Creating Gripping Graphic Novels

This resource is great for:
Bringing to life traditional stories through new mediums.

Learn about the Book Festival’s recent Graphic Lyrics work and then be inspired to transform traditional tales into graphic novels.


For the last 5 months, Edinburgh International Book Festival have been working with an S4 class from Shawlands Academy,  Glasgow on a project called Graphic Lyrics. The class’ journey began in August, when they travelled through to the Book Festival for a Stanley Odd performance, as part of the Baillie Gifford Schools Programme, their first experience of Graphic Lyrics.

Graphic Lyrics Cover

The pupils then worked with Dave Hook, the Stanley Odd front man, to choose a traditional story from their own culture or another (the pupils in the class are Romanian, Slovakian, Czech or Iraqi), put their own slant on the tale, write rhyming lyrics, and then record them as raps. Dave and his bandmate Samson then worked alongside the pupils to put their recordings to beats.

Working with graphic novelists Metaphrog, the pupils then adapted their stories into comics, breaking down and illustrating the action.

You can see the results of their work below:

You can read the full Graphic Lyrics Comic here.

Activity – Carry Out Your Own Graphic Lyrics Project

Now that you’ve seen the work of Shawlands Academy, why not start work on your own graphic novel?

Split your class into groups who will work together on the project. Each group should then pick a traditional story or tale that they would like to put a new spin on – it could be a traditional Scottish tale or one from another country or culture.

In groups, think about the key messages that you want to convey in your re-telling of the tale. Then, work on re-writing the story using rhyming couplets – turning the story into a rap. If you have the equipment, you could record your raps, or simply perform your raps to the other groups in a special class performance.

Once you have the words sorted, it’s time to move onto the imagery. As a group, divide up the rhyming couplets into sections so that each person in the group has their own section of the story to illustrate. Then, using whatever art materials you have available, create artwork to accompany your story – it could be a simple pencil drawing or a stunning collage using different materials.

Once you have finished your illustrations, place the words of your story alongside the artwork and you have a wonderful graphic novel!

Be sure to share your work with the Book Festival by tweeting a picture of your graphic novel to @edbookfest or tagging edbookfest on Instagram.

Further information:

For further inspiration, visit the Stanley Odd website to hear more of their rhyming lyrics, or visit the Metaphrog website to see inside their fantastic graphic novels.