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Editor’s note: It’s with great pleasure that we present a guest post from Jim Zub, writer of Skullkickers, Samurai Jack, Red Sonja and Cub, Disney Kingdoms: Figment and many more. Jim regularly shares his insights and tips from his own experiences breaking into the comic industry over on his blog, and when he offered to let us post the latest one I jumped at the chance. This one, on networking, has good tips whether you’re looking to be a comic pro or just looking for a job in general.
Thanks to Jim for sharing; you can see the post on his blog right here.
by Jim Zub
“Networking” is one of those broad social terms that get tossed out in conversation, and everyone who’s been around a while nods their head knowingly when the word comes up, but it’s something I think is quite misunderstood by a lot of people trying to get their start in comics or any other creative business.
Networking is not entering a social setting, finding the most “powerful” person there and trying to dazzle them so you can become “friends”.
It’s not sending lists of questions to professionals so they can “help” you break in.
It’s not tagging people on Facebook so they see your artwork or writing.
It’s not about dominating a conversation or hogging the spotlight.
It’s not nepotism or elitism, contrary to what some may think.
“I thinks it’s a truly different world now in that getting out and publishing your own work is paramount rather than just another strategy. A lot of these companies have so many options that digging through the horrors of a submissions pile is never going to match getting an impression from what people are seeing out there and then pursuing the best of it”
I’m still catching up from being offline all last week, so I apologize for leaning heavily on Mr. Spurgeon today. He makes a great observation, though, about the choices that comics publishers have and how that should affect creators hoping to be published by those companies. If I were looking for stuff to publish, I’d be scouring festivals and the Internet for awesome self-published stuff too instead of digging through my slush pile. Better to see what creators are already actually doing than what they claim they can do in a pitch.
(Cover detail from Dave Ryan’s War of the Independents)
This is actually an answer I like to give to writers when they ask me the question of how they can attract an artist, “Have you considered drawing your comic yourself?” I get that not everyone draws, or has the capacity and patience (and time and momentum) to learn drawing, but take it from me, drawing is a skill, and it is something many people can learn. So why not give it a try?
Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O’Malley has been answering all sorts of questions from his fans over on his Tumblr blog this week about Scott Pilgrim, his upcoming book Seconds and several questions on his process, among other topics. For instance, here’s where he came up with the idea for Seconds:
Q. When you finished Scott Pilgrim did you have a concrete idea of how Seconds would play out? Or do you have a vague idea of a concept then make it concrete along the way? I guess I’m really asking: what is your thought process when coming up with a new story?
A. To be honest, I came up with the basic idea of Seconds in 2004, a few months after finishing the first scott pilgrim book. There were moments during the series when I wished I could quit scott pilgrim and go off and do Seconds, this other unrelated book, but I was good & patient & I waited until I was finished.
Anyway, over those years (like 6-7 years thinking about it before I started really writing it), the idea grew and evolved along with me. I don’t think I could have done it properly at any time before now, but it’s still the same basic idea from 2004.
My actual process is to have 1 idea, write it down somewhere, then have idea 2, 3, 4, etc (all stemming from the first idea?) and write them all down, and then go back over everything i’ve written and try to figure out what i was trying to say. What is the point? What’s the core of the idea, what are all these little ideas orbiting around? Once you figure that out, that’s kind of the first real step.
Kate Beaton has a great question-and-answer session up on her Tumblr (and it’s only Part One), covering topics from process to setting up a website to marketing and dealing with criticism. It’s a fantastic, informative read from someone who knows what she’s talking about, though the most important advice may be her response to a question about finding time to create:
Charles Schulz’s famous quote is something we’ve all heard. “Cartooning will destroy you, it will break your heart.” When you understand what he meant, you also understand why he did it for most of his life all the same.
“Reminder to writers/artists, if you’re contacting editors about work in a professional capacity, please use your real name. When I get e-mails from people using nicknames [like] ‘Dark Spidey’ or ‘Elflord’ asking about submitting, it’s hard to take you seriously. Be smarter.”
— Marvel’s Senior Vice President, Creator & Content Development C.B. Cebulski, with another pearl of wisdom from his magic box of “how not to break into comics” tidbits. Protip: This applies to comment-thread posters, too. Just sayin’!
San Diego Comic Con starts next Wednesday. NEXT WEDNESDAY. So catch on your sleep before then. But before you tuck yourself in, drop me an email and let me know what you have going on at the con, so I can post it right here.
I’ve got a lot of stuff in my in-box, so expect these updates to become a little more frequent between now and next week.
Free T-shirts | Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth will be giving away 50 T-shirts for Stumptown, their long-awaited series from Oni that was announced, I think, two years ago at the con. They’ll be giving them away at the Oni panel on Thursday.
Autographs | The SDCC has released their official auotgraph area schedule, which includes signings by James Jean, Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Adam West, Hope Larson, Thomas Jane, the Honky Tonk Man and many more.
Anime | The con folks have also posted the schedule for anime screenings, which they’ll be showing late into the night.
Oni Press is holding a “talent search” in lieu of portfolio reviews at the San Diego Comic Con. The rules are fairly simple — if you want Oni to review your art, they’ve provided five-page scripts from three writers for artists to illustrate and bring to the con. Artists can also mail their entries to Oni.
For more information, check out the press release after the jump. While the contest is definitely geared toward artists, there’s a small benefit for writers, too — three script samples from three professional comic writers, which are linked after the jump.
“We’ve put A LOT of thought into our talent discovery and hiring processes recently. We WANT to find more talent. It’s in our best interest.” These are the words of C.B. Cebulski, talent scout and liaison for Marvel Comics. If you aren’t familiar with C.B., he’s one of the key people today actively searching for artists to join the big leagues of the comic book industry.
Having come from the manga and anime worlds, C.B. arrived at the doors of Marvel to create the Marvel Mangaverse line. It was there that he started fostering new creators for the House of Ideas. In addition, C.B. is a creative talent himself, having written the recent Marvel sellout X-Infernus, and his creator-owned Wanderlust with Image Comics. Next up for him is War of Kings: Darkhawk.
Possessing one of the sharpest eyes for talent in the industry, C.B. is known for being generous with his time and advice. “There were lots of people who helped me get to where I am today in comics and I am only happy to return the favor,” he says.
To that end, he has been using his Twitter account to post pointers for comic book hopefuls, distilled into zen-like chunks of 140 characters or less. If you haven’t been following along, grasshopper, you should start immediately!
We’ve collected some of these indispensable koans of wisdom for your guidance. Call it The Tao of Breaking Into Comics, According to C.B. Cebulski.