Dublin City Comic Con

Was at Dublin City Comic Con this weekend, well, the Saturday (the Sunday was mother’s day and ended up staying home for that)

Was good to be at a con again, I suspect it’ll take me to go to a few to find my feet at the things again, covid having done a number on everything really. Met some new friends (hello Alan and Ellie) and to my suprise and delight, actual fans. (Not as suprising to me as it was to my son who was also there)

Anyway, did some portfolio reviews and gave some advice, so, to the best of my recall, here is some of that self same advice:

If you want a career in comics, make sure you have three months worth of living expenses in the bank at ALL times. Any less than that and you’re in trouble. Here’s why – if you’re looking for work, it could take month. If you get the work, could take a month to do it. Once you finish and invoice for it, could take a month to pay – simple. Three months. Though, to be perfectly honest, if you can, you owe it to yourself to bank six months at all times, this industry is HARD.

If you’re a writer with a submissions package, figure out what your end game is, I think some people see the submission’s package as some sort of “if I built it they will come” but it really helps to know what your goal is. A graphic novel with a publisher? Pitching short stories? Self publishing?

And honestly, in many many cases all you really need is a single page synopisis of the complete story (including any exciting twists and turns and plot twists it may contain – you want the reader to know it’s got twists, but you want the publisher to know what those twists are) and maybe six pages of written story comics. If you’re pitching to a publisher, some will also want six pages of the story drawn, but it will depend and you may find yourself with an accepted pitch where they love the story but want a different artist (surprise! this has happened to me more than once)

Some lettering no/nos – if you’re lettering yourself good lettering will rescue a comic and bad lettering will destroy it, if you’ve a budget pay a letterer and if you don’t then try and learn how to do it right – plenty of good resources (I’d avoid names like CLINT and words like FLICK – and the unfortunate sound effect UNTSS UNTSS UNTSS which went behind a moon and read like an entirely different word! make it UNZZZ UNZZZ UNZZZ)

If you’re starting out and you’ve a partner who has no real interest in comics but wants to support you, draw a comic and show them and ask them to describe what’s happening in the unlettered comic (and don’t give them any hints) where they get it right, you did a good job! well done! where they get lost it’s confusing and you need to fix that!

Black placement on a page – try and use blacks to help tell the story and direct the reader’s eye – sure, it’s important to get light sources right, but also you can make up light sources! comics are super flexible that way!

Establishing shots are important, in a scene where two characters interact you’ll need to show the reader at least ONE panel where we see them both together, without that it’s hard to know if we’re cutting between scenes or if there’s any connections between them at all.

Writers: for the love of god, start small! Write one page complete stories, get an artist. “I’d like this to be an eight page miniseries” – ME TOO! But realistically, big names can’t get eight issues of a miniseries out there, it’s a hard market. You’ll have more luck with a graphic novel, and even better luck with short stories. You cut your teeth on short stories, those are the things that build your craft muscles up quick (to mix some metaphors)

Finally, if you’re after advice and that advice takes a long long time, because you’re not really clear about what you’re trying to do and then after 45 minutes say “well, I’m really trying to make a six issue miniseries about an NFT character” do not be surprised if whoever you’re talking to folds their arms, gives you a stern look and tells you they’re not that interested.