Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Man of Peace

Another interesting thing I've been working on lately is another graphic novel biography. This one is the authorized illustrated story of His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet. The book is written by William Myers, fulfilling a promise he made to the Dalai Lama in 1993, and fully painted by Tibetan artist, Rabkar Wangchuck.

The book tells the full life story of the Dalai Lama, from his humble childhood, to his maturity as spiritual and political leader of Tibet which coincided with the Chinese invasion, and up until today when he still lives in exile from his homeland, living as a writer and proponent of peace.

 And what's my role in this?

Though production on the illustrated biography has been slowly progressing for a while, Tibet House US, the organization that is sponsoring the production of Man of Peace, is very eager to speed up the process, and hopes to have it published next year. It is an enormous undertaking, and as of this writing, there is still about half the book not yet painted.

Based on my experience creating stories for Rotary International and the Ronald Reagan biography I illustrated, they contacted me to help speed things up. This seems to have become a bit of a niche that I've fallen into; a kind of book I call "Graphic Non-Fiction." Basically, they hired me to draw rough pencil layouts for Rabkar to paint over. Having two artists on board should save time, while I provide the basic page designs and storytelling, Rabkar concentrates on the authentic Tibetan details and likenesses of the real-life characters who populate the story. Here's a before-and-after peek:
My pencil layout, on the left... Rabkar's painting to the right

In the end, as you can see, the finished product bears very little resemblance to my own work. In this case, that is desirable, as we would not want the second half of the book to look drastically different from the first.

Mostly, my contribution here (besides speed), is the addition of a little more variety and dynamism in the storytelling and camera angles. The look and feel of the story is still completely Rabkar's, as he makes his own changes and adds cultural flourishes that I'd never even think of. Like this:

From my perspective it's a very unusual project, as my work will not be at all recognizable in the finished product. But it's a fascinating story that I'm proud to be associated with.

I'll post some more teaser images and process soon!

No comments: