Photographic Novels

Photographic novel fron Night Zero

Technology is always moving forwards, things are always changing – we went from two slice toasters to four slice toasters and onto those machines that make endless amounts of toast in just a few years. Now it seems the graphic novel could be in for a small change, or new a cousin at least.

The ‘photographic novel’ is a relatively new concept creeping onto the graphic novel shelves with the ambition of a young boy on his way to the beach with a very big net. Photographic novels use actors and actresses on location to create stories much like those in graphic novels, only using eye shadow instead of felt tip pens, and the weird alley behind your aunt’s house.

The website for the photographic novel series Night Zero, a collection based in the aftermath of a zombie outbreak, has a strap line that reads ‘no illustrations or illusions, only what can be seen and touched’. This approach is an obviously interesting take on how the genre as sprouted a limb that moulds itself to the technology of today, the endless release of new cameras, as well as the accessibility of software that allows creativity to flow in ways that could only be dreamt of before.

The process has a film production feel to it, only with less Christian Bale and more drama students, ones to watch for the future maybe? Photographic novels create a story in the same way as a graphic novel or comic book would, there are dialogue bubbles, different scenes and all the drama you get from a graphic novel, there’s just no drawing, which of course limits how experimental photographic novels can be with monsters and crazy doctors in underground basements.

The Night Zero site offers a deep insight to the whole process though (click on what is a photographic novel in the bottom left), from the script cards to the post production adding of bubbles and beyond – all very enlightening stuff.  This process is in no way less painstaking than putting together a graphic novel, every intricate detail is mapped out before.

The differences are obviously vast as well, the process involves a huge amount of people, right down to extras, as well as the immense amount of technical issues you just wouldn’t see with a packet of pens and a large pad of paper. Of course the differences and similarities could be thrown back and forth all day, monkeys and humans are so alike, yet so different.  They both have their strong points, monkeys can climb trees but humans have ladders. This is the feeling here, the graphic novel is surreal, intriguing and wholly exciting; the photographic novel is realistic, in your face and offers a nice lemon twist on the average graphic novel. Check them out, see what you think!

Keith Hodges




Leave a Comment