One Fan's Opinion: Issue #31

Fri, March 31st, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Erik Larsen, Columnist

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People ask me -- how do I break into comics?

And I'll tell you how...

It's not a big mystery -- there's no magic involved, no secret hand shakes or special tools. If you want to break into comics, you make comic books.

Pretty simple, eh? You wanna draw -- draw -- you wanna write - write, but if you want to do the job -- do the job!

"But I want to be a writer and I can't find an artist," you say. "But I'm an artist and I can't write," you offer. "But I can't letter/color/ink," you argue.

Get over it!

Do without! You can't draw? Then do the best you can. You can't write? Then do the best you can. You can't letter, color or ink? Then do the best you can.

Just do it.

And writing comics when you can't draw will teach you a thing or two about storytelling. It will teach you what can and can't be drawn. You'll learn not to ask an artist to have somebody go into the kitchen, look in the fridge and bring back a beer in a single panel because you'll figure out for yourself that it's impossible to draw in a single panel. You'll get a feel for what works and what doesn't and if you're an artist that can't write, you'll become a better storyteller too and yeah, your comic may not be awesome, but you know what? It'll be a comic book and if you take it down to the copy shop and run off a few copies you'll have something to show people -- something they can see and feel and read -- yes, read! A comic book - your comic book.

And that's how you start.

One comic book, given to friends and family and coworkers and people in the comic book market and then comes the next step -- getting feedback. This time you listen and learn and take it all in and then you sit down and turn out your next comic book and the cycle begins again.

You see, nobody can read your comic book unless you have a comic book to read.

And if you're "just a writer," nobody is ever going to sit down and read your 400 page, single-spaced, unwieldy tome that teams up and crosses over every know character from every company that ever published a comic book.

That, my friend, was a complete waste of time.

Not everybody starts out drawing Spider-Man or Batman. Most start out doing crappy photocopied fanzines and begin the process themselves. Hell, some even take their fanzine characters with them like Marv Wolfman did with Nova and I did with Savage Dragon,

A lot of creators begin this way. They start small and network. A lot of writers are failed artists. Mike Baron used to draw all of his scripts. Marv Wolfman drew. Len Wein drew. Have you ever seen Alan Moore draw? It's awful! But all of those guys had something in common that a lot of writers don't have and that's a sense of what makes a good visual and what can be drawn. They also made a lot of friends and made a lot of connections along the way.

You can do this.

You can too.

And the neat thing for you is no matter how shitty it is, somebody is going to read your comic. And if you want to be a writer, maybe it will be that guy that wants to be an artist. And if you want to be an artist, maybe it will be that guy that wants to be a writer. Maybe a "love connection" will be made and maybe you'll work together and you can be the next Mike Baron and Steve Rude and maybe you can have a career.

Or not.

Maybe you suck and maybe you don't have it in you and maybe you'll find out that you don't have it in you, but you'll be glad that you gave this a shot because you'd always wonder, right?

The thing is, a lot of guys want to break in and a lot of guys ask me how to get started and they just don't get that people aren't just handing out careers in comics to whoever's walking by the office on Thursday afternoon. Jobs are given to those that know how to do the job -- those who have proven they can do the job -- those who have shown they can do the job. And how do you do that? You do the job!

And there's a whole network of guys that work on amateur comics. Guys who post on the net and contact each other and mail fanzines back and forth. These guys are learning their trade. And some will make it and some won't. But they're all trying. And the important thing here is to try. To make the effort. To get off your ass. To do something.

You can do it.

If you want to make it in the funnybook field you should do it.

And when you're all done...think about me.

But do me a favor, okay? Don't send it to me. Lord knows I don't want to look at your wretched shit.

But that's just one fan's opinion. I'm willing to concede that I could be wrong.

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