How to Break Into Comics: Jim McCann Calls Comic Books "Research"

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Posted by sora_thekey (8811 posts) - - Show Bio

 "This is research"
On a recent interview with CBR, Jim McCann talked a bit about his transition from Assistant Manager of Marketing Communications at Marvel to full time comic book writer of both Marv el and Archaia comics.
The interview focused on Jim's work on his favorite character; Dazzler, his on-going series Hawkeye and Mockingbird and his work along side Janet Lee on their new Archaia book, The Return of the Dapper Men. Honestly, this interview did not reveal things that we did not know before (click on the links). There was something that Jim mentioned on the interview, that although I am sure he has mentioned before, it got me thinking...

Jim: "The moment I started buying comics I sad; 'I'm going to write for Marvel Comics'. My dad thought that I was going to sell my collection when I was sixteen to buy a car [...] and I said 'no, this is research, and I made the right choice'.

Here on the site, I am sure that there are a lot of users who are trying to break into the comic book business. I cannot say I am writing from experience because my knowledge of the comic book making-process is limited to contests at the Artist Show-Off forums, and some comic book scripts I have helped proofread and edit. I am sure that advice from actual comic book writers like Tom Pinchuk and Inferiorego could be a lot more helpful than mine, but I am still going to give a little pointer, taken from what Jim said, for all those who want to break into the comic book industry.
I have had "offers" to help aspiring comic book writers with their art; sadly I have declined most of them.They seem to think that writing a comic book is about telling a story where the hero fights the villain. However, many of them failed to realize that telling a good story is about captivating the reader not only with stunning art but with the complexity of the story and the characters. 
 "Really mom, this is research"
Comic books, besides existing for our entertainment, are pieces of literature. Sadly, not a lot of people treat them as such. Jim McCann mentions that his comic books are "research", and I completely agree. To be a mathematician you have to read and know your math books; to be a comic book writer you have to read and know your comic books. 
To find the writing style you want, you must read all the different stories, and allow yourself to broaden your research material. Just because you add "bub"  to a sentence it does not make it Wolverine's dialogue. As a character, Wolverine is tough, he disregards anyone who opposes him and his words should reflect that in the word-bubbles rather than just saying ‘bub’ continually. If you want to write Superman, read a Superman comic.  You should notice that even with all the creative team's changes, Clark still sounds like Clark. If you want to make something creative your own, look at stand-alone stories from smaller companies outside of Marvel and DC. Use the material you have like hard cover trades that include the original script of the story. You can use them as a starter point to be able to write your own scripts.
So, as stated above, take advantage of all the material you have and not only read the stories in the comic books but rather study them.
-- Geo (sora_thekey), long time user, blogger, wiki editor of the Whiskey Media Sites, and an all time geek! 
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#1 Posted by couzinit99 (181 posts) - - Show Bio

this was an interesting read and i really admire that your trying to educate the comicvine community about what it means to be a writer.  I agree with this entirely. Props :D
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#2 Posted by sora_thekey (8811 posts) - - Show Bio
@couzinit99: Thank You!
I wouldn't say I am educating them, I'm just giving pointers... The reason I thought about writing this was because of what I mentioned on the entry, I've been getting a lot of aspiring writers who want to make it the business but have not really taken the time to do what they need to prepare for this... They think that having the idea is enough but, they forget that there is a whole other process that involves storytelling...
I thought this would help a bit... and of course the inspiration was Jim McCann...
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#3 Posted by TheMess1428 (2211 posts) - - Show Bio

Pretty good and I agree with Jim. I gave up all the early choices for careers after I started reading comic books. I decided I was going to write for DC Comics one day. I keep all my comics and plan to use them to keep me motivated as a writer.

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#4 Posted by sora_thekey (8811 posts) - - Show Bio
@TheMess1428: Good for you! :D
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#5 Posted by Illyana Rasputin (2924 posts) - - Show Bio

I wholeheartedly agree with this entire blog.

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#6 Posted by inferiorego (25467 posts) - - Show Bio

nice blog sir.... and look you gave ComicVine's Tag-Team (Pinchuk and Ego..... we still don't have a tag team name yet) a shout-out! super-props right back at you. quality jazz.


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