“Why is this Taking so Long?” by Nevada McPherson

Paris Girl by Nevada McPherson

Paris Girl by Nevada McPherson

Let’s welcome back columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “Why is this Taking so Long?” Enjoy!


As I begin art work on my third graphic novel, I realize there are things I learned from creating the first two that will definitely influence the way I work on this one. If you’re involved in a long project of your own you know that completing it is a daunting task and one that sometimes looks so difficult it’s easy to get discouraged.

Creating a hand-drawn graphic novel is a very uphill task, especially when you consider the time and detailed work it will require, but it is a rewarding one as well. The drawing on my first graphic novel, Uptowners, a dark comedy set in contemporary New Orleans, was spread out over a long time, several years. There was a steep learning curve as I re-learned how to draw after not practicing for decades. I had to give each character a distinctive look and consistency, which was quite a challenge in the beginning.  Just the other day I found some of my very first drawings on the back of one of the pages of a script, and I can see how far I’ve come. As they say, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step; those little drawings were my first step!

I would sketch in pencil for a while and then start using ink, erasing the pencil lines and watching the visuals take shape the way I wanted. It was a wonderful feeling to erase the pencil marks and see a nice, clear picture emerge. I really felt like I was getting into a groove, accomplishing a lot in this manner until at last I ran out of pencil sketches and hit the dreaded blank page. I know sometimes a blank page can be a beautiful thing to a writer or an artist, full of limitless possibility, but when I’m on a roll—not so much. It brought me to a screeching halt instead, having to switch gears just when I felt I was hitting my stride with another part of the process. That’s when I decided that my second book, Piano Lessons, a gay teen romance set in the rural south of the 1950’s, would need to be sketched in its entirety before I started inking in frames.

I won’t say it was a mistake to do that, but it was quite a long stretch working on one part of the process all that time, and for over 200+ pages. When I got to the end, I had to go through them all again with ink. Once wasn’t enough and numerous run-throughs became necessary. Completing each draft began to make it feel like this was taking forever. Would this ever be completed to look like I wanted it to?

QGBluCarThe thing that got me through that long journey was the knowledge that with each pass through, no matter what, it was getting better each time. Many writers are familiar with the quote by Samuel Beckett:”Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Whenever I started to feel a little overwhelmed I reminded myself that each draft was bringing me closer to what I wanted it to be.

So what have I learned from my previous two efforts that makes me excited to begin another similar project? For one thing, I’ll break this script into scenes, take stock of the locations I’ll need and do some research; I already have a mood board for Queensgate on Pinterest for inspiration. I’ll sketch each scene, then ink it in, frame by frame, and move on. I’ll decide ahead of time my wardrobe needs for each scene and be ready with mood boards for that, too.

I look forward to getting back into drawing using a new and streamlined process that I believe will move things along more smoothly and with less time and stress. I’ve noticed that as I draw now it happens much more quickly and smoothly; my style is evolving closer to what my vision of all this would become back when I started, my process is simplified and incorporates more of what I love about adapting my screenplays into graphic novels. Next stop for these characters? The big screen—and that’ll be another  process entirely!




Author and artist, Nevada McPherson

Originally from Georgia, Nevada McPherson lived in uptown New Orleans for several years and now lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi near Asheville, North Carolina. Nevada received a BA in English/ Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She has written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, one short screenplay and two graphic novels. Nevada taught English at Nunez Community College for eighteen years, attaining the rank of associate professor, and founded the Pelican d’Or Short Film Festival, serving as its director for ten years. She also taught film studies and screenwriting at Tulane School of Continuing Studies. She is currently busy with her creative arts business, Noisy Muse.

Web site: www.nevada-mcpherson.com

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