Wednesday, May 30, 2012


An example of the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter graphic novel, via Marvel

As many of my fans, friends, and peers know, I have been hard at work on the first installation of what I hope will be a loooong and successful venture: the conversion of my most popular book thus far, BLACK DOG AND REBEL ROSE, an action-packed paranormal adventure pairing two unexpected companions, a Nephil (half-angel) and Halfling (half-demon), on a gore-flecked and erotica-tinged vampire hunt in an abandoned town, into the comic book medium.
The cover of the BD&RR prose novel...already in the comic book style.

Turning paranormal romance books into comics has become a trend in the last few years, as several bestselling and cult-followed PNR novels by such renowned names as Laurell K. Hamilton, Kim Harrison, Patricia Briggs, etc. Even Twilight (puke) has been turned into a popular Manga comics series with that distinctive Japanese flair. I have spent several hours scouring the internet for examples of how the major comics companies—including comics giant Marvel—handled the “translation” of said bestselling novels into the comics/graphic novel medium. Overall, I was impressed: the artists selected are talented, the book designs (mostly hardcovers) are beautiful. Action, gore, and, yes, even sex, seems to be properly represented with good flow. I should be ecstatic to be potentially joining the ranks, right? I mean, I might be considered the "full monty" when it comes to this sort of thing: the characters and plot of BD&RR is perfect for this medium, and unlike the bestsellers mentioned above I am an artist, and can tackle the job entirely on my own, without having to deal with another writer or artist’s ego throwing a wrench into the gears, and make sure the comic represents my story the way I would see it best. While BD&RR is not an NYC bestseller, I do have a solid cult following, and two of my books have hit the Amazon Bestseller list for erotica in the past year. I have the submission ok to submit to several of the biggest “indie” comics publishers out there, including IMAGE, publisher of the wildly popular “The Walking Dead” comics. And on top of THAT, there is the increased possibility of BD&RR being picked up for film/television, etc. when said comic hits the shelves...

I should be thrilled, and I was…until I glimpsed the reviews left by readers of said PNR comics.

Now I am, admittedly, a little scared.

To say that many of the reviews for these book-to-graphic novel translations are generally scathing is an understatement. Reviewers griped nonstop about how too much of the story was "left out", how "cartoony, stylized, and unrealistic" the characters looked, how too much dialogue and description was "missing", etc. All complaints from a bookstore audience who is buying a comic book and expecting to get...*drumroll, please*...A PROSE NOVEL.

I think the big issue we are being faced with here is that these comics are being purchased by people who DON'T READ COMICS. They have no concept of "how" comics comic art is generally stylized, how plotlines generally have to be very direct and trimmed down to fit within the confines of this medium. How dialogue must be clipped and to the point to, again, hold a comic reader's attention. Comic books are visual stories--it is up to the artist more than anyone else to "tell" the story via quick action, good panel flow, and quicker-than-lightning transitions. "Descriptions" are not provided through's through art.

Think about your favorite book-to-film adaptions. Movie plotlines adapted from books usually have to cut out, rearrange, or rewrite parts of the book in order for it to make it suitable for the medium of film. If that didn't happen, you would have movies with clunky plotlines and confusing dialogue/conversational situations that ran for hours and hours. That's why it's called an "adaption" isn't going to follow the storyline exactly, since the medium cannot possibly bear that burden with any measure of success. Same thing applies to comics...think of them as a "storyboard" of your favorite novel.

As far as the art being "stylized", that's comic books, baby. Few comics these days feature artwork that is super-realistic, and there are many reasons for that...stylized art allows for quick action, proper visual portrayal of amazing feats impossible in the "real" world, and, quite frankly, doing a hyper-realist comic would take years. (A few artists have done it, including those of titles such as "Road to Perdition", etc, and these maniacs undertook feats that took 3 to 4 years to complete, on average. Think about it, that's a LOT of drawing and finishing!) Plus, let's face it...comic readers LIKE stylized art. Comics are known for being "cartoony", at least in principle...that's part of the charm.

SKRIKER AND ROSE... the, er, "stylized" h/h from my comic 

Readers of PNR novels who are looking to try comic versions need to understand that giving bad reviews based on the medium that they are choosing to explore BASED ON what the medium is hurts someone very important: THE ARTIST. I think what a lot of romance readers don't understand is that, when an author's work is translated into comic form, the publisher of said comic lists both the author AND the artist as "creators" in this particular version of the story...after all, you cannot have a comic without the artist! The authors are already being "cushioned" by the good reviews of the prose versions of their books, i.e. the original medium. When a reader used to prose romance novels buys a comic version of their fave story and then leaves a bad review based on the fact that IT IS A COMIC VERSION leaves a bad mark on the artist's review ranking...and that just isn't fair.

It is my hope that this blog first for Paranormal Romantics...will give my wonderful readers--and that of other PNR authors, bestselling, cult followed, or brand spanking new--some food for thought on a medium that is rapidly growing in the PNR world. I hope to inspire you lovely folks out there to explore something a little different, while enjoying the characters, themes, and storylines that have allowed you to escape the mundane.

I would love to hear YOUR thoughts on this subject...and as a thank you, I am giving away the first two books in the BD&RR series--your choice of Ebook or Kindle Edition!

Enter via the Rafflecopter widget MUST answer the "food for thought" question to be entered...can't wait to hear our reader's thoughts. Giveaway ends on 06/10.

Good luck...and thanks for welcoming me into the Paranormal Romantics family. :-)

Are you inspired? I know I am... 

Danielle D. Smith is a comic book artist, illustrator, and author living in Southern California. In addition to being a writer of bestselling gritty angel-and-demon themed supernatural fantasy stories that have gained a dedicated cult following, she is an accomplished fine artist and illustrator whose visual work has appeared in various public, private, and gallery exhibitions and in national publications, and has studied everything from costuming to tattooing. Dani, as she is known by many who are close to her, lives in San Diego with a large number of books, indie flicks, and documentaries. Her novels appeal to dreamers, troublemakers, dark romantics, horn dogs, and general escapists. She is the proud owner of several beautiful tattoos and a platinum blonde mohawk, and she adores reading, creative food and drink, motorcycles, muscle cars, prison bodies, and cuddling her sweet little boy, Ryker...not necessarily in that order. She is currently hard at work creating the first installment of the Black Dog and Rebel Road Comics Series, and an as-yet-to-be-titled comic series about a WWII soldier turned into a werewolf during Battle of the Bulge, created alongside fellow artists Josh Figueroa and Alex Julian, and co-writer/historian Aaron A. A. Smith (who also happens to be her spouse).

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Liz S. said...

I am a convert to PNR novels to comic books. I started with the Anita Blake series. I was very leery because I knew it had to be very streamlined. I was surprised at how well the story was told despite the limited verbiage. An the art work sold me. I have several series that I now follow. Good luck on your project!

Danielle D. Smith said...

Exactly, Liz! If the story is still told WELL, and captures the main points of the storyline, PNR and comics work really beautifully together!

Annie Nicholas said...

I love the art work you've done, Danielle.

Danielle D. Smith said...

Thanks, Annie! I'm trying to make my project stand out from the crowd. The final "colors" in my comic pages are going to be black, white and grey with only the eyes in color.

This project has been a major challenge thus far. It is rare that a comic book is created by only one person--writing, pencilling, inking, coloring, and lettering is each a project in itself. But ultimately I feel it will be so worth it in the end!

Angela Evans said...

I'm not entering the comp as you very well know I own all your novels Dani. Hehehe. Hello! Avid follower and Aussie friend. Tee hee.

You know I am eager to see this finished and I am not going to lie, I am one of those that have not really read comics, have not even considered.

I have always loved the artworks of comics, creating a fantasy for my mind to admire.

But I do believe ole Skrike-myster will be the one to rope me into a new love me thinks. Hehe. Will have to venture out of my plastic coated views of comics and experience them for myself. Actually READ them not just admire the artwork. :D

Good luck all who enter, you will no doubt fall head over heals for Skriker the dirty half demon stunner. And man that tongue, just you wait. *cheesy grins*