Saturday, April 16, 2011

Review: The Making of a Graphic Novel: The Resonator, Vol. 3

The Making of a Graphic Novel: The Resonator, Vol. 3The Making of a Graphic Novel: The Resonator, Vol. 3 by Prentis Rollins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Frustrated artist that I am, I used to collect books on how to draw comics. I say "used to" because, after some time, I realized that my room was starting to fill up with books and that, sigh, I was never going to be a comics artist of any regard.

The Resonator had been sitting on the shelf of the graphic novels section of our local bookstore. I'd been eying it for some time but I always found some reason or other to leave it be. "Next time it goes on sale," I said to myself. "Next time."

Finally, however, I said "what the heck! it's marked down enough from its list price." I decided to get it without waiting for the annual storewide discount. I finished reading it a couple of nights ago, and I have to say I don't regret the purchase.

The Resonator is unique among how-to-draw books in that it's split into a complete graphic novel and the writer/artist's explanation of how he produced the story. The approach makes it all the more instructive as you can see the process of creation.

The graphic novel is only a hundred pages long. Prose-wise, it probably fits better as a novella. What hooks the reader is the starting premise: in the distant future, a weary humanity has lost the ability to sleep. They have to resort to drugs to do that, or, if they can find it, use the highly illegal resonators.

The Resonator graphic novel isn't quite up there with the graphic novel classics, but it stands well enough on its own as a haunting tale. Rollins does a worthy job of crafting a world that is at once familiar and alien. The story, while simple, carries its own emotional punch.

As I said, I finished reading the graphic novel part a couple of nights ago. I'm going slow on Rollins' how-to section, enjoying what I can of his story conception and character design. From time to time, I do end up referencing the graphic novel again, just to see how he went from draft to execution. Ultimately, that's what makes this book enjoyable.

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