Comic-Con@Home 2021 – Breaking Into Comics and Staying In! – Notes

Credit: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting

About the Event

Date: 23 July 2021 | Link:

Panel Description: With the shifting landscape of the comics industry, this is your invaluable guide to breaking into the comics industry. Join Comics Experience founder and former Marvel Publishing editor Andy Schmidt, along with industry veterans Bon Alimagno (former Marvel editor), Kyle Higgins (Radiant Black), Marissa Louise (DC colorist), and Paul Allor (Hollow Heart) for an in-depth discussion about workable strategies to launch your comics career!


Writing, Penciling, Inking, Coloring, Lettering

Three Fundamentals to Breaking Into Comics

1. Talent

This means:

  • Having a ready-made and easily accessible way to show your talent. 
    • Do you have a portfolio? Are you sharing work on social media? How can people get in touch with you? These should never be more than a few clicks away from a google search.
  • Portfolio Set-up
    • Are you showing all the different styles and experiences of your work and writing? The more evidence to your talen the better.

2. Persistence

Remember that there are a lot of people in the industry and being persistent without overstepping or being annoying is a key element. That means keeping up contact with your contacts, staying in touch with your collaborators and editors too so that you stay on their radar. 

3. Luck

When preparation meets opportunity. Those that have been prepared and take advantage of opportunities are the ones that get moving faster because a lot of this business is people you know and people you meet. You often don’t know the opportunities those relationships will bring.

How do you stay in comics?

1. Art Style

It needs to evolve. It needs to keep up, for the most part, with modern art styles and tools (by that–no blurry, pixelated images–higher quality color, etc.). Webcomics can sometimes skate by on this, but those are the ones that often hit a specific niche where the art can be either ignored or is an integral part to the story. 

2. Professionalism

It’s a very collaborative environment. If you miss a deadline, you are holding up a much bigger line of people than just yourself and people remember. 

3. Be Nice

It’s often the nicest and the meanest that get remembered. If you’re going to be remembered, it’s much better to be the person that was supportive and nice to others than the one that was mean. It will help you stay in comics. It will make others want to keep you there–sometimes longer than your initial entrance through talent! 

4. Avoid Burnout

Some signs of burnout may include excessive junk food eating, addictions (drinking, smoking, etc.), and inconsistent sleep schedules. Not to condemn, but those are signs you are pushing yourself too hard. Figure out goals and needs, make a schedule and try to stay healthy. It will help a lot in avoiding burnout. 

5. You can be a professional without getting all your money from comics. 

Especially in the early years, it’s important to know that it’s hard to get fair wages. It’s a hard job and you may need to take on other forms of work or a “day job” to get by. Just remember that you need to know how much you can do without burning out. 

6. Avoid Getting Pigeon-Holed

If you get known for something, you will get “type-casted” for it. Are you the eleventh hour person? That’s who you become in some people’s eyes. Therefore, do  a lot of other things with your art when you can. 

One thing to note from an editorial perspective is that if you close a series, you may become type-casted as a closer, not an opener. If that happens, you will get skipped over for new launches (and the editors WON’T tell you that!)! So try to do a mix of both at the same time if the opportunity arises. 

BUT, JUST SO YOU KNOW… (the panelists tell us:)

Even if you do all of this and everything right, you still may not be able to break in or stay in comics. It shouldn’t prevent you from trying. There are many paths to breaking into comics and staying in. Traditional publishing for comics is REALLY hard to break into, but you can start self-publishing a comic on webcomic platforms and transition over later if you want to get started now. 

Should you go to art school?

You don’t have to but an important take away to look into if you don’t is what one panelist called “Studio Practice.” This means:

1. Know how to read contracts (Understand what your contracts is saying about your requirements for the job)

3. Understand how what you’re doing is affecting your body

4. Learn how to keep yourself interested in your work. 

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