By Beau Smith
I remember what it was like tryin’ to bust into comic books as a writer in the late 70s and early 80s.
It was tough.
But, it was somethin’ I really wanted to do. So I toiled close to eight years trying to bust in. Being from a small town in West Virginia didn’t really help either.
But I did it.
I sold the one thing in the world I knew best?me. I made contacts through the mail, I went to conventions and made face-to-face impressions, and I worked me, Beau Smith, like a southern diplomat. It all paid off and I made some really good friends along the way.
In some ways it should be easier to bust into comics as writer today. As I’ve preached here before, the interne t is a great tool to get yourself noticed. There are still loads of conventions to attend and press the ol’ flesh. It all seems that this is a prime time to get into comics and start a writing career?.
But it’s not.
In my never humble opinion, I think it’s even harder to be a comic book writer today. Why? Well, there are a few reasons, some good, some bad.
For one thing the big two publishers, Marvel and DC Comics have most of the writers they want under exclusive contracts. That means those guys are gonna get work before anyone else. That’s your first fence that stands in your way. There are more people under exclusive contract now than ever before.
As you go through the smaller publishers you’ll find that the other publishers get more specialized. That narrows the chances even more. Image and IDW Publishing fit a broader stroke. Both of these publishers are much more creator owned friendly. They are not really hindered by genre either. Your chances there seem to be better.
Getting work is really like the old saying?”Ya can’t get credit if ya don’t have credit.” It’s hard to get writing work if ya don’t have writing work. A tough situation. It can be done. Robert Kirkman of Walking Dead is a prime example. He was able to do his stuff and shine. It wasn’t long until other publishers started calling Robert to get him to write for them. It’s really nice to see that it can be done. It’s just getting that first break that is the hardest.
“Want writing work? Get to know the players.”
Another fence that ya gotta climb now days is the fact that so many established writers are out of work right now and are bottleneckin’ your path to get work. Most times these guys with a past history will get the new work before you do. Comics are one of the few pop culture mediums where you can ride off of past fumes for a long time.
You also have every artist, inker, letterer, business guy and colorist that think they are writers as well. The race to writing work is kinda overwhelming. I really don’t have a pat answer on how to get that first writing job. I wish I did. One thing I can tell ya from my own experience is this?Don’t Give Up!
I didn’t give up and I made it; it may take ya a while, but if ya really want it, you can do it. There were others that were trying to get into comics at the same time I was and they all fell to the wayside. They didn’t want it bad enough.
My advice is to keep up on comics. Know what the trends are. Know what editors from each publisher are looking for. Know who these editors are. Contact them. Make yourself known. Use the internet. Go to conventions. Meet people. Hook up with an artist. Most importantly?keep writing! Write something every day. Take the time to write a little every day.
Do not give up. Do not be weak. Do not wait for someone to hand it to ya. Reach out there and grab it by the balls and squeeze until you get work.
I don’t wanna come off as some hairy legged cheerleader, but if ya want it bad enough you will get it. Look for that opportunity to show up. It will, but you’ve gotta be there to recognize it. If you’re not the next guy in line will take it.
You’ll never know if that pretty girl is gonna dance with ya unless ya ask her. I’m tellin’ ya to ask! Then dance like nobody is watchin’.
The only way for me to become a better writer is to have you breathin’ down my neck. For me to be a better writer, I’ve gotta know that you are right behind me ready to snatch my work from me if I drop the ball. Eat red meat. Get aggressive!
Beau, with an incentive for editors to hire him.
But in doin’ so don’t expect any mercy from me. I’m gonna always be one step ahead of ya because I want it that bad. Be like me? go for the throat.
I’ll see ya out in the battlefield of comics.
I aint hard to find.
The Flying Fist Ranch
P.O. Box 706
Ceredo, WV. 25507
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