Marc Gibson is the author of Bridgeland. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
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WHEN MARC GIBSON’S story is written, nowhere will it be noted that he is a quitter.
After taking 11 years to complete the Bridgeland graphic novel series, a fictional story of two underprivileged brothers (Winfield and Terrance) set in Barbados, he is just getting started writing.
Sitting with EASY on a sunny, breezy morning to chat about his two-volume crime drama novel, which is available in Barbados, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, he said he was writing formally since 2005 but he switched to graphic novels about five years ago.
“Bridgeland, my first two graphic novels, were written to be kind of a screenplay for a feature length film. Getting the funding to do the film the way I wanted it was proving to be a significant challenge. I had gotten into the pre-production of the movie, and the funding that I was lining up wasn’t coming through so I had to take a step back at that point. That was around 2011-2012 . . . . It was a bit of a disappointment.
Marc has been reading and enjoying comic books and graphic novels for his entire life. Because he wasn’t much of an artist (“All I could draw were stick men”), he had to find himself an illustrator.
At that time, he had no desire to be his own author-publisher. He was more than happy to find a team to work with but that didn’t pan out as the people he approached were busy working on their own projects.
That came in the form of Graffix 2 Inc., run by Nicholas and Rachel Williams, a husband and wife team.
“They were both excited by the prospect of doing it but they had themselves a graphic novel. At that point I was looking at Bridgeland as a web comic, to be published online. Eventually it worked itself out to being published as a graphic novel.
“The decision to make it a book was mine. It was a case of looking at what was happening internationally in the market. Four, five years ago, graphic novels were seeing a major shift. My viewpoint is that the world had taken such a turn towards the graphical, towards a visual representation of a lot of stuff while I’ve been encountering a lot of people who say they don’t read books.
“Images have so much importance in our lives these days, even something as ubiquitous as a cellphone, a lot of the interfaces are graphically oriented. So, doing it that way rather than a prose fiction novel, I think was always a better choice,” the author said.
For him, both prose and graphic novels “hold their own unique challenge”. One such challenges with Bridgeland was finding that person who could convey his words through images successfully.
“It isn’t that simple and there is the need to understand the process, which I had to learn. That is still very much an experience, learning publishing, because even if you are willing to have somebody do the task for you, it helps knowing what the process is for yourself.”
And, he added, as challenging as it was for him to publish, there was a whole lot of pleasure he derived from doing so.
“It wasn’t hard to do because I was trained in film, and film and graphic novels are like cousins almost. They both use images heavily to tell a story, one’s moving, one’s not and already having the story laid out as a screenplay, it wasn’t the biggest hurdle trying it get the story as a graphic novel.”
Asked what inspired the story, Marc shared: “When I first put pen to paper, or cursor to screen, that was 11 years ago and I just wanted to tell what would be a Barbadian story, but one that had universal themes so that anybody from any part of the world could read and understand it. I realised that family is one of those universal things, everybody understands family, at least in concept.
“ . . . . Part of the idea is borrowing on Barbadian things. I have Winston Hall who dominated a part of Barbadian consciousness. There are similar examples in Barbadian life that are similar to the starting point of Bridgeland. Something such as a home invasion gone wrong, especially right now where it seems so many more crimes are being committed, a lot of people recently dying on the road, things in Barbados seem so much more tense, difficult.
“The Winston Hall story would have been an influence no matter however slight . . . . Ultimately, Bridgeland isn’t any one thing. It’s a cohobblopot really of a lot of elements. What I like to start when writing is who the characters are and I usually try early on to come up with a word or phrase which explains their motivation, which drives each of the characters through the story.”
Having an internationally acclaimed author review the first graphic novel was a big deal for Marc and he smiled at the memory.
“The very first review I got for Bridgeland Volume 1 was from Eric Jerome Dickey, which was a huge deal for me because he is this gifted author. My girlfriend Ashley introduced me to Eric and I messaged him and said ‘I’m writing this graphic novel would you do me the honour of writing this review’.
“He said, ‘Okay, cool’. You are never really quite sure when someone says ‘okay, cool’ but in two days I got an email back saying he loved it and it was this whole wonderful review. Part if it I included on the cover of Volume 1.”
So, what’s next for him?
“Bridgeland is done. At the launch I did at the end of March, I had people tell me all these ideas they have for a book three and they want to see more of the story, but Bridgeland was always supposed to be a proof of concept, whether it was a film or graphic novel.
Having said that, Marc will be publishing other graphic novels. Stay tuned. (GBM)