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Film & Graphic Novels, Twin Sons of Different Mothers December 8, 2009

Posted by leskanturek in Books, Comics, Film, Story Boards, Visual Narrative.
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Since the advent of photography there has been a cross fertilization between the camera and the canvas. Early silent filmmakers were inspired by Gustave Dorés book illustrations (L’inferno 1911 by Francesco Bertolini). Film pioneer George Melies was influenced by illustrator Henri de Montaut’s work for Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon, inspiration has see-sawed back and forth many times. Film noir influenced pulp images and early comics. Presently we’re seeing the trend of graphic novels being adapted to film. it makes perfect sense, The mediums are closely related and share a common visual vocabulary. Animation has long bridged (and blurred) the line between film and drawing.

Any one  interested in visual story telling; Comic books, graphic novels, story boards should include in their education a critical eye on film and a reading of  books that describe the visual narrative tools of film.  How to compose shots, visual sequence and how it affects a narrative, point of view, this is all the common vocabulary of telling a story visually whether it be in print or film.

Below are a few film books that I think bear looking at for your narrative education. Especially for those of you interested in storyboards. It then becomes extremely important to understand and speak in the language of film photography.

Setting Up Your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Filmmaker Should Know By Jeremy Vineyard

This is a basic book that describes different shots in film with an accompanying illustration and a suggestion of a film that employs an example of the shot. It’s written by a non-professional which has  strengths and weaknesses.

I like the book because it is so basic and written for someone who knows nothing about film. It will get you thinking along film lines very quickly. I have read criticism of the book that the names of shots in some cases is inaccurate and some of the examples of where you can see the shot are general which can be frustrating.

(Above) Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen:  by Stephen Katz

(Above) Master Shots: 100 Advanced Camera Techniques to Get an Expensive Look on Your Low-Budget Movie by Christopher Kenworthy.  Master Shots has an example of the shot in a film and different views of the shot using poser figures.

(Above) Storyboard Design Course: Principles, Practice, and Techniques by Giuseppe Cristiano


The above is by no means all the books out there just a couple to start you thinking from the film side vs. the graphic novel/comic book side.

(Above) Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner is a fantastic book my a master story teller. One of the things that impresses me about this book is that Eisner addresses the concept of time in the narrative. How to depict a finite amount of time passing which i think is very much akin to film.

In the above panel Eisner has linked 2 simultaneous actions, the dripping faucet in the extreme foreground and the character entering.  The slow drip is the reference point for time. Looking at only 3 panels you can tell it has taken the character a long time to enter. That’s an understanding of visual narrative.  There is a wonderful Hamlet soliloquy drawn by Eisner in the book as well as other gems  that really show why he is considered  a master storyteller.   The book I’d say is an absolute to pick up.