I've received a few queries as to how I broke into the comic book business. After a lot of inner thought, I decided to offer my personal experience for your consideration. I am going to be VERY BLUNT AND STRAIGHTFORWARD, so any who may have any misconceptions can stop reading now. I first will say that, I have been VERY,VERY fortunate and my path may not be the path of others. I am not an authority, but I can say that I am a professional comic book inker: I get paid for what I do, and I have been blessed to have worked for some of the top comic book publishers in the U.S. and the world: DC Comics, Marvel, Image, as well as many independent publishers.
My personal experience has been just that: PERSONAL. I have been rejected and probably will still continue to be for any number of reasons: lack of availability of work, not enough experience, not being in the 'right place at the right time (whatever THAT is), etc. There are so many factors that affects one's success rate that overall, you MUST have dedication to make a mark,dent, foray into this business. I can't stress that enough. I cannot tell you how many conventions I have attended over the years, beginning as far back as 1999. Granted: these were my formative years, so I learned quite a bit about the baseline of becoming a comic book professional.
That word in itself carries different meaning to different people. For me, being a professional means not only ensuring to the best of my ability that my work is of professional level, but that I am professional in my dealings with industry people. Meaning: whether its communication by email, phone or in person, I always try to make sure that I am presenting myself in the best light possible. I say this considering the 'digital age' we now live in....especially those Tweeters or Facebookers. Keep in mind that, when u post something, EVERYONE in your list can see it. Whether they are fellow aspiring artists, editors, etc....all of these people WILL affect your career, directly or indirectly. I can understand having a bad day and feeling the need to post about it to your friends....but be smart about it: not EVERYONE needs to know your personal business. You can inadvertantly give the impression that you are difficult to work with, have a short temper, etc. ALL of which can and WILL affect your marketability. Remember: as cool as it is to want to work in comics, never, ever forget that this is a BUSINESS. Conduct yourself as such and you will be amazed at the feedback (positive) that you will receive. As close as I am with my fellow studio mates in Crimelab Syndicate Studios, I always keep in mind that they all are PROS and always treat them with the respect that they deserve.
Below are some key words that you should make a part of your vocabulary and your mindset when moving towards a career in comics:
I will touch on all of these over the next few days or when my schedule permits. First, I want to delve into my definition of dedication.
I work. I mean, I WORK.....very, VERY hard at my craft. I ink EVERYDAY. ALWAYS. And my goal is to become BETTER everyday. I work on samples BETWEEN pages. I do this because I will be damned if my name is NOT a part of comic book lore. I realized a long time ago that, to make it in this business, you are not competing with the worst, but the BEST. Bottom line? Hone your craft, take feedback and criticism and USE it. Apply it to your work. There are a lot of artists I've witnessed who have a false sense of entitlement. Meaning: they want the glory without having to actually do the work. Not gonna happen. You gotta pay your dues like everyone else. Simple as that. I took work that either didn't pay or the publisher lied about me getting paid, only to get something in print. See, you HAVE to be an artist that someone will consider hiring, or else, what's the point? Every professional that I have ever shown my work to, I have LISTENED to them verbatim. Many of the very same pros I grew up idolizing I now call them my FRIENDS as well as fellow contemporaries. This is only because they saw my level of commitment and drive to succeed in this business. That is PRICELESS and it will carry you a long way. I remember working a full-time, highly stressful job, coming home mentally BEAT, and STILL sat at my table for hours on end to produce. I did not do this in and of itself, to brag on Facebook or the internet about 'how much time I was putting into it', but only because I wanted to GROW and become better. We all have responsibilities...some more than others. Sorry....that's just the way it is until you get to a level when you can focus 100% on your art. Until then, you have to pay your dues and (guess what?) be DEDICATED to what you want.