This post is strange for me to write. It’s about the comic I’m writing a script for, which I’ve talked about here before, even recently, but what’s scary about this for me is that I’m going to have to let my ignorance and inexperience show in a very obvious way. So here goes. I don’t know who is reading this blog these days, if anyone, but I’d very much appreciate any advice offered.
I’m writing the script for a comic, as I’ve said. An OEL manga, really, but that’s not the important bit right now. What’s important is that I need to find an artist who is the right fit for the comic and for me, which I’m pretty terrified about, much of that terror being related to fear of presenting myself as an idiot. A few important facts:
1. I have no pro credits.
2. Though I have been writing fiction now for a pretty long time, this is my first stab at a graphic novel.
3. Despite the fact that I used to perform in front of thousands of people for a living, I am very shy, and have difficulty approaching strangers.
4. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. No, really.
I have this plan, see, to have a finished script (which I would not be embarrassed to show to another person) for the first volume of my comic by the end of September. I’m close enough to feel confident I can make it. I’ve realized now that this is conveniently timed for attending the New York Anime Festival, which I wanted to attend anyway, and that if I could arrive there, properly prepared, I might be able to introduce myself to some prospective artists, something at which I failed utterly back in March at Anime Boston. At AB, I was completely unable to form a sentence at all resembling, “I’m writing a manga,” even inside my own head, let alone out loud in front of artists. But I thought, perhaps, that if I felt really prepared with things to show for myself, this might be easier. Things I could bring with me:
Completed script of volume 1, with full panel descriptions
Readable (i.e. brief) summaries of volumes 2-5
Detailed character descriptions for all primary characters
Notes on how the comic’s universe works
Photographs of important location that was initial inspiration for the story
I could also provide drawings I did of the main characters myself, but that might just be too embarrassing, and not particularly informative. So. I know that it probably seems incredibly audacious of me to think I have any business writing a five-volume manga series in the first place. I mean, who am I, right? I know this. Most people who write comics have probably been doing so since they were kids, and here I am almost 40, expecting that someone might take me seriously. I know how that must look. But I really believe this is a wonderful story, and that it has something valuable to offer. I’ve spent my whole life falling in love with fiction, and this is the first time I’ve really fallen in love with something of my own. I want to make this work. Is there advice any of you can give me in terms of what an artist would like to see, or what would help me appear slightly less like I don’t know what I’m doing? I’ve done my homework enough to know that I really do need to find an artist to collaborate with before I attempt to submit the comic anywhere. Even Tokyopop, who as recently as last year accepted unsolicited script-only submissions, no longer does so, at least not outside their contest format. And honestly, I think working with an artist in the early stages will be a great asset to the comic, as I’m sure the artist will inspire me as much as the other way around.
So. Advice? Thoughts? Anything? I’d be grateful for whatever I could get.
Edited to add: On the “help me appear less like I don’t know what I’m doing” front, if an artist seemed interested, my biggest priority would be to see samples of sequential art. I can envision the story working in a variety of different styles, so though I do have some specific ideas of what places and characters look like, I’m very open to what strikes the artist. So my big priorities are that the artist be excited about the project, like the characters, and have samples of sequential art I can look at. Are there other things I should be thinking about? I’m looking for someone who wants to pitch this comic to publishers with me. There isn’t any money at the pitch stage, but I’d offer a kill fee if for some reason the publisher wanted the story and not the art. I’m not interested in wasting anyone’s time. Are there other things an artist is going to want to hear from me, or other things I should be asking?
Lissa saysAugust 2, 2008 at 10:21 pm
I think it’s great you’re putting together your script. Who cares how old you are, everybody has a first time for everything they do!
I’d say it sounds like you’re on the right track for things to bring to a potential artist’s attention. Most importantly for a project that a writer is planning to pitch to a publisher is security for the artist so keeping this in mind, it’d be important to have a contract to insure both you and the artist are protected (they don’t steal your idea, you don’t leave them with nothing, etc.), along the same lines as the kill fee you mentioned. I’m not saying it’s something you’d need ready when initially meeting artists, but letting them know that there will be one if you and artist persue this project together will make it sound like a safer endeavour to look into.
Having some simple pictures of what your characters look like would be beneficial too, I imagine. Different artists will interpret characters in different ways of course but it’s always nice to see an example that you believe is on the right track of what you’re looking for! Images also provide an example of the mood your story is going for, which can help garner interest from artists. If you don’t feel comfortable showing your own artwork, you could always request or commission images from artists online.
Also, because artists at conventions are often really busy, you may not have much time to talk with them (I know I’m always really busy with selling prints at my AA tables so having longer conversations with people is hard at times unfortunately). I’d recommend posting the information of your story that you wish to share with potential artists online and having a business card, or something of the sort, to give to people so they can look it up at their own leisure.
Sorry I rambled on there for a bit! I hope some of it proves at least a little helpful. Good luck!
melinda saysAugust 2, 2008 at 10:27 pm
Oh, thank you so much for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully! Everything you’ve said here makes so much sense. I really appreciate it. Also, I admit that it’s a bit of a relief to hear that it might be better to keep conversations short and simple with a business card for artists. I think it will be easier for me to battle my own social anxiety if I go in planning to keep it short. :) Again, thank you! I so appreciate your response!