Here's a rundown of the Breaking into Comics panel at NYCC!
What was originally supposed to be a panel featuring Mike Mignola turned into a "Breaking Into Comics" panel presented by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund at the last moment (unfortunately Mignola canceled two weeks ago), but it ended up being a real treat for those who stayed. Dark Horse Comics Senior Managing Editor Scott Allie and Boom Studios' Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon gave an honest, unfiltered look at how one can look to break into the business as a writer or artist.
Scott Allie started off by stating that while comic books may be a large part of pop culture at the moment because of the success of comic properties turning into movies, the job market for actual comic book personnel is shrinking. "Anything you can do would be easier than drawing comics," it was frankly said to the audience. Matt Gagnon went on to soften the blow by reiterating that it is still possible to get involved in comics by positioning yourself wisely in your local community by getting to know your comic book store owners, their patrons and even by getting to know forum communities online (hello Outhouse!)
Allie gave his personal story of how Portland, Oregon gave him his start by framing him in a community of like-minded comic book fans. He went on to emphasize sel- publishing, which can give you a name if you are willing to lose some money up front. Even web comics today have a pull that can help new writers and artists in their quest to break into the business.
Some of the practical advice given in the Q&A session was "get the bad work out of your system" early - basically, do lots of work to a point where you know your craft intimately enough that you can produce work that is of the highest quality. He also emphasized being able to throw out old work that doesn't match your current style anymore. Gagnon's tip was to "work all of the time" and make a goal of at least a page a day. For those looking to transition out of novel writing, Gagnon recommended specifically to read anything by Mark Waid. Allie recommended the book "On Directing Film" by David Mamet for those looking to understand timing in a visual medium when coming from a prose background.
One note that was interesting to hear is that it is much harder for a writer to get into the business than an artist. A writer needs to produce really top quality work, and in order to get a pitch in front of a studio needs to be willing to pair up with artists of all types to see their vision ultimately reached.
"Do something amazing" and "always be producing content!" -- remember these lines if you are looking to get into comics, and maybe even quote Allie or Gagnon in your next portfolio for extra bonus ponts!
Written or Contributed by: TerriG