This week sees the launch of not just one, but two books in my family. First to launch this week is ‘The Girl and The Glim’ – a graphic novella, by Doig and Swift to be launched at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds this weekend.
Here’s a page from the book, which has been line-drawn by India Swift and coloured by Michael Doig, who are both artists based in Dublin with a background in design and animation.
So what can I learn from this other way of telling a story – one with hardly any words?
Well first, that the reader enjoys uncovering the story for himself. You have to look hard at the illustrations and take your time to spot all the subtle visual clues, as well as the more obvious expressions of the characters to get the most emotion from the story. That the clearer the storyline, the more I engage with it. That small details matter and are remembered by the reader ages after they appear, and that the strength of the supporting characters and the antagonists help the reader engage with the main character.
That the backgrounds really add something to the story and these can loom large, or be manipulated to enhance the action. I’d like to do more of this in my fiction – incorporate skewed ways of descibing settings, and make them (like Alice in Wonderland) expand or contract.
The tone in The Girl and the Glim is a limited palette which gives it a vintage feel. It is their language, and like my language in my fiction, it needs to stay consistent. Here’s Bridgette finding her way to her new school (right).
More than anything though, in a book like this, the artwork has to be lush and ambitious, with enormous attention to detail in line and colour. I know how many hours it takes to produce something like this, and its impressive.
Of course I’m extremely biased, (proud Mum) but I found the layouts extraordinary, and the story touching. This is the first in a series, and I can’t wait for the rest. I have my own signed copy, but you can find Doig & Swift this weekend on Table 59 at Leeds Town Hall. Here’s a look at their regular Youtube channel showing how they work. And you can find their website here where you can also buy the book.