Yesterday, I got a request from Tyler Starke about doing a post regarding how I broke into comics. I figured I’d oblige.
I’ll start with a “recap” of my career so far…
My first published comic was in the first issue of Alterna Comics’ ALTERNA TALES anthology. It was an 8-page horror story titled “What I Am” that was illustrated by "Kraven" Kurt Belcher. The book came out in summer 2007, though I don’t recall the exact month.
My first published series was a three issue mini titled RUIN. "Maniac" Mike Gallagher illustrated it and it was published by Alterna Comics throughout the latter half of 2007 and, I believe, into the beginning of 2008. The thing’s currently out of print, so if anybody wants to see it, shoot me a PM and I’ll see what I can do.
My second published series was, of course, HYBRID BASTARDS! with "Killer" Kate Glasheen. The first two issues came out winter 2007/2008. Around that time, my publisher, Archaia starting going through a company restructuring and, now, the hardcover collection’s coming out this March (and it’s available to order on Amazon right now!)
It may seem like there hasn’t been a lot of activity over that period, but behind and in-between these published credits are many, many false starts. I actually broke-in to comics in 2005 with a title that ultimately got aborted because the artist stopped producing pages. We were set to be published, we had completed an issue and the guy just stopped drawing for us. The short story that wound up in ALTERNA TALES was originally supposed to be in another anthology, but the editor ended up being a big talker and the story went to Alterna instead, who got it printed within a month.
I got asked in an interview once if there were long hours in writing. There can be, depending on your own workflow, but the real long hours come in waiting for a project to come to fruition. For instance, I came up with the idea for HYBRID BASTARDS! in 2004 (if not earlier). Writing is the realm of delayed gratification. Italicize that, underline it and put it in bold. Writing is delayed gratification.
There’s a lot to cover about writing for comics, both professionally and philosophically, so I’ll stick to three basic questions right now.
How do you find an artist? There’s no one answer for this. Kate’s a family connection - - her folks are my Godparents. I got to working with Mike after I saw his General Grievous fanart he drew on theforce.net’s fanart gallery and sent him a blind inquiry. I’ve known Kurt for almost ten years - - we met in CBR’s chat room - - but we’d known eachother for almost three years before we started collaborating. He actually drew my first short, "The Legend of Minimus", and my first series pitch, THE DELETION OF VOLT MAN. Both projects never went anywhere, but they established an excellent creative relationship that continues to this day. We've actually got a mini-series in the pipleline that should be formally announced soon.
How do you get a book published? Go to conventions! It isn’t the only way, but it cuts through a lot of red tape. There’s no effort more valuable that getting face-time with a publisher. If ticket’s are too pricey for you, then volunteer. That’s what I did at Wizardworld Chicago 2005 when I first met Archaia. You can spend half the day managing lines, save $45 (or $135 if you go all three) and do whatever you want for the rest of the day.
How do you get taken seriously if you’re an unknown? Be realistic about your goals. Keep your comic relatively short - - I’ve stuck with three issues, so far. There’s no quicker way for a publisher not to take you seriously than for you to say, “This storyline’s the first part of a hundred issue epic.” That’s not just presuming success, that’s presuming enormous success. Listen, it's hard enough to write a good 8-pager. Learn how to crawl before you try to sprint. Also, don’t even bother talking to somebody if you don’t have a full creative team with you. The publishers wants to see comics page that are inked, colored and lettered. I've shot myself in the foot a number of times by handing in pitches with only pencils or inks.
I’ll stop before this runs too long in the tooth. If you, the rabid Comic Vine community, would be interested in more columns like this, I can certainly go into more detail. Or if you’d like to see another column about something else, shoot me a PM.
-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Comics and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia Comics. Watch out for the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover collection this March - - available for pre-order now on Amazon.com.