Between Writing and Image

A Scriptwriter's Way of Working

in European Comic Art
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  • 1 Lancaster University b.peeters1@lancaster.ac.uk
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This article concerns the way in which a comics scriptwriter works collaboratively with different artists. It traces the development of a working method with François Schuiten, the artist of the Cités obscures ['Cities of the Fantastic'] series, and the extension of the series itself beyond the two-dimensional page into other formats. The constant exchange between artist and scriptwriter is stressed: each is involved in the conception of both the plotline and the visual aspects of the work. Hergé is cited as an example of an artist whose ease in conjuring images out of words and ideas from images may be termed 'graphic thinking'. It is noted, however, that the tendency of publishing houses to favour scriptwriters who predetermine the course of the album limits such inventiveness. The open-endedness that, in ideal conditions, characterises the work of the comics scriptwriter, and the thoroughgoing nature of the collaboration, is compared with the more rigid, and limited, role assigned to a film scriptwriter. A more flexible and creative process is not impossible to achieve in cinema, but it is concluded that this is rare, and that it is the comics medium that affords the greater degree of freedom and independence.

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