by Gamal Hennessy
The business of comics is chaotic, complex and on a certain level, crazy. Few other industries transform fantasies and nightmares into profitable communities. Almost every fan of comics has imagined themselves working in the industry. Some of us are insane enough to pursue our passion as a profession.
But having a career in comics isn’t like becoming a doctor or a lawyer. There is no license you can get or set path for you to take to superstardom. Everyone who works in comics has a unique story on how they got their position. Everyone in the industry used some combination of talent, perseverance, connections and luck. Everyone had to find their own way.
I’m planning to write a book to help finding your way a little easier. Your Career in Comics: A Business, Creative and Legal Framework for Professional Sequential Artists (which I’m calling YCC for short) will go into granular detail on the four major creative positions in modern comics. My goal is to explore aspects of each position to help you navigate your way between and within each step. With luck, this framework, added to your talent, determination and fortune, will lead you to a fulfilling career in the complex world of comics.
This is not going to be a book about comic book case law, creating professional artwork, or a book about pitching to an editor. There are several excellent books on all those subjects and I plan to reference them . This book is meant to be more of a comprehensive guide. I’m in a unique position because of my experience as a lawyer, business manager, and author. I’m going to use all those different perspectives to help you see your comic career as a whole, instead of focusing on one aspect.
YCC is going to be a journey that I'll write about in this blog in the coming weeks and months, As you read these posts, please keep three things in mind:
First, the four major roles in comics are broad conceptual categories and not rigid definitions. You don’t necessarily have to complete one position to move to the next. You could try and explore all of them at once, or you can bounce from one to another as your interests and circumstances dictate.
Second, understand that while I describe these positions in a specific order, I’m not suggesting a successful comic career is defined by moving from one position to the next. You can have a creative, exciting and profitable comic career by picking one position and staying there for decades. Comics allow you to go wide or deep. Your only limit is your talent, perseverance, connections and luck. A little bit of crazy will probably be helpful too.
Finally, and most importantly, a career in comics is based on selling what you own. A lot of what you “sell” will be intangible; time, skill, audience, intellectual property rights, etc., but the basic premise is the same You Can’t Sell What You Don’t Own. If you remember nothing else I say, you’ll still get the main point if you apply this simple concept to your work.
I hope you enjoy and get involved in the development of this book, If I’ve make the complex world of comics a little easier to understand, then I’ve done my job.
Success in the comics industry requires an understanding of the business, creative, and legal aspects of the medium.
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