While I suspect the answer is “make comics on your own and hope somebody likes them,” how to break in is a common question and the Breaking Into Comics the Marvel Way will be kicking off in a few minutes and we’ll be liveblogging.

Get ready to hit the update button.

Our cast of characters: The ringleader is C.B. Cebulski.  C.B.’s the talent scout Marvel and had been hanging out in editorial suite for quite awhile.

The panel is: Sam Humphries (Sacrifice / Uncanny X-Force), Cullen Bunn (Sixth Gun, Fearless Defenders), Shawn Crystal (Deadpool), Christos Gage (Avengers Academy /First X-Men), Joe Keatinge (Glory, Morbius), and Matteo Scalera (Secret Avengers)

Matteo Scalera is taking over art on a book that they can’t talk about yet.  Hmmm…

Shawn Crystal also has something going on he can’t talk about.  Hmmm….

Good news: it’s easier than ever to break into comics.  Webcomics are easy.  POD is cheaper.  It’s easier for writers and artists to hook up on sites.

Bad news: it’s even harder to get paid.

Sam Humphires: He had 2 short stories published in 2011.  (He was in the audience for this panel 2 years ago.)  He wasn’t getting any bites from publishers.  He decided he was just going to put out Our Love is Real and Sacrifice.  Publish it himself.

It showed that he could actually make a book.  Steve Wacker saw Our Love is Real, gave to it Axel, Axel liked it and called him.

Everything happened because he just went ahead and make it.

CB: Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you don’t have work.  You can show people your dedication by just doing it.

Joe Keating: Eventually he got to the point he felt he needed to write comics.  He got a gig flattening colors in Photoshop (which he had to learn).  Then he got in the business side.  Eventually he decided to just pitch a couple books.  Hell, Yeah came first.  Glory next.  Steve Wacker tweeted that he liked Glory.  Keating contacted him and said he liked Marvel.  After some conversations, he got some Marvel gig.

He agrees, just make comics.


Cristos Gage: He was writing Law & Order: SVU and had met Jimmy Palmiotti.  Jimmy got him a meeting with Dan DiDio.  (This was just prior to all the film/tv guys started doing comics.)  He pitched Deadshot.  By coincidence, they were looking to set up Deadpool for  Secret Six.  Then he did a Spider-Man Unlimited and it built from there.

Doing it when you’re not getting paid sets you apart from people who don’t.

“Editors don’t have jobs to give you, they have problems for you to solve.”

He got a Civil War one-shot because Millar was sick and they needed to fill in a book.  It’s important to show you can deliver on time.  Putting a comic out on time online is showing you can behave like a pro.

Cullen Bunn: He wasn’t having luck with comics, so he turned to prose.  Eventually, he was working in a comic store with Brian Hurtt.  He pitched The Damned to Oni with Hurtt, who’d been doing some work with them.  It came out, then nothing happened for awhile.  Eventually, he pitched The Sixth Gun and _that_ got him attention.  Eventually DC contacted him via Twitter for a Superman/Batman arc.  Jason Aaron distributed Sixth Gun inside Marvel and that got him editorial attention at Marvel.

He was working a full-time job, but was still writing (~sounds like about 5 hours/day).  He was attempting not to be the bitter writer.

Matteo Scalera: he was in Italy, so it was a little different.  His style didn’t really fit in with Italian comics, so he started posting art online.  Just post your best stuff.

He started getting small jobs in Italy after being seen.  That got him contacted for Hyperkinetic for Image.  That project was what he showed C.B., which C.B. liked.  That got him into the “Chesterquest” contest.  Eventually he started on Deadpool.

“Once you start working with big companies, don’t take it for granted.”

Be aware how good you are and keep evolving your style.

CB: It’s not so much about breaking in, as it is staying in.


Shawn Crystal: “Become very familiar with The Wire.”  (The HBO show.)  It’s about you wanting in one way, but reality is another way.  (It’s a classic scene and you should watch The Wire regardless of whether you’re trying to break into comics.)  It’s about not being the bitter unsuccessful creator.

Go to conventions and get to know people.  Become part of the community.  Creators expose each other’s work to the rest of the community.

C.B. – He finds the most writers and artist through word of mouth.

Matteo – That’s what he did in Italy and that’s basically how he did it.

Shawn – He was a cartoony artist trying to break in while hyper realism was in fashion.  At the time, he thought he was getting blown off.  When Deadpool came out, that was when he got the call.  Wolverine wouldn’t have been a good fit, but Deadpool was.  Know where your work fits.

Q&A time

Q: The value of Kickstarter?

A: A valid tool, but it’s just a way to help you do the work/get the work out there.

Make sure you put your name out in every possible place.  Brand yourself.

Do the comic you want to do.

Don’t get hung up on where to do the comic (Kickstarter/web/whatever), just pick one and make something.

Q: How much continuity do you need know to work at Marvel?

A: You should know the basics, but it’s the editor’s job to keep track of the continuity details.

Q: Is there anything you shouldn’t do to make people say “oh my god?”

A: Don’t ask for too much money on Kickerstarter.

Don’t be too pushy.

Do NOT tag people on your art on Facebook.

Q: Is it possible to get too much exposure too early.

A: You have to know yourself and your limits.  It’s also bad if you’re _too_ humble.

You can’t believe the hype about yourself.  Never compare yourself (i.e. I’m better than XXX, you can compare your style as a point reference).

[Yup… you should should probably just go make some comics.]


  1. When I talk at cons about writing comics and breaking in, usually with a group of other pros, we repeat a mantra: DO THE WORK. DO THE WORK. DO THE WORK. Just do it. It’s so easy to make comics today. And if you make good ones, word gets around.

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