Friday, September 2, 2011

SDCC 2011: Finding Artists

So here's my deal. I want to be a comicbook writer. That's it. Plain and simple I want to write comicbooks. I love the medium, I enjoy storytelling, and I have a blast meeting people involved with the industry (creators and fans alike). So a couple of years ago I decided that I would make a go at writing comics. The first year/year and a half was me just trying to get a grasp of how to actually write a comic script. I don't want to say "a good comic script" because that's not for me to determine. I just wanted to complete a script I was happy with and confident in. After countless rewrites and discovering that writing funny books wasn't one of my natural born abilities (who knew!), I have finally finished a few scripts. Yep, I said "scripts," plural. Now don't get me wrong, these aren't 300 page graphic novels, they're mostly of the short story variety. In fact, all three of the scripts are 12 page short stories. Baby steps.

My first story starts with a clown walking down a busy city street, who then passes another clown. Both clowns stop, engage in a tense standoff, and then fight for the next 11 pages. It's a little bit Highlander (there can be only one.... clown?), a pinch of Spy vs. Spy, and a healthy dose of a Tex Avery cartoon. After finishing the script, I scoured the internet for an artist. The majority of my time was spent following links on deviantart, artist message boards, and personal blogs. Eventually, I contacted an artist from Argentina who agreed to do it. As of right now he's only been able to pencil 8 out of the 12 pages but I've been beyond stoked with how it's come out so far. Though the finished comic is still a ways off, I've enjoyed making it and have learned quite a bit in the process.

"Clown Fight" character sketches (Artist: Ger Curti)

To find an artist for one of my other stories, I decided to participate in the Comic Creator Connection at this year's San Diego Comic Con. The way the meet up worked was that there were a series of long tables in the room where all the artists would sit on one side and writers would sit on the opposite side facing them. Each writer and artist would be paired up for 5 minutes, in which time they would share artwork and scripts. After the time limit, the artist would stay seated while the writer would move over one spot to the next artist. It's essentially comic creator speed dating; five minutes to find your comicbook soulmate.

My results were quite varied. First of all, there were more artists who showed up than there were writers. This left me with a few times where I'd be in-between artists and have to kill the 5 minutes before my next one-on-one. It's wasn't a big deal, but swimming through a sea of other aspiring writers to find an artist can be a little frustrating.

The work I saw from the artists, for the most part, was pretty much a letdown. The most glaring problem with their portfolios was the lack of sequential art. Come on people! The room is full of new, inexperienced writers and if an artist can't show them that he/she can sequentially tell a story why would someone want to collaborate with them? I think an artist looking to work on a comic should only be showing comic samples. When I'd talk to an artist who only had pin-up samples, it felt like a waste of my time and of their's. Five minutes goes fast and if they don't have something on paper to show their storytelling ability it's pretty much game over, especially after two hours of meeting a couple dozen different artists.

This is not to say that it was all bad. I met a few artists with some good sequential art and a lot of potential. Unfortunately none of their styles were anywhere near what I was looking for. Hell, even if it was in the same ballpark of what I'm envisioning I would have been all over it. Oh well, c'est la vie. Despite all this I just signed up for the Comic Creator Connection at next month's APE in San Francisco. By improving your odds, your improving your luck.... right?..... hopefully......please!

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