Friday, May 14, 2010
C.B. Cebulski on Comics - Creators
That's a tweet from C.B. Cebulski, writer and editor over at Marvel Comics. He's constantly harangued on Twitter about how to break into comics. He's very good about offering his advice when he can, but it can get lost in his other tweets about food, travel and life in general. Because of that, he wanted someone to create an online FAQ including all of his sage advice. Omnicomic has taken the initiative to create three such FAQS, one for artists, one for writers and one for creators. This one is the one for creators. Some of this stuff could be either writer or artist specific, but there are a lot of you out there that are keen to illustrate and write your own books.
After the jump is every tweet CB posted pertaining to breaking in as a creator, going all the way back to August 2009. I tried to keep them as intact as possible, so there will be the obvious typos here and there (don't fault CB though). I also grouped them together into categories as best as possible as well for relatively easy tracking. Check out artists and writers as well. Enjoy!
This may sound weird, but in my experience, I find wearing some kind of Marvel related apparel always makes travelling easier & friendlier.
RT @TheJohnBarber: "When I left Marvel editorial, a creator called & said "now that you quit--can you tell me the secret to break in?" HA!!
RT @AdamTracey: "The term "break into #comics" is misleading, like there's a trick. Maybe start saying "work your way into comics" instead?"
RT @Perazza: "I wish people trying to break into #comics would stop looking for the goddamn angle, trick or gimmick." So agree! Do the work.
Never underestimate the power of the mini-comic. Make them. Distribute them. Buy them. Enjoy them.
Breaking into Marvel is like getting into Harvard. Not only do you need to be the top of your class, you need extra curricular activities.
Wanna know the secret of comics? Everyone's a genius and nobody knows anything. :)
The medical field employs both doctors and lawyers, but would you hire a hospital
attorney to perform surgery? Apples & oranges, people.
...that newer artists with differing styles whose work I really enjoy are being embraced by editors & offered more work. Thanks, @Marvel!
As a wise man once said, "Breaking into comics is hard, but staying in comics is harder.", which is why it's nice to see... (cont.)
I go over submission info almost monthly, folks. Please go back & read my old tweets on how, what, where & who to submit to Marvel. Thanks!
RT @skottieyoung: "I would add to also know what's out there so you know what direction to go and what has already been done." Good advice!
RT @PaulTobin: "Totally agree, but it should be added... read OTHER things too" Indeed. Study story & storytelling wherever you can find it!
I'm not saying read ONLY comics, just that if you want to write or draw them, at least have an understanding & appreciation of the art form.
Today's piece of advice for aspiring comics creators... Read comics! (Should go without saying, I know, but you'd be surprised.)
RT @Chozzles If I may add: STAY POSITIVE. There is no conspiracy against you breaking in (to comics)! Work hard and make your own luck.
...but be very clear and careful upfront when it comes to contracts/terms/payments when working with newer/smaller companies.
I'll always encourage up-n-coming writers/artists to work for indy publishers; take the work/chance when & where you can get it... (cont.)
#10yearsago I had just quit my job, started my own company, was translating manga & anime, and pitching comics like a madman.
Just kidding. I do not accept bribes. (Except if it's under $75 and can be shared with the editors.) :)
Sending them in with a nice bottle of booze... that would be enterprising and guarantee a review!
Trying to decide whether new writers/artists who send in their samples disguised as Christmas presents are enterprising or annoying.
In regards to Popgun, please follow @joekeatinge who is kindly and frantically tweeting submission info you need to know.
RT @joekeatinge: While PopGun's submissions are closed, you can bug @leighwalton about Top Shelf 2.0 and check out Zuda.
I highly recommend Image's Popgun! So many cool stories & artists in each volume. Not sure of their submission policies tho. @JoeKeatinge?
And many anthologies are read by the editors at every publisher out there. All it takes is one small story to get you noticed and hired.
There all lots of amazing anthologies out there that are looking for talented writers and artists to contribute that you should look into.
Writers too. As the big publishers need "previously published work" in order to consider you, it's a way to get your foot in the door.
I sometimes do encourage artists looking to break in to take gigs at smaller publishers for free for the opportunity and exposure it brings.
It is much to discover creators who are working digitally so they are easier to find and contact on our own when we see something we like.
That's not the case at all, @RivkaJacobs . We love digital comics and work with lots of people who publish over the net, men and women.
I don't think we can make it TOO easy to break into comics. Getting a chance may be easier, but proving yourself & STAYING in is harder.
All Marvel freelancers, and most DC/Image/DH/Indy ones, have my e-mail address. If you have a question, send me a note. I'm happy to help.
Long-time pros should have the knowledge & contacts to know & be able to ask about company policies before shooting their mouths off online.
If you get an editor's contact info, I recommend sending a follow-up e-mail without attachments first. Ask if you can submit samples.
Always personalize any communication you have with editors. Use their names. Mass "Dear Editor" e-mails and packages tend to get trashed.
Being completely frank, there's a good chance anything you give me or an editor at a con won't make it back with us. Always follow up.
Open and honest communication with your editor is extremely important in comics. Sometimes just as important as having talent.
The Marvel Comics address is in each and every comic we have published for the last 60 years. Get off your asses and do some legwork, folks.
Mass e-mails sent to every editor at every company titled "New Samples", "Check Out My Work" or "Available Artist" usually get deleted.
And one other quick point I'll re-emphasize as I see it happening more & more... personalize your inquiry e-mails to individual editors.
RT @david_hahn "If someone recommends you for a job & passes your name along, please thank that person. So many don't."
I love guys who think breaking in criteria for writers should be the same as artists. They're both jobs in comics but COMPLETELY different!
RT @Perazza: "If you call yourself editor, part of the job is to know the craft." And to respect it. Editing comics is more than just a job.
RT @ronmarz: "Is it lazy editing, or just not knowing any better?" It all depends on the editor and how long they've been editing, IMO.
It's just a fact of the biz given current solcitiation cycles & writers/artists' schedules. But everyone tries their best to make it happen.
Yes, both "bad comic bet" editors eventually got fired. One still regarded as "worst comic editor ever". But who suffered most? The fans.
There's actually an infamous story about 2 disgruntled editors who made a bet to see who could put out the worst comic & tank sales faster.
Let me emphasize I mean MARVEL editors. I've actually heard stories about editors at other publishers that contradict what I just tweeted.
Yes, editors are always committed to putting out the best comics possible & will do everything they can to support their creative teams.
RT @SotoColor: "Tip of the Day: Stay in touch with your editors. They like to know what's going on and head off any scheduling problems."
I'm always amazed by how many misconceptions & falsehoods there are about the business of comics, especially by the creators who work in it.
Why is it that business/managerial people almost always assume that us more creative types are all ignorant and stupid? Pisses me off.
RT @bclaymoore: "That message is better addressed to the spouses of young and hopeful future comic book writers/artists/editors etc."
Dear young & hopeful future comic book writers/artists/editors etc., keep in mind that making comics is not & never will be a 9 to 5 job.
A corporate policy is a corporate policy. Just because our "competitors do it" does not mean we'll "bend the rules just this once" for you.
RT @skottieyoung: good point by @hackintimseeley We should write a book called "Staying in Comics: Much harder than Breaking in."
One follow-up, my comments about working for free were in regards to the major work-for-hire publishers, like Marvel, DC & Dark Horse.
Put some time and research into who you are submitting to and tailor your samples and the text of your e-mail to that editor.
Yes, I love my job, but sometimes all it takes is a simple conversation to remind me why I do what I do.
Americans need to realize that comic books are an intrinsic part of your national heritage and culture and should be celebrated as such.
We have enough stupid, petty backstabbing and bullshit in this biz already and don't need them undermining it further.
I would have no problem with Wizard if they treated this industry and its creators with the respect, dignity and honesty they deserve.
@richjohnston I think the industry as a whole is allergic to Wizard these days. :)
The comics community is a small one. We have ways of taking care of our own in times
of crisis & need. Ones which Marvel participates in.
Bad lettering and grammar can reflect poorly on the writer when it's being read & reviewed by editors considering you for work. Trust me.
And although it should go without saying, always spell check your lettering script first. And always check your grammar. Watch your commas.
Creators working on their own comics should never underestimate the value of good lettering. Like penciling or coloring, it's an art form.
Yes, some info is confidential for businsss reasons, like any biz. But so much is openly out there. So much of it right inside the comics!
The trick is, when you grow up, find work that feels like play. - @NathanFillion as Castle
Get over it, kiddies. Been there, done that. Take your dirty looks & attitude and come talk to me when and if you're still here in 10 years.
RT @mikechoi: "You know what I notice a LOT from aspiring creators? Y'all have too many excuses." Unfortunately, this is all too true.
RT @eliopoulos: "What this industry and people in general need is a little more humility. You and me ain't the end all/be all." Agreed.
RT @Perazza: "Don't Confuse Social Networking with Social Media: http://bit.ly/a71nnv" Yes! And don't confuse Twitter with a chat room! :)
College kid next to me: "The job offer includes full medical and dental, not that that matters anymore." Hey, cluelees, it always matters!
And he who forgets, will be destined to remember.
@Perazza Please teach your fellow DC folks about Twitter etiquette & the proper use
of social media. They should follow your lead & learn.
Don't worry, @StephenWacker, lots of other editors read scripts months ago we won't see for lots more months thanks to certain artists. :)
RT @THEHITCHFACTORY: "There's ALWAYS help and compromise but you have to remember to keep talking to those who are ready to assist you."
RT @adamjmonetta: "You make it sound like writers are the Sith while artists are Jedi. Actually, that probably right." It is! :)
Back to "comics aren't 9 to 5", on my "day off" today, I still sent 146 e-mails & spent 2 hrs on phone. Creativity doesn't take time off.
RT @FrankTieri: "Tagging a comics editor/creator on Facebook to art that they have nothing to do with is a sure fire way NOT to get a job."
Sometimes it amazes me to see how quickly an over-inflated ego can almost kill an up-and-coming comic creator's career.
RT @TomBrevoort: "Repeat after me: "Nobody is owed work. Nobody is owed a shot." You gotta either do the work to earn your break or not."
Usually, when you critique an artist, they listen & then go try harder. New writers? They spend more time arguing & complaining. Arrgghh!
Plus a blog you can personalize & set up an online identity for yourself as an individual. Often better to be apart from the "community".
RT @marcbernardin: "Every comic can be a first and a last. Someone's first comic ever, or the last one you ever make."
We're making comics, not curing cancer, so it's easy to forget how we can touch and change the lives of the people who create and read them.
RT @skottieyoung: "If you work in comics, your work is out in the public and will get the full spectrum of opinions. Learn from it all."
RT @saramayhew: "The quality of the time in school is more important than length. Longer QUALITY education would be great." Agreed.
Granted, when I as a teacher I would have vehemently argued against this. As I'm sure most teachers are doing now. :)
I think the longer kids are in school, the better. One month off in the summer is more than enough.
The Hero Initiative is one of those ways. Jim and his people do great work and deserve your support. @HeroInitiative
Three people just this past week. Which makes four total ever. And these are not current comic pros, but people trying to break in.
Yes, three people have now played the "I might not live much longer so please help make my dream of working at Marvel come true" card.
It's not that I am insensitive to your pain and plight, if even true, but we hire based on ability, no matter what your health may be.
As someone whose family has suffered through many serious illnesses, please do not use yours to try and pull my heart strings and get work!
Roll with the changes, bro...
Yes, I received actual e-mails that ended with ALL THREE of those exact statements
the past two days.
Don't end your FIRST e-mail to me or editors with "What have you got for me?!", "When can I start?!" or "Marvel'd be dumb not to hire me."
Scoring a single penciling/writing gig for Marvel does not a comics career make. We've had our share of "one hit wonders" too.