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Writing Them Out Of Your Friendship

| Friendly | November 5, 2016

(Two years ago I and a friend of mine started an online fantasy web-comic, I as the character creator and writer, and him as the artist. For the first year and a half, things went perfectly and the comic picks up a surprisingly large audience. Unfortunately at the close of the second year he gets a girlfriend who seems to completely take over his life, to the point that his art starts to suffer and he starts missing deadlines to deliver pages to me to post because he’s spending so much time with her. It gets to the point where the next volume of the comic is now a month overdue because my friend has yet to actually show me any new pages. I keep posting updates telling everyone what’s going on and readers are getting impatient. Finally I get a few new pages but they look horrible and it’s clear he’s not been following the script I gave him.)

Me: “Hey, um… just wanted to ask, what’s the deal with these pages? This looks nothing like your normal quality, and why are there suddenly all these changes to the characters?”

Friend: “Well, my girlfriend hates vampires so she thought [Character] would be better if I made her an elf. Likewise she didn’t think [Male Character] looked sexy enough and asked me to make him a blonde and add more to his bulk. I had to ditch your script and write my own to fit in the changes.”

Me: “We’re right at the point where the party ventures to the vampire homelands… and you’re trying to get rid of the vampire character? Also [Male Character] being lanky and not sexy is the whole point! He’s meant to be an aversion of the typical fantasy hero design!”

Friend: “Well, we’ll work with it. I’ve already got a new plot line in place that’ll explain all the changes!”

Me: “[Friend], I can’t post these. Everyone’s eagerly awaiting the resolution to the current arc! You can’t just start a new one because your girlfriend says so.”

Friend: “Well, we’re going on vacation for the winter so I won’t be able to draw anything new. Guess you’ll just have to wait till we come back to discuss this.”

Me: “Actually, no. I’ve held off long enough on your account; I’m not going to keep everyone waiting.”

Friend: “Yeah? What are you going to do then? Replace me?”

Me: “Yes.”

Friend: “Wait… what?”

(I show him several chat logs I’ve held with other artists, several of whom have expressed how inspired they’ve been by the comic and would be honored to contribute to it.)

Me: “This whole comic was my idea to begin with, including the setting, the cast, and the story. I let you draw it because I wanted you to have a venue to promote your skills, but if you can’t deliver on that then there’s plenty of other artists who’d be happy to take your place.”

Friend: “I’ll… uh… I’ll see if I can get you some new pages before we leave.”

(Sadly his work ethic continued to deteriorate and eventually I indeed had to get another artist to take over for him.)

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