Friday, 25 October 2013

ALWAYS Make the Time

     I remember, not that long ago, perhaps as little as two weeks ago, turning to my girlfriend and saying something along the lines of, "If there's one thing I hate is people that succeed in their endeavours and forget about the people that helped get them there."  I mean stuff happens but you should always take the time to acknowledge and throw support back, or at the VERY least, thanks, to the wonderful folks who gave you that little push when you needed it. 

     Never, ever, forget or overlook what they've done for you.

     Well... I did. 

     I'd like to add some sort of qualifier there, such as "sort of" or "a little bit", but to me that's just making excuses. Something I try not to do. Explanations are ok, but if you can come up with an excuse, then you should have come up with results. 

     So, I guess I should explain exactly what I'm talking about. 

     One of the earliest people to throw a kind word of support my way (and by this I mean someone I'd never even met before) was Jean-Francois Fournier of the blog They Stand on Guard! ( He, I assume, as I've never actually ASKED (another slip), came across LEGACY through the artist I worked with, Mike Campeau, and was quick to give it shout-outs despite still being in-production and with very little in terms of released art or any other type of preview. Just a good guy doing a good deed for a fellow comic book enthusiast and countryman. It was very much appreciated.

     When LEGACY #1 did come out, July 3 of this year, Mr. Fournier was one of the very first people to throw down some hard-earned cash to get a copy. Much appreciated. Words are always wonderful but when someone backs that up with, these days, a dwindling entertainment budget (in light of cost increases in essentials), that to me speaks volumes. Not that I don't love kind words of support- believe me those have a HUGE value, but making this books do cost cash and every penny that comes back means another penny towards doing more books. 

     But I digress. 

     Sort of.

     Because, you see, Jean-Francois did not STOP at putting his money where his mouth was, to use that phrase, he also put his mouth where his money was.

     If you click on that link, you'll be redirected to his blog. Specifically an entry that reviews... You guessed it, LEGACY #1. As in MY book. The one that he was always happy to say nice things about and follow on the Facebook page and on my Twitter account, and now, most likely the website as well. (here's a link to the website, in case you, my wonderful reader, have yet to check it out

     And I didn't read it until today. 

    Don't get me wrong, I've read a bunch of his entries, not only because he's a swell guy, but because I love learning more about the much under-rated and acknowledged Canadian comic book community. More and more I discover things of the past and learn about the current, thriving, state of Canadian comic books. In large part due to his blog.

     So why didn't I read it sooner? As you can see it's dated in July- as anyone with a basic understanding of a calendar can plainly see it is now October. For anyone as math-challenged as I am, that's just over THREE MONTHS AGO. 

     Again, why hadn't I ran across it sooner? True, Mr. Fournier, to me a much under-recognized champion of many things Canadian, toils away in relative silence- you can feel the passion in which he writes about things he loves, but grandstanding or tooting his own horn is not his style. So it's no surprise that he didn't go, "Hey! Andrew! Look at this thing I wrote about your book! Thank me for it now!" or "Give me free books to sing your praises!"

     No, what he did was write an extremely nice review of the book, without me asking, or even thinking to ask (bad business move on my part- reviews help to sell books), he, in true Canadian fashion, just went ahead and did the job; without expecting anything in return. 

     I'd like to say a quick piece on the review- he nailed exactly the tone of the book that I was going for. So either he's brilliant (very possible) or Mike and I did a really good job of getting our story across in the way we wanted to do it. I'll give Mike a big part of that credit.

     Either way I greatly appreciate the kind words.    
     And that's why I wrote this entry today. Not only to apologize for not seeing it sooner, or to thank him for taking the time to purchase, read and review the book (for all of which, I'd like to say THANK YOU) but also to let it be known, not just to Mr. Fournier, but everyone who's been a part of all of this, that everything you have done and continue to do is appreciated and that I will make greater efforts to acknowledge the support you have shown me. Thank you. 

      I'm sorry it took so long for me to come across the review Jean-Francois, but thank you for it, and much like Paragon protecting Legacy, I'll do my best not to let you down.  

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Be Like Water...

“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves."  -Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was speaking of martial arts in that, one of his more famous quotes, but he might as well have been speaking about the life of a comic book writer as well.

You write the story, the artist gets the script, and then draws his or her interpretation of it. And that's what it is. It's how the artist sees what you wrote. Sometimes it's dead-on, as though they reached inside your head and slapped the images on your head straight on to the paper, other times you start to wonder if it's really YOUR script that's being drawn or if it somehow got mixed up with someone else's.

So what can you do to avoid ripping all your hair out in frustration or stressing whether they'll give justice to your masterpiece of a script?

Be like water. Learn to adjust.

Sometimes, if it's a key component of the story that ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY MUST BE EXACTLY A CERTAIN WAY OR THE WORLD IS DOOMED, you can ask that they change things, but if it isn't, learn to let it go.

It's a collaboration.

The artist is SUPPOSED to have a say.

If they missed something small, adjust to it. Change the dialogue to cover things that are missed- after all, to most people who don't know better, that's all you do- write the words in those funny little bubbles. Which technically the letterer does...but they only put in what you write and tell them to put in. As a side note, make SURE you proofread what you tell a letterer to put in because it is NOT their job to do that for you.

Flexibility is a attribute that is just as important as any other for a comic book writer.

This is even more true when you self-publish.

When you're doing it on your own (aka self-publishing) you need to learn to be flexible. But, you ask, shouldn't you have to be anything but flexible when you're doing it on your own, shouldn't you be rigid and stay on course at all times? Won't you appear weak and have the artist or whoever walk all over you?


Not very likely but I can GUARANTEE you that if you ARE inflexible and won't give an inch, no one will give you one back and odds are you better start learning to handle all the art duties on your own. Artists are people too; they have lives outside of their drawing their drawing tables and, as a self-publishing writer/publisher, you need to recognise that.

Sometimes things will happen that you need to adapt to: health problems that cause pages to be delayed, job opportunities that the artist would be crazy to pass up that pay more than you could ever hope to offer them, or family things that take priority.

Don't ever think for a second that because you rent someone's talents that you own their time. You don't.

All of those examples I gave are things that I've had to deal with in the last 2 years of working with artists and I've done my best to handle every situation with understanding and fairness. I hope that I've succeeded. And I'm far from innocent myself- banking problems have resulted in payments being minorly delayed and more than once I've had to ask an artist to redo something because of an oversight on my part. BECAUSE I have shown flexibility and respect in my dealings though, it was shown back to me. Payments were made, art was changed.

Things happen. You learn to adjust.

So keep that in mind when you venture into writing comic books- that things don't always go smooth but that it's ok- you'll figure it all out if you keep a level head.
But before I go, one more piece of advice from Bruce Lee. 

“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done.”

So quit reading and go get writing.