NaGraNoWriMo and Recent Ruminations on Comics

December 5, 2009 at 7:45 am Leave a comment

Tonight at the Center for Cartoon Studies there was a gallery event celebrating new books by two CCSers. Both Ken Dahl and Colleen Frakes have received multiple indy comics awards, and their books — Monsters and Woman King, respectively — are quick, square, 2×2 panel books with real ISBN numbers. They are very different, but they are both very good “graphic novels.”

Recently, Frakes has set about doing something quite different. This last month, Frakes did her own version of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Frakes’ NaGraNoWriMo charges the participant with doing a one hundred page graphic novel between the first and thirty-first of November.

Frakes has since completed her own challenge, and the result is called The Trails of Sir Christopher. It is available in its entirety for free on Flickr, and it is as lively and expressive as the Woman King.

Sir Christopher exemplifies many things I have been thinking about in terms of comics recently. While Frakes is clearly quite capable with a brush, the drawings she has done in this last month were rendered quickly with only a cheap felt pen and on copy paper. Materials wise, I think that an artist should generally use what he thinks will give him the best results, but the most important thing about making comics is actually making comics, and no tool or material (or lack of tool or material) should become a barrier between the ideas and the page.

This book is surprising, and fun, and not the plotless chaos one expects from a writing experiment. However, the most impressive part of this work for me is the sheer number of pages completed on each day. Surely Frakes could and should reproduce this work as a zine, a book, or something else, but for now I’m enjoying it in its current blissful state as a flickr album. Clear, free, and inspiring. Read it already.

Images for review purposes courtesy of Colleen Frakes, from the online graphic novel The Trails of Sir Christopher.


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Shit Just Got Real

Josh Kramer is a blogger, cartoonist, journalist, etc. I'm the Editor of The Cartoon Picayune. I live in Washington, DC and I just graduated from the Center for Cartoon Studies. See work by me and my classmates.

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