The novel I've written, Liberace Under Venetian Skies, is mostly in prose, but it also incorporates sections of graphic novel, handwritten marginalia and fragments of screenplay. I'm a big fan of graphic novels (my first love: The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman) and I find the juxtaposition of image and text to be an incredibly tensive and exciting experience. Unfortunately, my illustrative skills line up with those of paralytic chimpanzees. Enter Choi.
How I met up with Choi is a story of moxie and good luck. A couple of years back, I'd read a graphic novel that really moved me called American Widow, by Alissa Torres. It's a memoir of a woman who's husband died in the Twin Towers on 9/11 on his first day at work. It recounts how they met, how she found out about his death, and the horrible, protracted aftermath of her trying to find his remains, deal with her pregnancy and also get aid from government bureaucracies. It's pretty powerful, and it's all in graphic novel form. The illustrator, I noted, was Sungyoon Choi. I loved her work; it was simple and clean but quite evocative, using a very limited palette. I thought the style of her illustrations was exactly what I was looking for in my book.
So I wrote her.
I found her website and emailed her, telling her how much I admired her work and explained my situation, that I was looking for an artist for a book I was working on and would she be interested in taking a look at it? I included an excerpt and sent it off, not expecting too much from this completely out-of-the-blue inquiry. Amazingly, she wrote me back. Even more amazingly, she was into the project! She liked the excerpt and was interested in working with me.
We kept in touch while I finished up the draft and got it ready to send out to agents. I knew that having some artwork would help in defining the concept of the book, and Sungyoon generously agreed to illustrate four pages to use as a sample. I can't tell you what a particularly thrilling experience it was to open the email, click on the attachment and see the script I had written made manifest. I couldn't have been more pleased.
So take a look at this excerpt and let me know what you think. It occurs at the end of the first part of the book. If you want to see it bigger, just click on the image:
Pretty cool, eh?