My Story in Pictures
Artwork by Sina Grace and Shaun Struble
It’s appropriate that the way I got involved with Where We Live: A Benefit for the Survivors in Las Vegas was through Facebook. My story, first printed in this magazine, was made so much more significant because of social media. After the 10/1 massacre, it was through Facebook that I was able to coordinate and facilitate food drops to whoever we could. Besides that, when I would post updates about how many people we were feeding, I knew it made people happy.
Then Wendy Williams, one of the curators of Where We Live, put a post out to the cyber-universe asking for exciting stories from people who had some experience involving Route 91. Without having a proper background in comic book writing, I asked if I could adapt my magazine article into a comic-book script. I figured it would be an excellent opportunity to learn another form of writing.
The curators paired me with Ollie Masters, a comic writer from Britain. These days, Ollie’s name seems to mentioned daily by the likes of The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline, since one of his books, The Kitchen, is becoming a feature film with huge stars like Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish attached to star in it.
We talked about writing my story a few ways: We could collaborate on the first draft and see how that worked. Or I could write it as a film script, since there are some similarities between that and comic-book scripts and then Ollie could bridge it from there. Or I could take a crash course in comic writing and write a draft by myself, after which Ollie would, if needed, make it professional.
We went for option 3 and Ollie sent over a ton of materials for me to study.
My background as a screenwriter certainly helped. The initial adjustment I had to make was to remember that comics are a dynamically visual medium. I ended up overfilling pages – too many panels, too much information, too many details. As opposed to a feature script, where you have to paint the picture in the reader’s mind, the images in comic-books are right there for the reader to see.
After I got a working draft together, Ollie took over and cleaned it up.
Sina Grace was next up to bat. It was cool that he chose our story to draw. I sent him a few pics of myself, my daughter, and my dog, so I could work the whole family in there. When Sina sent his first drawing of me back, I responded, “Man, even comic book me is too fat!” Sina was kind enough to trim my build, but didn’t have to.
From there, he and Shaun Struble tore through the art of the piece, sending panels to the entire team every now and again.
What I learned from this process was that I genuinely enjoy this type of storytelling. It’s fun and exciting and as a writer, something I want to do more. In the end, though, good storytelling, no matter what the genre or form, is essential. I was lucky enough to be a rookie who was plugged in as a starter on an All-Star team. It was a rewarding process, and I hope readers feel the same way.