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Jameson’s NY Comic Con Journal: Day 3

Jameson reporting in on Day 3 of NY Comic Con 2007!

Don’t Quit Your Day Job! The Truth about Breaking into Comics: Number one piece of advice for aspiring artists and writers? Have backup plans. “There are success stories and failures, as in any business,” C.B. Cebulski, an ex-editor and talent manager turned freelance comics writer, one of three panelists alongside career-comic illustrator Colleen Doran and iconic comic gossip columnist Rich Johnston. This panel was a reality-check for the many aspiring writer/artists out there who think they’ll be living like rock stars once their comics career takes off. The truth of the matter is that 99% of those making a living in comics are making less than $50,000 dollars a year, and that most actually make no money at all. C.B. adds, “The failures are usually the people who are in it for the money.” Doran, who’s boasts a hell of a résumé as an illustrator having worked on best-selling books for major labels, has had to struggle financially for a good part of her career. Her advice was applicable to any artist: think of yourself as a business person (many artistic types neglect to do this), save money for the dry periods (they will happen) – a difference between the people who make it and the people who don’t a lot of times comes down to those who are responsible with their money, and “Be organized in your life so you can be free in your work.” “Or marry a spouse who does it for you,” quips Johnston, who also advised, that if you want to work in comics, don’t write a gossip column about the industry, and simply, “Don’t be a dick… One jug of beer over someone’s head can kill your career.” Other topics discussed included etiquette when contacting editors and self-promoting yourself and the importance of using the internet in breaking in.

 Wes Craven on the Left – Jameson on the Right

NYCC Comics School: Worldbuilding: J. Michael Straczynski (TV’s Babylon 5, Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man, and an upcoming Thor series), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man, Runaways, TV’s Lost) headed this panel where the subject of creating a world on paper was up for analysis. The key ingredients for a believable fantasy world: Logic and reality. JMS illustrated this point with the Narns, a group of people on Babylon 5. Why are the Narns a harsh people? They live in a harsh world, their environment influences their personalities, their clothes, and their social norms. JMS also talked about the strange phenomena on set, where during lunch hour, the groups of extras (most under layers upon layers of make-up, prosthetics, costume) had a tendency to divide themselves based on the fictional characters they played, i.e. all the Narns would sit with the Narns.

Smith talked about the importance of research and historical accuracy – if you are creating a medieval world with fantastical creatures, in order for your audience to believe in your world, the non-fantastical elements much be accurate. An example he took from his own work was a wagon. Smith also talked about logic and character – “If you’re creating an isolated people, there needs to be a reason they’re isolated, a river, a mountain.”

Vaughn talked about Y: The Last Man, which is set in a world where a virus has wiped out every man on the planet but one, not a new concept, but one that had never really been approached realistically – in Vaughn’s world, women do not gather at the UN, hold hands, and declare world peace once all the men are gone. “Men dying wouldn’t be the end of violence,” he says, and cites mandatory military service for females in certain countries and female suicide bombers as evidence. Other things he considered were numbers – like the number of female pilots employed by airlines and the number of female police officers.

 

Sunday February 25: Not much to tell about today, spent the day walking around with a group of friends taking pictures, and just checking out the different tables in the main room of the convention. Met horror author Steve Niles (author, 30 Days of Night) and got his autograph on a28 Days Later: The Aftermath (graphic novel tie-in) poster. I collected enough free posters to wallpaper my room, got lots of samples of upcoming comics, including a preview of Guy Ritchie’s Gamekeeper, which will be out next month by Virgin as part of their new Director’s Cut line. I attended a Retro-Style Cartoon Drawing Class taught by author/illustrator Chris Hart, where I learned how to draw such characters as an evil-looking older sister and a sultry-looking 50’s housewife. Had a really good time and I’m looking forward to 2008’s NY Comic Con, which is already scheduled for April 18-20.

 

-Jameson

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