I just read a (justifiably) irate blog entry from an artist who frequently gets approached to fulfill people’s comic-making dreams. A lot of people feel that their idea is so fantastic that artists will drop everything to pursue it with them, and that’s neither fair or realistic.
I have worked with a handful of artists, and I am extremely grateful for the hard work they put into bringing our stories to life. I say “our stories” because comics are a collaborative medium. Everyone who works on a comic (writers, artists, editors, colorists, letterers, etc) contributes to the final book. One person or another may drive the work or lead the effort at times, but the end result is the product of the dedication and effort of everybody.
I’m stunned by writers (and artists, let’s be fair) who approach other creators as drones useful for implementing their personal vision. If your story is so intimate that you can’t let anyone else influence its telling, then learn to do it all yourself.
I enjoy working with others. Artists inspire me to create different works, and they push me to improve my writing. I am sorry that I’ve only now gotten to a place financially where I can offer money for their time, and I’m so truly grateful that they’ve been so enthusiastic about our work that they did it for equal rights and issues to sell. For that I have to credit my respectful approach more than the quality of my ideas.
I only approached creators with whom I already had on- and off-line relationships. Making my own mini-comics, hanging on forums, selling at conventions: I got to meet many wonderful and talented people. We talked. We read each other’s work. We drank a lot of beer. One day I’d get an idea of something I’d love to see someone draw, and I’d toss the idea to that artist. We’d email or talk on the phone, and feel our way to a story. I’d turn it into an outline, we’d work on it, and on an informal agreement I’d start writing. The rest is details.
Sometimes there wasn’t much interest, and that’s totally fair. These are friends and colleagues who are working on projects of their own. If they don’t sound excited, I’m not going to press them — even now that I can pay — because I respect their time, and I can’t wait to see what they are working on!
Anyway, to anyone still reading this I say: your idea may be fantastic, but it won’t make a good comic if you don’t respect the people who can help you bring it to life.