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NOCC: To Pitch, or Not to Pitch?

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2013 Coverage

If there’s something you want to do and you get the chance for advice from someone who’s already done it, listen and learn. The "From Concept to Page" panel at Wizard World Comic Con collected three artists who’ve "been there" – Mike Miller, Brandon Badeaux, and Kody Chamberlain – and allowed panel goers the opportunity to learn from those who’ve gone before.

When it comes to actually "breaking into" the business, all three panelists agreed it is easier to do as an artist than it is for a writer. Artists have the advantage of a portfolio stuffed with visuals. Editors can quickly look at the quality of the work and make a determination from there. Many editors are usually on the run, so finding the time to sit down and actually read through something is a luxury few – if any – can afford. In fact, some editors don’t bother to read stuff and it is hard to "make" people read your stuff. Even if your stuff is read, it can sometimes take months for someone to get back to you. To that, Brandon Badeaux, an artist on both Batman: Arkham City and the several DC titles, said the best advice he’s ever received was to be "pleasantly persistent." You don’t want to aggressively chase people down, but taking the time to stay on top of people – while keeping their busy schedules in mind – is one of your better options.

Kody Chamberlain, the artist behind the graphic novel Sweets, offered a different approach for would-be writers – make your own comic book and get it in front of as many people possible. According to Chamberlain, most editors are in tune with what is happening in the industry. If something is getting attention, they will eventually find it.

Pitching your work was another topic of conversation. Pitching is hard, and all three have had pitches rejected. Badeaux and Miller both suggested always offering a high concept of your story, though you also need to include either character sketches or some other touchstone to get people’s attention. Chamberlain offered a different approach – talk to other people about your idea. Although you do run the risk of someone snagging your idea, you also run the risk of it not hitting the right pair of ears.

When it comes to actually creating content, characters are an important part of telling a good story. One of the worst things any creator can do – at least according to the panel – is not flesh out their characters and make up things as they go along. You can’t write characters on the fly and expect the story to work. Creators should know their characters, including their back-stories. By knowing your characters, you will know how they would react to certain situations, offering better, more interesting, storytelling opportunities. You don’t have to reveal these details to your audience (though, the more information you can give, the better), but it does help when developing situations and, more importantly, believable dialogue.

Once you’ve developed your comic book, pitch or portfolio, all three artists suggested attending conventions and being active online. This can include writing your own web comics, or just making yourself known on forums. The key to getting your stuff out there, and (hopefully) a job, is to network.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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