Are You Ready to be a Comic Writer?

Outside the Panels #2

There are so many readers out in the comic world who thrive off of negativity. I have honestly never posted anything in a discussion forum, however, I do read them. There is so much toxicity and pure, hate-filled comments out there. I don’t get it. It is as if people read books they don’t like just so they can hide behind a username and spew venom through their keyboards, joining in with other people who share their opinion. If you don’t like a book, just stop reading and find something you like.


I had to get that off my mind.
So, thanks for coming back to check out Outside the Panels! Last week on Outside the Panels #1 I introduced myself as well as this colum. This is my second installment and I have a few things I would like to talk about, so let’s dive in…
I keep up with a bunch of Tumblr’s belonging to well-known comic writers, and I feel they are always being asked, “How can I break into comics?” They always give the standard answers of, “write a script, find an artist to bring it to life, post/print your comic and you have broken into comics.” I’m paraphrasing. I think that still really doesn’t answer the questions of how to write a script, how to find an artist, and how to post/print your comic, it kind of makes it more confusing.
There are a lot of misconceptions about breaking into comics. I think the biggest one is that people think that because they have a great Spidey or Batman story, they should pitch it to Marvel or DC and hope they get it approved. Wrong. Sorry.
Anybody in the world can figure out how to write a comic script. Shit, anyone could figure out how to write a good story if they take the time to learn. However, being a comic writer takes more than a good story script. Tell you the truth, it’s the behind the scenes adventure that determined your “break into comics.”
I’ve heard Mark Waid say it thousands of times on comic book podcasts and panels, “Breaking into comics is like breaking out of a maximum security prison. Once someone figures out a way to do it, that hole they went through gets closed up and nobody will ever be able to get through that way again.” In my two years of writing comics, I can assure you he is right. I’m still trying to find my hole.
To keep us all on the same page, let’s say that “breaking into comics” means how to create your first comic.
So, let’s take this example… Say that the opportunity to be a comic book writer is ten feet in front of you, but three feet in front of you is a nine-hundred foot tall, six-foot thick, ten-thousand-foot deep wall made of titanium, concrete, broken glass and piranha teeth. Do you still want to try to pass it to become a professional comic writer? If you started devising a plan then you may be able to do it. But, if you just wondered how hard it will be–I’ll tell you right now, you might not be able to do it.
There are two kinds of people when it comes to wanting to be a professional comic writer… There are people who think they know better than current writers, spew venom, and believe they just need the opportunity to prove themselves. Then, there are people who are too busy working on their own projects, not waiting for a hand out because they are too busy busting their asses to get what they want.
The skills it takes to become a comic writer are a hard work ethic, determination, social skills, willingness to learn, and the ability to take criticism. You need all of those. If your not too good at any of them, start training or it is going to be a long road.
If you have all of the above then here are a few questions as well as a little check list for you. I made this same check list when I realized I wanted to start making comics.
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I have the drive to invest the time to make this happen?
2. Why do I want to make comics?
3. What kind of comics do I want to write?
4. Who are my favorite comic writers and why?
5. Am I willing to put in the time to learn about writing comics?
6. Will I study comic writers who came before me?
Check off this checklist:
__ Listen to comic podcasts, read interviews, books, and learn about the business of comic writing. Immerse yourself in the worlds of comics and writing
__ Figure out what kind of story you want to tell
__ Write out a concise one page plot of the story you want to tell
__ Write a script to the story
__ Get an account on DeviantArt, PencilJack, Digital Webbing, and ZWOL and start looking at the forums for potential artists to collaborate with
__ Reach out to those aforementioned artists
__ Read everyday
__ Write everyday
This list can be expanded insanely, but I think that is the core for a beginner.
If this is the first comic you do, I really recommend you do it as a webcomic, or a digital comic that you could give it away for free and get feedback from people around the comics community.
I think that’s it for today. Thanks for reading!!!!
Sal Brucculeri
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