Festival of Books: The ‘delicate and complicated language’ of graphic novels


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‘World in a Frame: The Graphic Novel’ was one of the few Saturday panels at the Festival of Books where words were secondary to a more complex process of writing.

‘Doing good comics, you shouldn’t think of yourself as a writer and illustrator,’ said Daniel Clowes, author of ‘Mister Wonderful’ and ‘Wilson.’ ‘You should look at yourself as a cartoonist. You have to think of everything as one piece. It’s a very delicate and complicated language.”


L.A. Times staff writer Geoff Boucher moderated the panel, which included Clowes as well as Jim Woodring and Dash Shaw. Discussion drifted to the transition from black and white to color ink and then how and where they develop material.

Woodring lives in Seattle and said he switches his workplace from the third floor to his living room in a jungle-like atmosphere with dissection charts and recordings of frogs. Dash lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn and works in a studio space below his apartment, pinning his drawings to his wall (a far cry from his older digs -- his early work was done just 1 foot from where he slept).

And, they note, working doesn’t come easily. “It’s hard to go into the basement every day,’ Shaw said about finding the motivation to produce.

“I thought it was going to be easier as I got older,” Woodring said. “But there’s a lot of uncertainty with it of how I’m going to survive. I’m sure we all have our coping mechanisms, and mine is to pretend I’m camping.” That definitely fits in with his jungle-like workspace.

-- Joshua Sandoval