So you've just completed your masterpiece, the script is just out of the oven and you can't wait to start working on the art.
Did you carefully lay out the path ahead? As much fun as working in comics is, there's still a lot of logistics to handle, especially if you got a team working on the same title.
First off the bat, my advice is to always team up, even if you're like a Swiss army knife with ten thousands utilities and talents, crafting a comic book from beginning to end is just too much work, and that is the main reason I believe people quit halfway through.
If only you had access to an amazing community of talented artists you could bounce ideas off, collaborate and help achieve more, oh wait, you do have access, in fact, if you're reading this text you're lucky to be connected right now to thousands of deviants eager to work in comics just like you and me.
Writing is a solo endeavor, even when other people are kind enough to read and give notes, a writer still sits in a room by himself. But producing a comic is a team effort.
If you're blessed with both writing and drawing abilities there shouldn't be a reason to bring in another penciller, unless you want to speed things up or better your craft. However, everyone should look for an inker, letterer, colorist, perhaps a cover artist and it can't hurt to have an editor or someone who can give an outside perspective. Anything to make the work demand less well demanding.
Usually when getting too involved in our own work it's difficult to judge and assess, so having someone who can play the role of editor, a close friend that knows comics for instance, is a plus.
Ok, so you're a writer looking for a partner in crime to illustrate your comic. Here's my two cents:
- Always be polite and courteous when approaching possible people to work with. Don't expect them to be excited about your comic because you think it's genius. People have different tastes, opinions and points of view, be sure to respect them.
- Don't pressure. Be patient, everyone has jobs and a life. Not to mention people will want to give it a thought or two before committing to such a difficult task. When an artist commits to working on your comic t is a very big deal, he'll be spending a lot of time on it, keep that in mind.
- Get to the point. Before going into excruciating about your story and vision, first pitch it in a concise way to everyone else on the team. Once they are on board you can all have meets, exchange emails and start discussing the project, not before though.
- Pay your collaborators. Don't expect people to work on YOUR project for free. It's not fair to them. Most people will work as hard, if not harder, on your comic it's only fair they get something for their time. Obviously nobody expects to get paid as if they are working on the next Batman issue but reach an agreement that is good enough for both parties.
- Negotiate and sign deals in advance and in paper. Make it official, it will protect both parties. Especially if you're offering back-end deals and rights. Another thought on back-end deals, offering them as whole payments should not happen and I say this because the future is uncertain, while you may think you're writing the next Harry Potter it can very well turn out to be Eragon instead. So, let me say it again, PAY YOUR TEAM!
- Communication is key. Any problem that arises can be avoided by constant communication. It takes a minute to shoot someone an email, do so, for everything, anything actually. Be honest and talk to your team and make sure they keep you in the loop as well. If by any chance a penciller or colorist misses a deadline, don't approaching him with guns blazing. Ask first what happened and how that will affect the schedule and please, this should go without saying, but be respectful!
- Set deadlines and schedules. This is invaluable if you're coordinating a group of people working together. Whenever you draft a deal memo with your team, put the dates in there. Even if halfway through you will need to adjust, at least you'll have a basis to work from.
- Bounce ideas off everyone involved. It might be your story, characters and vision but two heads think better than one. Be open to listen to their ideas, suggestions and critiques. If not, why did you bring them along?
You're an artist who was approached by a writer to illustrate their comic. Here are my thoughts based on my past relationships with several artists on DA:
- Be courteous to those approaching you for work. Even if you're swamped and can't get involved, tell them, it will take a second and you'll leave a door open for future business, you never know. Leaving notes and messages without a reply is rude and inconsiderate. Whenever people write you they will expect an answer, sometimes anxiously.
- Don't take more work than you can tackle. This is something lots of artists out there might be at fault every now and then. When you have already too much work on your plate, DO NOT take more. Have the responsibility and transparency to tell whoever contacted you about a job that you are not available. People will never have the right to criticize you about being too busy, but they can criticize and get upset when you accept an assignment and never start working on it until you're clear of everything else. Don't keep people waiting.
- Be responsible with your deadlines and duties. If you tell an employer you'll get something done by a given date, you do it. You organize yourself, your day and everything else on your plate in order for you to meet a deadline. Did I mention to not keep people waiting? If you absolutely have to do so, do it properly and respectfully, by informing and showing your employer progress is being made, if a bit slower than planned. Keep communicating with your employer and show you're on top of it, or at least ask for more time and negotiate a new deadline.
- I know I've said this before but here it is again: COMMUNICATION IS KEY. This goes for any and all collaborative works. Don't expect to disappear for a couple of months and then show up with the entire comic done. Other people will depend on your progress so be mindful of their work as well.
- Voice your ideas and opinions, don't feel chained to the material, you might see something different but totally awesome in a story you didn't write, so why not share your opinion? Don't take it personally though if one of your ideas were not accepted, be open to hear some feedback.
So there you have it, those are my thoughts for a successful partnership and team effort, which has served me well in the past. I'm always of the opinion working with someone else is a lot more fun and productive than doing everything Han style. Solo.
I'll leave here a sample Deal Memo which hopefully people will find useful when signing their own deals with inkers, colorists, pencillers, etc:
This agreement is entered into between Awesome Writer (hereinafter Publisher) having a publishing address of Writer's Land, USA, and Amazing Illustrator (hereinafter Pencilers) having an address of Talent Drawing Land, USA.
The effective date of this agreement shall be January 1, 2012, for the comic book Series "I Dream of Pizza".
The "work" as used herein shall mean the line work, pencils, for twelve twenty-four page issues plus two fully completed covers (inked and colored.)
The Pencilers are hereby employed by the Publisher to do the work. Publisher shall have the exclusive right to reproduce the work for any and all other purposes, and the work shall be considered work made for hire. Publisher shall have the right to direct the development of the work and determine final acceptability of the work. If work is determined unacceptable, the Pencilers will be given the opportunity to make appropriate changes within a reasonable time period as agreed upon by the Pencilers and Publisher. Publication of the work signifies acceptability.
The Pencilers agree that the work shall be completed in a timely fashion, as agreed upon by the Pencilers and Publisher. Time allowed for the work to be completed has been set as five weeks per issue with extensions and/or changes to be agreed upon by both parties. Delivery shall be electronically.
The Pencilers will provide the Publisher twenty (20) originals, to be chosen by Publisher. Publisher and the Pencilers agree that shipping expenses will be paid by Publisher.
As compensation for the services to be rendered by the Pencilers under this agreement, Publisher shall pay the Pencilers as follows: a flat fee advance of a million dollars, plus 25% of the intellectual and adaptation rights, to be handled by Publisher in any future negotiations. Publisher retains full copyright over the finished script and screenplay. Any other rights will be negotiated separately.
Publisher and the Pencilers hereby agree that Publisher shall make half the payment upon commencement of the work and half no less than thirty (30) days of approval of work.
Publisher agrees to give a credit line for the Pencilers in the published comic book feature. Publisher will send writer 20 free copies of the comic book feature, in which work by the Pencillers appears, once it has been published.
As you can see, the above deal memo covers everything from deadlines, to specific work to be completed to back-end deals or perks. Remember, this is just a simple and rough example, if needed always consult a lawyer before signing anything or at least discuss it with someone more experienced than yourself.
Thanks so much reading, I hope I had a couple of interesting things to share and feel free to leave any comments, critiques and feedback.
Recommended Reading: Head over to www.wordplayer.com for another insightful column, head over to column #18 Me and My Ampersand which deals with writing partners, although much of what he says can be applied to any creative partnership. Also, if you're looking for a good book on Creating Your Own Comic, you should give The Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Graphic Novel by Nat Gertler and Steve Lieber. The title might throw you off but it's really a resourceful book which covers every aspect from writing your comic to printing it and distributing it on your own.
Just a quick step between writing your comic and producing your comic.
Thanks for reading!
Thanks for reading!
Wow, thanks for the info! Although, I think I shall just stick with my writing. However, I don't just do it alone. I've actually got a friend who has not only been helping me, but he has even begun collaborating with me to write within the same world (which I created).
That's really awesome, lots of writing partnerships have been successful, if you can make it work, stick to it
Thanks for submitting this. Very informative. I've always wondered about the specifics of how things work out between writer and artist. Though I plan to do both, I never know when I may need to give certain duties to other people. Great read.