Monday, February 25, 2019

Communicating with your Artist

What we got here is a failure to communicate.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)

 No matter how meticulous you are in describing to your artist what you want, you will come to a moment where it feels like that line from Cool Hand Luke-A failure to communicate. When working with an artist on a project be sure to watch what you say.

*According to Peter David a photo or frame of reference can be useful to the illustrator. Photo reference like (Tight shot of the Transamerica Pyramid. Photo reference can be found at the website or a frame of reference such as (You know the stare down between Captain America and the Winter Soldier on the SHIELD helicarrier? That's the intense action I'm aiming for.)

Communication is key when working with an artist; you can give as little to as much information.

Another thing to remember is the reader will never see your script. As a comics writer, only a handful of people in the world will never see your script.

*Comics legend Brain Michael Bendis says your creative team is you and your friend, or someone who you are creatively in sync with, or someone who does everything: full art, coloring, lettering, and all the production work. Bendis also states when working commercially for Marvel or DC, your script will be in the hands of the editor. Comic editors make sure that your script serves its function which is to communicate clear story images, and characters to your artist.

If you work commercially you’ll probably work with someone who’s an inker, colorist, and letterer. The comic script is read by six people: artist, inker, colorist, letterer, editor, and assistant editor.

Screenwriters are similar in the production process. Their work is read by producers and executives, and if filmmakers are lucky enough to go into production, dozens to a couple hundred people will also read the script. They make sure it communicates to the cast and crew.

However Mr. Bendis says every artist has strengths and weaknesses. You must find those things and write to them.

Recalling on communication with the artist, it is a key factor to reach the person through emails and phone calls. Have an open door policy with the team to discuss ideas about the book.

*Over time, you will develop a shorthand with some of your collaborators. Sometimes they develop right away, while the other collaborations can go on for years and the shorthand never really develops. Bendis says it’s because collaborators are developing different voices. As the years pass, you may also find that you are constantly challenging each other in different areas.

In the conclusion of writing for comics and graphic novels, communication builds not just a partnership with collaborators but it builds relationships with them.

Happy Creations!

*Source(s): Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David pg. 154

Brian Michael Bendis, Words for Pictures, pg. 73-80

Friday, December 14, 2018

How to Find an Artist

Hello, friends!

I'm back after so much going on in the outside world. I blogged about writer topics like conflict, story set up and comics. Now I'm going to cover a daunting challenge in creating comics...finding an artist for your work.

It's a given that aspiring comic book creators have asked that question when they have completed project. *Luck & persistence are the two factors that play into it, but however, you must be the kind of writer the artist wants to work with.

*Comics' creator Jim Zub suggests that you also have to think like the other side asking "If I were an artist, what would convince me to jump in on the project that's being pitched to me?"

(Remember my post about preparation? This is it!)

There are also four things to keep in mind when seeking out an artist for your comic series or graphic novel.
  • Money
  • Professionalism
  • Search
  • Contact
  • Introduction

Money- If you're independently wealthy and can afford a professional page rate, you can be able to convince a larger number pool of artists to work with you. Freelance artists, even the good ones, go through slow periods. If your money is good they'll take on commissions if they're available. For those who aren't, there's another factor you'll need and that's...

Professionalism- Be presentable and courteous. The pitch should be clear and catchy. Must be willing to work a flexible schedule and be fair with sharing ownership of the final work. Your communication should be straight forward, your ideas should be easy to understand and your attitude should be upbeat and friendly. Story concepts must be tightly written, engaging, and grammar/spell-checked. 

Search- When choosing an artist to represent your work, you have to do your homework on the person. *Mr. Zub states there are far more people who believe they're writers than there are great artists to draw their stories. Online art communities and social media platforms like deviantART, Instagram, Digital Webbing, and comic publisher forums are a place to start as well. There's also Artist's gallery at a convention which can increase your odds of finding one too.

Once you've chosen the artist YOU believe is the perfect one for your project, do some research (art blog, professional background, etc.)

Contact- When contacting the illustrator it helps to be direct with a personal message. Odds are good the person will turn you down, but at least, there's communication and a connection was established which could be helpful later on. According to Zub, a "no" now could be a "yes" down the road.

It's highly recommended to have your letter/email written in advanced, especially the parts about your story concept or yourself, but be sure to include a personalized section about the artist--what you see in their work that appeals to you and why you think they'd be a good fit for your project.

Don't include your written samples or story pitch to the artist in your introduction email because you'd project yourself as demanding or pushy, and you don't want that. It's just a simple introduction. Speaking of which...

Introduction- This is one of a few introduction emails I've written in the past with some modifications.

Dear Jane Doe,

The website deviantART is an online forum for artists of every skill from around the world. Your gallery of various characters, expressions, and style grabbed my attention. Finding more of your art on your Instagram account, I was amazed at your take on characters like Spider-Gwen and Blue Beetle. Your art is dope!

My name is Andrew McQueen and I'm writing a comic book series entitled "Sean McCloud: Telepath" for Dark Horse Comics. Boiled down to its essence, it's a crime solving fantasy series for long-time fans of Jim Butcher, Mark Del Franco, and X-Men. To complete the creative team for the book, I'm looking for comic book artists to collaborate with on the project.

If you'd like to give Sean McCloud a read, I can shoot you an email or a PDF on the scripts if you allow me to have your email address. I'm working on different concepts with different tones and subject matter, but reading Sean McCloud will give you a clear and consice idea how I work.

I don't know what your work slate is at the moment or if you'd be interested in working a creator-owned project, but I wanted to let you know I was blown away by your artistic style, and I would be thrilled to work with you at anytime.

However it goes, keep up with your art.

God bless,

Andrew McQueen

With the way I've set up the email, I'm establishing myself as friendly and considerate. If you have other publishing credentials those are okay to share with the artist. This puts me in the position to connect with the person whether or not they're interested. There's no 100% guarantee my creator-owned project will be published.

Keep in mind that even though you have specific project in mind, it always good to leave the field wide open. If you receive a positive response you can see if they have a particular genre/style they're excited about or you can mention a story concept you want to collaborate with them on.  

The search can be long. It requires patience and persistence. You can send out tons of introduction messages before getting a big "yes" from choice number 75 or so. 

*Mr. Zub points out that the writer/artist relationship is like dating. You have to make a strong first impression and convince the person you have the right qualities to go to the next stage with. Think carefully on how you present yourself and make sure you're an "attractive" creative collaborator.

Once you got a working relationship with the artist, make sure you have a clear agreement in place so everyone knows what's expected of them. Charles Soule lays down the nitty-gritty on the topic here.

And that's how you make contact with a comic book artist.

Special thanks to Jim "Zub" Zubkavich for allowing me to cite his expertise for this blog.

Happy Creations!

*Jim Zub. "How Do I Find An Artist?" October 2012.    

Friday, November 2, 2018

#OctWritingChallenge Final Report!

Hello all Halloween survivors!

Welcome to the #OctWritingChallenge final report!

After all the hours I put in with this WIP/comic script, I would like to say...It's done! Finished the fifth issue of my comic min-series, friends. But first let's take a look at the progress.

Day 22-1 hour & 30 minutes.

Day 23-1 hour

Day 24-No writing

Day 25-1 hour & 45 minutes

Day 26 thru 28-No writing.

Day 29-1 hour

Day 30-1 hour & 8 minutes

Day 31-2,871. The final word count.

The past month was a grueling one here but my peers in the Twitter Monthly Writing Challenge motivated me to see the project through. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't be this close to wrapping up my story.

Day 26-28 was hard. The city of Pittsburgh was struck with tragedy when a synagogue was attacked by an active shooter. My heart went out to the Jewish community as I took those days off.

In these these turbulent times it's more important for us as a whole to come together and comfort each other, and begin with the healing process.

That's my writing progress for the month of October, friends. I'll see you soon.

Monday, October 22, 2018

#OctWritingChallenge Weekly Report #3: Late Edition!

Hi, all!

I welcome you to the Late Edition of my #OctWritingChallenge Weekly Report!

The past weekend was a bit of a drag since I wasn't in the groove like I was, then things got crazy on the normal side of my life. Now with it all settled I got down to business the past week and here's what I came up with.

No writing on Day 14-16

Day 17- 1 hour

Day 18- 1,464 words

Day 19- No writing. Took the day off to check the all new Halloween! Should be a treat for old and fans of John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Day 20- 1 hour

Day 21- 1 hour & 25 minutes.

After the three days of no writing I had reevaluate myself on time management. The key here is to not find the time to write but to make the time. This is my take away from this past week.

Until next time!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

#OctWritingChallenge Weekly Report #2

Hello! Welcome to the Week 2 of my #OctWritingChallenge Weekly Report.

My progress is not too shabby but I can't argue with the results. Let's see how we did!

Day 8-9: No writing.

Day 10-1 hour & 25 minutes.

Day 11-1 hour.

Day 12-1 hour.

Day 13-1 hour & 40 minutes.

The story, so far, is progressing as I hoped for after I trashed it to oblivion. It was a painful choice to make but from what another set of eyes told me, this (character) was useless because (his critique on the character), the illustrator could use something that can tell him who the characters are so insert a character sheet.

The two cents given to me were insightful. I didn't think to come up with a character sheet that can give me an idea of who my characters are and how they function in my story. It's another lesson in writing I learned along the way as I prepared my pitch to a comics publisher.

1. Have a character sheet ready.

2. Give thanks to your support group, folks! I know I did.

That's it for my #OctWritingChallenge Weekly report. There's more to come. 

Sunday, October 7, 2018

#OctWritingChallenge Weekly Report

Hello. Welcome to my #OctWritingChallenge Weekly Report!

Throughout the month of October I will report my progress with my WIP on the Twitter Monthly Writing Challenge.

Let's begin with my Week 1 progress.

Day 1-No writing

Day 2-1 hour & 5 minutes

Day 3-1 hour & 45 minutes

Day 4-1 hour

Day 5-No writing

Day 6-1 hour & 45 minutes. I kinda messed around for a few minutes so I added 15 minutes to make up for the time lost on social media. That's holding yourself accountable when writing, friend.

That's all for my weekly Writing Challenge report, guys. Be there as my progress for #OctWritingChallenge continues! Til next time!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Big Brawl

The following post contains strong language and spoilers to a motion picture.

Conflict-(noun) a serious disagreement or arguement, typically a protracted one. (Verb) Be incompatible or at variance; clash.

Batman vs Predator by Andy Kubert
Conflict can come in many different forms. From Michael Keaton battling his substance abuse in Clean and Sober to the battle between the Caped Crusader and the Ultimate Hunter in the DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics crossover Batman vs Predator. Whichever way you put it all drama is conflict, it stands in the way of the protagonist accomplishing his goal. But it doesn't have to be limited to a single conflict: it comes from within and without. The protagonist might have to face obstacles that are arranged for him by his opponent and from within himself.

Conflict is boiled down to these three variations:

  • Man vs Himself
  • Man vs Man
  • Man vs Nature

  • Parental Conflict- *Comics' writer Peter David states that a staggering amount of literature focuses on the themes-and conflicts-stemming from father/son or mother/daugther relationships. That, or a substitute dynamic like teacher/pupil or master/apprentice. The Star Wars franchise focuses on such relationships: Obi-wan/Anakin, Luke/Obi-wan, Luke/Yoda, Luke/Anakin (Darth Vader), Luke/Rey, and finally Luke/Ben (Kylo Ren).
When dabbling in parental conflict one has to think that parent/child relationships are the most important aspect of our lives, be it ourselves to our parents or parents to their own children. We writers find new ways to tap into this emotional vein, and connect with readers on some levels.

*On the matter of conflict, it helps to clue the reader early on what the main character is dealing with. Wait halfway through your story to give readers at least a sense what challenges await the hero and they're going to get impatient.

*Another thing to keep in mind is to keep the conflicts small. Anyone who's read team books like Thunderbolts and Young Justice can tell you about how the writers kept the conflicts as small as possible. Mr. David points out that small equals real because the conflicts most people have to face on a daily basis involve family, friends and the like. These are the conflicts that have meaning to readers. The closer to home you can make your conflict, the more resonance it's going to have.

Now... for the Three Basic Conflicts!

Man vs Man- Ain't nothing like a good ol' fashion one-on-one between two individuals in the squared circle. In the words of Optimus Prime: "One shall stand, one shall fall." Two men in opposition to the other for the same goal, but only one can get it. So they duke it out! This can be told in a lot of ways.

Highlander starring Christopher Lambert and Clancey Brown is a prime example of Man vs Man. They've fought and struggled throughout history to reach the time of the Gathering, where the few who are left will fight to be the last. Now Connor Macleod and The Kurgan face off in a battle in which there can be only one! Y'know, because there can be only one?

Man vs Himself- In some stories, a hero's greatest opponent can often be himself. Overcoming a weakness, an addiction, or a traumatic experience. In order to fulfill his/her destiny, the main character must battle internal forces that plague them in their quest. What's tricky about internal conflict is that it has to be handled carefully when showing the hero's weakness so the reader doesn't get the impression that he or she is a total whiner.

Recalling the novel Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca, it addressed the main character's sexual assault that was the catalyst for her internal conflict. As she and other survivors ward off a viral epidemic, she must deal with the emotional scars left from the assault.

Man vs Nature- Humans have always been at odds with the great forces of nature. Like say, a volcano, a tornado, tidal wave, you name it, we would come face-to-face with nature and lose. And all we can do is stay the hell out the way or survive. Herman Melville's Moby Dick is an illustration of it.

The Shallows starring Blake Lively is another fine example of man vs nature. The protagonist (Lively) is out enjoying a peaceful time at a private beach in Latin America. It's all sun and surf until she gets bitten by a great white shark. Stranded only 200 yards away from shore, her survival depends on her resourcefulness, ingenuity, and fortitude. After swimming to a buoy and getting stung by a jellyfish, it comes down to the final showdown between the main character and the shark.

With all the basic conflicts addressed, let's move on to conflict in teams.

What spawns this kinda conflict are mutual frustrations, arguments, and friction. *Mr. David points out that the essence of drama is conflict which is essential to story telling. Looking at the original Thunderbolts, let's consider that the entire group is made up of opposites. Each person has someone who's a polar opposite. Citizen V (Baron Zemo) who's the leader of the group and strategist vs Meteorite (Moonstone) the second-in-command who's psychology expertise allows her to keep the team down on an emotional/psychological scale, although she has betrayed him a time or two. M.A.C.H. 1 (Beetle) whose confidence is an opposite of Songbird's (Screaming Mimi) timid approach and trust issues. Atlas (Goliath) who can grow to a colossal size in action as Techno (The Fixer) battles with his tech-pack. There's also the "Outsider" of the team. The youngest member Jolt who doesn't have a criminal past but she's been the "heart" of the 'Bolts.

There are two things to keep in mind about creating conflict in teams. One is to look for real differences and the other is to keep it simple. The Fantastic Four are an example of differences. Mr. Fantastic uses his intellect to solve problems vs. Thing's solving them with his fists. Invisible Woman is the nurturing mother type of the group as her brother Human Torch is fiery and takes point in every dangerous situation.

Also when creating conflict in teams, start small and keep it simple with whoever you write into your team. Have their personal traits, tics, way of thinking be a polar opposite to the other person. Tea drinker vs Coffee drinker. Patient vs impatient. Rich vocabulary vs slang.

Happy Creations!

*Writing for Comics & Graphic Novels with Peter David pg. 62-82.