Updated: Dec 17, 2019
If you’re in this section of The Variant and reading this story, you’ve probably at some point read, purchased or owned a comic book. All of these lovely little windows to imagination are made for us by the loving hearts and minds of comic creators. These writers, artists, inkers, colorists, letterers and editors all make huge efforts to bring us these slices of heaven every month. In researching this story I had the distinct pleasure of not only speaking to a number of these great folks but also got responses from some true living legends in the comics industry. If you know me in any way you know that corresponding with all of them was the highlight of my month, and I truly would love to thank each and every one who contributed quotes, advice and words of wisdom to this story.
So without further ado, I give you 20 Things Your Comic Book Creators Want You to Know!
“Always dress in layers.”
- Joelle Jones (writer/artist - Ladykiller, Mockingbird)
“Based on my experience with DEADPOOL cosplayers, who are an enthusiastic and infectious lot, I would strongly recommend: If you are going to cosplay a character, KNOW THEIR HISTORY! Know their origins, and know about the writers and artists who created the character or have done important work on them!”
- Fabian Nicieza (writer - Uncanny X-Men, New Mutants)
“The best piece of advice I can give to young artists is to start a daily exercise routine. There will come a day, not at the start of your career but at some point, when you're spending 20+ hours at the board for weeks on end. That routine will pay off. Also, if you're cosplaying - always wear a cup. As an artist signing books those tables are at the wrong height when you come across someone NOT wearing a cup and a skin tight costume!!”
– Mike Perkins (artist - Astonishing X-Men, Deathlok)
“Be kind to your knees. Sitting and standing at cons for days will do a number on your joints.”
– Erica Schultz (writer/artist/letterer – M3, Swords of Sorrow: Masquerade & Kato)
"The internet has a long memory. Don't throw shade at peers or companies that you might one day hope to collaborate with."
– Gerry Duggan (writer – Deadpool, Uncanny Avengers)
“Tools are less important than you think. The ability to tell your friends you can't hang out because you need to practice is the tool you need to get better.”
– Rico Renzi (colorist – Spider-Gwen, Howard the Duck)
"I wanted every piece of mine to be perfect. But that stopped it from being great. Once I accepted time would be the biggest teacher, I started to enjoy the process of becoming a better artist. As creators we all have our magnum opus we want to gift to the world, but like many things we're new to, it is better to get the mistakes and lessons out on your opus minimus than making your introduction to the world your requiem.”
– Afua Richardson (artist – Genius, Attack on Titan)
"It would be lovely if the enthusiasts were more aware of what writing actually means in our curious medium, and just how much of that writing is delivered by the artist, who is, more often than can be imagined, a complete collaborator, as opposed to an illustrator of the writer's material--scripts which are frequently little more than templates.
As someone who has worked on both ends of this discipline, it stuns me how even the enthusiasts, who it would seem should know better, share the civilian's ignorance of what it takes to make this stuff work. If we are to take the stream of announcements of this comic book or that graphic novel being optioned by this network or that studio, press releases that usually refer to the material as being "by" credited writer, one might think comics just draw themselves.
Let's see what happens if the artists just decide to let those talented writers do the whole job for which they seem to be all too willing to take credit--that is, when they're not referring to their collaborator as "my artist," in that charmingly proprietary manner best used by dog owners."
– Howard Victor Chaykin (artist – Star Wars, Satellite Sam)
“To aspiring creators, and fans; Read more manga.”
– James Harren (artist – Rumble, Heralds)
“Please don't rely on your phone to give artists reference for commission requests. Something printed on paper you can leave with the artist is ideal.”
– Chris Giarusso (artist/writer – G-Man, Mini Marvels)
“When we say to support indie, it's more than a bid for you to buy the books. Most indie creators have already sunk quite a bit of money in, and supporting the books by talking about them is important.”
– Enrica Jang (editor/writer – 27 Anthology, The House of Montresor)
"Those comic book creators you write or post about are real people with moms and dads and husbands and wives and kids and friends. It is one thing if you want to criticize their work -- and yes the Internet is the Wild West where you can write anything you want. But you should consider that no mother wants to read all those profanity laced insults directed at people they love. So maybe follow that guideline: never use words you wouldn't use in front of your own mother?"
– Scott Lobdell (writer – X-Men, Wildcats)
“If you have an idea, no matter how stupid it sounds to other people, or even to yourself, if it’s an idea you can’t shake, it’s worth exploring that thing, Don’t just say “Oh, this is stupid” and then toss it away. If it’s a thing that really appeals to you then you should chase it as far down the rabbit hole as you can. If you’re trying to make comics or trying to do anything, listen to your obsessions because they’re probably telling you something useful.”
-Chris Sebela (writer – High Crimes, Escape from New York)
“Remember you're building a career, a wall; one job, one brick at a time. Pace yourself for the marathon, not the sprint. Set your own goal, your own finish line. Learn from everyone and from everywhere, but channel it through your unique life experiences. If you feel like you're stuck at the end of the line behind so many others, turn around. Start a new line, going in a brand new direction.”
– Bill Sienkiewicz (artist – Elektra: Assassin, Uncanny X-Men)
“Drawing comic books professionally full-time is a job, not a hobby. It can be a fun job, but I studied just as hard and worked just as hard as any other professional to be able to do it well enough to get paid to do it full-time. It's work, not play.
Just because I draw a certain character for a while doesn't necessarily mean I care all about that character and what they're going to do next month. I'm drawing that character because it's my job. I may be a fan of him or her, or I may not be.
Comic artists are people just like anyone else. They can just draw better, and are creative. But don't expect them to be role models.”
– Bob McLeod (artist/inker - New Mutants, Amazing Spider-Man)
"Pre-ordering is everything if you buy physical comics. It helps stores know where your interests are which means they order more of the books you like, which means more of said books get made by the publisher. It's not a great system, but if you want to support a book, you need to be pre-ordering it. It's the only real way to vote with your dollar when it comes to physical comics."
– Mairghread Scott (writer – Transformers: Windblade, Swords of Sorrow: Chaos Special)
“If you want to write comics, don’t make writing Spider-Man or Batman or X-Men your ultimate goal. Make being a writer your goal. You’re not going to start your career writing for the big two, so make sure you give your all to every project, and enjoy creating wherever you are. If you get to write Superman someday as a result, that can be a terrific bonus...but if your happiness and feelings of success are predicated on it, you’re setting yourself up for unhappiness.
Make your own opportunities. There has never been a time when more people are making comics than now. If you want to make them, you CAN find a partner artist or writer, and you can make a comic. The best way to show you’re capable of a thing is by doing it. You’ll also learn so much more from seeing a project through to completion than you ever can from just hearing about it or planning.”
– Jordan D. White (editor – Deadpool, Darth Vader)
“Your feedback, thoughts, and comments are important and heard. The questions and thoughts expressed about Flutter, Vol. 1 (for example: Doesn't Lily know she's being a jerk pretending to be someone else?) helped shape what we played around with in Flutter, Vol. 2.”
– Jennie Wood (writer – 27 Anthology, Flutter Vol. 1 & 2)
“If you are an aspiring artist yourself, never approach an artist you admire by saying their work makes you feel bad about yours. Talk to them about how they work or what they use, show them your portfolio but no one wants to feel embarrassed for being talented and working hard.”
– Jason Strutz (artist - The House of Montresor, The Cask of Amontilldo)
“When you pick up an issue and read it, the creative team involved probably care more about it and invest more of themselves in it than most readers ever realize. Every creator appreciates your support. Might sound a bit corny, but it's true.”
– Dan Jurgens (writer/artist – Superman, Green Arrow)