Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting
by Justine Prado
Illustrated by Jenn St-Onge
Genre: YA Graphic Novel
Release Date: January 2017
Summary from Goodreads:
Finding Molly: An Adventure in Catsitting is a graphic novel about Molly Sanchez-Talebi, an unemployed art school grad who hesitantly starts catsitting to pay the bills. She dreams of breaking out of suburbia and her artistic rut, but she has a lot of self-discovery to do before that happens. The comic follows her funny misadventures as she learns that maybe these (sometimes) friendly felines are just what she needs to get her life on track.
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The differences in writing a graphic novel vs a novel screenplay.
Prior to writing Finding Molly, I was solely a screenwriter. So the first draft I turned in for the first issue was a bit of a crash course in what doesn’t translate from screenwriting to comic writing. To me, the biggest takeaway was the importance of the ongoing relationship with your artist.
When you write a movie, once your job is done and you hand it off to the studio or director, lots of stuff can happen to it before it gets made, if it gets made. When writing a comic, you’re going back and forth as the book is being created, and seeing all the steps happen before your eyes. You get to see what works because it’s right there in front of you.
When I started writing, my dialogue runs were about the same as in a screenplay. But fitting all those words in a little box when there’s also characters, background, sound effects… it can get a little crammed. When I would get pages back, I would often write to myself “too many words” because once I saw the art, I realized I didn’t need them all. The visuals were telling the story, too.
There were similarities. I would outline and structure each issue the way I would a half-hour comedy script. And I structured to novel the way I would a season of a sit-com. But there were things I would think about that aren’t a part of screenplays – like panels. How many panels for a page, how to place them to have the most impact. Also when to reveal things – I would save big reveals for a new page because I know I love that when reading comics myself.
But overall, the joy of working with a talented artist has been the best part of this whole thing. After a while, you develop a short hand, and you don’t need to describe things in such detail. She’s also the other half of the storytelling team. If you’re lucky like me, your artist will understand what you’re doing, and add elements that make the page pop more than you thought it could. Or, be funnier than you wrote it. She’ll also get your weird descriptions, like, “Molly looks at the cat like she’s angry, but also quizzical because she doesn’t understand…” and she’ll nail that look. It’s magic. And I could never write that direction for an actor in a screenplay.
About the Author & Illustrator
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