Starting A Career in Comics

Mark Evanier, one of TVWriter™s favorite creative forces, is the possessor of more writing knowledge than just about every textbook except LB’s. Here he is answering one of the first questions every pro writer is always asked because – yes, it’s true – to this very day he’s still participating in his first life – writing comics!

by Mark Evanier

Richard Gagnon writes…

I have a nephew that wants to be a comic book writer/artist. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he’s at an age where his work is going to improve tremendously in the next few years. He has the potential to be a professional comic book artist. From everything I’ve read, being a comic book pro is more a labor of love than something that will be financially rewarding. I’d be interested in your insights on pursuing a career in comics. I’d imagine that the pay you get for writing comics is the least lucrative writing that you do (although it must be a sheer pleasure to see what Sergio draws from your scripts).

Well, first of all, most of what I do with Sergio is co-written, not always in the same ratio, so I never think of him drawing my scripts. I think of it all as what we produce together. That said, I often find great joy in writing comics because (a), I grew up loving comic books and (b), because of how few collaborators you have. On a TV show, live or animated, there are contributions by dozens and dozens…sometimes hundreds of others. You don’t even meet a large percentage of them and on a cartoon show, many of them may be located in another country and speaking a different language so what you do gets handled by a lot of strangers.

And their sheer number guarantees that some of them will not be very competent or on the same wavelength. On a comic book, three or four people are involved so there’s a real good chance that you’ll all be in contact, you’ll all be in sync and they’ll all be good at what they do. I loved it when I was working with Will Meugniot or Dan Spiegle or Scott Shaw! or…well, most of my co-conspirators. And yeah, the money was less than some other jobs but you have to factor in the stress and the time spent in meetings and arguments and such. Compare making $1000 on a job that’s fun and easy and quick with one that pays ten times that but has 20+ times the tsuris.

Personally, I’ve had good and bad experiences in each work area and there have been many non-monetary perks in each. I worked briefly as a story editor on a network adventure series and I probably made less per hour on that job than I made writing Scooby Doo comic books. And I had a lot less fun….

Read it all at Mark Evanier’s outstanding blog