Odori Park, by Chris Watkins Odori Park - Blog


It’s been a while since I last posted updates about my progress on my kids graphic novel. There’s been work going on, but most of it hasn’t been conducive to an exciting visual presentation in a blog. That’s because I’ve been working on the story.

Here’s an image I can share with you: a mass of outlines, story beats, planning documents, and the beginnings of a comic–the script, taking shape, in thumbnail form. At first, I fully expected to script out the novel in the traditional way, all text, looking just like you’d expect a script to look. I majored in English in college, with a focus on creative writing, so putting letter to paper isn’t a stranger to me, but somehow, I still found that daunting. Then, looking at the variety of scripts comic creators make for themselves, and talking with some art buddies, I realized I was probably sticking a big unnecessary step in between me and making comics.

When I write Odori Park strips, I usually start with snippets of text as I sort out the dialogue and the gag, but then I quickly go to thumbnails, placing characters, blocking out poses, and the like. In essence, the thumbnailing stage is where I do most of my scripting. Why change that for a longer comic, right? So, now I’m making a lot of rough scribbles as I script, and hoping they’ll make sense to me later on once I start putting pen to paper.

The single biggest help in putting the story together has been a book called Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder. I first heard about this through the Paperwings Podcast, then again from my friend, John Forcucci. This book was awesome. Some folks–especially those who like their comics cerebral or art-first, narrative-second–may find some of the advice therein unappealing, but I thought it was groovy. There were explicit techniques and tools for breaking down a story into beats, then building beats and scenes into an overall narrative. It helped me find holes in my concept and strengthen the emotional and thematic core throughout. Good cookies!

More to come (soon, I hope)!


  1. Joseph

    Thanks for the recommendation on SAVE THE CAT. I’m gonna get it.

    Best wishes for your graphic novel! I think it’s important to scribble while you script. It’ll help convey your ideas better.

  2. Chris

    A friend just told me the other day about another great book I want to check out, but I forgot the title! I’ll try to post it when I find out again.
    Thanks for the good wishes! It’ll be so motivating once I start to see real drawn pages come together.

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