Friday, 8 April 2011

Love thine Artist

With Omnitarium I learned a very important lesson; no matter how great you think your story is, the first thing that people will mention is the art work on a comic book.

Comic books are going through a transitional period at the moment. On the one hand numbers are falling in the direct market and doomsayers are out in force talking about the end of the art form as we know it. On the other hand everyone and his dog now live in times where it is easier to produce a comic book than ever before.

Easier to produce.

Print on demand has removed the unknown risk of printing up a bulk order of a book and the common trend for indie folks of having a closet full of copies, slowly shifting them over the years.

By removing that moment to think obstacle, more people are rushing to put out their ideas than ever before - what ever the quality.

Don't get me wrong, I love indie books, and love rough and ready oddities - comics to me are a completely open canvas, a means of telling a story in any way that works.

Many people equate comics with superheroes. The biggest market share is probably taken up by this genre, in the west for sure. They are the summer blockbusters of the comics world. And yet people don't instantly think of huge-budgeted-often-sequel-ed-movies when you say film. But I digress.

The quality of the mainstream comic book world are certainly of a quality. The level of printing and the art work and colouring, certainly, are expected to be of a standard.

If you want to make comics like these, you have to match that quality. Writers and creators need to remember this.

It's not easy to connect with an artist, to form a creative working partnership. Some writers arrogantly presume something along the lines of "it's my idea, you're just the artist" and want people to jump on board their brilliance train gratis, riding the glory into the station. Not going to happen.

You need to decide what you want to do with your book before you start. Is this a pitch? Is this an indie project to get something published and make a small name for yourself in order to be able to make pitches? Is this a hobby? Is this the first in a long line of indie books you want to put out because you have a story to tell? Is this a business?

Pitching may seem like an easy option. You have a great idea, you need 6 completed pages to show someone (normally 6 sometimes companies ask for more) and then you just know they are going to pick it up. Maybe. Maybe your idea is great, but if your art isn't eye-catching, or your artist doesn't know how to tell your story with pictures, chances are that a publisher isn't going to give it the time of day. And published books are of a certain standard, remember.

You could get a professional artist to do those pages, to bring it to the next level, right?

Maybe. If you know one, and they are on board, great! If you don't, but you have the money, you could hire them. Or maybe artists want to work on their own projects, and don't know if you are to be trusted as a business partner, because, to be honest your email had a couple of spelling errors, was a little to casual, too formal, just didn't feel right. A certain standard, remember.

If you want to make a book, you need to be selling it from the get go. Sometimes not just it, but you the brand also. You have confidence in this book, it will sell because target market X is just crying out for this book! It's a win win!


Shrinking market space, in terms of less product being bought and more creators joining, may put you off. It shouldn't. It should just make you think twice, and thrice about why you are doing things. What is your aim with this?

It will take time and money to create a finished comic book - more of both if you want to match a standard set by the big players in the industry. Make a realistic budget, then a realistic time table. If you are looking to make money back on the project, firstly, good luck. Secondly, be realistic. When? How?

You need to think about these things.

And treat your artist with love and respect. They deserve it. Without them, your idea is just an idea. A powerful thing, no doubt, but not quite ready for the world.

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