When two people partner up for a true collaboration, be it in business or purely creative endeavors, genuine trust is the key. Of course for me that means I have to trust Alex and he has to trust me. This is not always the easiest thing, even though we’ve been friends for over a decade.
Alex has to trust that I will take what he has written and draw it in an entertaining way. I’ve never written something for someone else to draw, but I imagine that you have a pretty specific image of the scene in your mind while you write it, so it could be frustrating when it is drawn in a different way. I used to ask Alex about this with specific examples of something I had just drawn vs what he had written, but it never seemed to be an issue for him. In fact, he’s never complained about the way I drew anything. Sometimes he seems genuinely happy to see that I interpreted something in a way he hadn’t thought of. The closest thing I’ve heard as far as criticism from him is joking about the expression on a character’s face seemingly not matching what they are saying. These comments are usually pretty subtle though, so I don’t really know if that’s what he means.
He seems to have complete faith in my work, and offers little in the way of feedback. When he writes it is usually vague and focused mostly on dialogue, so he gives me room for creative interpretation. Honestly I’m a bit shocked he never complains, as he (like me) is prone to complaining about most things. I know that my drawing style is pretty weird and was pretty unpolished when we started the first Issue of Black Snow. It can’t be what he expected when we started, but I guess he likes it.
He also has to trust me to represent the comics online, as I run the website and virtually all of our online presence. Well, actually he doesn’t have to fully trust me on this, he could involve himself but always chooses not to. So I guess he choosing to trust that I will be the representative to the public. In fact I’ve asked him to help me with this many times, but for some unknown reason he just won’t. It’s really puzzling since he spends his time online messing around with social media sites anyway. A bit frustrating. Oh well. I’ll take it it as a compliment that he thinks I’m doing a good enough job on my own.
Lastly he trusts my input when writing. We often will sit together while he writes and I’ll offer up ideas. Most of the issues of Black Snow where written together, and he seems to like doing it that way. He’s been more independent while writing the strips, but I still get a fair share of my ideas used in them as well. Usually I’ll contribute larger ideas and he’ll break them down into the actual dialogue and character interaction.
For this to be a real collaboration I need to trust Alex as well. Much like I think my art has an odd style I think his writing style is pretty bizarre. He’s got a lot of unique quirks that makes his stuff one of a kind. It’s not the way I write, and not how I would do things, but I trust that he knows what he’s doing and that his style is good.
I also have to trust that he is supplying me with good content to draw, and that his vision is worth creating. Yeah I said I get my input in and he leaves me some room to interpret, but when all is said and done he is the one coming up with the completed scripts. He pens the final version and I draw everything based on that. Sometimes I’ll see something he’s written that I just really don’t want to draw, or I don’t even know how to draw, but I still do my best to draw it as written. As much as he has to trust me when I give him input, I have to trust his overall vision and decisions. Not that we often has disagreements or anything. That is part of the benefit of working with a long time close friend who has similar tastes to you.
For instance, I recently wrote about wanting to work on Black Snow again. I found the outline for Issue 7 and read it with Alex. It’s pretty good, a lot of drama. Personally I wanted to move forward with it and start scripting it. Alex didn’t want to. He has very strong feelings that I’M FAMOUS! is our future at this point. He thinks it has the most mass appeal and will get us some notice. I suspect that he also has the most fun working on it, as that comic tends to be quick to write and very flexible in tone. It does not take things too seriously and can be fairly outrageous. So I conceded that I’M FAMOUS! is where we should focus our full efforts. In some compromise Alex will be working Black Snow into more of the stories, so the character will still be around. So that is where things are headed for now.