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Collaborations

 
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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
Posts: 430

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:56 am    Post subject: Collaborations Reply with quote

What experiences, positive or negative, do you guys have working with someone else on a webcomic? I take it most people around here do their own writin' and drawin' but for those working with others, I wonder how it goes. I'm debating seeking an artist because I don't enjoy doing it that much and I'm not that good. But I can't afford to hire someone to do the art so it would be collaborative, then it seems you get into the issue of who has final control, how is the split (if any money ever comes from it), and how would things be resolved if there were problems...to take a worse-case scenario, the writer wanting to "fire" the artist.

Being new at this, I don't know if there is a kind of standardized way of doing things, some well-known but unwritten rules of collaboration.
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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as webcomic collaborations, I've usually run out of steam on them. I've never been able to keep up interest long-term.

Non-webcomic projects, it works if I can find someone who matches my skill, but in complimentary areas. It works well if each person is king over their own domain of experience, but listens to advice from the other. You've just got to find someone who matches your tastes.
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Zoe Robinson
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Joined: 02 Jul 2007
Posts: 1863
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a co-writer on two of my comics. We split ownership of the projects 50-50, although if we weren't so close an argument could be made for 70-30 in my favour given I draw the comics too.

The key to good collaboration is simply good communication. Talk through every idea and be sure to make yourself absolutely clear on everything, so you both properly understand one-another.
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Casual Notice
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Joined: 18 Mar 2005
Posts: 2958
Location: Oh my God, It's full of stars!

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 11:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It strikes me that collaborations work best when they are the result of serendipitous inspiration between artists who already know each other. Essentially, they share in development of the basic concepts even if the actual construction is broken up between the writer and the artist (often the writer takes on some of the art duties as well, lettering at the very least).

In my experience and observation, when a writer independently tries to inspire an artist to illustrate his original work as a collaboration, it seldom works out. With the notable axception of "guest strips" artists who are interested in drawing a comic are generally full of their own ideas and uninterested in the "lesser" position of illustrating someone else's concept. Artists who don't already have a comic are generally uniniterested in sequential art at all.

Basically, unless you're lucky enough to actually BE Mike Krahulik or Jerry Holkins (or trip into a similar symbiotic relationship), you are, as a writer, unlikely to find any artists who care to enter into a collaboration with you that isn't a work for hire, and even then, you may have trouble maintaining output.
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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
Posts: 430

PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback, kind of confirms what I suspected. The chance of finding somebody that meets or exceeds expectations is probably very very small. Not a criticism of artists; if I was the artist I would really have to think the writer is special before committing to a collaboration.
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JohnK



Joined: 02 May 2006
Posts: 461
Location: Glendale, California

PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm pretty lucky to have an artist I've been working with for a very long time now. Tales of Hammerfist is our third comic together.

I feel you though. I have another full comic written right now that I don't have an artist for. I need to start seeking one out, but don't even know how to go about that because I don't just want to have an artist for hire type situation where they don't have a real feel for the story. I've had it too easy for too long with my buddy Tobias. I really wish I had some artistic skill.
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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
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Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JohnK wrote:
I really wish I had some artistic skill.
PRACTIIIIIIIIICE!!!!! Very Happy

I always like to recommend learning to draw. Most people don't appreciate that drawing isn't an innate talent, but rather a learned skill.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 735

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've have some amazing collaborators that have worked out wonderfully for me, but it took a lot of trial and error to find a system for identifying these kinds of folks. Here's what I've learned about getting quality collaborators that last.

- Unless the collaborator is a co-creator with an interest for a project's long-term well being, don't give up or share your copyrights with them. Ever. It might end well (as it did for The Nine Lives of Catnose,) but more often than not, it will end badly, and sometimes with lawyers, if one of you drop the ball or abandon a project.

- If you have an intimate/romantic/close-friendship relationship with a collaborator, make sure that you both are able to separate personal from professional. Otherwise, the project will die a horrible death if your relationship dissolves. My current husband and I collaborate constantly, but he makes sure to use a pen name to separate his artist-self from his marital self. When he is business, he is absolutely professional to the point that if we divorced, we could continue working as a team with absolutely no emotional issues since we both know what our professional boundaries are. In fact, our professional relationship has reached the point where my husband has said on record, "Has my check cleared? Then yes, I love it," when asked about our longest-running collaboration. He treats this as a job and I love him for it.

- Always have a back-up for a collaborator and/or be able to mimic your collaborator's style of writing or art, in case of an emergency. If you can't do either, then you're not ready to collaborate.

- Communicate often, respectfully and honestly. It makes things easier for everyone involved.

- Avoid drunkards, partiers, drug-addicts, drama queens, interns who aren't applying themselves in their studies, people with ridiculous financial problems/late rent payments (that they mention or ask you to help them with,) those who can't fill out tax forms/contracts, people who do not share your communication style, people who don't share your values and, people who aren't as interested in your project as you are, regardless of how talented or qualified they might be. If you do have someone with a problem, make sure that they are upfront about it, and that you are kept on the loop of how they are dealing with it, should you feel that the individual is worth the risk. Otherwise, find someone else to work with.

- Document your progress and keep your collaborators on the loop on how your business is running.

- If you or someone close to you have ANY have any misgivings about a collaborator, do not work with them. If you are uncertain about someone at all, 99% of the time that person is not a good match.

- Make sure that you have similar aesthetic tastes. I had one collaboration fizzle out because I could not deal with my collaborator's love of Portishead and she couldn't deal with my love for cheesy pop. Seriously.

- Treat your collaborators like you'd like to be treated.

- Always keep a large buffer. It saves a lot of grief in the long-run if either of you has an issue or injury.

- If a collaborator and you must part ways, pay what you promised, be civil and professional, and don't publish any work unpublished either of you are uncomfortable releasing. It makes things easier.
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SidneyConrad



Joined: 15 Jan 2013
Posts: 22

PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Most people don't appreciate that drawing isn't an innate talent, but rather a learned skill

I definitely agree with this. Even the people who seemingly have a natural talent for drawing (as with any other skill or talent) had to practice to get where they are. Anyone can be great at drawing if they practice.

Quote:
to take a worse-case scenario, the writer wanting to "fire" the artist.

mcmasters, let me take this to a different extreme. What if the artist has their own ideas and decides they rather pursue their own project instead? My feelings towards collaborations are similar to vulpeslibertas and Casual Notice. Even if I weren't drawing and writing my comic myself, as an artist I would have to ask myself "Why am I drawing out someone else's ideas when I have ideas of my own?" I really enjoy the freedom I have with my own webcomic because it represents me. This is just my own feelings towards collaborations, but unless it's something that gets me really excited or is something I'm personally invested in, I'm not going to have that much interest in it and would rather play with my own ideas.

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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
Posts: 430

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

allentmatthews wrote:
mcmasters, let me take this to a different extreme. What if the artist has their own ideas and decides they rather pursue their own project instead? My feelings towards collaborations are similar to vulpeslibertas and Casual Notice. Even if I weren't drawing and writing my comic myself, as an artist I would have to ask myself "Why am I drawing out someone else's ideas when I have ideas of my own?" I really enjoy the freedom I have with my own webcomic because it represents me. This is just my own feelings towards collaborations, but unless it's something that gets me really excited or is something I'm personally invested in, I'm not going to have that much interest in it and would rather play with my own ideas.


Yeah I agree with most of that and I would expect the chances of finding an artist to work with that isn't being paid very low. I disagree with the "enjoying the freedom" part of doing it myself; I would rather suffer the chains of a good artist! My art is good enough for the "Webcomic Pete" thing and I enjoy the control of that, but I have another comic I want to launch with better art. And on top of that I'm a fairly social shmuck, so I just think the idea of working with someone would be cool. But I want control of the content. Basically I want my cake and want to eat it too, so probably nothing will come of it.

---

www.mcmasterscomics.com
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mcmasters



Joined: 28 Jun 2012
Posts: 430

PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2013 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In fact, our professional relationship has reached the point where my husband has said on record, "Has my check cleared? Then yes, I love it,"


Vaslittlecrow your husband is a dead-ringer for my older brother. I was laughing at the pictures at the bottom because that's exactly what he would look like if clowning around for pictures.

Your list of who to avoid is long and discouraging but looks accurate. The catch 22 is you need to find somebody who believes in and loves the project as much as you do, but for them to do that they would inevitably want to get in on the storytelling, but that could lead to me falling out of love with it.
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argylefox



Joined: 18 Jul 2010
Posts: 19

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have worked collaboratively with a friend for over 5 years now. I am the artist in the work, and I think the best thing about our partnership is that we are equals in say. I get to alter his wording when it suits the size of the comic, and he can tell me when the comic needs some touch-ups. There have been a couple of times when he has been late with a comic idea, so I have stepped in to write one myself (luckily we do a gag-a-week kinda deal).

Make sure you find someone who is into the whole idea of the comic as you, and don't rely on anyone that is just in it for the money, unless you are actually paying them. If the are going in expecting to get rich off a webcomic, they are gonna have a hard time.

The last thing I want to say is that if you have set and rigid ideas about the story, layout, wording, etc, it may be better paying someone. That would mean they are in it just doing what you are telling them, as opposed to taking some creative control.

-Max of Indifferently Evil
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 735

PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mcmasters: Your brother sounds awesome!

I have been very fortunate that my collaborators, generally don't interfere with my vision. That really means the world to me.
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