What art goes in each panel is an important choice. The right choices will make it clear where multiple figures are standing in relation to each other, even as the artist changes the angle by which we view them throughout a scene. Study of comics by pros like Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, Marie Severin, and Stan Sakai can offer great insight into what works. And the legendary Wally Wood’s 22 Panels that Always Work is a great reference for any budding comics artist.
Breaking into the comic book industry.
With each new Avengers movie setting box office records and graphic novels being adapted into TV shows by the dozen, finding a job in comics has become even more competitive. Making headway into any new field takes hard work and perseverance — it can take years to land a small job at a major publisher, and possibly a decade more before you’re hired to draw an icon like Wonder Woman. Your first comic will likely be a self-published short story, but each completed page of work builds your resume. Here are a few things to consider.
1. Online presence: To get hired or connect with a creative collaborator, your work needs to be visible. Create an online portfolio that showcases your best work and demonstrates the style of comic book you want to work on. Set up social media accounts and join communities like Behance to give your work a broader platform.
2. Networking: While living in New York City gave comic book artists an edge back when DC Comics and Marvel were both headquartered there, social media, email, and a growing circuit of comic book conventions offer opportunities for artists living all over. If you can’t afford to travel to make connections, digital means can be very effective, especially as many comic book artists are remote freelancers, and editors and publishers make many business connections online.
3. Portfolio reviews: At certain conventions, publishers will offer portfolio reviews for artists. Before you apply for these opportunities, take your portfolio around to working artists and get feedback to improve your work. Portfolio reviews are great opportunities to receive critiques and make connections with editors, but you want to make sure you’ve ironed out any problems first. “You want to have a portfolio with several pages of sequential art — storytelling pages — that show you can tell a story,” Schmidt says. “It’s good to have the script alongside the page of art so the person evaluating your portfolio can make sure that you executed the story.”
4. Self-publishing: It’s recommended that artists looking to enter the field create comics to use as a resume to get more work. Seeing a complete story is the best way an editor can judge your abilities. You can create a digital comic or webcomic on your own, or team up with a writer to tell a story. With crowdfunding, these efforts can even make you money. The crowdfunding revolution has led to many self-published comics anthologies, which is another avenue for you to pitch your work and get published.
Gain more insight into comics careers by learning about Gene Luen Yang and Nicola Scott’s journeys in comic book publishing.