A Long Distance Collaboration

So as Noel and I continue to finish up Family Ties, something occurred to me. Together, he and I have created almost 400 pages of comic art. It’s kind of crazy, when I think about it like that. It’s even crazier when I think that it’s been five whole years since I sent him that first e-mail introducing myself and a little book called The Broadcast.

I have a number of people I collaborate with, but Noel has always been my favorite. Mainly because he’s good, but also because we’ve developed a great working relationship through the years. At first, my panel descriptions were fairly detailed. But now, I don’t say much. I don’t have to. First of all, Noel usually knows exactly what I’m looking for — we’re like ballplayers who have been playing together for a really long time. But even if he doesn’t know what I’m expecting, he usually comes up with something even better. That’s one thing I’ve learned working with a great artist: when it comes to the art, his vision is almost always going to be better than mine. I didn’t always write that way. There was a time that I was married to every idea I had, but with Noel it has always felt like a true collaboration. The books we do aren’t his or mine — their ours.
But here’s the one thing that makes our collaboration a little strange … we’ve never met. Not once. In fact, in five years, we’ve never even talked on the phone.
Sometimes I wonder just how difficult it must have been to find a (good) collaborator before the internet made the world so small. I guess creators are better off now. When I was a kid, just finding someone interested in comics was tough enough. Finding someone interested in making them — even tougher. But now, if you’re a young creator looking to make his mark, all you have to do is jump online and you’ll find there are thousands of people just like you. If you want to be the next Stan Lee, it doesn’t matter if the next Steve Ditko lives next door or a thousand miles away — you can find each other online and come up with the next Spider-Man.
Still, as great as my collaboration with Noel has been, there are times I wish we were in the same town, meeting once or twice a week to go over our work and talk things out. After all, if we were closer to one another he wouldn’t have to send me pictures like the one below. I could just sit there with him, flip through those giant art boards … and smile. (I imagine Stan Lee did a lot of that.)
All those pages scattered across Noel’s floor will be bound together in Family Ties. Please be sure to pre-order a copy as pre-orders are vvvverrryyy important for an indie book like this. We are really excited for this one. Fans of The Broadcast will love it. But if you don’t let your comic shop know that you want a copy, there’s a really good chance it won’t make it onto their shelf.

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