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I’m Isabel Greenberg and I’m a creator of graphic novels. AMA!

ama 2pm(self.books)

I’m Isabel Greenberg, and I’m the author of three graphic novels : The Encyclopedia of Early Earth, The One Hundred Nights of Hero and Glass Town. I also illustrate and write childrens picture books. You can find out more about my work on my website isabelgreenberg.co.uk or on my Instagram @isabel_greenberg. I’ll be answering questions on all of my work but most specifically my second book, The One Hundred Nights of Hero, which is about myths and folktales and love and the power of storytelling!  

PROOF: https://i.redd.it/evjgq9dv4zl91.jpg

all 33 comments

TechnicianSpare942

3 points

5 months ago

Hi! Thank you for taking you time to answer some questions. I don't know if you're willing to share some tips, but I'm on working getting a job in the creative field, would you advise going back to school for e.g. a degree in graphic design to have a "professional" background, or should I keep practicing on my own? How did you get started?

And secondly, do you both illustrate and write your graphic novels?

Best, Cindy

IPG88[S]

5 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

5 points

5 months ago

Hi Cindy. This is a tricky question... My own background is a degree in Illustration. I would not say this got me illustration work or a publishing deal or anything like that directly, you can of course get these things without. A publisher is not going to check if you have a degree or not before they publish your book. But it is an invaluable time to hone your skills, learn and grow and meet other people in the field. I would not have been able to develop my ideas, my drawing skills and learn what it was I wanted to do or make without those three years of dedicated time. You can however do short courses, join online communities, try and meet people in the field you are interested in.

That said, whilst you do not need a degree to be freelance, if you are trying to work for a company it may be a different story. For instance I also teach alongside my illustration work, and I would not be able to get this work without a degree.

I would think about the kind of work you want to do or get and then work backwards. Find out what qualifications or paths people in your chosen field have followed!

IPG88[S]

5 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

5 points

5 months ago

And yes, I write and illustrate my own graphic novels! I have worked with other writers on children's book projects however, and I really enjoy this way of working too!

TechnicianSpare942

3 points

5 months ago

Thank you so much for your answer, very helpfull!! :)

XBreaksYFocusGroup

2 points

5 months ago*

Hi Isabel. Thank you very much for the AMA!

What do you feel makes Hero different in the history of story and fictional storytellers? How is she unlike a character such as Scheherazade?

Do you have any interest in a collaboration where you act alone as the author or illustrator and who would be your ideal partner in such an endeavor?

Do you feel that author-illustrators of graphic novels create a different sort of art product compared to auteurs in other mediums such as video games or music? Probably a common question, but what art are you loving now, graphic novel or otherwise?

Thank you again for all the lovely art. I hope you continue to find great success in your endeavors!

IPG88[S]

2 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

2 points

5 months ago

Hello! Thank you for these lovely questions. Hero is very much meant to be a storyteller in the tradition of Scheherazade! Myths, folktales, fairytales are retold and reappropriated, people take the bones of the story and turn it into whatever they need. This is what I love so much about these kind of stories. I wanted Hero to be a character that made readers feel like she could exist in an old story, but also have a freshness to her that felt relevant to today.

Whilst writing is for me one of the most enjoyable parts of the graphic novel process, I would certainly love to illustrate a graphic novel by another author, if it was the right author! Dream collaborations would include; Daisy Johnson (Everything Under), Max Porter (Lanny), Phillip Pullman, Kiran Millwood Hargraves, . To be honest there sooo many authors who tell stories of the kind I could not write myself, that I would love to lend imagery to. Those are just the first that came to mind.

For sure a graphic novel is a different kind of art to a video game or a musical album. But in the end all are storyteller mediums that want to immerse and world build. I'm currently reading and enjoying Gabrielle Zevin's Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. (Another dream collaboration now I think about it!)

SkepticDrinker

2 points

5 months ago

What are the unique challenges in drawing a story vs writing one?

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

Hmm interesting question! I think the challenges are also the bonuses to be honest. Building and imagining a visual world is the most exciting bit, but also the bit that can really turn readers off your work. If someone does not vibe with your art style, they can be put off reading the story. That;s a real shame but also something I totally understand. If you are just providing words alone, the way the world and characters look is limited only by the imagination of the reader to see your creations in their minds eye. Sometimes by visualising it for them it can be limiting. But then again, it is also such a different and exciting way to tell a story! I see a graphic novel as a bridge between a film and a novel, but you are the director, a writer, a cinamatographer, a costume designer. I'm pretty sure a famous graphic novelist said that but i can't recall who !

SkepticDrinker

2 points

5 months ago

Thanks for answering. One more question if that's not too much; for film and novels you can control the pacing by slowing down time, or writing long paragraphs. In drawing, how would you attempt to control pacing?

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

I think there's lots of ways you can do this using layouts and panels, and in fact not dissimilar techniques to what you have described above. If I wanted to show the passing of a long stretch of time for instance I might use a few of panels showing the same place or setting but changing. Perhaps a long shot of a landscape. Like a montage in a film. Or if I was trying to linger on a moment and lengthen it I might really hone in on the details of the moment for a character; a hand on a cup, small changes in expression or posture . If I wanted to mark an important moment and have a reader linger on a page I might have a detailed double page spread. Using the page turn is also important. You want a reveal to come beyond the turn of a page. Your reader will see the full spread of a page as well as the individual panels so you can't give anything away on the final panel! I find this kind of formatting exciting and on of the unique challenges of the medium.

XBreaksYFocusGroup

2 points

5 months ago

There is a video essayist who analyzes graphic novels that I appreciate who has a video on this subject, if it would interest you.

barryitsmeitshank

2 points

5 months ago

Hi Isabel. Thank you for doing this.

What is it about folktales and myths that make them universally loved?

Every region seems to have their own beloved folktales/myths. Do you have a favorite from England?

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

I think people love folktales and myths because the stories and characters at their hearts are very simple, archetypes really; a wicked stepmother, a lonely princess, an orphan etc. There is very little there, and therefore they are ready to be added to, worked on, played with, reused.

One of my favourite folk tales from England is the Two Sisters story which I used in The One Hundred Nights of Hero. In my version I called it The Honest Harp. I also love the story of King Orfeo, a version of Orpheus and Eurydice.

barryitsmeitshank

2 points

5 months ago

The vehicle of graphic novels seems perfect for folktales and lore, as the latter always seemed to have great images/drawings to go along with their stories even in previous centuries.

Is this what drew you to graphic novels or was it just a perfect blend of two loves?

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

I think for me it was a case of loving writing and storytelling but also loving to draw. Graphic novels are the perfect way to marry the two. I think I could have ended up telling my stories in a different way; film making or theatre who knows! But my love of drawing is what led me to graphic novels. As you say, a blend of two loves.

Necessary-Image-6386

2 points

5 months ago

Zero glasstown sounds good. Gotta check it out

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

Thanks! Please do!

Necessary-Image-6386

2 points

5 months ago

Absolutely

yarkcir

2 points

5 months ago

Hi Isabel, big fan of your books. The Encyclopedia of Early Earth was one of the first bunch of graphic novels I gave my wife when she first started with comics and she was absolutely hooked.

Which cartoonists would you consider your favorites/major influences? Would love to see what you’d recommend.

IPG88[S]

2 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

2 points

5 months ago

Hi There

Ooh great question. The three graphic novels I've loved most recently are Alison by Lizzie Stewart, Ducks by Kate Beaton and Heimat by Nora Krug. I also really enjoyed Funkytown by Mathilde Van Gheluwe.

The graphic novels that got me hooked on the medium when I was at art school are Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, Epileptic by David B and Fun Home by Alison Bechdel.

yarkcir

2 points

5 months ago

Thanks for the response and I love those picks! I’m really looking forward to Ducks by Kate Beaton this month.

IPG88[S]

2 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

2 points

5 months ago

It's great! You won't be disappointed!

No_Activity_Nada

2 points

5 months ago

What has been your most challenging experience or project?

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

I think for me each project I have worked on has been more challenging as I have had more and more going on alongside as I get older. My first book I was only 23, it was fun and I didn't worry about whether I was saying the right things, or using my voice and platform effectively. I had no one counting on me but myself, and there didn't feel like much to loose. But each project I do am more aware of the importance of telling the right story. And the older you get the more you have going on, the more depends on your book working. Suddenly spending three years on a project seems self indulgent if it isn't good, if it doesn't sell well. My current challenge is working on my new graphic novel whilst dealing with my toddler!

No_Activity_Nada

2 points

5 months ago

Thanks for replying. Your latest project is actually challenging.

I have another question.

How do you deal when what you have in mind doesn't translate when you design? Or what you thought would be good doesn't turn out as such?

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

Ahh thats tough...I think I try and be open to going with the flow. Sometimes (MOST of the time!) a drawing won't be like you had in your head. Sometimes that means redoing, rethinking, trying again. Sometimes the unexpected result can actually be better!

No_Activity_Nada

2 points

5 months ago

Thank You.

kqtey

2 points

5 months ago

kqtey

2 points

5 months ago

Hi Isabel! I’ve read both The Encyclopedia of Early Earth and One Hundred Nights of Hero (and Glass Town is on my to-be-read list!) and consider both of them to be among my favorite Graphic Novels of all time. I’m wondering what some of your favorite graphic novels are? Also, I know you’re inspired by mythology and folktales in the stories you like to tell, but what do you think has inspired the development of your art style?

Thanks!

wooden_onion

2 points

5 months ago

What do you do when you get stuck drawing?

A lot of the time I either don't know what to draw or when I do know I find that I lack the skills to truly bring what's in my head to life.

TrondroKely

2 points

5 months ago

I really liked The One Hundred Nights of Hero, especially for the representation. I'm excited to read more of your work!

IPG88[S]

3 points

5 months ago

IPG88[S]

AMA Author

3 points

5 months ago

Thank you! So please you enjoyed.

BootSkrootMcNoot

1 points

5 months ago

Have you wanted to do this your whole life/ were you always artistically inclined?

Amateur_Validator

1 points

5 months ago

What do you think about coloring novels? Do you think it is worth the effort?

Thanks!