The book tells a story in words, and a sketch or picture depicts a story with images. The comic tells a story with words and images. Lucy Knysley of Evanston (pronounced “in a dream”) created comics for which she wrote the story, painted the images, and colored the pages. She creates complete visual stories ready for publication.
Her books or graphic novels are considered fiction for middle class and young adults by publishers and are aimed at readers aged 8-18.
Her first seven published books are fictional memoirs from her own childhood.
To date, Knysley has published more than 15 comics. She is also a professional illustrator, speaks at Comic Con and other congresses, and works with school groups for young adults.
Most of her work is done in her home studio and on the porch. I am well acquainted with this situation, because in full revelation I met Knysley when she and her husband bought my house.
The studio on the third floor is a large west-facing room with lots of light and a closet. Knysley has a desk used for painting and crafts, shelves full of her books, as well as books by fellow authors she admires, and a closet full of supplies. She writes and sketches in an ergonomic, properly adjusted chair with an attached desk surface.
Her art tools include the iPad, where she scripts stories in Microsoft Word. She uses Blackwing pencils and plain paper to sketch scenes, and will then color the work digitally or with watercolor paint.
Knysley usually works on many stories at once. She says she continues to “spin a lot of records” so she can switch between the publisher’s requirements and the illustrations. She usually completes one book a year, but she lost care of her children during COVID-19 and had to extend her publication schedule.
Her latest comic, Apple Crush, is the second in the Peapod Farm series. It was published this year and is available from many book sources. The first in a series Steps, was on the New York Times bestseller list. Recently signed with Booked, a local bookstore aimed at children on Main Street, the books quickly sold out, but they now have more in stock.
Knysley began to create his art after taking his son to school. The working hours are from 9 to 15:30, but during this time she also gets on her bike, where she considers her projects.
To begin the comic, she has an initial conversation with her agent, with whom she has worked for more than 15 years. It’s time for a brainstorming session for the next project, which will eventually lead to another book proposal for a publisher.
If accepted – which has become more likely now that previous books have been sold successfully – it’s time to start working with a storyline editor, which is like a script for a play showing what the characters will say and stating what they will do. At this point, the script is free and will be developed in detail while Knysley sketches and presents it.
With an arranged storyline, Knysley now begins with the visual elements of the comic. It divides each page into panels, which are the small boxes that organize each page of the comics.
Each page can have 1-9 panels. Five or more are typical, and one panel or full-page panel is called a first page.
In each panel, if necessary, Knysley places word bubbles where the script will be added, which helps her set the pace of the story.
She then paints the scenes and words in each panel chapter by chapter. At this stage, she focuses mainly on the perfect character of all aspects of history.
No color added yet. This step can be done digitally, but she prefers to do it by hand with pencil and paper. However, when done digitally, it is easier to send to its publisher. This is a compromise that Knysley decides on every job.
When she is happy with a chapter, she sends an online copy to her editor and the editor continues to edit it. Once you fully agree with the details of a chapter, it’s time to “ink” and color. Knysley goes through all the lines of a pencil with a pen and then the book is colored.
Knysley says that in the past she has finished painting herself, usually with watercolors, but she knows that she is a slow colorist and the demand for new works from publishers is great. So, she recently came up with a wonderful colorist who can color comics using the color palette that Knisley chooses.
Once all the chapters are completed, all the pages for the book are sent to the publisher and there is time to wait before the book is published. While waiting, the cover is designed and all interstitial pages – not the content of the story – are completed.
Knysley says she has always wanted to be an author and an artist, so her work fits perfectly. After moving to Evanston, she felt lucky and amazed to meet many other women, comic book artists who live here, and that “Evanston is a huge comic book city.”
To see her books, you can visit Evanston Public Library. Or her website at www.stoppayingattention.com, where you can learn more about her and buy her comics. Her Instagram is @lucyknisley