So…Why Did I Write a Graphic Novel? A guest post by Judith Whitmore
Judith and I share a love of the Shakespeare plays, so I was excited to hear about her graphic novel based around Romeo and Juliet. Here’s her account of her book:
I was not a big Shakespeare fan in high school. The Elizabethan language was difficult to wade through, and besides, I was young and living life in the fast lane…sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll. Okay, just kidding about the sex and drugs, but there was lots of rock ‘n roll. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I gained an appreciation for Shakespeare’s amazing abilities as a storyteller.
I was working in London at that time. A friend invited me to dinner and the theater to see The Royal Shakespeare Company perform The Merry Wives of Windsor. I knew dinner would be nice, and then I could sleep at the theater. Well, to my utter amazement I was enthralled with the production. First, there were no Renaissance costumes or sets. This show was set in the1950’s with fabulous set decoration and costumes from that era. Second, even though I may not have understood every single line of dialogue, I understood enough to fully appreciate the intricacies of the plot and the humor. I was hooked, and I did everything I could to get my children interested in Shakespeare.
Fast forward twenty years…I was still lamenting the fact my kids thought Shakespeare was boring when inspiration struck. What if the stories were told in modern language that kids could understand! I had a mission!
The Process of Writing a Graphic Novel
Taking Romeo and Juliet from a full-length play to a graphic novel required distilling the dialogue and narration into as few words as possible without losing any of the storyline. This was the most difficult part of the project and required the expert skills of my husband who had been an editor. We went scene by scene, creating new dialogue and reading it aloud to see how it sounded. It took about four months to come up with a first draft of the dialogue.
I have been in a writing group for years with excellent writers and editors, so each week I took the scene we were working on to my writing group for their critique. I also asked my niece and nephew who were in high school to read the manuscript. Who better than teenagers to help with modernizing the language? The next step was combining lines of dialogue into conversations which could be represented by one drawing.
At this point we needed an illustrator. I contacted my friend Mark Bennett, who had recently retired from the art department at CBS, and asked if he would be interested in doing the illustration for this project. He is immensely talented so my husband and I were thrilled when he agreed. Mark created drawings for each dialogue group. With a computer program, he inserted our dialogue into the drawings. Once again I took the whole manuscript to my writing group for critique. The computer program made it easy to edit the dialogue as necessary.
The cover art for Romeo and Juliet is a combination of original artwork from Mark Bennet combined with the work of a graphic artist from Flying Pig Media. Kristin Lindstrom, who owns and operates Flying Pig Media, prepared the Romeo and Juliet manuscript to be uploaded at CreateSpace and Amazon Kindle. Technical issues arose when uploading the drawings to Amazon, so I was relieved to have Kristin handling those details.
We are thrilled to be able to bring Shakespeare’s most famous tale to a new generation of readers.
You can find Judith’s graphic novel at Amazon:
Judith Whitmore is the best-selling author of the romantic-adventure
Come Fly with Me, a cookbook All Time Favorite Recipes, and Romeo and Juliet
Reimagined, an illustrated account of Shakespeare’s story co-authored with
her husband Wes Whitmore.
During Judith’s seven-year term as President of American Theater
Company in Aspen, ATC presented shows starring Julie Harris, Hal Holbrook,
Vincent Price, Shawn Cassidy, John Travolta and Charles Durning. Judith
later produced the musical Taking a Chance on Love in Los Angeles, followed
by the London production of Leonard Bernstein’s Wonderful Town which she
Judith has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, is a licensed
Marriage and Family Therapist, and is also a licensed Commercial Pilot with
a Learjet type-rating. Since 2003, she has been a regular volunteer makeup
artist at the Laguna Beach Pageant of the Masters.
During college, Judith sang background vocals for Capitol Records
and performed with a band in San Francisco. She never forgot the thrill of
performing, and several years ago she and two friends formed the trio, ACT
THREE. ACT THREE has performed concerts in California, Arizona, and last
year at UC Irvine and New York’s Carnegie Hall. Their first album will be
released this summer. All proceeds from ACT THREE performances are donated
Visit Judith at: