One of the most exasperating aspects of work-for-hire books can be the turnaround time. On any of the projects that I've worked on to date, the most time I've ever had to draw(pencil and ink) a page has been a day. Now this is normal enough in the scheme of things; any artist working on a monthly book where he/she is drawing every issue will only ever have a day to complete each page. In many(most?) ways, this is a good thing. It forces you to be less precious with your work, and teaches you shortcuts and tricks to make the work go faster. But it also inevitably leads to compromise. There are only so many hours in a day, and after 12 to 14 in a row, you can get pretty burnt out. So you produce the best page of artwork you can in the given time-frame.
Then there are the books that you get 3 weeks per issue to draw, because of certain mitigating circumstances. I recently drew a run on a title that simply needed to be drawn in three weeks apiece over three issues. It isn't down to anybody else's failure on any part whatsoever; sometimes that's just all the time that's available. So you do the best you can, and hopefully it'll turn out well enough that nobody will notice that some of the pages were hurried along in places. But it can lead to some work that you're less than happy with, work that you wish you could've had just that teeny bit more time on. Early last year I drew a mini-series that needed to be completed in an even shorter time-frame; 2 weeks per issue. This was due to the tie-in movie's release date being just around the corner, and the fact that our story was a prequel tale meant that it would work much better if released before the movie and read as a primer. So we double-timed it, literally, but we got there. The book was really well-written, so it was actually good fun to work on, though it was a killer getting it in on time.
But get it in on time you must, since professionalism and time-keeping are incredibly important aspects of the comicbook creative sphere. Now these examples are not meant to be complaints, far from it; they're just the most extreme recent examples I can think of. As I mentioned above, the norm is you get one full day to complete one full page. And that is pretty darn do-able when you get down to it. That said, the frequent result is that I usually come away from a book wishing I'd had a bit more time to make the pages just that bit better across the board.
More and more lately I've been realising that in 20 or 30 years, not many people are going to remember a large body of work that is competent and solid, but not particularly stand-out or significant. I need to take the time in places to do some work that allows me to spend longer with each image, that lets me wade around in the creative pool discovering new techniques and methods. To produce an entire project of work that I'm really excited by and proud of. In other words, to end up with something memorable.
I'm thinking, would I rather my favourite movie director rush a new movie out once every year simply to meet a quota, or would I prefer he take his time and craft something that really says something, regardless of execution time? Well, maybe not quite regardless of deadline, because that way chaos lies. But certainly giving something enough time to breath and gestate.
So this time I'm going to put my money where my mouth is. I'm going to take TWO(count 'em!), maybe even three(steady) full days to complete each page, from pencil to inks to colour. I've always wanted to take a bit more time with the work, and now I can. I'm hoping that I can manage to surprise myself, and that the work will be even better than I imagined. He said confidently.