So when I was trying to figure out how to improve my art and writing to make a comic, some advice given was to focus on one or the other and find a partner to do the other part. And during the summer when chatting with a friend I found out he was interested in making a comic too and after a while we discussed working together. So when we started I already had an idea for a world, not a complete world but a basis for one, and a plot starting point. And I talked to him about it and he seemed interested and said let's start there.
Fast forward to Prime and we've discussed some things about the world but not really fleshed much out. We decided to try and get the prologue completed by the end of November so that the readers can read a chunk and not have to deal with one page at a time, at least not till after the prologue. I don't know if we will actually finish it by then but having a deadline at least helps, I think. And he's gotten into the habit of telling me what I should work on and when, which kind of annoys me since that feels less like a partner and more like a manager or director.
And at Prime I got to discuss this and ask for advice from Katie Rice and Adam Wallander since they are a partnership of an artist and writer and seem to make it work. And the advice that was given was to talk to him about it, which I still haven’t because I’m bad at anything seemingly confrontational. Adam asked what the comic was about and what we were planning with the prologue. I explained how the prologue would cover my character’s backstory I had written prior to finding a writer. I say “my character” because something I had suggested to my partner that I thought would be interesting would be inserting us into the story, because it seemed fun and it seems easier to write and create about something you already know about and I got the idea from reading Penny Arcade and seeing how they did it. And he said he wanted his character’s backstory to be a mystery so that left my character’s backstory since I thought having two main characters with mysterious pasts or unexplained pasts would bother the reader. So along with that explanation I wound up complaining, probably a bit after the frustration of getting assignments from him, how when we got the chance to meet in person after the college semester started and we were both back in town to discuss the story and the dialogue and all the other fun writing bits he hadn’t read the story and outline I had sent him a week or so prior.
After talking about this for a bit Adam asked me a question that had not crossed my mind: “So what is he contributing to this?” And when he said it, the best I could think of was that we kind of talked about some possible characters and I couldn’t think of much else. Adam said he didn’t want to imply anything bad, but it was still a good question because I had never thought about it and thanked him for asking at the very least.
So post PAX it took a while between our schedules to get together, which may have been because I thought weekends would be good times to meet up but those were usually times he went out with friends, so anytime I tried to ask if we could meet up on the weekend didn’t actually happen even when he said sure. But we did get to talk a bit where I found out he had read the story idea by then and he said it was fine to use. And I mentioned that the dialogue would probably need to be redone, because I know that dialogue is hard for me to which he agreed.
Last Monday was when we finally got together to discuss it. I went in assuming we’d redo or discuss the dialogue; instead he told me I should draw some sketches of layout for a few pages, while he worked on stuff for his internship. Which I understand is important, but it felt weird to be working on the comic alone and anytime I showed him a sketch, having him say “yeah sure that’s fine” or “oh yeah that’s good” in a half-hearted, absent way. And I did ask about the dialogue 3 or 4 times, but each time he said “it’s fine, it’s fine just do this.” At the end of our “session,” he gave me an assignment of sketching out roughs of the first 3 pages. I then explained that the dialogue was kind of important for that because I needed to know how big to make the speech bubbles and how they would be positioned on the page and that we would need to avoid resizing any text from page to page as it doesn’t look good. To which he chuckled and said, “that’s why you are just doing rough sketches.”
In reality the only experience with group work is from school classes, but I haven’t ever worked with others on a personal project. So I now I’m unsure how to go from here. How do I discuss the issue of being given assignments and not enjoying that dynamic? How do I talk to him about working on the dialogue? Or what are good ways to discuss concerns with a partner and friend? And from an outside view, what should I do about the doubt that is creeping around my mind after Adam’s question and this latest attempt at working together?
P.S. I don't know if this is relevant but there was something that did come up when I showed him some concept art of Finn, my character (just remembered as I was about to post and didn't know where to include it). Was that he seemed uncomfortable with the idea of an anthropomorphic canine character and he also seemed to dislike the idea of including other types of fantasy races in the world. Whereas I enjoy a variety of races to expand the mythos and lore of a world. We discussed it and I offered to change Finn but he said it was fine to have variety. I bring it up because, could this be why he is avoiding FInn's story because it heavily involves a race of anthropomorphic canines?