I have a comic book called Dark which I’ve been working on, bit by bit, for a few months now. I know the shape of the thing, I know the ending — and it has an ending. At the most, it’s a six-issue mini-series. The more I work at it, the more and more I bet I can tell the story in less space. Which is a good thing. I know I’m capable of decompressing in stories, a skill I gained in serials. I like the idea of having to tell the story in a limited amount of space. Get in, tell it, get out. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am to quote David Bowie (can anyone tell me what song?)
So, I’ve got my plot, which I’m outlining (I don’t outline for comics, any more than I particularly outline for anything else. I just take scatterbrained notes). I’ve done some script work. And I keep an eye toward publishers. Most mainstream comic publishers aren’t interested in scripts by themselves. They’re “agent only” markets, more or less. The comics equivalent of that. Some places — like Image Comics, I was pleased to find out — DO take “unagented” submissions. They just want the artist and the writer to be on board.
Which isn’t so unreasonable. In fact, it’s utterly reasonable. However, if you’ve spent any time hanging out with people who want to be comic book writers, the most frustrated question you inevitably get from them is how the hell do you get a comic book artist? As if they’re elusive Yeti-like creatures, or else they’re mysterious New York agents, or something.
Mostly, they aren’t. But I bet they feel like it. I don’t know when comic books climbed out of the gutter and became respectable enough for phrases like “graphic novel,” but it leads to every kid and their dog wanting to write comics. And going to places where artists hang and badgering them. Or, what more commonly happens, sitting around terrified to do anything at all.
Here’s how you get a comic artist: You chain them in your basement and don’t feed them ’till they draw. Wait! No! Ha ha! You ask them. You act like a human being who is calm, and sane, and has a life outside of getting that comic book artist. You buy ’em a drink. Or, alternately, you do what I did, which is to work with a magazine like BBT, which had, more or less, an on-staff artist named Christoffer Saar, a piece of whose work I posted below (and who drew all the illustrations for the short-run of God in the Machine, one of which is my icon when I comment on a WordPress blog). We worked together, we chatted, we had fun, and the end result was that when something like God in the Machine came around, I e-mailed him and said “Oy!”
That’s my preferred method, I’ve got to be honest with you, but it was a stroke of luck. And for this comic book, I keep thinking about Chris Saar and thinking about him and thinking about him. He’s commented previously that he doesn’t enjoy comic book work as much as other outlets, or at least that he’s slow at it (and he just pours the rest of his work out.) And it’s the possibility that he doesn’t like it, combined with sheer guilt over the collapse of God in the Machine, which has kept me from e-mailing him about this.
Another artist I found, whom I’m dead impressed with and who’s on the same page I am — in terms of this project, anyway — is Mike Mitchell. Particularly, he has a couple of portraits of Batman put up which I was dead impressed with. Looked at ’em and went “that’s it, he could do this project.”
So of course, I am instead sitting here, blogging, trying to get up the gumption to e-mail him and say “Hello, I am not insane, care to work on a submission with me? How about two?”
I think that any God which thinks that running “Highway Star” by Deep Purple through my head at 12:30 at night (or in the morning, if you want to be cruel about it) is a God who likes a good joke. As much as I love that song, it’s not doing me any favors right now. Certainly, I can’t sing it. The long opening note would get me thrown out of the apartment.
I stayed up late to write novel material, not a lengthy blog post, but a WIDE AWAKE! baby has put the kibosh on those plans. So instead, he sits here and does the non-verbal equivalent of “dad? dad? daddaddaddaddad? hey dad? dad?” and pulls on my glasses.
And now he’s fussy. Which means it’s time for bed for all.