Hey there! My name is Devin, and in case you don’t know me I’m the Editor-In-Chief here at Making Comics (dotCom). I’ve had an idea percolating for a bit to start something new—an ongoing Q&A column that should prove useful for anyone needing advice. Creating a comic can be an isolating experience, especially when you hit a wall and are having difficulty finding solutions. If you’re in a situation like that, I’d like to help.
First a little on my background—I come from the video game industry (I was a 3D environment modeler) and I’ve drawn since I was very little, though not always consistently until later years. My passion for comics goes way back, but I only started making them again in a serious way a couple years ago. So in a real sense, my recent history has been figuring out the process of creating comics and sharpening my art and storytelling skills.
I make no claim on expertise when it comes to art/comics/writing but I know a lot about each of those subjects. I also seem to have a penchant for explaining things. So, here’s my proposal: send me your questions and I’ll answer them as best I can. If I don’t know the answer off the top of my head I’ll go find it and report back. That way everybody learns something! Instructions for submitting questions will be at the end of the column.
Our first question today comes courtesy of @alwashington5:
“[J]ust curious…I was looking to [see] if there is another way to make it in this industry? [W]ith jobs for ex. admin office jobs?”
Al later clarifies:
“[I]’m not talkin about intern ships bc i’m out of school and i have a full time job (but it’s not my career).”
Great question. The short answer is yes. Aside from the more high-profile jobs associated with producing a comic—writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer—there are countless other positions within the industry. Every book on the shelf has an editor, for instance, that works with the rest of the production team to make sure that A) the comic comes out on time and B) it’s of the highest possible quality. Publishers usually have a marketing department that writes copy for solicitations (previews) and coordinates the release of images and interviews designed to hype upcoming comics and drive pre-order sales. As with any company, there is a management structure in place that runs the overall business (executive types) and support staff (HR, interns, etc.). And depending on the company, there may be entire other divisions aside from publishing (Marvel, for instance, makes movies, games, and television shows).
As for how to break in… that’s a more difficult question to answer. Regardless of the tactic you choose, the most important thing is you need to be able to demonstrate an aptitude for the job. If you want to be an editor, you should be able to write well and display a thorough understanding of not only the process, but the history of comic-making as well. If you want an office job (like HR), it pays to approach a comic publisher with prior experience doing that very thing. An executive position is something that’s only within reach after working your way up from another position within the company (I wouldn’t rule out internships because they can be a great way to get in the door). And networking, networking, networking.
Our second question comes from Stanley:
“[H]i my name is Stanley & I wanted to know where do you get you[r] Digital software & do story boards?”
There are numerous options when it comes to software (including none—you could draw a comic in crayon on a scrap of paper), but I’ll do my best to cover the main ones.
For writing software, any word processing program works. I use OpenOffice—it has all the functionality of Microsoft Office, except it’s free. Kevin Cullen also wrote an excellent breakdown of the major scriptwriting programs. Some cost, others are free.
On the art side, stuff starts to get expensive. There are many free options including GIMP (Patrick wrote a multi-part article about it) but the “standard” is Photoshop. It’s also prohibitively expensive unless you can get a student discount or something. I use it for the majority of my art tasks, especially coloring. Other programs that comic artists have been known to use: Painter, Manga Studio, Illustrator, Sketchup, and Sketchbook. I would particularly recommend Manga Studio. It’s pretty inexpensive and it was created specifically for making comics. The tools it has, especially for inking, are incredible!
As for storyboards, I pencil and/or ink them first by hand, then scan them and do minor clean-up in Photoshop. I’m unaware of any specialized storyboarding programs, but I’m sure they exist.
Send me your questions!
That’s all the questions I’ve got. I would like to make this a regular thing, possibly weekly, but to do that I need more questions to answer.
On Twitter, you can submit a question by addressing it to me (@devinafterdark) and by including the hashtag #FAQDevin (that way I’ll know that you’re OK with the question being answered publicly). Also, if I ever get any information in my answers wrong I would like to know about it so I can issue a correction.
Sound good? I look forward to hearing from you guys.