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16 January 2012

Now See This!

I frankly love Warren Ellis for being a writer, and writing this.  Especially for writing this:

"You are, in many ways, writing a love letter intended to woo the artist into giving their best possible work to the job. A bored or unengaged artist will show up on the page like a fibrous stool in the toilet bowl, and that’s not their fault — it’s yours."

 I'm a writer as well as an artist, although more of the latter than the former these days.  If nothing else, I know the value of giving an artist clear instructions and then allowing them to do what they do best, which is make art.  Not ape someone else's style.  Not modify someone else's work.  Not if you want to get their best work.

At the risk of whining, let me just add that you're even more responsible for the lackluster results you get when you give the artist hardly any instruction up front, then wait until they deliver the finished work and make them change everything, as if he or she was supposed to psychically divine your intent of the fine details from the start.  Then ask them to change it all again.  Then make them do it in someone else's style.

As much comic art is work for hire, I know that a writer can't allow the artist to run doolally all over the script, but a good relationship between creative types should be symbiotic, not reminiscent of that between an office manager and a cubicle monkey.  The philosophy espoused by Mr. Ellis above is why writers like he and Alan Moore always get such amazing results from the artists they work with.  Look at Planetary, or From Hell, or for that matter Millar and McNiven's "Nemesis" or Mills and Bisley's "Slaine", and tell me that those artists weren't having a ball, and that the work isn't better for it.

Do yourself a favor, especially if you're a writer, and go read the rest of Warren Ellis's article, "What a Comics Script is For".  An artist, and your readers, may someday thank you.



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