Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Loose Ends and the Collectivity of Creativity

(Maybe it's the release of the final Harry Potter movie this week, but Seth's title of this post is channeling the Potter books for me.  And now I'm imagining all three of these guys as heroes of the Wizarding World.-Heather)
When I was but a wee comic-reading lad it never dawned on me that comic creators struggled with their art.  Sure, I knew of writers, pencilers, inkers, colorists, letterers, editors and such, and I definitely knew that comics didn't magically assemble themselves.  I just happened to be distracted by the dream-like quality that comics always held for me, and assumed that those actively making them must surely operate with their heads at least partially in the clouds.  And yet even in youth while I loved the thought of working for Marvel or DC, I was more interested in getting my own crazy (unintelligible) ideas published.  As I matured, it became readily apparent that thinking about comics as a career choice just wasn't meant to be for me.  Not only could I not draw to save my life, but my writing took on more poetic and scholarly qualities, which don't exactly transfer over to comic writing.  Five years ago though, I get into the retail side of comics courtesy of Heroes Aren't Hard to Find, and in my time there I've gained a much greater appreciation for the endless work that goes into making comics.  I've also become friends with several talented people who work professionally in the field.  This week I'm happy that three of those friends finally bring their long-labored comic to the shelves. 

Readers of this blog will know we've talked about the book Loose Ends before.  Heather and I haven't hidden the fact that we think it's a great book, and that we value the art and friendship of its creators, writer/letterer Jason Latour, penciler/inker Chris Brunner, and colorist Rico Renzi.  With the release date for the book looming, Heather and I talked about different ways of promoting the book.  It recently came to me that if I was going to write anything about the book, it would be something where I could talk about how, from the outside looking in, I've seen all three of these guys work tirelessly to make this project the best that they could.

One of the things about being friends with all three of these guys is that I've been around one, two, or all three of them at various points when the book was being worked on.  It might have just been coffee, or lunch, or random conversation, but I was fortunate to see serious-minded artists in a continual state of refining their work.  As someone who has used everything from being tired to feeling 'unproductive' as an excuse for procrastinating or being creatively unproductive, seeing these three hash out parts of Loose Ends served as a frequent encouragement for me to reevaluate my own work ethic when it came to the creative life.  What's even crazier to me is that I've only been friends with these guys for a few years, and the book was already in production for several before that.  The fact that they've not only persevered with the project, but delivered something that is already deservedly receiving glowing critical praise speaks volumes.  What speaks even louder to me is the fact that all three artists have continued to juggle multiple projects and deadlines, all while continuing to keep Loose Ends as one of their top creative priorities.  Cheers to Latour, Brunner, and Renzi for delivering a solid first issue.  Keep the good comics coming!

Loose Ends is also an interesting proposition from the creative angle because of the friendship of the three.  Creators don't always have the option of selecting with whom they work. With the dissolution of the bullpen ideology and the advent of the internet and newer forms of communication, some never even meet their full creative teams.  With Loose Ends, the guys not only live in the same city (and apartment for two of them), they're friends outside of the project.  When asked about this, Jason answered "I've been fortunate that even a good number of the books I've done for hire have involved my friends. But there is always the arbiter of the "job" in those cases. You're both beholden to the person signing your checks to some degree and that makes the lines much clearer. On a creator owned book with a friend you're in interesting territory because outside of the work itself maintaining the friendship becomes a goal. That can be trying but it doesn't have to be a burden. It can be rewarding. Hopefully in the process of working together you can both grow and learn a lot and hopefully come out of it that much better for it. But in terms of the work, it does help the short hand. Knowing someone in real life  can often times make it easier to understand a person's point of view. That can be a big key to collaboration." Chris put it this way, "It's about as different as a family BBQ and a corporate team building exercise."  Having watched the three work together, the family BBQ analogy is rather apt in describing their relationship.

We both wish all three well with the release of Loose Ends.  We asked Jason what he hoped for both professionally and personally from the release today, "I just hope people enjoy it. If you tell one story well you significantly increase your chances to tell more. And really the largest motive I have is that I want to be in the position to tell stories that excite me. That's what I want to do with my life, professionally and personally."

Both Heather and I, as well as all the guys, hope you'll make it out to Heroes Aren't Hard to Find today from noon-2pm or 5pm-8pm to pick up this awesome book (It's over-sized!), a print, and get both signed by all three of these talented people.  If you don't live in town, then hurry out to your LCS and pick up Loose Ends!

1 comment:

  1. This entire site is a joy to read and look at. Bravo guy 'n' gal