Story Structure in Graphic Novels — It Rhymes with Lust — Part 1
It Rhymes with Lust (written by Arnold Drake and Leslie Waller, illustrated by Matt Baker) is a gorgeously drawn noir about a newspaperman who is entangled in a power-struggle against a beautiful and corrupt city woman, Rust Masson.
Originally published in 1950 and argued to be the first graphic novel (which, I’d argue it isn’t), It Rhymes with Lust reads like an old B-movie: hardheaded men, very seductive or very meek women, quippy dialogue, etc.
Overall, the structure of the story is sound and Matt Baker’s art is beautiful (Matt Baker was inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame last year and this is a great example of why), but the character development could have benefited from a few rewrites.
The characters in It Rhymes with Lust, especially the protagonist, flip-flop between emotional extremes. This creates drama that feels like it’s going in circles, back and forth, back and forth, instead of building toward an ending. If the writers had allowed their characters to struggle with more subtlety between the black and white extremes of their situation, the story could have climbed toward a satisfying climax.
With it’s solid structure yet weak characterization, It Rhymes with Lust is a perfect example to show how to have your story build toward a climax by seeing the effects of a story that does not.
To learn how, visit here: It Rhymes with Lust Story Structure.
(Spoiler Alert: If you have not read It Rhymes with Lust, I will be discussing the entire story.)
Note: What I decided to do with this week’s post (story structure plus rewrite notes) turned out to be rather long. In fact, it was twice as long as my posts have been. So, I split it into two, more easily digestible pieces.
This week, I’ll breakdown the first half of It Rhymes with Lust with rewrite advice. Next week, I’ll breakdown and give rewrite advice for the second half.