Tuesday, January 23, 2007

How I Didn't Break into the Comics Industry Part 1

As we grow older we realize that many other people have very similar dreams and fears and it's both comforting and disturbing. It's nice to know other people struggle with the same problems, but if they have similar goals doesn't that make them your, at least indirect, competition?

In 1996 I discovered the internet. It was a prehistortic forefather of today's information highway monster, but mind blowing nonetheless. It was such a delight to log into a chat room and chat to a girl from Sweden or curiously check a sex chat and be asked politley by a stranger what breed is my dog and if he can have sex with him. Suddenly there was this magical little gateway that allowed me to transfer my mind around the world and talk to people anywhere in the world touched by modern science.

While in real life I knew only a handful of people who read superhero comics. suddenly I could discuss it with American readers, the main market for this genre. My English was a bit broken, but not worse than most foreigners' who were trudging the web for the first time in those early days. My English was good enough to understand and be understood and during those chats and e-mail exchanges I improved my English language skills far faster and better than I ever did in highschool. This wasn't some dry textbook, this was the real thing with real people talking the way real people talked in the 90's.

In 1996 my highschool major was Theatre and I was a member at two different theatre groups. I viewed myself mostly as an actor, but at the same time I was also very passionate about writing. That was when I realized I wasn't alone. There were others who wanted to be writers. I sort of knew that already, that there will be fierce competition in any artform I will choose to pursue, but suddenly, with the wonders of technology, the truth was laid bare in front of me. The worrying part was that I thought some of these writers were really good (I wouldn't go as far as saying "better than me" to preserve my selfesteem). Not only technically with better grammar and spelling, but the actual ideas and storytelling.

The biggest shock, though, was to suddenly meet comics creators on those various message boards. People who were nothing more than names in credit boxes in my favourite comicbooks were suddenly hanging around on the same messageboard as me and answering my questions. Most didn't even bother to hide their e-mail addresses and were very kind and patient to answer most of the e-mails they were sent. There were quite a few of them, but the ones that stick to mind were Peter David, Karl Kesel and Todd Dezago. I was starstruck and very happy. Realizing that there were real people behind the stories strenghened my that that's what I also want to do. Writing comics was an actual job.

During my first year in London I went to a foundation drama school. I wasn't accepted to any of the three year courses I applied to (I'd like to believe because I never managed to get rid of my Israeli accent, just make it sound even funnier). This was a requirement to get an equity card and start working in the UK as a proffesional actor. As my twelve steps plan to win an Oscar by the age of thirty was beginning to fall apart I decided to try very hard to break into the comics industry as a writer. Little did I know that I was moving from one illusive goal to a far worse one. You see, there are far fewer wannabe comicbook writers than wannabe actors, but there were even fewer positions for comicbook writers than there are for actors.

As of writing this, nearly a decade later, I'm yet to win an Oscar or see my name on the cover of a mass marketed comicbook. But it was an interesting ride that hopefully isn't over yet.


1 comment:

Anthony Hope-Smith said...

You just have to keep on, keeping on.
A lot of people don't break-in till their mid-thirties at the earliest, so you still have a few years left in ya to try. I'm gonna wait till then before I start slitting my wrists:-)