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- 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.
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.
*Jim Zub. "How Do I Find An Artist?" www.jimzub.com. October 2012.