2 minutes with… Sarah McIntyrePublished 19/10/2022
Sarah McIntyre is a master of bringing stories to life on the page and we are so excited for her to join us at this year’s ProperBook: Words and Pictures event at the Dublin Book Festival 2022. McIntyre is an award-winning writer and illustrator of comics and children’s books and is currently a Patron of Reading and Illustration at a primary school in Essex. At the event, Sarah will be discussing how to create comic books and graphic novels with other writers, but first here are three tips from the professional artist to help get you started…
“Make books!” It’s one thing to write a story or draw a picture, but a whole different thing to create a book from scratch. Putting together a book from idea to artwork to printing, even to selling or swapping, is great practice on learning how things like covers, endpapers, continuity and page counts work. It also teaches you to finish a project… I always say that the difference between a wanna-be-author and an author is that a wanna-be has lots of ideas and has started books, but an author has actually finished one. Which leads me immediately to my second tip, which can make this much more achievable….
“Make short books!” A book doesn’t have to be long, it can be as short as a single piece of folded paper. Sometimes making a very small book can be less intimidating, even something that can fit in the palm of your hand. You can learn a lot by making a book with 8 pages, it gives you a front cover, a back cover, and three double-page spreads to fill. I’ve seen illustration students set themselves a goal of making an entire graphic novel, possibly with several hundred pages, and by the time they get halfway through, their style has already changed, they’re better at drawing, and they hate the beginning of the book.
“Make bad books!” Setting out to make The One Book that’s going to jump-start a picture book career is too much for most people. You need practice. Often beginners who want to make picture books get obsessive over that first book; it starts to look too tight and claustrophobic, and they get so precious with it that they worry about making changes. All the humour gets beaten out of it and it becomes drudgery. Learn how to fight this by making books you don’t care about, ridiculous books, books that make you laugh because they’re so stupid. Maybe set a goal for yourself to draw a book in 20 minutes on folded printer paper, with a big fat Sharpie pen. Or draw it with your left hand. Make a book intentionally as bad as you possibly can. Often you’ll surprise yourself, how fun ideas come out of this, or new ways of drawing that you might never have imagined if you were trying hard. Do it with a friend in the pub, or at the kitchen table with kids, then you can have a laugh together.”
Sarah McIntyre will be joining Sarah Webb, Alan Nolan, Aoife Murray and several other writers and authors for this year’s ProperBook: Words and Pictures event on Saturday 12th November at dlr LexIcon Studio in Dún Laoghaire at 11am.