The Panel gathers movers and shakers from across the industry together to answer your questions!
Is there a burning question you’ve always wanted to ask the movers and shakers of the comicbook industry. Don’t be shy all questions accepted no matter how serious or stupid, it’s the chance you’ve always been waiting for. So don’t miss out on your chance, send them in now to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Most of the Panellists should be known to you but if not, don’t panic I’ve got a few details on them at the end of the column.
This week’s question comes from Ritchie, a comic book writer wannabe! His question is:
“How did you break into comics and do you have any advice for new creators? What’s the best way for new creators to get noticed and break into comics?”
Alonzo Washington: “How did I break into comics? I did not knock on the door. I kicked the son of a bitch in. Anybody with drive can do it. Read! I read books on publishing. Save! Save your money to produce your own products. That way you don’t have to beg Marvel or DC to let you work for them. By saving cash I have been able to produce comic books, trading cards, T-shirts, posters, action figures, watches, clocks, buttons & bobble heads. My products have been sold by Walmart, Toys-R-Us, KB Toys & Diamond Distributions. However, have a plan to sell your own products without them. I have a website (www.omega7.com) and use a number ways to move my products. I attend schools, libraries, Black Expos, churches, small books stores. rallies, community events, etc. I don’t need anyone to be a super star. Use what you know. I am an activist and know how to use the media. Omega Man & my other characters have been featured on: CNN, NEWSWEEK, THE CBS EARLY SHOW, PEOPLE, E! NEWS DAILY, The Washington Post, USA TODAY, Voice of America, Entertainment Tonight, Seventeen Magazine, The CBS EARLY SHOW, BET NEWS, The LA Times, The NEW YORK Times, etc. Mainstream companies hate me for this. Use your strengths! My image takes well to TV & PUBLIC APPEARANCES. I look different, cool, good or strange. I really don’t know. Women like it, people like it & kids like it. So, I use it. There is no one way to do it. If you want to work for the majors Kiss a lot of ass. I don’t kiss it. I kick it. So, I doubt that I could ever work for the majors. However, I don’t have to do comics. Look at the creator of Spawn. Another thing! Never GIVE UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Terry Moore: “Well, I suppose we’ll hear a lot about professionalism, how to approach editors and quality of work, so I’ll point out something else. I broke into comics by making my own book. That worked out so well for me I just kept doing it. Too many young hopefuls approach comics like it was any other job, that is, I’ll get the job first, then do the working routine. I meet too many young artists and writers at conventions who have not drawn or written a complete comic book story yet. They have notes, sketches, pinups, character lists and bios and all that, but a script for a 22 page comic? No. A 22 page sequential story fully pencilled? No. That’s not good. Breaking into comics isn’t like getting a job at Starbucks where somebody will train you on the job. To be in comics you have to already be making comics, and be so good at it an editor can grab you and put you right to work. When editors say Show me a 5 page story sequence!, they mean show them the best 5 pages you have. But too many artists have never drawn more than 5 to 10 pages in sequence. They just keep doing 5 audition pages of this or 8 pages of that. Uh uh. Not good, and it shows in the work when they present their portfolios. To work in comics means to draw or write 8+ hours a day, everyday. You need to come as close to that kind of dedication as possible before you even have your first editor review. Make lots of good comic stories on your own and you won’t need a lucky break to get into the business, it will happen naturally.”
Bill Rosemann: “It helps greatly if you meet someone who’s either in the industry or that knows someone in the industry. Then you have to plug away again and again and again, and if you have the skills and professionalism needed and are in the right place at the right time you may be able to take advantage of an opportunity. Worked for me and a bunch of’ folks that you now see in mastheads and credit boxes. Also, explore the possibilities of all available intern programs. And if you’re a creator, self-publishing and/or portfolio reviews at conventions may be your best shot at getting your work under the right noses. It’s all about perseverance and figuring out how you can prove to companies that they can rely on you to achieve the goals that they’ve targeted. Then again, buying the right people a drink at conventions never hurt!”
Alan Grant: “I wanted to work in comics when I left school. I ended up in a bank. Then selling encyclopaedias. Then local govt accounts clerk. Finally DC Thompson gave me an editorial job–but judged my aptitude lay, not in comics, but in teenage romantic fiction. I quite enjoyed it, but finally my head exploded. I went to London to find work with IPC’s comics. They were on strike. I ended up on “Birds of the World.” Then “Fish of the World.” Then editorial/feature writer/story writer on “Loving”, “Love Affair”, and “Honey.” I was earning more writing than as sub-editor, so I went freelance. I didn’t write another romantic story. I didn’t write anything (at least anything that sold). I was thrown out of university and hounded by the social security fraud squad. In search of money I began making up puzzles which I sold to a Fleet Street puzzle mag. The publisher also had the European rights to Tarzan, which was then being written by a certain John Wagner. John gave up the tropical jungle to work on the jungle of 2000AD, and recommended me as his replacement. Finally, I’d got into comics. “Tarzan” led to scripts for “Starlord” which led to the job as Steve MacManus’s assistant on 2000AD led to my writing partnership with John. The best way for new creators to break into comics is to make sure as many people as possible see their work (if it’s any good). And the best way to get noticed is to be better than the rest. My advice? Believe in yourself. Don’t give up. Learn to distinguish between the bullshit editors often feed you and honest praise and/or criticism. And bring as much experience of the “outside world” to your comics work as you possibly can”.
Mike Collins: “How do you get into comics? Persistence. Thick skin. Luck. Talent. Pretty much in that order .Everyone finds their own route- self-publishing helps (we called ’em fanzines back in the day…) to get work out there. Work outside of comics- write scripts for radio, do art for magazines. All experience is valuable .The old Catch22: People can only take you seriously as someone worthy of being published, if you’ve been published.”
Vince Moore: “What’s the best way for new creators to get noticed and break into comics? Well, to be quite honest, I owe my first comics job to being in the right place at the right time. A friend of mine works for Platinum Studios and suggested me to his editor Lee Nordling of one of their upcoming projects. After speaking with Lee over the concept and some ideas, I was found to be acceptable to what Platinum wanted and got myself a writing job. Being a Nichiren Buddhist helped immensely as well. As for advice, the usual things apply: hone your craft to the best of your ability, never stop learning, show your work to those who matter, editors and the like, etc. Most of all I would say have faith in yourself, in your desire, know what you want, and persevere. If you want to work for other companies, then you can find all the information to do so. If you want to self publish, the same applies. As long as you are taking action towards the fulfilment of your desire to do comics, you will succeed. It may not be Wizard Top Ten or Diamond Top Ten success, but it will be your success. And that’s the most important thing……That’s it”.
Alan Donald: “How do you get into comic books? Write, write, write if that’s the way you want to go or draw, draw, draw if that’s your thing. Every time you have a quiet 5 minutes do something. Make sure you show your work to as many professionals as possible (that’s where con’s come in useful). But don’t harass people! Take any advice that’s given and make sure you listen. Make sure you present some finished works not some half assed ideas. You have to show that you can write a whole 22 page work and will be able to take that idea to a further 200 or so pages. With drawing you have to show that you can draw sequentially and that you can draw 22 pages as well. Also that you are going to be able to hit the deadlines set by the company unlike some superstar creators! Get known in some other areas of the comicbook industry, get you face known by the movers and shakers. Another thing is to self publish this shows you are capable of all things the companies are looking for and who knows you may find that you don’t need to be tied to the big companies if you work hard. And that’s the best bit of advice I can give actually work, work, work, work and more work!
In summary it looks like everyone agrees that it takes a lot of bloomin’ hard work to get into this business and much persistence. Also self publishing is a really good way to go. And buying the right person drink at the bar when your next at a convention wouldn’t go amiss!!!
This Week’s Panel are: Terry Moore, the creator of Strangers in Paradise ’nuff said; Alan Grant has had his hands in many pies including Batman and Judge Anderson; Bill Rosemann – for years Marvel’s man – now over at CrossGen helping bring them to the forefront of the public eye; Mike Collins has done art on everything from Harry Potter Trading Cards to Transformers to Dredd to the covers of an indie bands CD to just about – well everything really; Alonzo Washington is the creator of Omega Man and black campaigner; Vince Moore’s work for Platinum Studios can be checked out via the link on his name above.”
Previous Questions: Check out the message board where I’ve put up a list of every question the Panel has faced so far (neatly linked to the column it appeared in) to inspire you and let you know what to avoid.
SBC reserves the right to edit questions for reasons of consistency and inclusivity.