I've received several emails from folks asking for advice in regards to getting started in comics. I don't know how much I can help. Especially since I feel I myself just started. I will share what I have learned so far from experience, peers, and through my internships.
1) As Brett Warnock(Top Shelf) had once told me: "Produce, produce, PRODUCE!"
Now, I don't want to hear anyone complain about time. Believe me, I know a thing or two about a lack of time. I'm holding a 40hr a week day job (which has nothing to do with art!). If it's something you love, you make time for it! I do a lot of doodling and thumbs at my desk at work. My mind is constantly in comic mode. I think that's the first sign that comics is life!
2) More on Produce Produce Produce
Make mini comics, print them, distribute them to your favorite artists! Make a blog! The more you share the more people will be able to know about who you are and what you do! And don't feel like a "whore" because you're running around talking about your own stuff. You have to learn to market yourself in this biz. Things mainly get around by your own efforts and word of mouth. If people love comics, they'll love to receive whatever it is you're offering. So if you're not a social butterfly, try and step out of that safety box and throw yourself out there!
Get to know others in your field! You'll learn quickly that comics is an industry where everyone is very supportive of each other. I rarely felt any sort of ill competitiveness in the comics world. It's a small industry compared to others and you'll become aware that everyone knows each other in some sixth degree or other. To socialize:
a) Attend comic events such as signings, release parties, conventions, etc! Make friends, share your minis! The comic world is like a wonderful funderful family!
b) Join social networks online! Forums, Twitter, and Facebook are some examples. If you can't make it to cons, these online sites are great places to make friends too.
c) If you are lucky to live in the area of a comic publisher or studio collective, see if there are any internships available! I personally interned for Top Shelf Productions(publisher of Blankets, Essex County, Jeffrey Brown etc) and Periscope Studio(collective of comic artists/writers including Jeff Parker, Steve Lieber, Colleen Coover etc) here in Portland.
d) See if there are any Drink & Draws/sketch groups in your neighborhood!
3b) A Note on Socializing
Say what you will on what I'm about to state but I PERSONALLY learned that you shouldn't fawn and be all fan-girl/boy over your idols. I've been taught that if you want to be treated like a creator in the industry you should act like one, not a crazy fan. Your idols are still mentors/inspirations but at the same time they are your peers in the comic world! I'm not saying you can't be excited and compliment them, I just mean tone down the "OMG OMG OMG YOU ARE _____ ______! I LOVE LOVE LOVE YOUR BOOK ____ _____ CAN I TOUCH YOU?"
4) Be Nice!
Yeah? Yeah? Does that sound silly? Well, from what I heard from folks, it helps immensely if you are a person who is friendly and easy to work with. Even if you could draw the most inticrite Zeus riding a Cerebus striking Magneto with a lightening bolt, if you are a jerk, not many people will want anything from you. But if you ask me, that's a simple rule from the playground. If you don't play nice, no one will play with you no matter what cool kicks(sneakers) you wear.
6) Never Give Up!
Learn from your failures and learn to focus on even the smallest of successes. Don't fear to try new things and keep on truckin! If you get shot down, or do not hear continuous praises, don't lose hope! If anything, that should fuel you to work harder! Uh oh, watch out, golf metaphor coming-- Not everyone hits a hole-in-one on their first swing! Sometimes you might get the ball in the rough or in the sand. Doesn't mean at all that the game is over. Try a different club, check the wind, practice your swing. Don't blame the caddie for bad advice...or because someone coughed at the tee. or...I think I'm losing my metaphor.
7) Draw With Your Heart!
That sounds cheesy I know, but people can recognize when someone draws/writes from their heart and it stands out so much more!
I can't stress enough how lucky we are to be in the age of the Internet. It's so easy to connect with other creators all over the world and share your own work in minutes! TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT! For serious.
That's all for now I think.
DON'T GIVE UP!
and I leave you with a downer comic: