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Seven Things You Can Do Towards Becoming A Comic Creator


Did I say “Five?” I meant “Seven!” Seven things you can do towards becoming a comic book creator!

I recently had to write content for a “Career Tips” page for the new website The Comics Professionals Directory. Here’s what I came up with:

Build Those Relationships
Despite talent, editors and publishers tend to want to work with people who are their friends and whom they know they can count on. It’s often hard to get into one of these already-established inner circles but what you can do is build relationships with folks who are at the same level as you now so as you all advance in your careers, you form your own inner circles and you can all help each other out.


Reputation Is Everything!
The comic book creators community is a small one. Even if spread out over several countries. Word travels fast about who bad-mouthed who, who’s a pain to work with, who pays on time and so forth. Especially on social media. So be civil, be helpful and be respectful. You never know who’ll be in a position to give you work someday. Don’t burn bridges.


Communicate! Communicate!
Nothing drives editors and writers crazier than not hearing from a creator for great lengths of time. If you’re working on a project for someone, it’s best to keep them in the loop about your progress. And if you know you’re going to need more time, say so as soon as you know. And gauge your time wisely. Never promise more than you can deliver. (Then deliver more than you promised!)


Learn To Draw Everything!
Or at least almost everything. One of the common mistakes I see among artists is that they get really good at drawing superheroes in skin-tight outfits in dynamic action poses. But they don’t know how to draw regular people sitting down and talking, clothes, living rooms, children, etc. A comic book isn’t 100% fight scenes. So learn to illustrate the quiet parts of a story too.


Baby Steps
If you’re just starting out in your career as a writer and you have no track record of producing anything, it may be a good idea to start on small projects rather than look for collaborators for a 30 issue story arc. No one wants to commit to months or years of work with someone who’s “untested.” Start first with short stories, 3-8 pages, put those out, and let people get to know you and your work. Then move on to bigger and bigger projects!


You Get What You Pay For!
Again, unless you’ve got a track record of having produced successful comic books, it’s not fair to expect people to work for you for free or “for exposure” even if you’re absolutely sure that your story is so good, publishers and movie studios will come calling. Even co-ownership is kinda iffy unless the artist really sees what a great story you’ve got. So as much as possible, please pay your artists, colorists, inkers and other collaborators.


It’s The Story That Matters
If you’re really serious about becoming a comic book creator, then focus more on character and story rather than costumes and superpowers. People don’t fall in love with what they can do or what they look like, they fall in love with who they are and when they do, they will follow your characters through any situation. So write stories! But if you’re perfectly happy doing pin-ups, that’s fine too.


No Excuses Please
Folks who have hired you for a job only want to know WHEN are you going to deliver. Unless a hospital or a natural disaster is involved, they really don’t want to hear any excuses as to why you’re not getting the work done. Especially not personal ones (relationship break-ups, out of supplies, self-doubt, etc). Your job to is provide solutions, not additional problems. You can ask for an extension. But ask early and ask rarely.

Hope this helps!

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