Shaun Levin

Posts Tagged ‘graphic novel’

Conversations with the Page

In Writing on September 30, 2020 at 9:27 am

Me and B were talking about our changing conversations with the page, and by page I mean canvas or any blank space before you, waiting. Waiting. What do you say to the blank page? How do you approach it? What kinds of conversations are you having with that space before you? By conversations I mean the parameters in which you operate, the limits you set yourself, or the ways you choose to make contact with the page. With writing, the options are dictated by the activity itself, or at least the traditional way we approach writing. That is: you start on one side of the page – in our case: the left – and you keep going along a line until you reach the other end of the page, then you come back to the initial side and start again.

Line after line, one line then another, until you’re done for the day or have said what you have to say. Those are, to a large extent, the facts. That’s just the way writing works.

But what if you approach the page differently? These are the conversations I’m having at the moment as I embark on the making (creating, composing, writing, drawing) of a graphic novel*, a genre (horrible world) that invites a more fluid approach to the page. In other words: Here’s a page. Now, do whatever you want on it. You can start wherever you want, draw, write, colour in, erase, cross out, paste over, write in circles, in panels. Every page is a series of questions of how to compose it. What can you do when you have more than words at your disposal?

In a world that has become overwhelmingly digitised and where writing is done primarily on a keyboard, a device, a laptop, various ways except by hand on a page, the graphic novel offers a space where I feel I have to create by hand. It’s a genre (horrible word) that favours the movement of the hand on paper. I want to say something about the intimate relationship with the page, the different means by which you can fill it.

I knew someone whose handwriting was so tiny, I had to scan their letters to me, then read them as jpegs I could enlarge. There’s a kind of intensity and drillingdownness to such small writing, a concentration that makes me think of how, as a kid, I used the thick lenses of my glasses to burn blades of dry grass on those hot days in M’s garden in Summerstrand. Tiny words burn holes into pages.

Using words as a drawing tool is one step away from drawing. If I could really draw, with ease and skill, I mean really and truly draw, would I still return to words? Would I rely on words? If we had other options for an artistic practice, what would they be?

*This is where you can follow the making of my graphic novel.