When I first sat down with the students of Palmerstown community college and
explained the process we were about to embark on, I told them that finishing
was entirely up to them. I wasn’t there to crack a whip over them. I wasn’t
there to check that they had ‘done their homework’. I was there to help,
that was all, I was there to advise. If any student fell by the wayside, if
they gave up, that was their problem, I sure wouldn’t be running after them
to persuade them to soldier on. In many ways this project reflected the
reality of life outside school where success or failure completely depends
on a person’s individual determination. In this way, the work these students
have produced is truly adult work: it exists only because its
creators’ were determined it would exist, and is the product of the rare
type of self-motivation necessary to every successful endeavour.
Bringing a graphic novel from conception to completion is no easy task.
There are many steps along the way that demand concentration, clarity of
thought, organisation and attention to detail. In creating a graphic novel
you first need to write your story. You put everything into this – all the
awesome stuff you can think of – then you commit the horrible act of cutting
it down and cut it down again, until only the most important elements are
remaining. This can be very painful. It can feel like you’re cutting your
own arm off sometimes, as you pare away all the lovely words and trimmings
until only the clearest most vital ones remain.
When you have distilled your story, you then need to translate it into the
right mixture of image and text. You need to plan carefully so that you get
this text-art balance right, as you must not only do justice to your
original idea but also communicate it properly to your readers. At several
times during this process students expressed disbelief that their story
could fit into the scant four pages of artwork each of them had been
allocated, but they managed to do so with style. Over the course of less
than 24 hours of workshop time, eleven of the original nineteen students
battled their way through this very demanding process to produce their own
contribution to the very first ‘Voice’ graphic novel anthology.
And so we are privileged with eleven very diverse, very unique stories that
represent not only their author’s creativity but also their hard work,
dedication and intelligent application of learned technique. I am so proud
of these stories and of their creators. Carly, Adam, Shane O’C, Shane D,
Ian, Shauna, Lee, Sylvia, Peter, Gavin and Dean, I hope you are equally
proud of yourselves. You deserve to be. No-one knows better than you what
you put into this. Most of all, you didn’t give up.
with love and admiration,
Palmerston students at the launch of the
Lucan Library exhibition of their work.
Signing the exhibition posters of their work (on exhibition at Lucan Library
until March 16th)