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Thread: Week 41- Who To Listen To?

  1. StevenForbes Guest

    Week 41- Who To Listen To?

    Itís Tuesday! You have no idea how much Iíve been looking forward to today. Getting to spend some quality time with you is the highlight of my week, let me tell you. Itís great! And we get to talk about my favorite subject: creating comics.

    This week, I thought weíd discuss the gathering of information on the subject of creating comics. Itís not doing research, per se, which is something totally different, although related. You come back weekly to this column, right? This is research youíre doing in order to become a better creator. What Iíd like to talk about is that process, and the places you go in order to get those nuggets of information. Letís get into the Bolts & Nuts of that.

    Back when AOL was a force to be reckoned with and had chatrooms that were worthwhile, one of them was a Marvel chatroom. Creators would regularly frequent these rooms, interacting with the readers. It was basically filled with teenagers wanting to talk about who was better, Hulk or Taskmaster, and the creators would go along with it. Was it mandated by the company for them to do this? No idea. Anyway, on the one day that I decided to pop in, there were two creators in there: Paul Jenkins and Frank Tieri. Paul was pretty cool, and Frank was a bit of a jerk. Frankís major complaint was that every time he turned around, there was another writer coming to ask him how to break in. [While this is something I can understand, from a professional view, itís not something that you really want to complain about in a public forum, much less to impressionable kids. I call it bad form.]

    That was years ago. Now, I want you to think of that, and think about whatís going on today. Besides this column, I can think of three OTHER columns, all written by editors, that talk about breaking into and creating comics on a regular basis. Then you have things going on such as CB Cebulski giving a dissertation on Twiteter for artists to break in, only to be followed by Joe Quesada, who also gave some good information for writers on how to break in. Then there are another couple of columns out there that purport to give information on breaking in, as well.

    There are also books out there about the business of comics, self-publishing your own comics, writing comics, understanding comics, reinventing comics, and how to honey-dip them without ruining the artwork. [Well, maybe not the lastÖ] But there are books and essays and columns and blogs out there that give you more information on how to create comics than you can shake a stick at.

    Basically, every time you turn around, youíre capable of being bombarded with this information. It is not hard to come by.

    So, who do you listen to?

    Isnít that a great question? Letís talk about that for a while. (Yes, letís.)

    First and foremost, I would say listen to editors that write columns or books. I donít care about your personal preferences. Honestly, I donít. (I know. Jerk.) Just because you think Joe Q should be fired and banned from comics for what heís ďdoneĒ to the Marvel Universe, heís still the best source of information on how to break in at Marvel. Heís in there, doing the work, and all youíre doing is bitching and moaning about not being able to get a shot. Someone you despise gave you five dollars just because they found it and thought you could use it. Are you going to turn down the money because itís from that person? Are you going to ignore the information because you donít like the person giving it? If your answer is yes, then I personally think youíre stupid. (HEY!) Donít blame me. Blame you. Blame yourself for being too short-sighted and full of bile to accept information from the source. Iíve got nothing to do with it. (But stupid is a strong word.) True. Doesnít mean itís the wrong one, though.

    If these people in the know are giving you this information for free, who are you to turn your nose up at it? Weíre talking about who you should listen to, and editors are the first line. You are doing yourself a vast disservice to discount anything they say, just because of whoís saying it. This is why you would be stupid.

    There are books that I advocate, but depending on the subject and the writer, books can be of limited use. Information changes, methods change, and what was en vogue ten or even five years ago is no longer applicable. That doesnít mean you shouldnít seek these books out, because the more information you have, the better off youíll be, but donít go reading a book thatís fifteen years old and take the methods therein as gospel. In a lot of ways, comics are a MUCH different beast now than it was then, and the landscape is still changing.

    Columnists. Not all columnists are made alike. Some are there to give you information, sure, but there are others that make their columns one long commercial about themselves. And then, there are some that just give out wrong info, or info thatís pretty close to being wrong that thereís no real difference. These columnists arenít really helpful, and are really doing it in order to raise their profile. All theyíre doing, though, in my estimation, is proclaiming loud and proud that they donít know what theyíre talking about. (So, who do we listen to?)

    All of them. (You canít be serious.) Think about it this way: how many jokes do I really tell in this column? (Good point. Okay, why should I listen to all of them?) Great question! Iím glad you asked!

    You should listen to all of the information for a few different reasons. The biggest and best reason is because when you hear the same thing over and over from different sources, you get to understand the way of the comics world. You can get a sense of truth of whatís going on, because everyone is saying it. Then it starts to sink in, because itís the same thing, over and over again, with little differentiation. That becomes powerful over time.

    The flip side of that is you also get to see those that break with ďconventional wisdom.Ē You can then judge for yourself if the person knows something and has a different way to go about it, or if theyíre totally out in left field.

    You also get to hear other peopleís takes on things. Everything they say is through the filter of their experience, and they will sometimes relate things in their experience to illustrate a point. This filter of experience is important, and because everyoneís experience is different, you also get a slightly different view on the same thing. This is important, because those multiple views will help give a more complete picture.

    You can also see trends of things, or in certain cases, see how the present conventional wisdom came to be. Having a broad base of knowledge of how things were done and how theyíre done now often gives an appreciation for todayís methods. Just because a method isnít used anymore doesnít necessarily mean it is now invalid. Donít believe me? Hand lettering versus computer lettering. ĎNuff said.

    Then there are all the nuggets that get dropped while talking about a topic. Tangents happen, and those nuggets can sometimes clear up a problem you were having with something else. All because of a different perspective.

    (Are you saying that I shouldnít listen to you exclusively?) Thatís actually exactly what Iím saying. Youíre only getting my perspective, through my filter. While my filter is better than some, it is not better than others. I want you to get a lot of different perspectives, and you wonít get that by listening to me exclusively. You can begin to get a sense of that even here, with some of the responses that are given by others.

    I also want you to beware of those who set themselves up as a guru. Sebastian has jokingly made references to me being a guru here, meaning it in one of the definitions of the word, and not the negative connotations sometimes associated with it. Iíve denied it [and still do!], and it honestly bothers me. There are a LOT of gurus out there, and some of them are downright despicable in their personal actions. Some of them are there just for the publicity, the prestige, the chicks. (There are women in comics?! You have wimmin followers?! How can I get oneÖ!?!) [First, you gotta get some glasses. Then shave your head. Then speak like you know what youíre talking about. Throw some big words around, and then send me a check for a billion dollars.]

    Sure, I have some knowledge, and Iím sharing it freely. I still know very little, though, and am learning all the time. I hope to one day be extremely knowledgeable about comics and all the things that go along with it, but the path is long and winding.

    And most ďgurusĒ wonít acknowledge the fact that they donít know everything, or they downplay their ďstatusĒ through a false sense of modesty in order to play up being a guru. (Is that what youíre doing? Huh? HUH?!) Nope. (Uh huhÖ) Like I said, Iím no guru. Iím just here to share what I know to help you be better creators and shorten your time to get to the Big Leagues. If that makes me a guruÖ

    Do you know what happens when you have all of these streams of information? You get to see what it is that you need to do in order to be head and shoulders above the other creators that are pushing and shoving to be noticed. You can be part of the smaller crowd, the group that has a better chance of getting noticed because theyíre doing the research and taking the lessons being given to heart in order to become better creators. This is the group you want to belong to.

    You may also notice the same names cropping up in different places, or being linked to or referenced. Guess what? Go seek those people out, and see what they have to say. I do the same things, myself. I have my handy-dandy Google Reader set to get all kinds of things to read, especially from those in the know. (That thing again? Youíre really pushing it, arenít you?) [Yup! Itíll do you good. Trust me.] (Fine! Fine. Iíll do it. Now, who should I link to?) [Negative, Ghost Writer. {Like that? Ghost Writer?} Iím not going to color your perceptions by saying whom I set my feeds for. Go search them out, and link them up. Believe me, itís better this way.]

    Like I said before, listen to them all, but I want you to be discerning to whom you heedóeven if that means you no longer heed me. (You canít be serious.) No, Iím serious as a heart attack. This is your career weíre talking about, and no one is going to be able to nurture it like you. Why heed someone whoís giving you wrong information? That doesnít make any sense. If I give you wrong information, or information that you just canít use right now, why would you heed me? Why do it with anyone else? (Good point.)

    And thatís really about it. Find and listen to what everyone has to say, but be discerning of whom you heed. Even bad information tells you something [once you find out itís bad, that is].

    Homework! Thought you were gonna escape, didnít you? [Donít answer that!] Your homework for this week is to go to your RSS reader and do a search for people to listen to. Follow what they say for a while, get into a rhythm of what they are and are not talking about, and see who is worth your time and who is not. Easy peasy!

    See you next week!

  2. Sliverbane Guest


    Sorry, that's my first response. I'll think of some more constructive response later.

    However, I'm not heeding you. But would that be heeding your words?! Arg!!

  3. Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Post Thanks / Like

    "Negative Ghost Writer" BWA-HA-HAA-HA-HAA-HAA-HA!! Top PUN!!

    Another top-notch, column.

    And, for the record (as I believe I've stated before) your adamant denial that you are a "Guru", is what makes you one!

    The truly great advisors feel they aren't telling anything special, just what makes sense.

    The ones to watch out for are the ones who claim "Trust me, I'm the end-all/be-all on this subject...."

    But if it makes you feel more comfortable, I shall refer to henceforth as SENSEI FORBY.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5

  4. StevenForbes Guest

    I think I can handle that, and thanks!

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