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.

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