Tips For Aspiring Comic Book Artists
If you want to know how to become a comic book artist, then this is the place to start. The tips provided below should give you a leg up on the competition, provided, of course, that you also have a decent amount of artistic talent.
When trying to break into the comic book industry, just remember that you’ll be up against some pretty stiff competition. Every fanboy dreams of drawing comics, but not everyone has the necessary skills. And to top it all off, a lot of luck is involved. The next Todd McFarlane may be waiting tables right now, simply because he didn’t get that all-important break.
If you hope to get a job with Marvel, DC, Image or Dark Horse, you’re going to need to put together a portfolio to show off your skills. Keep in mind that a comic book portfolio isn’t just crammed full of action poses; it’s purpose is to demonstrate to editors that you can tell a visual story, draw things other than people, and convey emotions through facial expressions and body language. You’ll certainly want to include multiple pages which tell a sequential story, as this is the essence of the comic book business.
While the above are of primary importance, there’s nothing wrong with throwing in a few splash pages and pin-up drawings. These will demonstrate your overall talent to the editor.
The portfolio should also be designed to show off your strongest areas. If you’re primarily an inker, be sure that your portfolio is geared towards those examples (also include the pencil version for comparison). The same thing applies if you’re a colorist or penciller. Artists worried about their original works can also include photocopies (as long as they are clear copies of high quality).
Be Creative, But Not Too Creative
The items in your portfolio should also be created with the standard tools of the trade. While an editor might admire your ability to think outside the box, he also wants to make sure that you can work within the industry norms.
If you’re a penciller, try to include examples done with both light and dark pencils. If you’re an inker, make sure to use standard India ink instead of something exotic. You should also do all your work on standard 10” X 15” Bristol paper.
Simple Is Better
While you could probably put together a portfolio with 50 or more pages, editors are not going to spend that much time looking at your work. No matter how good you are, you are still an unknown. Keep this in mind when assembling your portfolio, and try to only include your strongest and most recent work.
Make sure everything in the portfolio is professional-looking and logically organized. If pages are hanging out and the overall arrangement seems haphazard, an editor will probably have serious doubts about hiring you.
Find Your Own Style
Jim Lee is a great comic book artist, but emulating his work won’t endear you to editors. They want to see something new. If they want their comic to include Jim Lee-like art, they’ll just hire Jim Lee. You should always strive to stand out from the pack and demonstrate a unique visual style.
Comic book companies have submission guidelines which they expect aspiring artists and writers to adhere to. If you can’t be bothered to follow these guidelines, then why should the editors be bothered to look at your work? Follow the rules for the time being; you can always break them once you’re an insider.
Don’t Give Up
If an editor decides that he’s not interested in your work, it’s not the end of the world. You should submit your work to other comic book companies (don‘t forget about the smaller ones).
Never give up. At a later date, it’s even a good idea to resubmit to companies which previously rejected you. Perhaps they’ll see your work in a different light the second or third time around.
Conventions are also a good way to meet editors and show off your work. In fact, many of these editors will set aside time at conventions to look at portfolios. This is an excellent way to get your foot in the door.
If the editor offers suggestions on ways to improve your art or portfolio, be sure and listen to what they have to say. Above all, don’t argue with the editor, as that’s the quickest way to get on their bad side.
If you do get called in for an interview, try to be as professional as possible. Shake the editor’s hand and look them straight in the eye. You should avoid wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt to the interview, as it shows a level of disrespect for the interview process. You can dress like a slacker after you’ve been hired.
If none of the traditional comic book companies seem interested in your art, you can always go the route of self-publishing. While it’s a long, hard road, self-publishing can be very artistically rewarding and even lead to bigger and better things.