Exemplar Books

This is a trick I’ve learned from National Novel Writing Month and my Municipal Liaision, Anne.

Pick a reference book, which I like to call an “exemplar.” It’s not a book on the mechanics of writing… it’s a book you know and love, and bonus points if it is in the same category/genre as your novel. Keep it at hand in November, and use it to divine the answer to any writing questions that might arise. Not sure how to format dialogue? Take a look at your exemplar book. Not sure when to end or begin chapters? See how the author does it in your exemplar book. I also like to pick a book that has the same POV as my upcoming novel, to keep my mind on track.

My short list of possible exemplar books for Ashes: The Graphic Novel:

  1. Everything by Adrian Tomine, especially his 32 Stories. I love the way he frames the panels and leaves space for the reader’s imagination.
  2. Syllabus and What It Is by Lynda Barry. Inspiration! Drawing Exercises! Self Love!
  3. The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot and Becoming Unbecoming by Una and Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast for how to discuss difficult topics and excellent ways to layout the panels.
  4. Understanding Comics and Making Comics by Scott McCloud, for a guide on how to tackle this idea in my head and how to get it on paper.
  5. Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes by Robin Ha and everything by Lucy Knisley, because recipes will be part of my book.
  6. My favorites of the graphic novels I’ve read (in no particular order):
    1. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi especially, but everything
    2. Epileptic by David B.
    3. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
    4. Everything by Theo Ellsworth
    5. Everything by Tove Jansson
    6. Everything by Alison Bechdel
    7. Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
    8. Everything by Tom Gauld
    9. Everything by Derf Backderf
    10. Li’l Depressed Boy series by S. Steven Struble
    11. Everything by Emily Carroll
    12. Everything by R. Crumb
    13. Stoner Knight by Greg Steele

So I shall be referencing the stories above as I work on my own. Here’s to starting the sketches and promising to dedicate 60 hours to my project in Camp NaNo in April. Back to the composition book countdown. This is the leather cover for my composition books.

Owl Sketchbook

But that’s a lot of books. What style am I going for? How do I level up my art skills with Body Kun models and reference materials? How do I want to tell this story? So I’ve decided on narrowing the list to Adrian Tomine, Tom Gauld, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, and Greg Steele.


Reading 100 Graphic Novels

I posted about reading 100 of anything you want to write. I’ve read 100 graphic novels. And this overachiever has read 120 so far, with another 20 on the bookshelf waiting to be read. The ones I’ve read so far, from the very beginning, are listed below:

  1. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
  2. Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi
  3. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn
  4. 300 by Frank Miller
  5. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
  6. What It Is by Lynda Barry
  7. One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
  8. The Good Times Are Killing Me by Lynda Barry
  9. Robot Dreams by Sara Varon
  10. Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon
  11. Better Days by Joss Whedon
  12. Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale by Joss Whedon
  13. Capacity by Theo Ellsworth
  14. Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis
  15. Moomin Volume 1 by Tove Jansson
  16. The Best American Comics 2013 by Jeff Smith
  17. Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert
  18. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
  19. Making Comics by Scott McCloud
  20. Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
  21. The Freddie Stories by Lynda Barry
  22. Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
  23. Blankets by Craig Thompson
  24. Good-bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson
  25. Maus by Art Spiegelman
  26. Re-Gifters by Mike Carey
  27. The Pride of Baghdad by Brian Vaughn
  28. The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling by Carl Potts
  29. Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe
  30. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
  31. Trinity: a Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
  32. Jane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt
  33. The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln by Noah Van Sciver
  34. Koko Be Good by Jen Wang
  35. Refresh, Refresh by Danica Novgorodoff
  36. The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez
  37. Big Questions by Anders Nilsen
  38. Goliath by Tom Gauld
  39. You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack by Tom Gauld
  40. Not Love But Delicious Foods Make Me So Happy! by Fumi Yoshinaga
  41. The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot
  42. Barefoot Gen: The Day After Volume 2 by Keiji Nakazawa
  43. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
  44. Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley
  45. An Age of License: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
  46. Displacement: A Travelogue by Lucy Knisley
  47. Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez
  48. X’ed Out by Charles Burns
  49. The Hive by Charles Burns
  50. Sugar Skull by Charles Burns
  51. The Outside Circle by Patti LaBoucane-Benson
  52. Out on the Wire by Jessica Abel
  53. Life’s A Bitch by Roberta Gregory
  54. Love and Rockets by Hernandez Brothers
  55. The Property by Ruth Modan
  56. THe Nao of Brown by Glyn Dillon
  57. Seconds: A Graphic Novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley
  58. My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf
  59. Moving Pictures by Kathryn and Stuart Immonen
  60. Phoenix Without Ashes by Harlan Ellison
  61. Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell
  62. Black Hole by Charles Burns
  63. Andre the Giant by Box Brown
  64. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast
  65. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by Oatmeal
  66. The Li’l Depressed Boy Volume 1 by S. Steven Struble
  67. Syllabus by Lynda Barry
  68. Horn: THe Collected Reviews by Kevin Thomas
  69. 32 Stories by Adrian Tomine
  70. The Li’l Depressed Boy Volume 2 by S. Steven Struble
  71. THe Li’l Depressed Boy Volume 3 by S. Steven Struble
  72. Unflattening by Nick Sousanis
  73. The Li’l Depressed Boy Volume Zero by S. Steven Struble
  74. The Li’l Depressed Boy Volume Four by S. Steven Struble
  75. The Li’l Depressed Boy Volume Five by S. Steven Struble
  76. Kafka by Robert Crumb
  77. American Splendor: Another Day by Harvey Pekar
  78. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  79. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
  80. The Complete Tove Jansson Moomin Comic Strip Volume 1 by Tove Jansson
  81. Sock Monkey by Tony Millionaire
  82. What It Is by Lynda Barry
  83. Sleepwalk and Other Stories by Adrian Tomine
  84. Summer Blonde by Adrian Tomine
  85. Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine
  86. The Complete Tove Jansson Moomin Comic Strip Volume 2 by Tove Jansson
  87. Scenes from an Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine
  88. Patience by Daniel Clowes
  89. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
  90. Invisible Ink by Bill Griffith
  91. Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel
  92. Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine
  93. Trashed by Derf Backderf
  94. The Complete Tove Jansson Moomin Comic Strip Volume 3 by Tove Jansson
  95. Crater XV by Kevin Cannon
  96. Louis Riel by Chester Brown
  97. Mary Wept Over the Feet of Jesus by Chester Brown
  98. Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and me by Ellen Forney
  99. Beast by Marian Churchland
  100. She Changed Comics by CBLDF
  101. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  102. I Think I am in Friend-Love with You by Yumi Sakugawa
  103. Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa
  104. Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies
  105. My Favorite Thing is Monsters Book One by Emil Ferris
  106. King Cat Classix by John Porcellino
  107. A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson
  108. Cook Korean! by Robin Ha
  109. Becomcing Unbecoming by Una
  110. The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb
  111. Vader’s Little Princess by Jeffrey Brown
  112. The Complete Crumb Comics Volume 1 by R. Crumb
  113. Sabrina by Nick Drnaso
  114. Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Ari Folman and Anne Frank
  115. The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx and Rantz A. Hoseley
  116. Suiciders Volume 1 by Lee Bermejo
  117. Stoner Knight 2 by Greg Steele
  118. Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin
  119. The Problem of Susan by Neil Gaiman
  120. Who Farted Wrong? by Syd Butler







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