C and C Ask the Pros- August

10 min read
Majnouna's avatar
By Majnouna
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Every month in Comics and Cartoons, we are asking professionals to answer some questions asked by the aspiring comic artist or writer. Since there is never a single correct answer, several people are polled and their answers are compiled into one article, providing insight from different angles.

Question 1:

When asked what they would ask the pros, most people responded that they would like to know how to make it into the industry, either by getting hired by a good company or getting their work picked up by one for publication. Now I know there's no readymade way, so my question is the following: Can you give us an insight into how you became a professional of the comics field, what you feel were the decisions or steps, or extra edge you have, that made it for you? Including any mistakes you may have made that you'd like to warn others not to make?

Steven Sanchez aka :iconstevensanchez: says:

"Every artists path is normally different, well, let me rephrase that, certain percentages of those paths taken by artist have different outcomes.

For me, I tried getting into the comic book industry by first learning the ropes or "rules". So I read up as much as I could on the subject and educated myself before setting pencil to paper for this new career choice. Although I've drawn since the age of four years old I truely got bitten by the comic bug when I was fifteen years old.

Buying comics back in my day (crap I'm getting old) use to be fun compared to now a days when half your check goes blown away on those funny books. Learning from the comic book greats in my time was just awesome! For me it was the Image Comics Founders that I enjoyed back when they were at Marvel. I was never a DC Comics collector myself. Marvel all the way for me :)

Studied hard, even dropped out of high School for it and later got my G.E.D. when I had the spare time but I kept learning and absorbing all the new content. Enjoying every minute of it. Comics were in my blood. So I submitted and nothing, sent out more packets of submissions and still nothing, then after a few month's sent out more, then the rejection letters came in. Awesome! I was happy to get anything at that point :)

But the years passed and I kept enjoying the art form. I had later moved to Florida and submitted to Disney's art department and a few weeks later yet another rejection. Still happy to know they saw it but still no work.

So I kept drawing and honing my skills. The Orlando Mega-Con was once again in town and I decided to go to my first comic book convention and show my stuff around.

Met a lot of artists that I looked up to and I geeked like only a fan boy could lol - Dan Fraga peeped at my works and month's later we chatted on the phone, got coloring work from Rob Liefeld and that's how I pretty much got my foot in the door.

Although I didn't stay in the limelight like so many artists do after breaking in I liked mainly working on my own stuff. No bosses, no deadlines no rules! That was me and it still is me till this day.

So now I romp through the lands like a vagabond or in artistic terms a Freelance Artist :)

I take or reject work depending on how I feel. I truely am my own boss and I feel comfortable and happy. But this path isn't for everyone. It's just the one that I thought right for myself.

Now I run Onixan Productions with some very dependable guys and I can proudly say we work great as a team. Took years of hard work and tons of screw ups to get to where I am today. It's never a piece of cake although we make it look like it is.

Work hard, get a good goal in mind then aim for it!

I'm Steven Sanchez and I enjoy who I am and what I do for a living ;)"

Lorenzo aka :iconetheringtonbrothers: says:

"As everyone takes such different routes to becoming published comics creators, I'm not going to dwell too much on our specific entry into the industry, as that has the potential of suggesting a "right" and "wrong" set of circumstances in which to get your break. What I will instead do is describe the approach I've developed to my work and it's production, in the hope it will set you up with a good grounding in keeping your head focused on the industry and your eventual publication.

To become a professional comic book illustrator (or writer, or both!) the first thing that you need to do is recognise that a professional ATTITUDE is the most important step to developing a demand for your work within the publishing industry.

Whether you're working on your pages in the evenings after school, in your lunch break at the office, or over the weekend with a load of buddies, you need to remember that your work should represent the absolute best of you as an artist or writer. Every time you show your work to a publisher, editor, or even another creator, it needs to be presented and finished in a way which befits the role of professional to which you are aspiring.

This is the approach that my brother Bob (comics writer for Transformers, Monkey Nuts, Dreamworks' Monsters Vs Aliens, Terminator Salvation, Malcolm Magic etc) and I have always taken to everything we've done. Even back when we were just finding our feet and setting up as a small UK-based self published studio, we always made sure that the work we presented for public consumption (and the WAY we presented it) was as fine and finished as our time and money could afford.

The theory we had back then, which has continued into all our current projects and will continue into the books we're signed to work on in the coming months and years, is that you never know WHO is going to see your work, or WHAT PART of it they're going to see. Every page, every piece of design, every post on your blog and every publication you appear in has the potential to end up in almost anyone's hands, so you should make sure that as far as possible, you produce your very best work in each and every single page and panel you illustrate.

Mini rant: This may sound like common sense, but I think that 99% of the portfolios I get shown at cons have some work in them to which the creator comments "Oh, that's really OLD, I'm not really happy with those pages..." or something like that. So, WHY are they in the 'folio, bro? If you don't like it, don't show it. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to give advice and support to works in progress, and that can be really encouraging for a young creator, but the chances are you're going to show that SAME portfolio to the PUBLISHER three stalls down, right? Well, don't do that. If you want to be taken seriously, to need to take yourself seriously, and that means showing finished, clean artwork to the boys who write the cheques. There's no need to have a portfolio full of sub-standard scribblings just so it's full, you can land a book deal with just one finished page of comic art and a great story idea. Trust me, I've done it.

So, that's your outlook, now how about the work itself? Although I've done a little franchised work within the comics industry (when someone's waved a big cheque under my nose) my passion in comics, and thus the majority of my published work is in creating original books and stories. To be honest, however, your approach to both disciplines should be the same. I have just one rule to which my entire creative endeavors always have to apply: "This MUST be DIFFERENT".

To get your work recognised, to stand out, and ultimately to get published, you have to offer something that other people aren't doing, or can't be bothered to do. You need to go the extra mile. This is where the comics industry can be frustrating for new creators: The quickest way in is to be able to emulate a popular style, but the best way to establish a long and successful career is to have you OWN style.

So, finally, let's talk practically. If, like my brother and I, you wanted to write and create your own comic books, then start by actually MAKING one. This is the best way I know to improve your work, learn a ton about what goes into the production of a comic, and at the same time begin to build a small name for yourself within the comics industry.

When we launched Malcolm Magic, we were just finding our feet, but we decided that it was better to learn our craft while producing a comic, then to sit in our bedrooms scribbling and writing for two years without anyone seeing what we produced. Malcolm Magic went on to become a successful 12-issue indie series, and because we always ensured that it was produced to as high standards as possible, it will stand the test of time. Sure, I draw better now, but we're both really proud of what we achieved and learnt working on that book, and the 320 page collected edition now sells all over the world.

Without that first book, without attending comic shows here in the UK with the series as we produced it, without sticking at it, and always trying to improve on the last issue, we would never have gone on to work full time within the industry. Selling the first copy of Malcolm Magic at a comic con was every bit as exciting and gratifying as making it onto the cover of Transformers, or having Monkey Nuts appear in a quarter of a million copies of the Guardian each week, because in each case we were really proud of our art and stories. If you're passionate and motivated to improve, publishers and readers will pick up that vibe from your work and become enthusiastic themselves.

I hope this helps all you talented up and coming creators, keep scribbling, keep writing, and good luck!!


Are you a pro who wants to contribute to this series? Please note Majnouna.
© 2009 - 2021 Majnouna
anonymous's avatar
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profesone's avatar
Maybe one day I can be a professional too. My work suck rocks in comparison! LOL!! Good work guys.
MatiasSoto's avatar
Very cool reading, I'm starting as a comic artist myself now so such words of wisdom are greatlly appreciated. ;)
Emilee-Mae's avatar
This really gives a helpful perspective! (okay, maybe not really helpful) I'm having the most terrible time just getting down the basics! I started out on my own, so everything I do is either self-taught or I picked it up from a tutorial. I always feel like I'm getting lost between artistic rules and appropriate stylization (since I've fallen in love with that sort of manga-style, but have no background in it). :fear:
Tagcat's avatar
If you don't like it, don't show it.
Work hard, get a good goal in mind then aim for it!

Just totaly blew my mind, PFEW, gone. That splatter on the wall is proof a happy kick in the bum that really has inspired me. Thanks a lot guys.
XenoX1's avatar
Wow. Just wow.
DestinieKirby's avatar
That was a great read. Thank you for sharing their thoughts. :)
PurpleAmharicCoffee's avatar
Thanks for these words of wisdom.
My focus now is on animation, but I like reading comics and manga, and sometimes I get stuck while drawing my comics. Which do you think is better to overcome a creative block- brainstorming or drawing thumbnails?
StevenSanchez's avatar
Sketching is the answer you're looking for. Sketching helps you go back to basics and clear your head of all those thoughts of right and wrong.

Having FUN sketching and figuring out new poses keeps you sharp and on your toes.

Sketch to avoid those walls and divert from those head on collisions ;)
PurpleAmharicCoffee's avatar
Thanks for your help.
yeahgirl11's avatar
Awesome! Thanks for sharing! :)
anonymous's avatar
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