Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Breaking the Fourth Wall: Episode 1

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to write comic books. The idea that someone could actually get paid to think up these cool stories is something that still surprises me today. What could be more fun than creating a world of action, romance and intrigue and then exploring it with thousands of readers sharing the adventure? The answer: nothing.

But wanting to do something and actually doing it are two different things. Sometimes life gets in the way. Talent and drive aren’t always enough; you also have to have timing, and for me, the time has never quite been right to really pursue my dream.

Well, now is the time.

Over the next weeks and months, I’ll be mounting a full-scale assault on the comic book world in an attempt to fulfill my dream of becoming a professional comic book writer. And as I do, I’ll be detailing my efforts every week here in the Breaking the Fourth Wall series. In some ways, there’s never been a better time to be a writer in the industry; over the past few years, writers have ascended to become as well known and well regarded as artists for the first time in decades. People like Brian Michael Bendis and Geoff Johns have become the biggest names in the business. Yes, it’s a great time to be a comic book writer.

Or, that is, it’s a great time to already be a comic book writer. Because the funny thing is, the more popular writers get, the harder it seems to be to break into the business as a writer. Most of the major comic book publishers these days, including Marvel and DC, no longer accept any writing submissions at all. What they want is established stars, people who are already published, meaning that comics now mirror the real world dilemma facing many people in the work force: how do you get experience if companies only hire those who already have experience?

Well, that’s what we’re going to find out together. There are still a few lonely companies that are willing to review writing submissions. And with the internet fostering a self-publishing boom, new avenues for creative expression have been opened that weren’t previously available. These are just a couple of the angles we’ll be exploring as I try to break into the business, and you can come along for the ride here at The Vault, where I’ll be detailing every rejection, every convention trip and, hopefully, every success story as I slowly work my way up the ladder and into the rare air of the comic book pro.

In addition, along the way I’ll be posting a series of essays detailing my thoughts on storytelling, showcasing specific techniques, analyzing the work of writers and artists alike and sharing some of the lessons I am learning throughout this process. In the next few weeks, for instance, I’ll be discussing my first aborted attempt to break into comics back in the late 90’s and what I took away from that experience. And, who knows, maybe some of you out there will learn a thing or two that will help in your own efforts to get published.

Because in the words of the legendary Jim Shooter, it’s time to “tell a good story and tell it well.” And while I don’t know yet whether the story of my professional comic book life will be a good one or not, I can assure you of one thing: I’m going to tell it as well as I can.

So here we go.

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