The Learning Curve of Being Yourself


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In my previous column, I wrote about how I came in contact with an artist, and how he sent me his first drawing based on my script. I was blown away. I felt like a young child with a new toy. I had to go to a training on the day I received Ranjit’s first drawing of what would later become Ace. Like I said before, I live in the Netherlands. I had to learn how to talk "business" in German.  Yeah, we are a small country over here and it pays to understand your neighbor. Anyway, I was almost too exited to pay attention. Almost, or I wouldn’t now know that one of the things I was doing was being an "Existenz Gründungs Berater."

I was so full of energy that I couldn’t sit still in my chair. I had the drawing lying next to my textbook. I wanted to call Ranjit to tell him how great it was to see my characters "in the flesh." In his e-mail Ranjit asked me to look at his drawing very carefully and give him some feedback. I had to force myself to look and be critical, to see if the characters were as I envisioned them. And if they didn’t, to consider if it was an improvement or if they needed to be changed. And how should I mention this to Ranjit? I mean, I was an aspiring writer with nothing to show. I decided to do what works best when you want something: be yourself.

So after a day full of German language, German culture, and the German political structure (which is strangely different compared to the Dutch political structure), I was able to call Ranjit about his work. I was surprised to find Ranjit very curious about my thoughts about his work. He was really interested in what I had to say. And because he was so open to the things I had to say, it made me a lot more comfortable in telling him what I would like to see done differently. They were only small changes: a character that was slightly too confident, or a bit larger than it should be.

We talked some more about the characters and what would happen in the story. At this point I had already written five issues of Ace (back then it had a different name) so I already knew what would happen. The more I told Ranjit about the story, the more I came to a critical point.

Who hasn't heard the stories about writers who had this idea, and then someone took it and ran with it. I think the Ace story is a good one. I know Ace is a story I would like to read myself (that’s my measurement of a good story). At this point I wanted to be the writer instead of only the reader. I wanted to send Ranjit my scripts, so that he could (in theory) run with it. The conversations with Ranjit were great and I felt this wonderful vibe, so I asked him: “Should I send you all the scripts?”

Ranjit received and read all my scripts. It was great to discuss my writing with him, because I got the feeling he was really into it. He asked questions about the characters and story. And within the span of a couple of days, my story became our story. And the funny part was that we had never seen each other in real life.  

Ranjit lived in Amsterdam at the time and I live in Groningen. But as it turned out, Ranjit had studied in Groningen and still visited with his dentist there. So after a dentist visit, we had our first real-life meeting. I know it may be boring to read, but we had a great time. We talked comics, went to my local comic-book shop (Zinnebeeld), and drank coffee. At the end of the meeting it was official; I had found an artist who would work with me on my (our) very first comic. I thought we were ready to go.

But Ranjit had his own company and some assignments he had to do. And the idea was that, with a colorist to color Ranjits drawings, producing the comic would go a lot faster. So the search was on once again.

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