Friday, March 25, 2011


I thought I’d take another break here and talk about working with collaborators. In all my efforts, with all the different projects I’ve worked on and am working on currently, I’d accepted the obvious fact that there are just some things I can’t do. Take my comic book projects, for example.

A few years ago, I heard about the Comic Book Challenge (which I believe is now defunct, but if I’m mistaken about that, I apologize) from Platinum Studios. I had an idea for a comic book that had been tumbling around in my head for quite some time, and I figured I’d give it a shot. Problem One: I can’t draw. Or paint. At all. I have no talent with graphic art. So I started making some friends, getting to know some people in the indie comic and art community, and I met a very talented graphic artist name Erick Marquez.  Erick and I hit it off immediately, and I ran my idea by him. He was into it, and very excited about putting it together for the challenge.

I won’t go into the Comic Book Challenge here, because as it turns out, it’s probably a good thing that we weren’t selected. What I do want to talk about is the experience of working with a collaborator.  It was a revelatory experience. I was able to bounce ideas off Erick, and he was able to bounce his off me. Seeing my characters and creations come to life in the form of character sketches and artwork was incredible! And honestly, I still feel our submission was a winner and could have gone farther.

Later, I had another idea for another comic book, this one more in the traditional super hero realm, based on a fun character I had come up with called Rocket Girl. Erick had become increasingly busy with his own graphic design business, and wasn’t available to do the artwork. So I talked to another friend I had made, Raquel. Raquel is an amazingly talented artist, and we worked together for several months to put together a 5-page submission. But Raquel had to drop out, and I was forced to start a search for a new artist. And this is where the story takes a turn.

Over the next two years, I worked with five different artists besides Raquel, all of whom wanted to work on this project as collaborators rather than for up front pay. I won’t name them here, because I don’t think that would be right, but over those two years, each and every one backed out of the project. Two had very good reasons that were beyond their control, and three simply made promises they couldn’t, or didn’t, keep. It began to look as if Rocket Girl would never see the light of day.

Finally, I decided I had to take a different path. I placed an ad for a paid artist, and received a lot of submissions. After I was able to review the submissions and talk to the artists, I finally settled on Sebastian Piriz. And finally, I had the experience I was looking for! Sebastian did the five pages of artwork in record time, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. At this time, I’m still looking for a colorist to help me finish Rocket Girl, but the project has now been kept alive for almost four years, and I’m determined that she will one day see print!

Working with collaborators can be a great experience, but it can also be a nightmare. I have had both. But I’ve also made a number of great friends that I love to work with, and made a lot of progress on making my work a reality. Erick and I still chat occasionally, and he’s made it clear that he’s available at very reasonable rates if I need any work done. He’s also one of my backers for The Door to Canellin! Raquel and I still chat almost every evening. She is designing the title logo and doing the cover layout and design for The Door to Canellin. I very much enjoyed working with Barnaby Bagenda, the cover artist who drew the wonderful dragon you see in the background of this website. And Sebastian Piriz will definitely be doing the rest of the Rocket Girl artwork, once a home is found for her.  These good experiences far outweigh the bad, and I heartily encourage every creative person out there to explore these types of collaborations. Find people who are interested in your work, and work with them!  It’s definitely worth it.

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