How to Publish a Graphic Novel

See step by step, how to write, illustrate and publish a graphic novel from beginning to end.

39 min. video

This video explains how to develop a graphic novel idea, how to pitch to publishers and agents, research images and reference photos as the preliminary process.

Digital Illustration, Cat Huang
Cat Huang

Shown is the process for creating thumbnail sketches, compose panels and layouts, how to color and refine the graphic novel.

Discussion by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang, and guest artist Clar Angkasa.

Guest Artist

Clar Angkasa

Clar (pronounced like Clark but without the ‘k’) is short for Clarisse (yes, like in The Silence of the Lambs).

She was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York.

Graphic Novel Illustrations: Clar Angkasa

An illustrator, animator, and comic artist with a passion for narrative art, she draws inspiration from stories, nature, and wholesome people.

Video Walkthrough

  • Clar’s idea for Story of the Islands came from an independent study project while she was still an art school student.
  • Clar connected to a publisher when her editor saw her zines on the Booklyn site.
  • Choosing and collecting reference images is very important, but also time consuming.
  • Be willing to look at places other than Google Images for reference photos.
  • Cat looked up antiques on Etsy and went antiques shopping.
  • Clar searched for very specific images: “Javanese royalty,” “Indonesian villages,” “cucumber patch,” “pumpkin patch, ” and “Indonesian batik.”
  • For a graphic novel, having solid character designs that you can refer back to is important to establish the story, but also while you are drawing images.
  • Consistency in a character design is critical to the graphic novel reading as cohesive.
  • Elements like a color palette, a range of facial expressions is necessary to draw the graphic novel.
  • Cat’s idea for Nostalgia was rooted in her love of antiques and a shop in Providence name Nostalgia.
  • Cat found people to send her pitch for Nostalgia by finding the names and emails of editors and publishers from her personal network, and then cold calling them.
  • Cat got her book deal with a publisher before she got an agent.
  • Clar often merges traditional media with digital media.
  • Clar uses traditional media like watercolor to get effects that are not as easily achieved in digital media.
  • Publishing a graphic novel can take years to finish, you have to have a lot of patience and be able to sustain your motivation throughout the entire process.
  • Deadlines are often good motivators to hit various milestones in the process.
  • When publishing a graphic novel you’ll work with an editor who will provide feedback as you work on it.
  • To get a publisher, you don’t need to have the entire book written, a pitch with sample illustrations and a cohesive road map of the story is enough.
Nostalgia Graphic Novel, Cat Huang
Nostalgia, Cat Huang
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