Comic Book Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the biggest thing that drew me into working with comics. When I first started down this path, I thought to myself, “It will be nice not to work alone all the time.” See, when I was in college, working on writing short stories, and one day a full novel, I learned it was a solitary path. But when I began to write stories for comics, I loved the idea of working with other people. I know it’s not for everyone, but I’m a guy who likes to bounce his ideas off of people. That’s how I figure out what’s a good idea or a bad one.

Collaboration is the very essence of the comic book. Sure, I write and draw my own stuff, but most of the books out there have different writers and artist. To me, this creates an interesting kind of dance. The writer puts his ideas down on paper in the form of words, and the artists translates them into pictures. It’s a unique way of making art. And, as they say, two heads are better than one. It’s always fascinating to see how an artist will interpret my words. How will they see a character, or an action, or a setting, that I’ve described. It makes things, in my eyes, more dynamic. And not to mention the numerous times that an artist has taken my idea and improved upon it. That’s another nice thing. That other person may see things in a scene that you never would have, and it adds to the story as a whole.

I’m really just writing this whole entry to say that, yes, collaboration is a good thing. I know, when you’re in school, you hate group work. That’s because there’s always one person who doesn’t do anything. Then there’s one person who is too controlling. And the whole time, do you really have any interest in the project? I know I sure didn’t. But I’m passionate about comics, and that makes working with other people not only easier, but also fun. And that’s because they too are passionate about the medium. The idea of collaboration is scary to some people, I get that. You don’t want to put yourself out there to someone else. That person could potentially reject your idea, and no one likes that. But sometimes, your ideas need to be rejected. Or at least improved upon. And one of the nice things working in comics is that you can always ask that person for feedback, and they will give it to you. Because once you recruit them, it’s their project too, and they want it to succeed. You are a team.

Ateam

Ha ha ha, get it?

Now, this is not to say that, 100 percent of the time collaboration will be great. I won’t lie to you, sometimes working with other people just doesn’t pan out. There have been times that people don’t finish what they start. Actually, that’s happened to me quite a bit. But you move on from that. Sometimes there will be people who are difficult to work with. Sometimes they will share your enthusiasm, only to disappear and leave the work unfinished. This happens increasingly often in a world where we can work with people over the Internet.

Sometimes these people will be your friends, and you want to work with your friends, right? But making comics isn’t for everyone, and that’s OK. Sometimes they will think they can do it, but once they get started, it turns into more than they thought it would. This is something that, I believe, is very common when you get started. You’re so eager to jump into the deep end, you don’t realize that not everyone is that way. No one is really at fault in these situations, you just have to realize that there are people out there who are more inclined for this sort of work than others. The point is, if you have bead experiences, don’t let them sour your future opportunities. There will be other people to work with, and they will turn out great.

After a couple of fizzled attempts to work with those close to me, I was able to hire someone from a convention, and their turn around time was great. Not only that, they really brought the story to life. I can’t imagine anyone but this guy drawing this story now. And we actually became real life friends because of it. That’s another benefit of working with other people; not only do you gain friends, but you build up a reserve of artists to work with in the future. Sometimes I’ll write a story and think, “I know who would be perfect to draw this!” And that comes from the collaborations of the past.

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However, I think there is a bigger benefit to all of this. And I hid it hear at the end so you had to keep reading.  Here’s what collaboration taught me: kill that ego. Once I was giving a girl scout troupe a crash course in making comics, and I think the most important thing I told them was that they would have ideas, and so would their partners. But you can’t think that your ideas are always better. You’ve got to listen to that other person. And, since a comic requires so many steps, no job is more important than the other. They may have different difficulties, but everyone has to respect each job done in order to produce the best comic possible.

With collaboration comes the checking of the ego. If you never listen to anyone else, and constantly bash everyone over the head with how great your plans are, no one will work with you. And really, this is an important life skill to have. No matter if you work in an office, or in comics, you can’t let your ego get in the way of success. I don’t know that I was very much of an egomaniac before I started working in comics, but I do know that working with other people really helped to highlight this point for me. Sometimes your ideas will be the best, sometimes they won’t. All you have to do is take the time to listen, really think about it, and sometimes, admit that someone else sees something better than you.

It’s not always easy to work with someone else when it comes to your vision. But take it from me, it’s almost always worth the effort in the end.

Time to Succeed

Recently, I turned 25. In the weeks that followed, I’ve had some pretty long reflection sessions and a few changes in attitude. I guess once you get smack into the middle of your 20s, things start to look different. Well, this prompted a longer than usual Facebook post from myself about time. That is, my time, and how I spend it. See, I’ve always been pretty self conscious about the prospect of telling people I can’t do something because I’m working on comics. I can’t say why, exactly, but it never seemed like the other person would take that as a serious reason. Sure, it’s what I love, and it is the path I chose to walk, but it’s just comics, right?

Well, I had a hard look at that and decided, hey, that’s not right. Now, it’s not really like the people close to me have personally showed me this attitude. In fact, they’ve been great. But I’ve always been paranoid that, to them, this was just a hobby. I guess that could be the insecurity of the artist. But I think when you’re chasing a goal, you have that feeling. At least in the beginning. When you realize how much time you’ll have to put into catching that dream, you know that you’ll have to cut into that free time. Especially if you have a job, like most people when they start to run down that dream (taken from sir Thomas Petty).

I guess I always thought that if I bailed on my friends and family for comics, they wouldn’t understand. But as I’ve said, they are supportive people. As it turns out, my Facebook post got a lot of positive feedback. Lots of people telling me they understood, and people who are also artists and musicians telling me they used to be in the same boat, and that one must push on. It’s nice to hear other people are going through the same thing as you. It’s great to know you’re not alone. And not to mention, if those people worked through it, so can I. And so can you, if you feel that way.

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I definitely forgot you could use gifs on WordPress until just right now. This is great.

Anyway, if you are feeling a little guilty about making time for your goals, don’t worry. Most people will support you. And if they don’t, you don’t need that! I know it’s easier said than done, but little by little I’m starting to let go of the fear I had about alienating people by simply pursuing my goal. I know that sometimes people don’t think that art is an actual use of time. More of a recreational thing. While this is wrong, you don’t even really have to explain this to people. If they don’t get it, they probably won’t get it. That’s how it goes. The thing is, in order to become good at anything, you have to do that thing a lot. If it’s drawing, or singing, or playing football. You have to work at it.

And you should not feel bad about it. Well, that’s what I learned this last week, anyway. I guess that sometimes I assume people might not know how much work goes into a comic (even one that looks like mine!) but more often than not, people will understand if you say you’re busy. And most of the time, it was only my inner doubt that made a problem out of things. Like many, many other times, I was my own worst enemy.

In the end, you will need all the time you can. Look at comics, specifically. There’s pretty much always something for me to do. If I’m not writing, I’m drawing, or inking, or coloring, or lettering, or plugging the hell out of everything. There’s always an item on the list. Now, maybe I don’t always use my time wisely every single day, but I’m starting to ween myself off the excuse that what I do isn’t good enough to tell other people I’m busy. Now that I think about it, I guess it could be a bit of a cultural thing. It might seem that this work isn’t really “work” to some people. But damn is that wrong. I have literally shed blood, sweat, and tears for this thing. Well, I don’t know about tears, but I’ve come close. Listen, it all comes down to something very simple:

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Warned you about the gif thing.

Futurama hasn’t led me astray yet, so you should listen to Hermes. Although, you can ignore that “Even if it’s not a good idea!” line, I don’t want you to start thinking about that and get discouraged. The point that both Hermes and I are trying to make is that you have to do what you love. That thing that burns inside you with a passion is what it’s all about. And in order to do that, you will have to give it a lot (read: most) of your time. But it’ll pay off in the end. Not only do you spend time doing what means most to you, but you’ll get better at it, and then maybe you’ll even get good. And once you’re good at the thing you love, who knows what you’ll be capable of.

As usual, I find myself rambling a bit. Just take it from me that you shouldn’t feel bad about spending your time chasing goals, and you don’t have to apologize for it. And I really want to thank everyone who responded to that Facebook post. It really gave me the boost I needed. This issue had been bothering me for a while now, and to know that, well, it’s not really an issue, that gave me a boost as a person and as a creator. Thanks.

Now, go do what you love!