Stephen Bissette writes about the reality of drawing a graphic novel in his “Draw My Graphic Novel! Storyboard My Movie!” blog entry. If you ant to read the unvarnished truth from a comics pro about the time and effort it takes to create a graphic novel, take a look.
Stephen is responding to the many queries he gets, asking for him to work for free on projects. (Now, to be fair, one project he mentions is for a contest -- so, if he wins the contest he gets some money.) A lot of the people who approach him are 100% convinced that they have a popular and lucrative success ala WIMPY KID and HARRY POTTER. That's just fine and good, but as he points out:
"How do I eat/pay rent/mortgage while dedicating my life to this venture"
And Mr. Bissette talks about the difference between time spent writing and time spent drawing the thing:
For instance, when John Totleben and I were doing Swamp Thing, it was all we had time for. Alan Moore finished a script for Swamp Thing, for the most part, in one week; that gave him three weeks per month to do, oh, Watchmen, V For Vendetta, various one-shots and back-up stories, etc., and build a formidable career during three-four years in which John and I could only do Swamp Thing.
Few writers understand or want to understand (much less concede) that point.
There's also the issue of who owns it.
Recently, an ongoing collaboration in progress is about to terminate because the writer is now demanding, mid-way, a higher percentage of page rate and ownership (as any good attorney would advise)—but, hey, it’s a two-edged sword. Without an artist, you don’t have a comic page to publish.
I agree: it's important to have all of that legal stuff hammered out before things begin. And Stephen is right about the enormous time disparity between writing and drawing.This is some good, grounded advice from the trenches. Bullseye!
Please go read it all here.
A big thank you to S.R. Bissette for writing this. I've read it twice and its timing could not be better.
Hat tip to Eric Orchard!
Above image from the 1985 issue of SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #34, art by S. Bissette via CBR.