Nine times out of ten the biggest roadblock for would-be comic writers is the fact that they can’t find an artist to work with them on their project. It makes sense, why would an artist want to spend his or her time consumed with drawing someone else’s vision? Without a guarantee that your comic will get picked up, selling your idea to an artist can be extremely difficult.
So how can writers ever hope to find artists? Throughout my personal experience and the interviews I’ve done with artists and writers, I have gotten some pretty amazing advice on the topic. Below are a few ways that an aspiring comic writer can find an artist to collaborate with on a project.
The best thing you can do when approaching an artist who you would like to work with is be professional. Make sure you have a story planned out like a pitch, have things like a general story arc, character bio’s, and a script to look like you know what your doing. Approach an artist as if you would approach a publisher, you are asking this person to invest their time into your collaboration. The worst thing to do is be vague or uncertain. If you speak with artist make sure you can answer any question they ask you about the project.
Skullkickers writer Jim Zubkavich offered some great advice about finding an artist in an interview with Panel Bound.
“Put together a professional pitch and then personalize your messages to artists who are available and fit the tone of the work you’re going for. Expect that it’s going to take a while to find a good artist who is available and looking for collaboration”
Don’t Look For Just An Artist
I have spoken with several artists and they all agree that the worst thing a writer can do when approaching them to collaborate is treat them like a means to an end. An artist is not a tool to get your work published, you have to work with someone who you genuinely like and get along with. Without this dynamic you are destined for failure (see Robert Kirkman and Rob Liefeld). Make friends in the comic community and find people who are genuinely interested in your brand of storytelling.
Author of the web comic Kill All Monsters, Michael May had some great input about how he started working with artist Jason Copland.
“The only way I’ve ever had any success is by working with friends. On a handful of occasions I’ve been part of projects where I didn’t know the artist and it’s never worked out.”
Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out To People
If you know an artist and like their work don’t be afraid to present them with your idea and see if they are interested. Them saying no is the worst thing that could happen. I speak to writers and more often than not they are too nervous or intimidated to approach an artist for work. The Damned and The Sixth Gun writer, Cullen Bunn had this to say about reaching out to artists you like.
“The most important thing is to keep putting those feelers out. I’d say going to conventions and going through artist alleys is a good way to meet artists, I am not going to lie to you it can be very humbling those artists if they’re worth anything, they’ve been talked to by a dozen writers before you go and talk to them.”