Amateur comic creators are having their physical and mental skills tested in front of potential employers.
Source: Inspired by a Tom Spurgeon Tweet
Comic book publishers from across the country have gathered in Glendale, Arizona to view the Amateur Comic Creator Combine, ACCC for short, and test aspiring comic book creators' physical and mental skills. Publishers invited hundreds of aspiring creators to test their mettle in hopes of finding new talent for their companies. The event was created by popular comic journalist and saltwater fish Tom Spurgeon. "We figured that if the NFL does it, why shouldn't we?" Spurgeon said from his home in the Pacific Ocean.
The combine is divided into several different sections, each designed to test creators's different abilities. All creators participate in the physical tests, which include running a 40 yard dash, testing how high they can jump, and examining their grovelling strategies and technique. "I ran out of breath halfway through the thing," wheezed Daniel Goodman, who posted a combine best 9.65 second 40 yard dash. "But I told myself this was the only way to make my dreams come true, so I just ignored the sharp pains in my left side and finished." Other combine highs includes a 13" vertical posted by John Barrymore of RISD and a 9.8 grovelling score by Daniel Gould of Northwest Michigan State College.
Creators also have to complete a series of tests geared towards their specialization. Artists are asked to complete pages of sequential art, while writers are tested on their ability to pitch on the fly and script issues based on existing plots. "They gave me a cocktail napkin with a few words scribbled on it by a well known writer and asked me to come up with a six issue plotline off of it," said Nathan Vanderhorn, a highly touted prospect from Tennessee School of Art and Design. "I couldn't make out like 50% of the words so I just had to wing it."
"IDW asked us to come up with a way to make the Cabbage Patch Kids relevant," said Marvin Duros. "The best I could do was turn them into scantily clad 18 year olds."
Some artists also stuggled with their tests. "They gave me some panels with a bunch of Batgirls and timed me on how quickly I could erase Stephanie Brown and replace her with a Barbara Gordon Batgirl," said Jane Evenson. "I don't know who these people are so I couldn't figure out which of the Batgirls they were talking about, so I just erased them all except for the blonde one. I hope that doesn't cost me."
There's also a grueling interview process that allows publishers to vet the creators before they make a hiring decision. "Freakin' Bob Harras kept asking me if I had worked for him in the 1990s," said an aggrevated Charles Hamrich. "Why would I be at the combine if I already worked for him?"
"Marvel asked me who my favorite character was," said Betsy Tan of the Chicago Institute of Art. "When I told them my favorites were Cyclops and Richard Rider, they suddenly looked a lot less interested. At least Image was interested in my post-modern interpretation of a fly's reproductive cycle reimagined as a colorful dance on paper."
While this is the first year that publishers have hosted the event, they're already looking forward to next year. "Watching these creators run and jump was the most fun I've had since that BDSM party at Comic Con in 1991," said one publisher, who declined to be named. "You haven't lived 'til you're betting Quesada $100 that one of the inkers is going to die of a heart attack."
Organizers were also pleased by the turnout. "There was a few areas that we have to improve upon," admitted ACCC planner Jason Mulburry. "We kicked out at least a dozen current creators hoping to get some work. Hell, we didn't realize Scott Lobdell had snuck in until he scored a perfect 10.0 on his grovelling. No one recgonized him with the wig."
We'll see if the combine plays any role at next month's comic book creator draft, which will be held April 19th at the Marriott in Chattanooga, TN, and broadcast on the Science and Esquire TV Channels.