has on writing, I urge you to take your favourite comic books and graphic novels and consider the relationship between the artwork and the writing. This article has just scratched the surface of this process but if it’s got you intrigued I recommend looking into the work of Scott McCloud and Will Eisner as well as checking back here every Monday for more information on the creative process.

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