By Ethan Harmon
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to write comic books. There was just something magical about reading into the adventures of Spider-man or Batman, seeing how they grew as characters and how the writers progressed their tales of adventure. Writing comics was something I wanted to do more than anything. So you know what? I started writing comics. Luckily, one of my friends is a very talented artist, so we teamed up and created The Singularity (shameless plug, but it is available now on the Comics Plus app!). And it was an experience filled with trial and error. So I ask you: Do you want to write comics? If so, then you are in for a difficult, rewarding, painful and wonderful experience.
Did you notice the contradictions in that last sentence? Yeah, it seems confusing, but it is all true. In order to craft a comic, you need to create a story, and one that is unique. You need to completely outline a story and the characters that will live in this world. Of course, as any writing venture goes, you must move onto putting the story into a script, editing and creating a final draft. Then an artist needs to draw what has been written in your script. After the pencils are finished, either the artist or someone else needs to go over the pencils with inks to add definition. And, if you so choose, either the artist or someone else needs to add color to the pages. And finally, someone will need to take the finished pages and add the lettering, or the word bubbles and sound effects. Pretty long process, huh?
After you knock out your awesome comic (it is awesome, right?), it’s time to find someone to publish it. Now, you can fund a self-publishing campaign via Kickstarter or any of the other various crowd-funding platforms, but you will need to know the ins-and-outs of the industry before you choose this path. Careful research is necessary. Otherwise, you will need to find a publisher to take care of your distribution. You will need to prepare a portfolio and a submission and actively seek out publishers with similar interests, art styles, stories, etc. It is difficult to get your foot in the door, and it will likely take weeks, even months. And as you submit your work, you must continue to create new comics, whether it is continuing the story of your first issue or starting a new project.
If your work is picked up, it does not guarantee that you will be the next Marvel Comics writer. Writers at the bigger companies are hand-picked by the editors on staff, which means they have proven themselves through their previous writing ventures. This means you will have to consistently push out comics and work, utilizing as many publishing means as possible. You will also need to attend conventions, purchasing table space and selling your comic to potential fans. You will also need to give your comic to editors and publishers at these cons in order to gain some form of recognition.
And none of this will guarantee that you will be the next Robert Kirkman or Brian Bendis. The comic book industry is one of the most cut-throat industries out there, and unless you are willing to give it your all and sacrifice time and money, then you may not be cut out to create comic books. Now, don’t get me wrong, whether you immediately make it into the industry or if you spend time struggling to get the attention of a publisher, creating a comic book is absolutely rewarding, especially if it is your dream. There is nothing like creating a piece of work that people will read, share and talk about amongst their friends and family. It makes all of the hard work and dedication worthwhile. Now, I will ask one more time: Do you want to make comics? It’s not easy, but it is worth it.