This winter, the Writers’ Program will be offering a new course for adapting screenplays into graphic novels or comic books. New instructor Joanne Moore, who pitched the idea to the Wp’ last summer, was kind enough to sit down with us and describe why she thinks doing so can give unproduced writers a competitive edge.

Writers’ Program: Since you are teaching a screenplay-to-graphic-novel course, I should start by asking, what’s your favorite graphic novel? And if it has been turned into a movie already, did you like the movie?

Joanne Moore: One of my favorites is Road To Perdition by Max Allan Collins with art by Richard Piers Rayner. It’s a great example of a non-superhero graphic novel that is very successful. I believe it works because it explores universal themes of loyalty, revenge and morality. It was subsequently made into a wonderful film directed by Sam Mendes and starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman.

Wp’: What’s your previous experience with each art form?

JM: I have over 20 years experience developing and producing films and television series. I got involved in the comic book/graphic novel arena about 6 years ago when I created Invisible Hand Studios to take promising screenplays and pitches and publish them as graphic novels or comic book series, and then submit them to the studios, production companies, and networks.

Wp’: Why would a screenwriter want to publish his or her work as a graphic novel?

JM: Graphic novels/comic books are an excellent way to market your work to the decision-makers in Hollywood. Graphic novels are so hot as source material that many studios and production companies have dedicated development executives who search for books to be made into films and television series. Executives like graphic novels/comic books because it is essentially a series of storyboards for the film. It also provides them with proof of concept: if the material is good enough for a comic book that people purchase, it’s a better bet as a film or TV series than completely untested material. Finally, all of the major talent agencies have agents who specialize in representing graphic novel/comic book publishers, writers, and properties. A graphic novel is a good calling card when looking for an agent.

Wp’: Do you think it’s any “easier” (meaning are your chances greater) to sell a story as a graphic novel than a screenplay?

JM: It’s extremely difficult to sell a project. However, Invisible Hand Studios published 2 graphic novels and 1 comic book series, and all 3 were set up as feature films. The entertainment industry is currently in great flux due to increasing costs of production and emerging distribution models. I believe this atmosphere provides more opportunities for talented, creative writers who are smart and flexible about how to get their work in front of buyers. If you can get someone to read your material, your odds increase!

Joanne is teaching Turning Your Screenplay into a Graphic Novel or Comic Book this winter, starting January 22. Enroll online or by calling (310) 825-9971.

Jeff Bonnett is the Program Assistant for Screenwriting (Onsite & Online). Contact him at jbonnett@uclaextension.edu or (310) 206-1542.

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