You're Thinking About Tomatoes

By Michael Rosen and Cole Henley

A graphic novel adaptation of the fan favourite story!

Friday, 12 March 2021

Step 1: The Script

Hey all

Sorry it has taken us so long to post an update on the project.

It was so fantastic to hit our target back in September and work continues behind the scenes. We are significantly through the drawing stage so thought it would be a good time and a great idea to give you all an idea of the process involved in bringing Michael’s fantastic story to life!

Step 1: The Script

We start our process with Michael’s book - I (Cole) have two copies; a nice fresh one and a heavily annotated and well-thumbed one!

In creating the graphic novel the first step is to produce a script specifically for drawing. Preparing a comic script is very much like screenwriting - we are outlining the action and the dialogue in a way that can help the artist understand the flow of the story but rather than breaking this up into “scenes” - as we would for film or television - we need to break this up into pages and panels.

We are thinking here about how best to capture the essence of a moment within the story over a series of visual panels. This involves asking lots of questions as we go: what characters are present in the scene? How scenes should be framed? What is the pacing like? Where should we build tension? Where do we need humour? How much dialogue should this page have?

A surprising challenge here is Michael’s wonderfully visual storytelling. In a traditional book, the writing is doing all the heavy lifting. It helps the reader set up the story, the characters and the action in their minds. This is a great help with the drawing process as it helps us flesh out the characters.

However, for the graphic novel, we need to balance this so that we are using the drawing as much as the dialogue to tell the story. This also sadly means cutting some dialogue out of parts of the book to help the story flow visually and keep it moving.

Because I am both writing the script and illustrating the book the format for the script is pretty loose - I have taken the chapters from the book and tried to work these into broad pages where a defined piece of the story takes place (and trying to keep our publisher happy by keeping this to the target number of pages!).

Then on each page, I loosely outline the dialogue and what each character should be doing and saying. This is deliberately loose because the purpose here is trying to establish a rhythm for the story. As we flesh out each page with our pencils - which will come onto later - we can work with these various ingredients on the page and see what fits and what doesn’t. 

Next week we will be taking you through Step 2: World Building.

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