Friends With Boys - Page 125

Dudes, it is Christmas Eve Eve, so it is time to break out the Zombies. Yeeaaaah! So this is the play Daniel and his theatre buddies were working on, and wow it is … it is exactly like all the plays you see in high school! Lots of passionate flinging around of arms and singing and waving at the audience … ahhh, good times.

On this final blog post before Christmas, I wanted to talk about making comics with other people. Writers, in particular.

Typically, I make my comics all myself. That’s actually what I like best about making comics: I can do them all myself. Of course, there are other great people involved in the making of a great comic that’s going to be published, editors and designers and printers and publicists and others whose titles I forget, but the actual writing and drawing of the comic I can do all myself. I’m not an artist, and I’m not a writer. I’m both. I’m a cartoonist. Which is pretty cool.

I have reasons for preferring to draw AND write my own comics, and here they are:

1) I can do my own timing. I have strong opinions on how a comic should be paced. I like decompressed storytelling, and I like when the art is given time to breathe within the story, and characters given moments to act and express, rather than rushing around shouting dialogue at each other. That’s my main complaint with comic book writers: too many words! There doesn’t need to be a crush of dialogue on every page. Trust your artist to tell the story with drawings, not words! It won’t kill you to be quiet for a page or two, dear writers, I promise.

2) It is not very often that a writer approaches me with a story idea I want to draw. I do get offers, and sometimes I take those offers, but they are few and far between. Which disappoints me! I love other people’s stories! I love reading and consuming them, and I love it when I read something that’s so different from the stories I write. I would really love to team up with a writer and we could have a true collaboration together, creating a completely unique and different world together. I look at writers like John Arcudi and Mike Mignola (what they’ve done with the BPRD comics is amaaaaazing) or Brian Vaughn (Runaways), and I think their stories are so interesting and so different from what I would make … the thought of drawing a story so unlike my own is very attractive. But that hasn’t happened. For the most part, writers seem to think I’d like to draw relationship stories (about 80% of the stuff I’ve been offered has been stuff like that), which, if you look at my past work, is very baffling. I’ve done comics about demon families, girls fighting at boarding schools, zombies and superhero girls because they are fun and exciting to draw. Drawing a sitcom is not very interesting to me. I don’t know if writers are responding to the fact that I’m a girl, but I hope not because ew.

3) Comics are so time consuming! I can only draw about one graphic novel a year (around 300 pages. This year I drew about 240 pages not counting the Superhero Girl comics, but 96 of those were coloured, so that slowed me down), and I have tons of ideas for comics myself. Taking time off from my own comics to draw someone else’s is sometimes not possible if I want to get my own comics finished. But again, this goes back to being offered good projects. I’m delighted when one lands in my lap (like Bigfoot Boy or Brain Camp, more on them later), but it just doesn’t happen very often. It often strikes me as unfair that a writer can write more comics than I can draw. I’ve seen writers do three comics at a time, whereas I can only draw one at a time (although I’m currently doing two comics, but I’m soooo behind on one of them XD). It’s frustrating. I wish I could clone myself so I could draw all the comics. Sadly, I can’t.

But every now and then, I make comics with other people. So far I’ve made two graphic novels with others: Brain Camp, which was my first experience drawing someone else’s script, and the graphic novel I’m working on now with writer J.Torres, called Bigfoot Boy.

Both of these experiences were different, and both presented unique challanges, but before I talk about them, let me mention how I ended up drawing these books, because that’s always the number one question I get asked at conventions: “I’m a writer and I want to make comic books. How do I get an artist to draw my script?”

Answer: Pay them.

Both Brain Camp and Bigfoot Boy were scripts that were at publishers who had money to pay the artist who would draw those scripts. And I didn’t have to do a ton of work to be considered for the job, either: for Brain Camp I drew three pages of the script, and for Bigfoot Boy I didn’t even have to do that, I just did character sketches. So the time I had to put in on a project that might not pay was minimal. For an overworked artist like myself, struggling to get her work out there, that was a big plus.

Also, they were pretty cool projects. Brain Camp is about an evil summer camp, and reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing, one of my favourite movies. Bigfoot Boy has, well, a Bigfoot in it (I am Canadian. ;)). And the scripts were written by experienced writers with many publishing credits to their name, which is a big plus. When you’re an artist working with a writer, you want to be able to trust that writer. I personally feel that in comics, a good story can overcome mediocre art, but if your story sucks, there is no amount of amazing artwork that will make that comic a good comic.

Now, as to attracting artists before reaching that experienced writer stage where your scripts are in the hands of publishers who can pay artists to draw them …. I have no idea! And I feel like I’m the wrong person to ask, because  I feel the most comfortable writing and drawing my own stories. I know artists who do not write, and who have no desire to tell their own stories, they just want to draw. But that isn’t me, so I don’t feel like my response to the age old “how do you attract an artist if you’re a writer” question is not the norm.

But anyway, back to my experiences drawing someone else’s script. They were good! Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan were the writers on Brain Camp, and they were content to let me draw the script how I interpreted it. They let me design the characters how I thought they should look (I made the male lead look a bit like a baby Kurt Russell to reference The Thing), which I enjoyed. The script was done by the time I came aboard, so I appreciated that they let me leave my visual stamp on the book. If they’d hovered or been more picky about the look of the comic, it probably would have felt less “mine,”  and like I was just hired to do an illustration gig.

Bigfoot Boy, so far, has been great fun (well, except for the super-crunchy deadline, but o wells). It’s a comic for young readers, so it’s bouncy and funny, and contains lots of physical comedy and cute animals. J.Torres is an experienced comic book writer, and it shows. He’ll have pages where characters won’t be talking, but instead be reacting to the world around them, and it’s very nice. As an artist I feel trusted to tell the story visually. And that’s really want you want, if you’re going to be drawing someone else’s script.

A panel from Bigfoot Boy! I think it will be out next year, so yay. Buy one for your little sibling or other cool kids who like comics.

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11 Responses

  1. Anna says:

    I would definitely go to that play! I especially enjoy the musical number :)

  2. Golux says:

    Zombie Christmas, aoo wouldn’t it be luverly!

  3. W. says:

    I just want to thank you for the wonderful guest art you did for Wapsi Square. Your comic is a delight, dang another wonderful web comic to follow!

  4. I can actually hear that song in my head. The first bit would be in a dramatic, rhythmic stage-shout. Just for the startle factor before launching into the full number. And the shuffle-dances! Think of the awkward/graceful shuffle-dances! And in-tune moan-choruses!

    Man, a Zombie Musical on Christmas would be amazing…

  5. Ewan says:

    Ordered the Book!

    $8 to ship to the UK :P

  6. Ewan says:

    Nuts, no Amazon.com!

    Ah well, its ordered anyway lol

  7. maplebee says:

    Huzzah to the tip to writers to pay their artists :) I don’t think people mean to have any negative impact by it, but those who aren’t artists don’t seem to understand just how much time it takes to create a comic page! I would also love to collaborate with a writer someday, but at current it takes me about 8-10 hours to do a coloured comic page on my current project. I just couldn’t take something else alongside it at present (especially while working a full time job and comic writing on the side), at least not until I learn to work better in black and white.

    On the other hand I think most writers would be glad to pay us artists if they could, but are just as poor as us, haha. Thank goodness so many people (yourself included) do comics for the love of them, or we wouldn’t have nearly so many lovely ones to read.

  8. Vinnia says:

    Zombies for Christmas, I feel so lucky.

  9. Sean says:

    So Alistair just doesn’t seem to enjoy watching shows. What’s with that?

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Friends With Boys, webcomic edition!

Hello readers, new ones just discovering the comic and those who’ve been with it since the beginning. Friends With Boys is now complete online. You may read it in its entirety, all 200+ pages, for free, for the next eight days. Then the image files of the comic (except for a short preview) will be taken down. While the comic was being serialized online, I blogged a lot about my comic making process. I did write ups about how I make comics, what my opinions on what makes a good comic are, and pointed out various Easter eggs throughout Friends With Boys. That stuff will all remain up, so if you buy a hard copy of Friends With Boys, you can still read along with my thought process.

And now (today!), Friends With Boys is a published book! Yay! I hope that if you’ve read the web version and liked it, and want to support me as a creator, you’ll consider buying the book.

I’ve really enjoyed serializing Friends With Boys online. If you’re new to my work, I started out making comics online before moving into print. I posted the very first page of my very first online comic on my very first website back in August, 1999, and wow, was that page ugly. Here it is! Notice a weird similarity to the first page of Friends With Boys? Yeah, that was not deliberate, I promise. But look how much your drawing skills can improve if you draw thousands of pages of comics over a ten year period! Anyway, I’m really thrilled my wonderful publisher First Second Books has allowed me to return to my roots and put Friends With Boys online as a lead up to its publication. As a reader and purchaser of comics, I have bought quite a few hard copy versions of online comics, because I enjoy the reading experience of having the whole thing collected, and I want to support the author. I hope you will too. :)

Otherwise, there are a few upcoming events I hope to see some readers at:
Book signing! At my local comics shop Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd (Saturday), 2-4pm (EDITING TO ADD: The book launch has been moved to the following Saturday due to the books not shipping to Strange Adventures on time. The launch will now be March 10th from 2-4pm. Go here for info).
Comic convention! I’ll have a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 6th-7th. There are a few other conventions I am trying to attend, but everything else is up in the air at the moment. For updates, please follow my twitter or join my Facebook fan page.  I’m pretty good about updating those two spots.


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