The Garcia Method: Art Team Assemble!


With a great idea, a dynamite script and an insightful editor on board, writer Ryan Garcia looks to expand his merry band of digital comics creatives with the addition of an artist (or two) in the latest instalment of his guide to writing a digital comic – The Garcia Method: Art Team Assemble!

Once you have established a budget then it’s time to go shopping for a creative team.  When you first start down the path of writing your own comic book I’m sure this seems like an exciting step.  Make no mistake, it’s beyond exciting.  But it is also a lot of hard work.

You’ve already heard me extol the virtues of having a project editor and here’s another place where it generates a huge return on investment.  In no particular order, here are the various factors that you’ll need to consider in hiring an artist, all of which you could benefit from having more experience on your side.

  • Style:  Let’s take for granted that you’ll only consider artists who, you know, can draw.  Beyond raw ability, can their art portray the tone of your story?  A dark hard-boiled detective series may need darker lines, deeper shadows compared to the story of the last Puffy Unicorn trying to save Rainbowland from the Somewhat Mean Nasties.  Certainly artists have ranges but you want to make sure they can deliver your story and the feeling behind it.

  • Storytelling:  We already covered why you, as a writer, probably aren’t the best person to lay out pages or describe camera angles for maximum visual impact.  But your artist is the right person–so you’ll want to see if their approach matches your story.  Do you need a straightforward nine-panel page like Watchmen or a more abstract panel layout that still keeps the reader’s eyes moving in the right direction?  Does the artist draw every character in profile or do you want the camera to move around?  Give a panel description to five different artists and you’ll see five different panels. Which one is right for you?

  • Quote:  Can you afford the artist?  While many artists will give you a quoted page rate or project amount, an editor may be able to get you a slightly better deal.  Or, if not a deal, at least let the artist know that you can be taken a bit more seriously than someone just contacting the artist out of the blue.

  • Teams:  Does the artist prefer to work with particular colorists and letterers?  Are there colorists and letterers they’ve had problems with before?

  • Schedule:  How busy is the artist and can they deliver according to your schedule?  You may be more flexible than other projects if you’re just starting out, but you also don’t want your book to be constantly placed on the back burner.

  • Reputation:  Does the artist have a reputation for delivering one quality page and then disappearing?  Are they work horses who can churn out a page a day even while hospitalized for kidney stones?

If you’re just starting out then you probably thought the only thing you needed to worry about in hiring an artist was what their art looked like.  While that’s certainly a huge factor now you see it’s not the only one.  This is yet another reason why a project editor can be so helpful–not only in working through these factors but also because they can generate a short list of artists for you to consider that meet your expectations.  Having that shortlist is like having 95% of the work done for you and now you get to focus on just the art.

If you don’t have a project editor or you just really like exploring all the aspects of hiring an artist, here are some places you can go looking for an artist yourself.

  • deviantART:  It’s a fantastic site for artists and it certainly showcases their work in a great way, but as a writer I find the site incredibly difficult to navigate.  When I did some searching on it for artists I would typically find hundreds of results but the first thirty weren’t great choices and that made it difficult to continue.  So while I’m sure your perfect artist is on Deviantart, finding them can be a lot of work.

  • DigitalWebbing:  Another great site for finding comic collaborators, here you can at least have a direct conversation with potential candidates.  The forum has specific rules about what to post and where to post it, but if you follow the rules you can identify a number of great candidates.

  • /r/comicbookcollabs:  Reddit also has a great board for comic book collaboration with a good amount of traffic.

  • Google:  Many artists also have their own sites, portfolios, and blogs so you can do some google searches for freelance artists and browse their collections as well.

My last tip is to not be afraid to dream big.  If you’ve got some budget, feel free to reach out to some big name artist that draws a book you love.  The worst that can happen is they say no, but maybe they can connect you with an up and coming artist that would be right.  With social media it’s fairly easy to reach out to comic book creators these days.  As Drax the Destroyer would say “Do not be afraid to reach for the stars.  They are millions of light years away so you cannot be burned by their heat.”

Ryan Garcia (@SoMeDellLawyer) is a social media lawyer and professor.  He thoroughly enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy and recently starting a podcast, Gabbing Geek, available now on iTunes.