Sequential Underground #82 – Establishing a New Collaboration

Sequential Underground

Shawn Atkins and Nick Marino

Show Notes:
We start off the episode with some Culinary Underground conversation, including fantastic sandwich recipes and preparation suggestions by Rare Earth Comics, Angela Capel, and Bernie Crowsheet.

Then we bring on the main course: a conversation about establishing a new comics collaboration. Shawn recently wrapped work on a new Thundergirl story featuring a collaboration with Harold Cupec. He enjoyed the experience and now he’s hungry for more artistic collaborators. But he’s almost always drawn his own stories, so it’s a challenge for him to find other artists who’d like to tell stories with him.

Nick and Shawn talk about how they met and began collaborating on Time Log, which resulted in a great experience and fantastic friendship. That sends Nick on a rant about why new comics writers should focus on making artistic friends and drawing their own comics before trying to find unpaid collaborators to draw their stories.

And after the end theme, we switch back to Culinary Underground and give the 2013 YOU DON’T SUCK Award for Best Condiment to Some Dude’s Fry Sauce.

Next Episode:
Brian John Mitchell joins us to answer the question: “What comes easier… writing drama or writing comedy?”

14 Responses to “Sequential Underground #82 – Establishing a New Collaboration”

  1. 1 B. Douglas DeRocher

    You guys hit the nail on the head. The best comics come from total collaboration. I find most writers really see comics as a stepping stone to t.v./ movies or novel writing. I have received scripts that focus on dialog and does not have anything cool to draw. An artist working on spec needs pages to sell and to add to their portfolio. The other big problem newer collaborators need to understand is to be realistic with their projects. I have had writers overwhelm me with scripts. They will have a 10 issue story ready to go with three other books spinning out of that book. This comes from the fact most people think making art is like magic. Writers need to be realistic about how long a project will take and focus on a book at a time.

  2. 2 nick marino

    I’m so with you on this stuff! I’m not the kind of artist where I’ve gotten pitched excessively long scripts like that, but I’ve heard horror stories from my friends and I find it unconscionable what some new writers think they can accomplish even though they’ve never published their own work before. I’m all about supporting creative ambition, but blind ambition that doesn’t acknowledge the hard work of your collaborators is willful ignorance in my opinion.

    In general, I think the comic book business is on a trend right now of admiring the contributions of writers and editors at the expense of the artists. Yeah, cool concepts and solid plots are important, I’m not knocking the writing and planning side of it. But the art is the face of the story and it sets the entire tone! Not to mention that colorists and letters make huge contributions that get totally diminished by the way the comics culture currently represents the creative chain of production.

  3. 3 Mindy Indy

    Nick, you’re very wise to say that writers should understand more about how artists draw before just asking people to draw for them. So many writers just don’t understand what goes into drawing comics.

    As a cartoonist who both writes and draws, I find it best if the script is open ended and I can just go with it, because I make it so much better than what the writer would’ve come up with (and I’ve been told so by writers I’ve worked for!)

    I’ve been listening to your podcast a lot lately and it really helps me to get “in the zone” when I’m working on comics! It also helps expand my view of the scope that creating comics can happen everywhere – I’m living in NYC, and it’s great to find out about comic stuff all over. Thanks!


  4. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Free eBooks by Nick Marino

  5. 4 Carrie

    Social media has really changed the game as far as connecting with friends and potential collaborators. I didn’t have any artist friends when I was younger and maybe 3 writer friends who weren’t the least bit interested in comics. It was pretty much understood back then that if you wanted to work in comics, you basically had to move to New York. Now people from all over the world can collaborate with each other on a book, which is pretty awesome I think.

    I did collaborate once on a Star Trek fan movie script with one of my friends who wanted to be a director (and now he’s in Hollywood doing cool things and being all important XD). Even though we didn’t actually finish filming the movie (long, kind of funny story), I felt like the script itself came out much better than if just one of us tried to write it. There’s definitely something to be said for bringing different perspectives and ideas to the table.

  6. 5 Christopher Ness

    Great episode. I think it’s an wonderful idea for a writer to draw a comic to get an idea of what the process is like. One thing that drives me crazy is when someone pitches an idea to you that takes 20 to explain the story and describe their story as “awesome” and “epic.”

  7. 6 Brian John Mitchell

    I felt like this whole episode was already about me & then you said my name an hour in.

    My cold call pitch traditionally was “I don’t have money, but I send out copies to 70 reviewers & generally get at least a dozen reviews.” Of course now my pitch really emphasizes my background of completing content, having vaguely famous collaborators (like Nick Marino & Jared Catherine & Dave Sim & soon Shawn Atkins), & that I actually have sent out small royalty checks when success has come. But since I have started doing conventions, conventions are the number one way I find collaborators. I think a lot of artists who don’t do the cons friendly to my type of comics have no idea how little money there is even for a successful mini-comic.

    Because I think it may be useful to someone, here’s the conversation leading to me & Shawn’s collaboration:
    Brian: The new Sequential Underground brings up the point that for some reason we haven’t collaborated on a comic. Let me know if you want to try to rectify that.
    Shawn: sure I’m down for that!
    Brian: Do you just want a script I already have lying around or something especially for you? If it’s especially for you I’ll need a starting place like “I want to draw some helicopters!” or “I can never draw enough sharks!”
    Shawn: I don’t know. now that you mention sharks, that sounds cool. haven’t drawn a submarine before either. maybe something like that. hope that helps.
    Brian: An underwater story. How do you feel about mermaids that are actually monsters?
    Shawn: I like mermaids! and monster mermaids!
    Brian: I will hopefully have something for you in the next week or so. Hassle me if you have free time immenent & no script from me.
    Shawn: ok and same as well for me. I tend to wander sometimes.

    My condiment of the year is probably Sriracha.

  8. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Dinogeddon webcomics

  9. 7 nick marino

    @Mindy: I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying Sequential Underground. I’m also really glad that you decided to comment and let us know your thoughts on this topic :D

    I couldn’t agree more about leaving scripts as open as possible. Frankly, I think it’s foolish for a writer to fill in unnecessary details because it devalues the artist’s contribution to the story.

    @Carrie: It’s so true about how the internet has totally broken wide the possibilities for collaboration. I’ve collaborated with artists from all over the USA, as well as England, Sweden, The Netherlands and Argentina. 15 years ago I never would’ve dreamed that was possible!

    What era / ship was the setting for your Star Trek fan script?

    @Chris: Do you mean it takes them 20 seconds to pitch it to you? I’d rather have that than 20 minutes!!! hahaha

    @Brian: Vaguely famous? OH YOU FLATTER ME! hehe

    I’ve learned so much about collaboration from gaining knowledge about your process. And in this episode, I think you were a huge influence on my personal opinion about the kind of things a writer should be doing!

    I love that you just copied and pasted the conversation with Shawn. That’s such a classic Shawn conversation right there.

    For the first time ever, I ate Sriracha last year. It’s so much tastier and spicier than I’d imagined! I can’t eat it often because my digestive tract + chilis = disaster. But I can see why people are so passionate about it.

  10. 8 Carrie

    @Nick: It was the Kirk era, but we made up our own ship and crew. The first night of filming was aborted when the Nutley, NJ police showed up. Guess a bunch of kids in weird costumes running around an empty lot holding phasers looked a little suspicious.

  11. 9 nick marino

    hahahahaha i wonder if the cops have a code for a bunch of kids in an empty lot with phasers. “Chief, we’ve got a 126 down on W Elk St in South Nutley. Reports of nerdy kids in tight space clothes running around a vacant lot.”

  12. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Dead Mondays webcomics

  13. 10 Christopher Ness

    Haha, I swear I wrote minutes but I guess it’s not there. I’ve heard pitches where the person goes on and on about things that have nothing to do with their story to explaining every event in detail. All someone needs to say is “hey, my story is about a pro wrestler who fights demons.” That’s all you need.

  14. 11 nick marino

    YES! I totally agree.

    At first, I thought you were saying the opposite, that you hate short pitches where the person tells you that it’s really epic even though it can be summed up in two sentences.

    BTW, did you just make up this pro wrestler fighting demons idea? Cause I wanna read that.

  15. 12 Christopher Ness

    Haha, yeah, I’ve been planning that pro wrestler fighting demons story in the back of my mind for a while. I’ll probably start putting things together later in the year.

  16. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Free eBooks by Nick Marino

  17. 13 nick marino

    I can’t wait to see it!

  18. 14 Carrie

    @Nick: hahaha! It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they had a code for it!

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