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Ed Brisson @edbrisson
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Considering it's #NaNoWriMo and folks are setting out to try to write a novel in a month, I wanted to talk VERY BRIEFLY about something I encountered with a lot of aspiring comic creators at Hal-Con last weekend. The two things are sort of related.
I was on two different panels that essentially became "How do I break into comics?" panels. The answer is ALWAYS the same. You break into comics by making comics. It's really that simple. But, of course, there is some nuance to it.
Because you've made a comic, that does NOT mean that you WILL break into comics. But, NOT making a comic almost guarantees that you will NOT break into comics.

And, for clarity sake, by "breaking into comics", I mean getting to a position where you're paid to write/draw comics.
With all apologies to artists, I'm going to focus mostly on writing here. It's what I know and I don't want to misrepresent what it's like to be an artist breaking in.
Here are a few questions that get asked a lot at the panels, with the answers:

Q: What does a comic script look like.
A: Go to the Comic Book Script archive and read a bunch:

You'll see that no two are alike and that there is no rigid format.
Read a bunch of those scripts and choose a format you like, or else come up with some sort of mash-up of styles. The important part is that you are able to clearly relate the story to the artist you'll be working with. Give them all the information they need.
Q: How do I find an artist?
A: Go to conventions. Follow artists on twitter. Who do those artists follow? Get involved in conversations online and at conventions. Look around locally for aspiring artists. Artists are EVERYWHERE.
Q: How do I get an artist to work on my project?
A: You ask them if they'll be interested. But, before you do: What can you offer them? A page rate is always best, but not always a reality for those starting out. If you're not offering a page rate, you BETTER offer part ownership
And by part ownership, I mean an equal share. It might be your idea, but the artist is putting in a lot more work than you are.
Page rates may seem tough, but if you can cut back on some expenses (video games, meals out, etc), you can save for months and put something together.
To make it even easier. Focus on SHORT stories. 5-10 pages MAX. These are stories with a beginning, middle and end. Not intros to characters, not preludes to a longer story. Short, complete stories.
The reason for this is a fewfold: It's easier to find an artist who can commit to 5-10 pages instead of a 200 issue epic; it's CHEAPER to pay for 5 pgs instead of 20-2,000; you can create MORE stories in less time; & it's easier to get editors (and others) to read short stories.
I'd also advise keeping the comics in black and white to save on colourist fees. Though, HIRE A LETTERER. It's inexpensive and bad lettering will sink hours of hard work.
To my point above about your 200 issue epic (or even your 5 issue mini-series). If you're JUST starting out, you want to put those ideas in the drawer. They'll still be there later. Trust me.
Once you've done your 5-10 pages stories, put them up online for folks to read for FREE. Don't worry about trying to charge for your work yet. You want to build your name and readership first.

When I was starting as a writer, I did this with MURDER BOOK:
Even though your comics can be read for free online, you can still print comics through short-run printers to sell at shows. The per-unit cost is higher than traditional printers, but you can order as few as 1 copy and not have to worry about being stuck with boxes of stock.
But, the important thing is you need to START. Often at these panels, people will talk about ideas they've had for six years, but they've never actually started writing. Just "planning". Planning is a great way to procrastinate and put off doing any real work.
You can't make a comic if you don't write the script. So, in the spirit of #NaNoWriMo, start today. Write a 5-10 page story. Give yourself a HARD deadline. In fact, I'll give you one now: If you're writing 5 pages, your deadline is November 9. If you're writing 10, it's Nov. 16.
Stop talking, start doing. And if you can't...if you can't get up the motivation to actually start writing, then maybe you just like the IDEA of being a comic book writer. Maybe you can't handle the work it takes. Maybe you're not cut out for it.

Prove me wrong.
Like I said, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to break into comics by making comics, but at least, at the end of the day, you've made a comic and that's something you can, and should, be proud of.
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