Channel the entity "Jeff Parker" from beyond the Ether

Monday, March 29, 2004

Mailbag Time 

Since no one checks FAQs to see if their questions have been frequently asked, I'm going to occasionally post some letters I get along with my responses. A lot of creators starting out have the same kinds of queries, maybe this will help get the answers out. Unless you disagree with my answers, in which case, write me a letter.

Hi, Mr. Parker, my name is Andy Luckett. I'm a college student currently finishing up a communication major at Virginia Tech University here in Blacksburg, VA. I'm a big fan of comic books (I'm only part-way through The Interman, but I am really enjoying it), and I am interested about comic writing as a prospective career. I hope you wouldn't mind if I asked you a few questions about your field.

What order did you have to your education? Did you get more than one degree? Did you go to a college with a comics-centric program, like the Kubert school? The major that I'm finishing up right now is the second one that I will have, after an AA degree in Communication Design I received from a community college. Do you think that these degrees would be helpful in being hired in the comics field?

I'm a fan of art and artwork but I don't think I have the passion for illustration to pursue comic art, but I do have a passion to write for comics. Would it work to bring a portfolio full of writing samples to a convention, like most people do with artwork? I'd love to have some of my samples evaluated, but I don't know if anyone would go for that. Anyway, I hope I didn't e-mail your ear off, but any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. By the way, I'm curious: would you ever consider doing anything with Aquaman, if DC wanted you to? He's my favorite character and I like to see how people would handle him. Given that you've already written a character who can breathe underwater (among other talents), you might have a different perspective on him. Thanks a lot for your time.


Andy Luckett


Hey, great to hear from you. I'll try to answer these questions, let's see...

I didn't study at SVA or the Kubert School, though friends of mine who did really got a lot out of it. I was an English Lit major in college myself. Really it doesn't matter to publishers, it's pretty much what you can take from the studies. That's a nice democratizing feature of the industry, all that matters is that you can do the work well, they don't care if you were frying fish last week. Though I do think my college work helped make me a better writer. Of course, I'm just now getting work as a writer after about ten years of working in comics.

Ugly truth time: No one will look at your writing samples. Just the other day at a small show I declined to look at a guy's writing-- it just takes too long and everyone's got work to do. It may take an editor 20 pages to realize whether someone can write or not, whereas you can get a sense of their storytelling skills quickly with art pages.

How do you get around this? You have to either draw your own stories or convince artists to work with you. You could do this in some small press books, or even make minicomics at the copy shop. That's your best hope for getting people to read your material. Breaking in as a writer is notoriously hard. As I mentioned, I'm just now starting to be considered as one, and it's because of a book I published myself (hurry up and finish that, by the way!) It's not like I wasn't pitching story ideas for years. Attending comics shows and meeting promising artists you have things in common with will probably be your most direct route.

And while you're at it, focus on writing your own characters. If you're going to have longevity in the industry, it'll be with concepts you own.

Though it would be cool to write Aquaman.


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