A graphic novel is, essentially, a story that is composed in comic-strip format, and presented as a book. The content of a graphic novel can be anything: fiction, non-fiction–it doesn’t matter. Graphic novels are often made through the combination of serialized comic books, each of which is a volume within the sequence of a novel.
For this project, students created a short volume of a graphic novel. Each volume was based on a vignette drawn from a novel we read this year. We decided to focus on three novels that were particularly visual and action-packed: 1984, Into the Wild, and The Things They Carried. We used the comic book writing program, Pixton to generate the novels themselves; students also learned to manipulate imagery in Photoshop.
While there was no filming of video for this project, we saw a direct transfer of video production skills into a new genre. Students composed panels for their novels around the shot-types they had studied all year long. Preproduction looked a lot like preproduction for video: planning shots, identifying dialogue, writing an A/V script, finding locations, casting characters, locating costumes and props, organizing shoots. In the end, it really was identical to a video production–the final product was simply still photography, that’s all.
Because of this, the project itself provided us with a valuable tool for assessing student skills acquired over the year. Generating the information necessary to create the novel itself was a culminating ELA task that required strong analytical skills as well as knowledge of text. Students demonstrated the interpersonal and communication skills we value as they organized and negotiated production with one another. The final products themselves that reflect strong compositional skills.
1984 vol. 1 “April 4, 1984”
1984 vol. 3 “Ogilvy & Syme”
1984 vol. 5 “Oranges and Lemons or 2+2=4”
1984 vol. 10 “I Love You”
1984 vol. 12 “Room 101”
The Things They Carried vol. 4 “The Sweetheart of Song Tra Bong”
The Things They Carried vol. 8 “Speaking of Courage”
The Things They Carried vol. 3 “The Ghost Soldiers”
The Things They Carried vol. 5 “Spin”
Into The Wild vol. 1 “Jan Burris”
Into The Wild vol. 3 “Wayne Westerberg”
Into The Wild vol. 6 “Ron Franz”
Into the Wild vol. 7 “Alaska”