Working on a comic with a friend

BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
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?


  • briguybriguy Registered User regular
    I read through all of this and Adam's question is very pertinent. I'm not seeing what he's actually contributing to your project.

    If he has a problem with your direction, he should be challenging those ideas and providing alternatives. He should be contributing more substantially than lukewarm responses and vague character ideas.

    It sounds like he's more in love with the idea of being a writer than actually being one.

    He either needs to step up and be a full participant of the project or you should cut creative ties.

    How do you actually bring up the subject? I think you're just going to have to bite the bullet and tell him that this project is important to you, you need it to be important to him, and directly tell him your concerns regarding what he's done so far.

    ceresDaenrisLostNinjaMrGrimoireEncIrukaspool32Dark Raven XtynicJuliusTofystedeth
  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    Your collaborator is not as committed to the project as you are, nor do your visions (inasmuch as he even has one) seem particularly compatible. If I were you I'd not try to push the collaboration forward, lest the tension damage your friendship. The talk I would have is along the lines of 'hey, now that we've talked about it, I don't think we should be collaborating--our visions are pretty different. Do you agree?'
    And if he doesn't agree, then you can ask him to step up--but I think it's a lost cause, and really not worth risking your friendship over.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    So today I talked to him and found out he viewed the plot for the prologue as good, so he didn't feel the need to change it and he said the dialogue was passable so he didn't feel like tweaking it. He apparently is/was interested in the comic, but his approach is to be detached from it. Whereas I like being enthusiastic about a piece and believe that you need some incentive to keep working on it and trying not to fail, while he liked the idea of there being no repercussions if he did fail it. And I wasn't sure if those philosophies would mix, because I told him that I believe you need some sort of incentive.

    Anyways, I couldn't bring myself to actually saying we shouldn't work on it or maybe not work together, but I did ask and suggest working on a different comic idea, if that would make him more enthused about it. Eventually he asked if we should just do a short comic and see how that goes and I agreed, though he said he wouldn't be enthusiastic about this one either. And since I was always the one who tried to schedule meetings or discuss it, in all likelihood it will drop off the radar for both of us if I don't mention it again. It's cowardly I know, but I really want to explore the seed of a world I have in mind and I worry that if he were a part of it there may come a point where he just doesn't work on it because he has no incentive or enthusiasm to.

    Thanks for the advice.

    Dark Raven X
  • darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    confrontation can be difficult but from the sound of it you dont really need to make a fuss cause he isnt doing anything on the comic anyways so problem solved... I guess?

  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    So yesterday after a club meeting he mentioned how he didn't want to work on a one-off comic and wanted to go to the original idea. He said that he could start reworking the dialogue and maybe expanding the lore. Which is good to keep the collaboration. But now there is the concern about the whole not getting excited or attached to the work, which to me still seems to raise the question of what is the point of trying to not fail if you have no incentive to not do so. I get why, because he explained that if he places too much importance on something he freezes up and he mentioned how I talked about something similar before. So I think he got the wrong idea when I explained I'd start viewing every art piece as a sketch. In his mind I think he thinks I meant I wouldn't place importance on it, where I just am trying to get in the mindset where it is okay to fail and if I do fail I can learn from my mistakes and try and get better.

    So if talking him the first time helped to get him to be involved, should I try again to explain my concerns? Maybe there is an obvious answer but right now I'm out of it and can't think 100% clearly, so advice is much appreciated.

  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    I really think you should just tell him that your views on how to handle your individual investments in this project aren't going to be compatible, instead of trying to do this ridiculous dance around it. All of this is going to make it worse.

    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    I figured that would be the answer. Thanks, so I need to do what I should have done before, well after the talk about views on projects.

    Any advice on how to properly word it? I ask because it is not uncommon to say something I interprete one way and the other party interprete it wrong. Not that this does not happen to most people just that the misunderstandings are usually friendship killers...

  • credeikicredeiki Registered User regular
    You shouldn't be working together on this. It's really valuable to have a friend who's willing to listen to your comic/world-building ideas; you are risking your friendship by trying to force this collaboration.

    I do understand what he says about not wanting to feel invested--I would say this to my collaborator on a video-game project ('I don't want it to feel like work, otherwise I won't do it in my free time; I don't want there to be any pressure, cause otherwise it's stressful')--and then, guess what? We stopped working on our project, because we weren't invested enough in it, so it never got made.

    Tell him you don't think it makes sense to collaborate fully but that you'd still like to ask for his advice/input from time to time; it doesn't sound like he'd be offended.

    Steam, LoL: credeiki
  • BrushwoodMuttBrushwoodMutt Registered User regular
    So this time I was more straightforward and we talked about my concerns and the options available, which included working on a different comic where our investment levels were similar. Though he was opposed to this as he felt it was a waste of work on the current one, even though he admitted he saw it as writing practice. That was part of what we discussed. Eventually it came out that I had asked advice from a forum and then I told explained what was explained to me. And crediki's suggestion was one he seemed okay with, but after asking he did admit he was kind of annoyed by the "emotional bs" but he understood. So now hopefully it is cleared up. Turns out being straightforward and not doing a roundabout nonsense works, just as everyone here said. Thanks.

Sign In or Register to comment.