Why I Can’t Work With an Artist Anymore

Well “can’t” is a rather strong word. If I ever meet an artist that I can work with, I’ll go for it. In the meantime, I just can’t work with artists anymore.

In the past year, I wasted a lot of time and effort trying to achieve only one thing. Get the first issue of Cottonseeds published by ComiXology. Why? Because they’re the biggest online digital comic book publisher and instant sales. It took almost a year of grief, invisible hoop jumping, and a crapload of bad communication.

The thing is, ComiXology isn’t really a publisher. They’re an online distributor that distributes through their own app. That’s all well and fine, it would just be nice if they were honest about it. I’m relieved that Cottonseeds issue 1 has finally been accepted by ComiXology (release date coming soon). However, I find it sad that the company has total monopoly. There really aren’t any other options.

ComiXology doesn’t have any real guidelines. They only communicate with copied and pasted messages, the same thing over and over. They don’t help, they don’t guide, they couldn’t care less about the quality of the story, never mind whether it makes money. They only care about whether the submission can be rendered using the ComiXology GuideView ™ app.

It took four re-submissions, each slightly different, with a blind guess of what the hell they want, yet each was completely redesigned. That took nearly a year. For one issue. 22 measly pages. And there’s no way I can go through that again. Sales or not, it wasn’t worth the stress.

But enough ranting. Back to the topic of this post.

I’ve talked to and interviewed A LOT of aspiring comic book artists/line artists/inkers/colorists to see if they could help make sure Cottonseeds is accepted by ComiXology. Some were really good artists, but unfortunately they couldn’t commit to a ten issue series. A number of them were… awful.

It wasn’t just their low-quality art that I could tell would never get past the ComiXology guards, though that was a big factor, it was the attitudes.

Seriously? You expect to get paid thousands of dollars per issue for, what, fan art? That’ not only highly illegal, it’s absurd. Imagine someone applying for a plumbing job and saying in the interview, I don’t know anything about plumbing but I can imitate you, and you can pay for that! No. Just, no.

I really don’t care how many times you can redraw Batman. That still isn’t original dark art. It’s just copying. I can get the same result using a photocopier. But, again, that’s illegal.

Legalities aside, it looks bad. It’s just obvious the artist didn’t come up with any art themselves. It didn’t make them a good candidate.

And then there were aspiring artists hoping to get paid lots of money for something that looks like the back of a Hallmark card. Unimpressive.

After all that interviewing and testing, I’ve concluded that I can’t work with aspiring comic book artists who don’t have any experience. Yeah, I know that makes me sound like a snob, but it’s honest. To be further honest, I don’t have the time or money to waste on teaching anyone how to do art. A small part me wishes I had better resources and I could help every artist really shine. But, I don’t have the teaching skills either. I’m just not a good match.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. We all have to start somewhere. We all need at least one person in our entire lives to give feedback and say, look, it’s not good enough, go back to the drawing board, try again. It’s just tiring advertising a real job only to have a million aspiring artists practically beg, look at my special art!!! Applying for jobs just to get free feedback is not appropriate. Join a club. Attend a comic con. Go to the library. Whatever you have to do. Practice, practice, practice. Then, maybe, someday, you can get job for your art.

And please, do not ever submit fan art for a comic book job. For pity’s sake.

I don’t need an artist. I thought I did, but I don’t. I am an artist. What I needed was an aid, no different than using cane as a walking aid. But after a year’s worth of unnecessary pain and grief, I’ve concluded that the concept of an artist aid doesn’t exist. I tried. I wasted a year learning that. Live and learn.

There is good news in this ranty post. (Yes, I know ranty isn’t a word. Go with it). Although issue one isn’t as good as I would have liked, I’ve figured out a new technique so I can finish the rest of the series myself. I might still need an inker, we’ll see how it goes. For the meantime, it’s interesting to see once I accepted I can’t work with another artist, I began to see all the possibilities for what I can do with my own art. Even better, the first issue has been accepted. I feel it can only get better from now on.

I went the long and hard way, but I’m here now.