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Monday, August 3, 2015

Why Is It So HARD To Break Into the Comic Book Industry?

How do you break into the comic book industry? What’s the process for getting a job with a comic book publisher?  Is it submitting your work unsolicited? Going to cons and showing samples of your work to a writer or an artist? Sending a resume or a cover letter to an editor? Is there some sort of internship you have to apply for?

Seriously, how do you break into the comic book industry?

Most people can’t answer that question. And because no one can answer the question the comic book industry continues to struggle twenty years later.

I have a question to ask: Why is it so hard to break into the comic book industry?

It’s easier to get a screenplay read by a rep from a Hollywood Production Company than it is to get a comic book proposal read by an editor at a comic book company.

It’s easier to get a Young Adult manuscript read by a New York Editor than a comic book proposal by an editor at a comic book publisher.

It’s easier to get the names of editors at New York Publishing houses than it is to get the names of anyone in the Comic Book industry.

Unlike screenwriting or trade publishing, where there’s a traditional query process, trying to break into the comic book industry is like trying to find out some sort of secret code into a secret society. Even some who worked at the big two publishers like Marvel and DC can’t even tell me how they broke into the industry or how a creator like myself can break into it.

Compared to Trade publishing and screenwriting, the process for breaking into comics still remains like a secret fraternal society that uses some sort of secret password to screen people at the front door. And because it’s mostly based on who someone knows and not what a creator like myself knows, most new talent can’t find out where to go to show our work to professionals.

And one would think the door would be wide open at comic companies for new talent. Twenty years after the collapse of the industry in 1993 one would think that companies like Marvel and DC would be eager to hire to new talent. However, in the last twenty years many publishers have become more insular and have erected a virtual brick wall that keeps new talent like myself from finding an opportunity to share its work with them.

It’s a shame too. Because from what I’ve seen from most of that new talent in YA fiction, webcomics, Deviant Art Pages and self-published Indie comics is a fresh inspired perspective that could get most people young and old excited about comics again.

The comic book industry desperately needs new writers and new artists. But because most new writers and artists can’t even find the name of someone to send a resume and cover letter to at a comic publisher, they usually wind up giving up on their dreams of working in comics and go work in other industries.

Most artists wind up self-publishing their work as indie comics or trade paperbacks. Others wind up doing webcomics, book covers, Illustrations for children’s books, or commissions. A few go on to do storyboards for movie studios. And writers like myself taking their comic concepts and adapt them into YA fiction, novels, or screenplays. And the industry suffers as that talent makes a name for itself in other markets.

Think about all the new concepts that have become household names over the last twenty years. Power Rangers. Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Monster High. Twilight. Harry Potter. Imagine if one of those concepts had made their way into comics. Just one of them could have possibly revived the slumping sales of the comic book industry. But because of the brick wall erected up at the front doors of comic book publishers, most people just have to take their concepts elsewhere.

There are so many people like myself who want to work in the comic book industry. And sadly, most of us wind up taking our work someplace else. I’d like to think if one of us writers or artists had gotten a break maybe one of us would have created that breakthrough character and reached a new generation of readers.


  1. I agree. It seems like in the 1960s and 1970s all you had to was live in New York and then walk down to the Marvel or DC office, and tell them you were interested in a job. If you were a writer they would give you a try out script. If you were an artist then they would look over your samples. But, back then comics were very marginalized, and seen as strictly kiddie fare. Working in the comic book industry was the bottom wrung of the publishing industry, and not exactly a profession you bragged about to your friends without getting a lot of dirty looks. At some point, comics became big business, and thanks to the Superhero movie craze have become mainstream. And, that's the problem. Now-a-days in order to get a job in the comic book industry you need to independently produce (write, draw and publish) your own graphic novel or comic book series. Then hope and pray that your graphic novel or series gets noticed and reviewed. Most of us who want to work in the comic book industry are in a situation where: we can write good stories but can't draw worth shit, and hiring an artist costs a lot of money. So were stuck. The best thing to do is something like what your doing: create a character or characters similar to the one you want to write about (like say Wonder Woman) and tell the stories that you want to tell.

    1. Adding to my own post: You need to independently produce your own graphic novel or series, then hope it gets noticed and reviewed, and maybe then you will get a call from either DC or Marvel offering you a job.

  2. Yeah, in the 1970s and early 1980s it was easy to get a job writing comics. Then the 1990's came and...Now we have a brick wall.

    I figure if I were to invest that kind of money and time to make a franchise a hit, I'd just keep the money and keep publishing independently like Eastman and Laird did and then start licensing. I've been self-publishing YA books for about 7 years now and I'd love to branch out and produce an Isis graphic novel. It's one of my lifelong goals. Just have to find the right artist and the money to do it.

  3. Have you ever thought about doing taking one of your novels and recording it as an audiobook? From your videos, you have a good voice. I think you can put up an audiobook on amazon for free (through one of their subsidies,I think it's call ACX audiobook) and then it's added to You have to format the audio files to their guidelines, but you can use a free audio program like Audacity or Ocenaudio to do that.

  4. I might just do that for a title. But most of my books are first-person revolving narrative.So the female characters may be a bit of a challenge. I'll test chapter out on YouTube to see if there's an audience.

  5. Of all the things you could have mentioned you had to mention Twilight like Marvel and DC it doesn't deserve it's claim to fame when it's simply a shallow romance story.You say you hold to a high standard well that thing is just eh sign that says people don't care about depth.