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Novel vs Graphic Novel

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Miskatonic, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    If you can't draw and don't have a lot of money (hiring people who can draw) are you pretty much better off avoiding going the graphic novel route?

    Finding someone to collaborate with seems like a needle in a haystack proposition.

    (If this is in the wrong forum please move the thread :) )
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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  2. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    I am not sure why finding a graphic artist you can work with is harder than finding any other professional you want to work with.
     
  3. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Because they expect to be paid and unless you have the income to cover that it's probably not gonna happen.
     
  4. Truepinkas

    Truepinkas Dreamer

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    I don't think you will ever find an artist who is up to the standard of skill you'd like your project to be AND willing to do the work without pay. Unless you have the most brilliant story concept ever, why would they work for free on your project instead of working for free on a project of their own?

    I'm not trying to be mean, but short of already having a friendship or something with a person who has the skills, I see very little reason for them to partner with you. I would strongly encourage you to go the straight up text path and just write your story. Maybe later if it is good you would have an easier time finding someone to do a GN adaptation of it.
     
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  5. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Very true. Are you basing the skill standard on what I've submitted here? Just curious.

    Some will consider it but it's basically a matter of agreeing on who owns what and I imagine can get messy. If they are essentially an equal partner in the equation, as far as intellectual property and creative input go, then there is a better chance of collaborating without having capital up front. This is all assuming you are trying to get published and both are being paid from profits.

    At least that's what I've gleaned from reading a few articles from people who work as artists.
     
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

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    My understanding is that there are a crap ton of starving artists out there who are getting slaughtered by cheap workers from foreign countries looking for work and projects.

    I would think trying to get in touch with those folks or students in the field is your best bet.

    But sure, most people who have ongoing successful careers want to get paid for thier work. So you need to look at people who are either before that stage, or are having some bumps in their career if you want them to work on effectively a contingency basis.

    But as Truepinkas suggests you will need a really good project and a solid base to sell them on your story idea. But if you plan to sell it developing that package is a good investment.
     
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  7. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Thanks for the suggestions Russ. I've got several hundred pages of story outlining for this particular project. Next is dialogue and probably some basic storyboard work.

    I've been working on developing it like you said, getting it to a point where I can start looking at potential collaborators. Will take some time but in the meanwhile I'm having a blast creating this fantasy world.
     
  8. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    *Sorry this is so long*

    Another thing to consider (beyond time) is the fact that artists also have to pay for their materials. A year or two ago I wrote a comic book for one of my brothers. It was only like 20 pages but it literally took 3 or 4 months to complete. Having worked on both sides, I can say (IMO) the writing is the easier (and faster) part.

    It kind of depends on the artwork that you are looking for. If you want something Marvel style then no. Just no. If you don't mind a black and white sketch (like James O'barr's The Crow) you might be able to find someone for free.

    Your artist won't just start in on the page - (depending on how detailed your outlines and script are) they'll have to figure out the best way to set up the page so as to emphasize (or harmonize) it. They'll probably do character sheets and several drafts. Then there's inking. (Assuming you want color) if it's not already digital (I prefer to draw by hand) they'll have to scan the pages individually, touch them up (adjusting lighting, erasing fine lines and marks etc.) They'll have to color the whole thing (planing not only frame by frame but by pages as well). If you want a more realistic look they're tons and tons of layers to add for shadows as well.

    Chances are, anyone that you can afford (free or dirt cheap) won't be great anyway. I know a few art students who already work for pay (one was also featured in one of the museums in San Diego). Unless it's stick figures, I don't think I know anyone who would agree to it.

    If you DO find someone, make sure you are flexible and accommodating of their skill level and ability. In my Junior or Senior year of college, I entered (a short lived) arrangement to do the comic art for a guy (for free) for a zombie comic. I didn't mean to agree to it, he read into my comments more than I meant and there was some miscommunication and it just kind of fell into my lap. I figured I'd give it a go but the guy had given almost no thought to his characters (age, ethnicity, social class etc.) He wanted to write the whole thing as we were going (which you really can't do- it'd be like releasing your book chapter at a time- there will always be problems if you don't look at it as a whole first).

    Anyway, I'd spend like a few hours drawing up some character sheets and my interpretation of the (very bland) characters he'd given me to work with (for FREE - between classes, homework, blogging, and running my brother's website). He couldn't articulate what was "wrong" with it or how he wanted me to change them - just that they weren't what he was thinking. He insisted that I (buy and) watch a bunch of zombie movies to get an idea of what he wanted (instead of just telling me). The writer also wanted me to draw a ton of complex things like (specific) cars & guns even I told him that I'm basically a self-taught doodler. He also wanted me to produce a finished page every week.

    I'm sure there are faster artists out there but a single page might take me at least 7 hrs but usually closer to 12 hrs depending on whether I'm doing it B&W or colored (ugh. I HATE coloring my comics) and the number of frames and level of background detail. Next time you pick up a comic I'd like to recommend you check out how many people it takes to produce it. Let me just say (from personal experience) there's a good reason why. You can be an excellent artist but a crappy colorist and/or inker ... or vice versa. Honestly, the chances of you finding an artist that is adequately skilled in all levels of production (or if you could find 2 or 3 people) who are ALSO capable (and willing) to produce your style of art AND is willing to work for low or no pay ... well ... they're not good.

    In order to collaborate, you have an unbelievably incredible story, be flexible and willing to defer to the artist's decisions (there isn't room in a single frame for a ton of dialogue AND 10 characters AND their truck AND a horde of zombies), be articulate about your concerns/thoughts/impressions, be grateful for free work and not rude about differences in opinions, be willing to give ample time for your volunteer to complete the artwork, etc.

    I might be bitter because I've had some bad experiences (yes plural) with comic collaborations so maybe take it all with a grain of salt. I would write for no pay but I can tell you that it will be a long time before I enter into another comic collaboration on the art side and I know I'm not the only one. You don't have to look too hard on webcomic sites to find forums packed with anecdotes of rude and demanding writers with ridiculous expectations and a "you should be grateful you can get exposure of add this to your portfolio" approaches. Obviously this isn't everyone and I don't mean to say that it would be you. I just know that there a ton of jerks out there who've burned (otherwise willing) comic artists.

    If you want anyone to seriously consider your project, I suggest that you draw up the script, sketch a storyboard (even if it's just stick figures), and (if you're particular about the appearance of your characters) maybe even compile some images for your characters rather than just saying "woman #3".

    I really hope that you do find someone. If you do, don't hesitate to get to know them. If I'm working on something like data entry or webdesign I don't feel the need to get to know who I'm working with/for but when it comes to something artistic it was important for me to get a feel for the other person (age, gender, education/background, region, maybe favorite music and some comics they enjoy etc). I'm pretty much as INFP as you can get. I literally had to beg for a personal email for one of the guys that wanted to collab w me.

    My suggestion is that if you do find someone (hopefully more than 1 person as it really is closer to 3 jobs), don't make it all about business; if they're unpaid they're doing it for practice or the love of art.

    NOW ... all of that being said ... you might have some luck of you browse through Comic Fury. Just be aware (last time I was on) the forums leaned heavily towards "writer seeks artist". I can't remember seeing too many (if any) going in the other direction.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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  9. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    Sorry for the bad grammar above. Apparently I type faster than my brain works :)

    If you choose to go the graphic novel option, do yourself a favor and avoid "Looking for an artist for fantasy comic. Message me for more." You won't get any responses without a good hook. IMO the most effective would be a breakdown of the number of MC's, the tech/culture/era involved, and a blurb (like you would with a standard novel).

    I'd like to encourage you to share a bit about the story that you are crafting as well as the styles of art that you like. And who knows? Maybe we have someone here that would be a good match for you.

    You could also think about picking up (visual and digital) arts yourself ...

    I've made the switch from comics to novels and while I'll always enjoy consuming comics, in terms of production, I prefer it here on the literary side. This is really something you have to choose for your story. Graphic Novels and traditional novels are two different ways to tell stories but not every story is fit for both so really you'll have to decide which one interests you more. If you plan on publishing indie you can mix the two by adding more text than traditional graphic novels but of course *way* less than trad novels. I might be mixing up my comics atm but I think "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" did this. Instead of having the characters discuss a letter they found/received, there would just a splash page of the letter for you to read. There's probably other examples but I can't think of any right now.

    IMO the independence of trad. novels is worth it but that's just me.

    Good luck!
     
  10. cupiscent

    cupiscent Sage

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    Here in Melbourne, there is a regular meet-up of graphic-story writers, artists and other interested parties. They are a community, they hang out, they discuss ideas and use that as a way to connect for projects that both parties are interested in. Perhaps look for something similar in your area?

    I know about this meet-up because my husband has been peripherally involved as a writer. In his case, the equation worked the other way around from the one Miskatonic has envisaged - my husband pitched a story idea to an established artist, and the artist refined the concept, accepted the eventual script, and will draw the story. This scenario is possibly a little different inasmuch as the story will be a part of an anthology volume relating to a world and characters already established by the artist. But, as TCC noted, considering how much relative work goes into a graphic novel, it's not unfair for the artist to have the larger or owning stake/share in the creative process.

    Overall, my advice here is not to consider this a "someone draw my story", but a genuine collaboration, and approach it in that manner.
     
  11. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Here's an awesome artist who blogged a lot about making comics and graphic novels. The top link tells what an artist needs to do before starting a graphic novel. It's a big commitment… and art is not only slower than writing, art also typically drives the story. Even though you're the writer, best to know what the artist's end is like before asking an artist to help.

    And yes, true collaboration or forget it. Artists tend to know how to create their own characters and tell their own stories where not all writers can draw. Perhaps you tell the story of your MCs but the artist ends up designing the world with plants, monsters, clothing, etc. you hadn't thought of. Perhaps (s)he has ideas for other characters or an antagonist. You may want to consider whether you'd end up compromising… and if you think that could be a good thing, more power to you.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
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  12. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Nobody's going to do it for free. If your can demonstrate that your story is good enough, and that you have the skills to take it somewhere, you might find somebody to partner and invest in the project, hoping that it will go somewhere in the future.

    I'm all for partnerships. But with a graphic novel, you have a big challenge. That's a lot of art. That's a lot of very specific art. The art portion is far bigger than the writing portion, but the writing portion calls the shots and makes the decisions...?

    That's a lopsided proposition, and I would think it's doomed to failure unless you can find a lot more to bring to the table on your end.
     
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  13. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Thanks a ton for all the information and suggestions!!

    I enjoy both styles of writing and as I'm also interested in screenplay writing I'm finding that it helps out the graphic novel outlines, developing scenes and panel ideas, as well as dialog, since that is a pretty big part of a graphic novel.

    I'm actually more interested in a manga style of novel, though with much more realistic looking characters, as opposed to the more cartoonish styles that we see in quite a few manga and anime. I've never been big on the western comic book style that we see in Marvel and DC. For some reason it never really appealed to me, outside of the amazing on the covers, or stand alone character drawings with a lot of detail. I really like the artwork in the Berserk manga, but of course that mangaka is at an elite level and far removed from what I could hope to get, unless of course I had the big bucks. Just have to win the lottery.

    Given it's a sword and sorcery novel with cultures that are closer to their real world equivalent rather than full blown fantasy design as far as clothing, architecture, armor, etc. it will take quite a bit of work, though I'm perfectly fine with B&W, colorizing is nowhere near being important, other than maybe the cover art.

    I currently have around 250 pages of storyline (so depending on volume length as far as the number of episodes per volume it's at 20 plus right now), broken into individual chapters. Also have the main character bio's and enough secondary character information to give them depth. The storyline is solid, I just have to put in more specifics and start working on the actual dialog and interaction between characters. It's aimed at the 18+ demographic, mainly because of violence since I'm not really big on a lot of graphic sex. That's one thing I don't care for about Berserk, there's quite a bit of graphic rape. It's an ugly reality but I don't need any type of shock value; implied rape or scenes leading up to it work fine to get the point across. Overall I'm being extremely diligent in my keeping the characters, story, and other aspects from being generic fantasy. I like the Tolkien approach to detail but I'm more interested in focusing on the here and now with the occasional sprinkling of lore and history when needed. Dialog should be enough to get most of the points across.

    I've been working and re-working it for the past 7 or 8 years little by little when I've had the time.

    As far as influences, it comes mainly from 80's fantasy movies like Excalibur, Dragonslayer, Legend, Conan the Barbarian, Willow, Highlander, Ladyhawke, etc. The good stuff. :)
     
  14. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I don't see any reason to not have equal say in the creative process. It's understandable that the writer would want to have the most control over the actual meat and potatoes of the storyline itself, but as far as bringing the world to life visually it's more in the artist's hands obviously. As long as the artist understands the type of world you are trying to create when it comes to realism vs all out fantasy then they should have plenty of freedom to bring their ideas to the table. Architecture, clothing, monsters, weapons and armor, castles, as well as character expressions, body language and other things that give them a unique personality is their dominion. As long as their is room for compromise. I'm not a control freak by any means, I just have to communicate what I'm trying to accomplish so that it's clear.

    Believe me, if I had the income to spare I'd pay for highly talented artists.
     
  15. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out!

    I agree with what you are saying. I'd rather be surprised by cool concept art than try to dictate every little detail. For instance, the empire of Osyrica's architecture is based on a combination of ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia. I'd love to see someone run with that and come up with something completely unique by combining those cultures.

    As long as there are some basic parameters to try and stay within I think the artist should just go for it and see what they can come up with.

    As far as collaborating I'm not looking to get someone to do the heavy lifting and then try and take the credit when it comes to publishing, copyrighting, etc., and get the lion's share of the profits. I have had some very bad experiences with past business ventures where I was stabbed in the back by my associates and lost a lot of money. I wouldn't wish that on anyone else. Not looking to become a millionaire with pipe dreams of an animated series and all that jazz, I just want the story to be brought to life in some way.
     
  16. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    I certainly agree, you aren't doing them a service by getting them to draw what you want and then going on your merry way.

    I should maybe think about writing some short stories that can be done in a few chapters to get some experience while I work on the lengthy fantasy story as well.
     
  17. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    Without echoing too much of what others have had to say, either you have to have payment up front for the time and effort and talent the artist will invest in the project OR have a project that they believe in so much that they're willing to share in the future royalties, as a form of payment.

    I have a co-worker who is in the process of producing a graphic novel. He is doing one episode at a time, creating smaller 'comic book-sized' releases, with the intent of compiling them into a two part novel. The first half has already been combined into a book. But he is paying up front for the art. It is an investment that he hopes to earn back.

    Based upon his experience, my recommendation would be to save money. How much can you save in a year? Are you willing to work extra hours and bypass spending on other non-essentials? There are always kickstarter and similar fundraising options, but that's a whole nother concern, I am not sure that would bear enough fruit.

    You want to hire the best artist possible (I am guessing you're intending to self-publish?), just as you would want to hire the best cover artist and editor you would reasonably afford if you were working to successfully publish a novel. If you were hiring a ghostwriter to tell your life's story, you'd want to go with someone with the skill and talent and a solid track record. Similarly, the artist has to have more than drawing skills. Layout, boiling the story down to its essence and revealing though limited pictorial space and dialogue. That talent doesn't come cheap.

    Finally, a contract (whichever direction you take) is of vital importance. It will protect both you and the artist, and help ensure there aren't any misunderstandings/confused expectations resulting in frustration, hurt feelings, delays, or worse.

    It's a dream, and one within reach, with dedication--both creative and financial on your part.
     
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  18. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

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    If you want to go w Manga your prospects of finding someone is probably much better than American style since it is WAY easier to learn. I would venture to say that most anyone can pick up Manga. If you have another year or two to dedicate to the project (and if you have a natural eye for perspective and placement) you could pick it up with minimal effort.

    I wasn't familiar w Beserk so I just gave it a look. IMO the background art is really well done but the body language is awkward. I did watch Attack on Titan & read Blue Devil and another (can't remember the name atm) but it's difficult to switch back and forth b/n American & Japanese since the pages and dialogue run in opposite directions :) for top left to bottom right alone I prefer American comics though it has taken me years to start reading Marvel (even then, it's Original Sin so ...) I'm more of an Indie & Dark Horse kind of gal. But I feel like mixing American & Japanese styles has become more trendy in recent years. So ... don't judge but ... my little sisters are virtually obsessed with My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I have to admit- it is actually pretty cute. Anyway, their graphics (in both the comics and tv show) draw on both artistic traditions which gives it a unique look that (as far as children's shows go) I'm not opposed to.


    Something else you'll want to look for is an artist that can be consistent. If you were to look at the first few pages of my comic and compare them to the last, you'd see that while my artwork improved through all the practice, the artwork is disjointed and looks like it was made by 2 different people. If you're hoping to publish it (beyond running a webcomic) that continuity will be important.
     
  19. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    All excellent advice and much appreciated. I can certainly start putting away a little money to afford an artist to do some character designs and some stuff along those lines. Ideally I'd like to have a contract and go into it as a potential business venture with someone who is enthusiastic about the story and wants to see it succeed. Even if I have to give them more of the creative credit and percentage of profits it's worth it.
     
  20. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

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    CatholicCrow, check out the artwork for Vinland Saga. I really like that artist's style. Something similar to that would be perfect.
     
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