MICHAEL DAVIS: Shit And The Comic Book Industry
Please take a moment to look at the graphic that accompanies this article. Chances are you seen it before on the net or right here on ComicMix when Glenn posted it a few days ago.
I’ll admit it’s clever as shit. It’s interesting as shit. It’s thought provoking as shit.
I came across this on Facebook and I must admit I was mad as shit when I read it. I was even madder when I saw it was a marketing ploy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great marketing ploy and I freely admit that shit.
I went to the website and the Facebook page of the person who put it up. After reading some of the stuff on the Facebook page I was disappointed that I was so upset. Why? Because this is the sort of person I should like. We share a great many thing with regards to politics and he seems like a great guy.
But I know a wee bit about the comic book industry and I know a wee bit more about building franchises and a wee bit more about mentoring talent.
I also know you do not do any of that shit with fear.
In any and I mean any part of the entertainment business you will find incredible success and dismal failure. That’s not the industry’s fault. The industry was not set up for you to be either an incredible success or a dismal failure.
That shit is on you.
Are there barriers to entry?
Yes. Tell me, what profession does not have barriers to entry? There are barriers to entry for everything.
That’s what school is for. That’s what working on your craft is for. That’s what life experience is for. That’s what you go to comic conventions for.
If you want to work in comics, you go to comic book conventions to learn the industry not to hang out with your 20 friends in one hotel room with the sole intention of going to the Twilight panel to kiss the ass of the movie company so they will give you a glimpse of that bullshit movie which is the same movie as the previous 15 but “this time it’s personal.”
Yeah, I called the Twilight movies bullshit. That’s my opinion.
The Twilight franchise?
I don’t have to love a thing to respect a thing and I respect the shit out of the Twilight franchise. When it comes to how they run that shit I’m Team Edward all the way.
Instead of going to a portfolio review or a small press panel the young creators who will fall for that “call me” ploy from the comic industry poster spend their time trying to catch a glimpse of Jim Lee at the DC Comics panel. Jim is not there to talk to you about getting into DC he’s there to sell you the books you are already buying.
So, how does any of the above help your career?
The graphic depicts the comic book industry as an industry of people who will try and stab you in the back. Really? You think Jim Lee wants to stab you in the back so he can steal your idea? That great idea that you drew with a ballpoint pen, inked with a magic marker, colored with Photoshop 0.1 in tones of nothing but blue?
You know why Jim Lee does not want your great idea, which all your family and friends have convinced you will be bigger than Superman?
I’ll tell you why, because if you have been reading comics and using that as your only education and attending Twilight like and not career oriented panels at comics conventions then most likely your idea is shit.
Why would all your family and friends tell you had created the greatest thing since Star Wars? I’ll tell you why; your family and friends love you. They are bias as shit.
Think of what you say to that fat ass 300-pound girlfriend when she’s asking you if she looks fat in that dress.
Fat 300-pound girlfriend: Do I look fat in this dress?
You lie. You lie because you want to tap some of that fat ass. Guess what? She knows you are lying. She’s 300 pounds, dude. She would look fat in stranded in the middle of the ocean.
Your family and friends are your family and friends; they are supposed to lie to you. Your family and friends they don’t know shit about what makes a concept a good idea.
Secondly, your “bigger than Superman” concept was drawn with a ball point pen, inked with a magic marker, colored with Photoshop 0.1 in tones of nothing but blue and your can’t spell so your lettering sucks also.
Is the comic book industry fair?
Does some projects that suck get published?
Is there an “old boy” network at many publishers?
Are there people who don’t want you to succeed?
Welcome to Earth, motherfucker. Or more specifically, welcome to the real world of grown-up business.
In every single business on the planet there are unfair policies, projects that suck that get green lit, cliques of people who won’t let you in and people who do not want you to succeed.
Fuck that shit and fuck them.
Learn the game before you hook up with somebody who claims he can help you with your “franchise.”
Give me a fucking break. Learn to write, learn to draw. Ask Jim Lee for advice not an autograph. Stand in line to hear Marv Wolfman or Harlan Ellison talk about writing. Stop standing in line to see clips from a movie you are going to see anyway.
Comic creators like giving advice. You will be surprised to see how much you can learn from an conversation about that creators craft. Set realistic goals for yourself. Seek criticism from people that know what they are talking about.
Here’s a hint. Make appointments with people you would like to talk to. All they can say is “no” but would not a “yes” make your day and help you?
Take classes, go to school make an effort to learn the industry.
Yes, think about your own Franchise!
Yes, build, your own Franchise!
But before you call someone to help you do something that they have not done, do the work that’s needed to achieve your goal. Yours – not someone else’s.
When you do all of that and more, when you have gotten to a place of excellence in your craft and still don’t succeed, try again and again and then again.
Frankly, if you are that good you won’t have to keep trying because you will succeed.
Anything less, anything quick, anything that does not involve the kind of commitment to your the craft is just bullshit.
WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Gets Sentimental
…Once again you remind me why I look forward to your articles. The frank, shot to the head wake up call that demands we do what we know we need to if we want to make it in the industry. I’ll continue to work on my craft as I wait for your next installment!
lf you would like to show me some work I’d be happy to look at it: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank You Mr. Davis. I am working on pulling some of my work together now and will be in touch soon! Best Regards
It’s ‘Michael.’ “Mr.Davis makes me should like a old guy hanging out on the corner.
Good column, Mike. A few thoughts to add — 1) if the would-be creator wants to work for DC or Marvel, those two companies don’t give a shit about the character/concept YOU created. They have their OWN characters and you need to show you can do THEM. Don’t show art/story pitches for Marvel characters to DC editors or vice versa. 2) Every comic being published already HAS a creative team. The newbie has to show they are not just as good as those people; they have to be better than them and better than those who have experience and are unemployed who will also be seeking work. What do yopu have that makes you unique? 3) Look to the smaller companies; look to the Independents. Look to lauching an online site. If your family and friends believe in you so much, see what money they’re willing to invest. The secret about getting into comics is that you first have to be published SOMEWHERE. You need work to get work. How do you do it? Create the work and get it out there either through a small publisher or the Internet.
Finally — this is the Real World. You don’t get a trophy just for showing up. Do the work.
You’re added so many great points that according to the ‘industry’ chart above I must now stab you in the back.
Sorry-I REALLY liked you dude…
Remind me to avoid you at all Cons.
John, avoid me at all cons so I don’t stab you in the back.
Excellent point about the small press. It is not only much more willing to give untried or less experienced creators a chance, many actually seek out such folks.
I have been working in comics for about four years and I’ve had numerous works published by various companies in that time. I have a friend who is about 12 years older than I am and has been trying to break into specifically DC for a good 20+ years by his own admission.
Why? Because he wants to write John Constantine and basically just Constantine.
He has had exactly one thing published ever: a short story I submitted on his behalf (with his permission) to a small press anthology. He is a decent writer and could make good in roads with the independent scene if he’d direct his energy there instead of towards a company that has thousands of people doing the exact same thing he is.
The amount of Diva’s that have crossed my path could fill Comic Con.
The amount of Divas that have crossed your path DOES fill Comic-Con. #fixedthatforyou
Probably true, unfortunately.
Great column, Mike!
I’ve seen that pic reproduced all over the place, and I still can’t get over the fact they misspelled “industry”. Maybe I have a future as a comic book editor.
(What am I saying? That’s no kind of future!)
Great article, MOTU. Full of advice that those that need it most will ignore because they think it doesn’t apply to them.
Thanks my friend.