Blood Work -- the Hollows, graphic novel style



One of the first tasks of putting a graphic novel together was finding the right penciler. Seeing what artists could do with other authors' worlds was helpful, and I poured over a slew of comics, looking at perspectives, facial expressions, and how the artists handled both depicting women and city scapes. After my editor at Del Rey, (Betsy Mitchell) and I narrowed it down to a handful of people, we gave them character descriptions and asked to see what they could come up with.

Below are a few of Pedro's first sketches. He nailed Denon and Rachel on the first rough pencils. Ivy, Piscary, and Kisten took a bit more tweaking. Especial Ivy. You can see more initial character sketches, my comments, and the final character depictions in the back of Blood Work.


This is one of the first pages that I worked on, taking place early in the book where Rachel and Ivy go out to Eden Park to sniff out a drug drop and chase the trolls out from under Twin Lakes Bridge--finding a dead Were drained of blood and abandoned in such a way as to be found--probably by them.

There were a couple of difficulties on this page, the first being that Twin Lakes Bridge exists, and if it didn't match reality, I'd hear about it. The second issue was trying to come up with a way to convey flashbacks. This one here isn't the first, so hopefully by this point in the pages, the reader will recognize the subtleties used to indicate a flash back.


This page takes place shortly after Ivy tries to force her ideas on Rachel, finding out that the witch has teeth, too. (Seriously, Ivy really deserved the dunking she got.) Early on, we had to decide what color to use to indicate Rachel's magic. Patina gold wasn't translating well, so we went with a gold-green to stand in stark contrast to Ivy's silvery gray blood lust. Unlike Ivy's blood lust, Rachel's magic can be seen by other characters.


Twin flashbacks on this page made it rather difficult to put together, but Ivy is rather introspective, and I had to show that. I love the imagery of the koi tattoo on the red-headed Were. We also have a peek at Kisten from the back here. Kisten was one of the most difficult characters to put a face to. I know I'm going to get complaints, but how can one image match everyone's internal thoughts?

I also like this page because it has Ivy's cycle parked outside her office. The visual gag was just about lost after some judicious trimming of dialog, but you can see Ivy's very dry sense of humor as she quietly protests having lost her reserved parking spot in the IS tower.


Ivy and Kisten in a moment of solace. This takes place above Piscary's before Ivy's and Kisten's apartment was gutted and turned into a dining area. The long panel shows Pizza Piscary's from the outside. Here, too, I ran into a lot of issues with the penciler over what a tavern should look like, but I finally got my big parking lot and two-story building. We also get a look at the mysterious watcher in this page. (Every comic needs a mysterious watcher, right?) I think he's eating fries here. It was too hard to get a thermos of coffee and still have the right mood.


Ivy doing what Ivy does best--blowing off steam and diverting her anger/hunger into acceptable channels. The pages before this are amazing as I had the chance to try to script out a busy dance club.


This is one of my favorite pages, showing Ivy's hunger shadow doing what Ivy would like to cut lose and do. We also get a nice shot of what another witch's magic can do and why they never send vampires to bring in witches. Rachel isn't as fast with her magic at this point, and about all she could do was tackle an unsuspecting Ivy. Ah . . . Rachel, you are clueless, and we love you for it.



For me, one of the sticky places in scripting out the pages was trying to describe to the artist the body movements in fight scenes. I've earned two very dusty black belts, and it was important to me that when Ivy start kicking butt, that she do it with hands in fists and held tight to body for balance. My words seldom translated well through the interpreter to the penciler, and after several attempts to explain how Ivy fended off a knife and then stuck it in her attacker's side, I put this short demonstration together and sent it off. I still wince at what finally landed on the page, but clearly a proper blocking out of the move was not going to happen. Sometimes, close is close enough.



Below, I have collected my blog posts from the very beginning to the end of the creation of the first Hollows graphic novel, BloodWork. This was truly a labor of love--and a huge learning experience for me. I hope you enjoy the sneak peak behind what goes into one of these things. It took substantially longer to put together than a regular novel. It is due out July 2011, and I will be going to San Diego Comic Con to celebrate!


August, 5, 2009: Kim Harrison's world of the Hollows goes graphic

It's been a rough month, but I finally feel comfortable singing the news from the rooftops. Contracts are signed, and I actually have the first story written at what would be my "dialog" stage if I was making this a normal novella. The Hollows is going graphic! Whooo-hoo!

I want to try to do the scrip myself to preserve as much of the original feel as I can, (not to mention the new media is fascinating), so I've been studying graphic novels the past month to try to get a feel for how comic books are put together. There is a pattern, just like everything else, and putting it all together is kind of daunting. But I love it. There is a huge freedom in this media that you can't get in traditional prose. It will be the first time that I can write with an omnipresent point of view, which means I can show things that the main character doesn't see. I'm having a blast with it.

Best part? I've discussed it with my editor at DelRey, and we are going to tackle this from Ivy's point of view. I swear, the woman scares me, (Ivy, not Betsy, my editor) but it's been a couple of years since the novella in DATES FROM HELL, and I think I'm ready to try it again.

Um, and Kisten is still alive. (grin)

I've no idea when this is going to come out, but Del Rey wants the script like now, so it's moving. And I'm so-o-o-o excited.


August 6, 2009: Just a tad overwhelmed.

Dudes. ;-) I can not believe the response I got yesterday after breaking the news about the graphic novels. You guys are the best! (Happy sigh) It will be a prequel of the year where Ivy and Rachel worked together at the I.S. from Ivy's point of view. I wanted the chance to see Ivy go from flat-out disappointment,to grudging respect, to an unlooked for love. I wanted the chance to see more of the vampire politics. I wanted to see something more comfortable and concrete in terms of crimes solved, but more complex in regards to personal relationships. We'll see if I can swing it. I'm game.

If everything goes well, I think we're looking at a summer 2011 release, which is fantastically quick in the literary time line. I do have approval for the artist, and I hope I can have a close relationship with whoever it is without stepping on his or her creative toes. This is the first time I will be sharing creative space with someone, and I respect their need to make it his or hers as well. I just hope that you guys, the readers understand that too. There is no way that we are going to be able to match everyone's ideas of what the characters look like, because everyone has different ideas and I've not yet been able to get a hold of Dr. Who's psychic paper. (grin)

So today I'm settling in to work on a light brush through Hollows book eight, BLACK MAGIC SANCTION, before it goes to copy edit. And then it's back to the graphic novel. Should be a busy couple of weeks . . .


August 12, 2009 Stretching New Literary Muscles

So I've been working on the new graphic novel this week, and I've noticed a few things. First, I'm sitting differently at my desk. I'm aching in different places than usual by the end of the day. Second, I still feel like I'm fumbling around--sort of like when I first started writing and didn't quite feel comfortable in where to make the paragraph breaks. Now, I don't think about it, but back before I had put in enough hours, I sweated over that. It's getting better, and I'm loving each little trick that I'm figuring out to make this go faster.

Thirdly, I am having a super time with this. Even though I generally have full, fun days at the keyboard getting Rachel in and out of trouble, I get bored with the process just like everyone else at work, and this has been a fantastic chance for me to learn something new. I can't tell you how invested I am in this just from the standpoint of being able to do something different in my day, and yet have something marketable at the end of it. At least I hope it's marketable.

So I'm looking at the printout of the first ten pages or so, and I'm kind of tickled. It looks exactly like what it's supposed to. I can't wait to finish the rough draft and go back and polish. I'm using my sticky notes like cray.

August 20, 2009: Music as the Muse

As most of you already know, I've been working this month on the first Hollows graphic novel. I'm writing the script myself so as to try to keep the feel of what the books are and the emotions that flow between Ivy and Rachel as they move through the story and solve the crime. Stretching different creative muscles has been wonderful.

It's been an interesting month--getting back into Ivy's head. I've been avoiding her and Piscary, and I can't do that. I figure I have today and Monday until I finish the rough draft, and I'm hoping I have a few extra pages to go back and add a page or two with Piscary so that I can really bring out the mental and physical abuse that Ivy is trying to overcome. She is so unbelievably strong . . . and yet so broken. I love her character.

I have no idea how this expression of a woman fighting an emotional battle she can't win is going to fly in a world of comic-book heroes. I don't care. All I have is what I see, what is gripping my mind. And that's what's going on the page.

How does music as my muse enter into all of this? It took me almost a week, but I rediscovered Ivy's music, and I've been listening to Garbage and Evanescence a lot. I'll get into the savage side of Ivy when I go back and clean the script up, but for now it's all about . . . the stuff that they sing about. Those two artists are almost perfect fits. I don't always listen to music when I write. Sometimes, I work better in silence. But for now, it's Amy and Shirley.


August 30, 2009: What a Graphic Novel Rewrite Looks Like

. . . or at least what my desk looks like as I'm doing one. ;-) Post-it notes. If you've never used post-it notes in your rewrites, you might want to give it a try. I collect them as I write the rough draft, jotting down notes, ideas, motivations, and reminders to include something again or not forget something else. (like a purse or that her pants are torn) And then, when I go back and rewrite, I stick the note on the hard copy of the manuscript where I need the reminder. It's saved my butt too many times to dismiss. Writing it down helps cement it in my thoughts, but because it's "real" and tangible, I stop worrying about remembering it.

To be honest, this is what my desk looks like after I clean up. The reality is a few more stacks of paper, a pencil sharpener, a couple of pencils, paperclips, (lots of paperclips) and a cup of tea. I'm hoping to push through the rest of the rewrite this week. It's been interesting comparing the two different writing styles. The rewriting, though, feels exactly the same. Ivy's motivations are clearer, and it's a lot tighter overall. I've pulled out about four pages so far, two of which are gone forever, (the page count is strict) but the other two are going to go right back in again at the end where I kind of crunched during the action. It's looking good. I'm happy with it. --Kim


December 15, 2009: Hardly Got Any Sleep Last Night

First, let me say that I love to sleep. I might even go as far to say that lately, I've use my bed as a carrot to get through the more tiring of days. Putting a heated mattress pad on the bed has been like heaven. (Ten minutes on high right before bed, then turning it off makes for a long sigh of pleasure when you slip between the sheets.)

Okay, now that I've got your attention. ;-)

But last night, I went to bed wired because I got the okay from my Del Rey publisher to show you an early page from the graphic novel. She was reluctant at first, because it's going to be summer 2011 before it will see the light of day, and I agree that it's way too soon for teasers, but OMGosh, I really like what is going on, and I had to share it with you, and after hearing the downright pleading in my voice, she gave in and we agreed on a page.

Our pencilest is Pedro Maia, and I am totally wowed by what he has done with my awkward first attempt at a script. I wanted to work with him because I was blown away by his facial expressions as well his fabulous cityscapes in his samples. I was also impressed when he took my sketchy description of what it looks like when Ivy vamps out, and evolved it into this breathtaking visual moment that I just stared at and shouted, "That's it!" and pretty much danced around the room. The page I have for you doesn't show Ivy vamping out. (There is a series of two pages in a car that I just stared in awe at.) You're going to have to wait. But go beyond the cut for the bigger picture to see the first glimpse of an angry Ivy and a frustrated Rachel on their first run together. Neither one is in a very good mood. (laugh)

There is no possible way in creation that Rachel and Ivy are going to look as everyone pictures them in their mind. But the expressions, the movement, the soul of these two women are here, and I am . . . happy.

December 17, 2009: Something Fun

I've had a stressful week, fabulous, but stressful, and as I finish it out today with hopefully a solid day's writing, I've got something kind of fun for you. There are no prizes, no awards--and no answers, either!--but I've numbered the panels from the graphic novel page I showed you a few days ago, and now it's time to put words to them!

It's all in fun, and there are no right or wrong answers, so have fun! Just one hint. That is a whistle in Rachel's hand.


Christopher Says:

I-54 Ivy, “I told you not to trust that demon!”
Rachel, “Hey! I’m already black listed how much worse can it get!!”

I-55 Ivy, “Why are you carrying that whistle and not your splat gun?”

I-56 Rachel, “Well gee Ivy, i left my magical Styrofoam and the splat gun is so last week.”


Jamie Says:
I-53 Troll splashes away.
Rachel, “Wait I just want to talk to you!”
I-54 Ivy, “You didn’t really think that whistle would work did you?”
Rachel, “No, but you never know unless you try.”
I-55 Ivy, “You can’t do everything yourself, you’re going to get hurt.”
I-56 Rachel, “I can handle myself Ivy. If you think it’s too dangerous then you should have stayed at home!”


jeremy, ca Says:
(panel one) Were– omg i gotta get away from that frizzy witch
(panel two) Ivy–”Stop blowing that whistle! You’re scaring all the Weres.
Give it to me!!!!!” Rachel–” no! its mine. let me have my fun!”
(panel three) Ivy–”I SAID NOW!!!!!!”
(panel four) Rachel–”Don't you take that tone with me! i’ll shove this whistle where it doesn't belong!”

lol ok so that was a little bizarre. but you said have fun with it


SeattleRobin Says:
Okay, here’s my lame attempt:

1-53: *SPLASH!*Rachel: Ivy! It’s getting away!

1-54:Rachel: Give my whistle back. You were supposed to blow it to warn me when it was coming in my direction!

1-55:Ivy: I. Am. Not. Blowing. A. Whistle.

1-56:Rachel: It was a perfectly good plan and you ruined it! (Under her breath: “Save me from haughty vamps.”)


Phil Says:

Sorry, i can’t resist going again, so here it goes …
1-53: RACHEL: The whistle will work, i’m telling you!
1-54: IVY: Where did you get a whistle?
1-55: RACHEL: It’s one of Kim’s freebees, okay?
1-56: IVY: Hush Rachel, we’re not supposed to mention her!


mudepoz Says:
1-53: Rachel-STOP! In the name of the fashion police!

1-54: Ivy: What happened? Why did she take off like that?
Rachel: Hey, it’s not my fault you didn’t tell me she could run like a daughter of a bitch!

1-55: Ivy: You were only supposed to distract her so I could grab her and give her a pedi! That bitch so needs a total makeover and you let her get away!

1-56: Rachel: I didn’t KNOW it was a dog whistle! I thought it was great idea to get a subsonic whistle you could hear! How was I supposed to know she’d hear it too! And I wrecked my lipstick and everything!


Tiffany Says:
Setting the scene: Rachel and Ivy are going on a run to capture a tax evading werewolf. Rachel wanted to work out a plan together, but Ivy was pissed off about being assigned Rachel’s partner, doesn’t think she needs Rachel to do the job, and has told her to wait on the bridge. Rachel of course, does not do that – she came up with her own plan for how to catch a werewolf…

(1-51/2: Rachel spot the werewolf and blows into the whistle)

1-53: RACHEL: “Yep. Here he comes ….. STOP!! …. Crap he’s running away!”

1-54: IVY: “What the hell? Give that to me!”
RACHEL: “No. Let go, Ivy!”

1-55: IVY: “Is that a…a DOG WHISTLE?? What, did you think he was going to just come running over here?!?”

1-55: RACHEL: “Well I didn’t hear you sharing any of your brilliant ideas!”


Antonio Rich Says:
1-53 “TWEEEEET!”
(Not for the first time today, did Ivy second guess her decision to play office politics)
IVY: “Give me that whistle, witch! You were supposed to wait for my signal!”

1-54 RACHEL: “Wait!? So Denon’s goons can arrest him? Sharp is innocent. You can’t lock him in a cell…He’ll die!”

1-55 IVY: “That’s not YOUR decision, Rachel. Your not in charge here. You work for the I.S. now.”

1-56 RACHEL: “You don’t have to tell ME that. Your the one who seem’s to have forgotten!”


1-53 “TWEEEEET!”
(Not for the first time today, did Ivy second guess her decision to play office politics)
IVY: “I TOLD you not to wear that ridiculous skirt. You can barely move!”

1-54 RACHEL: “I handled it, OK! You’ve been on my ass all day. Give it a break already.”

1-55 IVY: “Half of Cincinnati has seen you witchy ass today. Why don’t you lean over the railing again and show Kentucky this time?”

1-56 RACHEL: “Your one to talk! Did you get any help getting into those leather pants this morning, or did you just jump off a building into them?”


Marsha Says:
1-53: “Whoa! I’m outta here.”

1-54: “Damn, Ivy. You scared him away, and nearly scared me to death
sneaking up like that”

1-55: “Magic whistle huh? I thought it was supposed to call weres. THAT
was a bridge troll”

1-56: “Well if you hadn’t gone all vampy, I COULD HAVE ASKED HIM


Lisa Zurek Says:
Rachel- (blows whistle) “Everyone, out of the water. Shark!!!!!”
Ivy- “Rachel, that’s not funny.”
Rachel-”I always wanted to do that!”


Rob Carlos Says:
53 – Ivy (off screen): Give me that little flute, you amateur!
54 – Rachel: It’s my flute, and this will work! Everyone knows music soothes the savage beast!
55 – Ivy: Wanna bet?
56 – Rachel: I said “Savage beast” not “Savage bitch!”


Lurker Says:
53 – Now, just where did David go? Oh look, there he is!
54 – Ivy, gimme that dog whistle. It will NOT work on David, no matter how hot you are for him!
55 – grrrrrr
56 – Don’t you go all ‘grrrr’ on me! You blow this whistle here, and who knows what will show up!


Caitlin Says:
53- (whimpering)
54- dammit Ivy! What do you think you’re doing blowing that whistle at my new boyfriend? You might have scared him off forever!
55- Good
56- I don’t care if you scare them all away, I’m still not going sleep with you, Ivy!


Mike Says:
1-53: Sound of Troll slogging away
1-54: Rachel: “Heeeeey, Ivy gimme that back, it’s not yours”
1-55: I’vy’s eyes going black as she “vamps out”
1-56: Rachel: “and dammit why does your hair ALWAYS look so much better than mine ?” stupid vamp genes she mumbles under breath.


Phil Says:
1-53. Rachel: Stop that, Ivy!
1-54. Ivy: Stop WHAT?
1-55. Ivy: Rachel, if this is going to work, you’ve got to trust me.
1-56. Then stop looking at me like I’m lunch!


Kylie Ru Says:
Hm, let’s see . . .

I-53 ?!

I-54 Ivy: I told you it wouldn’t work!
Rachel: But it was supposed to work! It’s a freakin’ dog whistle!

I-55 Ivy: He isn’t a dog, Rachel!

I-56 Rachel: Shuddup!


Vampyre Says:
Howdy ma’am. I’ll give it a shot.

I-53 >splash splash splash< "Wapner is on in 5 minutes! five minutes to Wapner!"

I-54 "Rachel! Do you know what time it is?"
"Umm ….no."

I-55 "Well it's almost time for the People's Court! Catching that troll can wait, let's go! We have less than 5 minutes!"

I-56 "Wapner?! That hack! I'm a Judge Judy fan! Don't you ever forget it or you may find this thing in my hand some where the sun don't shine!



Alyssa Says:
LOL, a challenge. Unfortunately one i was quite suck on, lol. Here we go:

1-53: Rachel: Now you’ve done it!
1-54: Rachel: *snatches whistle* That’s the last time you blow my whistle.
1-55: Ivy: Rachel, if you let me blow your whistle, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
1-56: Rachel: *points finger.* This is only our first run. There’s four more books to come before you can say stuff like that. Bad vampire, giving away the plot. Bad vamp!


Jenn Says:
1-53: Rachel watches the bridge troll run under his bridge.
1-54: Listen Ivy, I KNOW this troll, I’ve been here before & he is NOT aggressive!
1-55: You’re wrong Rachel, he is a menace. Now give me back my whistle!
1-56: No Ivy, YOU’RE wrong, and I’ll prove it to you!

February 16, 2010:More Graphic Art from the Hollows Graphic Novel

I've got more graphic novel art for you today!!!! This page is more toward the end than the beginning, and this isn't what you're going to see when it's finished, though it's really close. (Just one more batch of pages to go, and we move on to the colorist!)

Some of the changes I asked for was to take out the shawl-draped hanging light over Rachel's desk, a slight modification of Ivy's duster to look more flowing, and we gotta do something about Rachel's hat. But that second panel is wonderful, and the next as well. One of the reasons I wanted Pedro to do the pencil sketches was his fabulous facial expressions, and here you can see some of his talent. I also appreciate that the women he draws look like real women. Oh, and the guy? That's Denon. Dude, he really nailed him as far as looks go.

So, any takers today to put some words to the pictures? -grin- I'm not going to say how close you are to the truth of it, and there are no right or wrong answers. Have fun! ;-).

Tomorrow I'm going to try to explain a bit on the delayed release of the e-books. I've got some good news, and some bad news . . . And I might have to delay my post until Thursday. Harper/Eos wants to talk about it at the same time, and they might not be ready.


May 7, 2010: Graphic Novel Tease

You might have heard me mention before that we have gone to the inking stage of the graphic novel. They are starting to come in. :-) I got the okay from my publisher to release a couple of pages, and I wanted to show you this one. It is Rachel and Ivy's first meeting, but the reason I wanted to show you was because it has a visual representation of Ivy going vampy. It's easy to describe how a person feels when a vampire pulls an aura on you, the close, clammy sweat, the feeling of presence, the idea that the vampire is right next to you though they are a half a room away. Now try drawing that feeling. Pedro was one of the few artists that even tried, and what he came up with was one of the reasons that I wanted to work with him. Mmmmmm, delish.

So here is one of the early panels of the graphic novel, due out summer 2011. It takes place in the I.S. building, that's Devon being an ass, and of course, a cheerful Rachel, and peeved Ivy, pulling an aura on Devon when he threatens her.


July 14, 2010: Because Life Isn't Black and White

Ta-da! Short post today, but if a picture is a thousand words . . . (Click to get a better image.) This is one of the first colored panels from the upcoming Hollows graphic novel, and I'm really pleased. I like this shot the best of the six or so that I've seen because it shows Ivy's beauty against the stark ugliness of Piscary's. (the back room) She's free and independent--and chained, unable to free herself from the very things she loves and hates. This panel might encapsulate her life, almost.It doesn't hurt that Kisten is in there, too.

And since I'm talking about Kisten, I want to mention that he is a very hard character to nail down in terms of looks. He still isn't exactly the way I pictured him, but his image is growing on me, and I'm starting to identify with him more and more.

October 26, 2010: Bloodwork's Cover!

The first Hollows graphic novel is due out July 12, 2011, and I finally have a cover to show you!

If you've not heard, this takes place in the golden year where Ivy and Rachel work together at the I.S. Rachel is the intern, but you can imagine she's not taking a back seat to her vampire partner.

This was done from Ivy's point of view, and since Kisten was still alive during this time, we get to see him. In a tub, no less. -grin-

On a more personal note, I want those boots.

October 27, 2010: Lettered Pages!

And at long last, after almost a year of talking about it, I've got a lettered page for the Hollows Graphic Novel for you to look at.

I picked this one to show you because it has the marvelous colors of the coming sunset that I've been enjoying. There isn't a lot of action in this page because it's the first of a new chapter, and just like my regular prose, I usually take a bit of extra time to set the scene. When writing, it's about four paragraphs after an initial bit of dialog. With a graphic novel, it seems to be an extra large panel. I'm sure it will evolve, as everything does.




Revised: 02/14/2012       Copyright © 2010 by Kim Harrison.  All rights reserved.