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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why You Have To Think Far and Wide

The competition is fierce enough in other storytelling industries. Novelists, screenwriters, playwrights--all of them are aware of the cutthroat nature of their work.

But there's a big difference between their respective fields and the comics industry. For fiction, film and theater, their opportunities for breaking in are far greater than that of comics. We just need to count how many large and medium-sized comics publishers are currently operating to get a clear picture of how small the needle's eye is for comics creators.

To successfully break in, the comics creator should not limit his opportunities to comics publishers.

Moreover, the comics creator has to strive to be the best storyteller around. Not only that, but to attempt to be a good marketer.

Let's face it, comics publishers can only produce a finite number of titles. A finite number of titles can only accommodate a finite number of creators. There's no plausible reason for any creator to try to submit proposal after proposal in the hope that something bites. (Chris Claremont wrote the Uncanny X-Men for 20 years...that's 20 solid years spent by other people submitting X-Men stories, and failing.) One can try their darndest, of course, but imagine all that time wasted preparing and submitting proposals, when the creator can do his own work and get it published himself.

Since the opportunities for comics creators are small, these creators should aggressively begin carving their own paths. Why spend three, four, five years developing proposals when it would be wiser to spend those years being better writers and better artists? In this amount of time, an aspiring creator can move from neophyte to professional-level greatness without the help of a pat on the back from a big company.

This can only be done by studying, making short comics, studying further, making longer comics, and so on and so forth. To get to the big league, the aspirant has to subject himself to hard training in small deliberate steps, challenging himself every step of the way. He shouldn't do this to bag a gig in Marvel or DC, but to be a great comics creator, period.

So make your mark as a comics creator. Create rich, complex, entertaining, insightful and moving stories, using your own characters. Give them art that rivals, if not trumps, what you see on the shelves. Put together your book, with the best you've got, and seek out your own channel for publication.

If your work is really that good, you will find your audience, you will find your acclaim. And, who knows, maybe those big companies will eventually come knocking on your door.


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