The first Teacup VN Festival is starting tomorrow! I have a horribly big amount of butterflies in my stomach right now, so please excuse me if my writing is somehow unclear.
I think the title of this blog entry tells my feelings towards collaboration well. I have collaborated as an artist in 3 visual novel project now, and I have had the greatest of luck to work with some of the most awesome authors when it comes to visual novels. In other fields, I have encountered unfair project leads who seem to think of their artists as nothing more but a skillful pair of hands to command. Having seen bad collaborators, I believe I can truly appreciate the wonderful collaborators I have had the chance to work with in this medium.
In addition to being people I can happily call friends of mine, they have all been very talented, grateful and humble. I have always been given the creative control I need. It is surprising how much freedom an artist can have despite illustrating a ready script written by someone else. Should I never have tried it, I would never have thought it to be this enjoyable. If any of the writers I am talking about are reading this: thank you, you are great people! <3
Personally, though, I am so much of a control freak that I cannot imagine having another artist illustrate my own script. To be honest, I consider this a bit of a burden, as it would probably be a liberating experience to hand the graphic side of my work to someone else.
Should I do that, the quality might increase too – I think a writer, when drawing for their own work, is in some way biased. They are your words, fitting your own vision as precisely as they can. Sounds like a good thing, right? Well, it is in some ways, but often the work of another person’s heart and mind can bring more colour and atmosphere to your work. When I made Marie for The Morane Crisis, mikey actually went back to work on the script to change her character a bit since the sprite had quite a bit of personality.
It is somehow beautiful when another person’s work can add depth to your own, though I imagine it requires quite a bit of trust to let someone do that. My writing is very intimate to me so I feel a bit anxious letting someone touch it, even when it is about correcting the language. Because of this I do not expect myself to recruit an artist for my writing projects in the near future, but I would be happy if this prediction was wrong.
As for the one that will be released tomorrow, what can I say? It is an insane effort, and I think the results, too, are crazy in their own peculiar way. Compared to my earlier collaborations, this is different in the way that the original prompt for the project in the first place was mine. I just told the writer I had this crazy idea at 4AM when suffering from the dreaded swine flu, and contrary to all of my expectations, she jumped on it. She absolutely did.
The plot changed quite a bit – that is, almost entirely – as she wrote, but I think all the changes were for the better. I considered this a project I did not have the skill to do alone, and it would never have worked out if not for her. Being an artist, she also had a lot of ideas for the visual side of things. Our common vision was very strong, and I felt as if she were right next to me all the time when I worked on the graphics. When I am given instructions to work on something, I often feel alone and confused at some point (mostly because I start overthinking), but there was not even a hint of that in the creation of this certain visual novel. It may have been because she knows me and my insecurities so well. Altogether, the process felt very fluent.
The only regret I have is not being able to give her as much credit as she deserves. She has never done a visual novel before and wants to stay relatively anonymous, so as a visual novelist, she has no website or blog I could link to. I do understand her though – she apparently sees this as a one-time effort and is not sure whether she wants to make more visual novels or not. As she is already busy enough with her various hobbies and schoolwork, no is the more probable option. Nonetheless, working with her was a great pleasure.
As for the piece itself, I would describe it as a case of love it or hate it. I hope everyone will approach it with an open mind, it is the best that way. I also have to warn everyone that it is one of those stories that have to be read until the end to be fully understood. You will know what I mean.
April 1st. We promised. We would never forget!