Mark’s Remarks – West Coast Avengers #22 (July 1987)

This column may be useful to that segment of my reading audience who may have toyed with the notion of becoming a professional comic book writer or artist. My topic this month…

HOW NOT TO BREAK INTO THE COMICS INDUSTRY

1) Have a whole bunch of different career goals. If the first time you show your art or writing samples, you are not hired on the spot to take over the writing of X-MEN, give up and pursue one of your other goals (brain surgeons are always in demand). That’ll teach the so-called professional comics community that you are not to be trifled with!

2) Don’t get good at any one thing first…be a little good at a lot of things.Mediocre at plotting? Dialogue? Pencil-inking? Well, bring in some samples that show you’re mediocre at all those things. After all, if you’re one-fourth good at four things, that’s the same as being wholly good at one thing, right?

3) Don’t be willing to sacrifice or put yourself out in anyway. If the person you show your work to suggests you move to the New York area so you can learn inking by assisting establishing inkers, roll your eyes and think, “Dream on, Charlie.” If the person suggests you invest in some books on writing, ask him or her, “What – you think I’m made of money?” After all, you read comics for fun, so why can’t it be just as much fun to get a job writing or drawing them?

4) Submit a million things at the same time. The editor who is evaluating your work will be so impressed by the sheer volume that he or she will just skim over the foot high stack or work and assume if there’s that much of it, it must be great. What else does an editor have to do beside wade through your completed works since third grade – send completed comics to the printers?

5) Submit material that isn’t quite comics to be evaluated. Surely, those poems and record reviews will show that you understand comic book story structure. Surely, those still-life watercolors and pastel and charcoal portraits of your family members will show that you understand how to tell stories through pictures. What are these editors- complete idiots?

6) When an editor criticizes some aspect  of your work, argue with him or her, or at least make a detailed explanation of the circumstances that prompted you to do that work in such a way. If the editor won’t be impressed by the work itself, at least he or she will be impressed by your heartfelt rationalizations of it.

7) (and most important) Develop arrogance, smugness, and obnoxiousness. An editor criticizes your work? Call him or her a jerk who can’t see that your work is better than 99% of the crap he publishes. Question the editor’s judgement. Ask him or her his credentials. Make fun of the artists or writers he or she currently uses. Act like you’ve heard it all before, and you thought it was stupid criticism when you heard it then. It is important to leave an editor an impression of you so he or she can distinguish you from the throng of people whose work keeps surfacing on his or her desk like dead fish. It stands to reason that an obnoxious personality will be easier to remember than a bland, pleasant one.

–Mark Gruenwald­­