Graphic Novels vs. Animation

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briantaylor
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Graphic Novels vs. Animation

Post by briantaylor » Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:26 pm

So I'm at a bit of a cross-road in my life. My dream career is to be able to tell my own stories. I've pursued both comics and animation/film as possible ways of doing these stories. But being unable to commit to either, I haven't accomplished nearly as much as I feel I could have; had I been more decisive.

So, with the start of this new year, I'm hoping to stop my indecisiveness and finally commit to one path. I'm leaning more now toward comics. The reason being that comics allow you to tell stories truer to your vision. Plus I love drawing :wink: The downside is no motion, sound, and the current state of the comics industry (non mainstream).

As much as I love film and animation, it just doesn't seem feasible for a single person to do the kind of stories that I want to do (fantasy/longer format) without having a lot of money or people involved. Most of the animated films I've seen by single people are short, simple films.

So this is what I'm thinking. Just curious to know if others here have fought with this and could maybe offer some advice.

Thanks!

-Brian

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angeldevil
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Post by angeldevil » Wed Jan 02, 2008 10:25 pm

You know, this is something close to my heart... I started in animation, working the lowest end art related jobs when I was 19. I did it for a few years, despite being freelance with long periods of lay off. I was in love with animation as a medium, and hell, still am. But one thing I learned is that, at least State Side, even if I became a director or a producer (if I had the skills -- I don't), I was never going to be able to make the sort of films I wanted to. Even now when I go looking for new animation, most of what I bring home is Japanese because that is one of the few places with an active enough industry that some really odd stuff still gets made. And here I am, years and years later, working on a graphic novel, so you can see what my ultimate choice was. It was hard to choose though. Animation is a great background to have though, especially if your graphic novel gets adapted some day... well, we can all hope, right? Now seems to be an active market for comics also, and less so for animation overall. But the main thing that should sway you is what you want most. If seeing your characters dance across the screen is what sends you, then that's the path you should take.

I hope this helps a little, in the end you have to pick what feels right. Are you sure you can't manage to do both? They are so closely related...

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Post by JakeKalsbeek » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:33 am

I hear where you are coming from. I recently graduated from Animation Mentor and I love comics for the same reasons you guys stated. If money wasn't a consideration and the health of various industries wasn't a factor I might go into comics just for the creative control. But for me I have a much better chance of earning a living wage as an animator than a comic creator. Supporting my family and getting benefits (health, dental, 401k) comes before my desire to tell the stories I want.

This doesn't mean I'm not super excited about animation or that I have to give up on the longer stories I want to tell. I just have to be more patient and work on my comics on the side. And I believe that this will make me a better comic artist in the long run. I agree with what angeldevil said about animation as a great background and not only if your graphic novel gets adapted some day. Animation and Animation Mentor has taught me more about comics and storytelling than all the how to books on comics I've read combined. Another added bonus of animation is all the crazy talented people you will get to work with. The Flight forums are awesome but working next to a living breathing artist can be hugely inspiring in a way an internet forum can't compete with.

I think I was right to focus on animation. But that doesn't mean I don't hope one day to publish my own graphic novel. My interest in comics has made me a better animator and focusing on animation first will give me a way to support my family. I like to think of graphic novels like regular novels, the vast majority of published authors don't write full time, most have other jobs that pay the bills. I have heard that only the top 10% of published authors actually write novels full time.

That's my reasoning behind why I choose to focus on animation. I'm not suggesting everyone should do what I do. I don't know your situation. You might have a good job that pays the bills. If you do that's great and animation probably won't be the right path to tell the long format stories you want to tell. Animation is a great career but don't get into animation unless you are super passionate about animation and telling the stories animation can tell.

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Post by thirdeyeh » Thu Jan 03, 2008 2:58 pm

This is almost exactly the issue that I faced when I was in college and making a move to go to film school. I knew three things: I love comics, I love painting, and I love film. What I have come to know even more deeply is that I LOVE STORY. Whatever medium it takes its shape within. Nothing is more powerful to me as a means of communicating and stirring a person than a story.

So as I stood there painting, and visiting film schools along the way, I realized exactly what you said. The stories I want to tell are so big, or so complicated that if I were to ever try to make them as a film I would need an untold amount of money and a crew of people that I could never truly hope to find. But with comics, I could create every story that I ever dreamt of and tell it visually without so much as spend more than maybe $100 if I wanted to. Film had become cumbersome and I found that ideas that had inspiration were dying in the script phase because I had no visual outlet that could sustain them. Finally I had an idea for a television series that I was really excited about and I wanted to tell the story I had been scripting. So I realized, I'm leaving film behind, because for me it got in the way of story. Now I prefer the comics medium because my stories have life that couldn't have otherwise.

I also found what you said very true about not finding a focus. I spent the first few years out of college really spending my time on being a painter and building up a client base for my commissioned portraits. Now I have found myself really wanting to focus on comics. I'm at that crossroads too. It's not that I can't do both, but to pick one and dedicate yourself to it is very important because it gives you direction. So I can relate there. I'm finding myself realizing that I had right when I was in third grade and comics were all that mattered. So right now, its where my focus will be and remain.
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Post by rajesh » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:37 pm

Wow. it's been a while since I posted.

In high school, I wanted to do comic books very much, but the focus then was on superhero comics and I liked John Woo movies. So comics were out of the question. I didn't have any talent either, so drawing was out of the question as well and I went into film. Turned out I wasn't too good with people, so even though people loved my ideas for movies, the finished product was...crap. But man, do I love the medium. I knew the marriage of sound and image was for me. And then I saw Princess Mononoke.

So I went into animation, hoping to storyboard a few tv shows and animated features and work my way into directing.

But I still had to learn how to draw. Along the way, I found I really enjoyed working for myself, and that's pretty much what I do now. I still take the occasional freelance job, but when it comes to drawing, I draw for myself. And animation is my medium.

Unfortunately I have so many ideas and I doubt I'll ever be able to make them all without a studio backing me. So I make the small simple films you mentioned earlier. Mainly because I fear that I'm not good enough to do it by myself and that the more films I do, the better I'll get and the more I'll be prepared for when I do decide to tackle something bigger all by my lonesome.

I also storyboard and put into comic format my bigger ideas. Then, when it comes time to animate, it's just a matter of animating and not a whole production process. I haven't shared or published any of those comics yet, but I hope when I do, I'll be able to get enough money to pay for an assistant or two.

Animation takes time. Comics take time...though maybe not as much. But I've scheduled my week so I have time to do the things i need to do and the things I want to do. I'm close to finishing my 3rd short (it's the second short I started, actually), and I hope to finish my dream project by the end of this year along with another short I originally intended as live action.

I know what you mean by feeling hopeless when confronted by such an enormous task. But if you really want it, start and don't stop till you finish.

There's no greater rush than seeing something finished that I've been working on for about year, not knowing whether it'll be any good or not. And though all I can see is my mess ups, others seem to gloss over it. It reassures me I don't need a "studio" look to it. I just need something from the heart.

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briantaylor
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Post by briantaylor » Sun Jan 06, 2008 9:59 pm

angeldevil: If I had to decide what I wanted most, it's a hard one, but I would probably choose telling my own stories over seeing characters I've animated move. For me, animation is just a means to an end. I love great animation, but I'm much more inspired by the idea of creating memorable worlds and characters.

Just a little bit more on my situation...

I'm currently working as a 3D animator on a kid's show. I decided back when I was in college to major in animation. Out of all of the things I was interested in, animation seemed to be the best way for me to pay the bills and have a regular job so I could support a family. So for me, this isn't so much about what I want to do for a career, as it is, trying to figure out the best way to tell the stories I want to tell.

thirdeyeh: Wow, thanks, I can totally relate. I've spent the last ten years learning everything I could about film, special effects and animation, trying to find SOME way of doing my ideas as movies. But it always came back to the same thing. Even with all of the technological breakthroughs with 3D animation and digital filmmaking, doing anything substantial in film requires lots of people and money. I've done a lot of fun movies and animation along the way. But the real stories, the ones I was dying to tell, remained untold. Simply because they were too ambitious.

Plus, I've always loved drawing. I find many of the elements involved in making 3D animation and film to be cumbersome and frustrating. But with drawing I've always loved the proccess and it's probably what I feel I'm best at and most comfortable with.

Thanks everyone for the advice! I'm definitely feeling a lot more confident about this decision now.

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Og
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Post by Og » Sun Jan 06, 2008 10:16 pm

If I understand your question correctly, you're wondering whether to animate your stories or make them as comics. Do I have that right?

I'm going to give you some advice that's going to sound damn snide, but I swear I'm serious. This is a non-decision that can eat your life alive. It really doesn't matter whether you make a comic or an animated film to tell your stories. You have already outlined very eloquently the strengths and weaknesses of each format, and your skill level as regards both of them. You have your pros and cons and your shifting preferences.

I suspect that underneath the debate is your concern over which format will allow you to be successful, so that your decision is financially viable. I would argue that you know people, even right here on this board, who have found success telling their stories in either comics or film, some like Pascal Campion and Michel Gagne, in both formats.

I urge you to stop having this debate with yourself. It is far more important to write your stories and then make them, either through a simple animated approach, or through comics. You can do it. But I speak from experience - anything that can get in the way of you making that film or that comic will get in the way.

And the biggest thing that gets in the way is a debate over which format to choose, or whether to tell your Big Story vs. whether to tell a Series of Small Stories, or whether to tell your story in a sci-fi universe, a western universe, a feudal Japanese world...

Thinking about these things is important. You want to do due diligence and make sure you ideas are strong and worth doing. You want to be sure you have the skills, time, and resources necessary to take on whatever you decide to take on. But more than anything, it's important to just make that decision and leap.

I would humbly recommend a couple of podcasts on this *very* subject, if you are so inclined:

Making Films the AnimWatch Way, Pt I
Making Films the AnimWatch Way, Pt II

It's the Soapbox portion near the end of each one you really want to listen to. They are specifically geared toward animation, but if you replaced the word animation with the word "comics" or "novel" or just "art" in most places in these podcasts, you'd get the same net benefit. They speak to what it means to be an artist, trying to tell your stories in your spare time.

I wish you luck, and if I've misinterpreted your issue, forgive me and disregard this post. :P

-Og
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briantaylor
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Post by briantaylor » Thu Jan 10, 2008 8:17 am

Thanks Og. I went ahead and listened to those podcasts. They were extremely helpful. I think they helped to wake me up out of my stupor and made me realize what I needed to do here. Can't believe I've allowed myself to drift into the "dreamer" mentality a bit, I used to be fairly prolific at producing stuff.

I'd pretty much already made my mind up. I posted on this forum mainly just to get some feedback. So that when the indecision about the choice I'd made arose (like it always seems to do), I'd be able to fight it off. But you're right, it really is a non-decision and I can definitely see how it can eat my life away. So advice taken. Time to get to work :wink:

Thanks!

P.S.: I didn't realize you were the one behind AnimWatch. That's an awesome website, I actually go there quite a bit!

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Og
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Post by Og » Thu Jan 10, 2008 12:15 pm

I'm glad those podcasts resonated with you. They're taken directly from my experience. I have wasted more of my life than I care to admit on non-issues just like you're going through.

Good luck with your work, no matter what you decide. I hope you post what you're up to so we can kick your butt when you backslide.

I've got a film series I'm trying to get off the ground, and I'll be posting updates here as well, so at least it'll be fair. :)
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