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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 11 March 2018 at 5:25pm | IP Logged | 1 post reply

I'm a fairly passive, non-angry person (except about religion and guns!), but it annoys me that people exist who want to treat comics as a stepping stone to Hollywood glory:


If I had an iota of writing or art talent, I'd find it a privilege to work on a comic. I just hope such people are a minority.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 11 March 2018 at 5:29pm | IP Logged | 2 post reply

When I was getting started, there were several people at Marvel who claimed working in comics was only a "stepping stone". My response was "So STEP!"
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 11 March 2018 at 5:39pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

I'd have said the same!

Personally, I'd find it insulting if I worked in comics and someone approached me as a "stepping stone". What that writer describes, well I'm surprised someone would be so brazen!
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 11 March 2018 at 11:57pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

I think there were people who could not make (much of) a living doing comic books in the past, that went on to find they could make more doing a lot less in other areas or story-boarding. If someone actually looked down on the form I can't understand that. Some people used to aim to work in newspaper strips because it usually paid better and I guess it had a higher profile at one time and sometimes a wider international reach. Plus they might have seen it as the place comic books were born out of. That hasn't been true for awhile, now it's film and tv.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 3:34am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

It's a mindset I don't appreciate, nor do I expect a comic professional appreciates.

And I suspect other sectors would say the same. Very hypothetical, I know, but imagine someone telling an NYPD cop that he wanted to join as a cop and have a very brief stint on the beat because his real ambition was to be a federal agent. The NYPD cop may well say, "Why not just join as a federal agent, then?"

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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 7:53am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

One annoying aspect was that many of those people who "stepped", having declared comics a sinking ship no longer worthy of their talent, came BACK when the royalties were introduced.

(A recurrent theme when I joined the industry back in the mid Seventies was that "comics will be gone in five years." That was forty plus years ago, and while we are not still going strong, we are still going!)

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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 7:54am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

Go to ANY employer and tell them, "Yeah, I want a job here. I'm really good, but I'm just using this as a stepping stone." See how fast you're shown the door.

So such comments are probably best kept to oneself (unless you really like the person handling your unemployment...) 

Let's say that works and you, Joe Dumbass,  get hired. All of your product, as far as you're concerned, is just PRACTICE. Because if you're just on a stepping stone - why, you wouldn't use your BEST stuff, now would you? Which is a disservice to YOU and almost criminally negligent to the employer. 

And perhaps a miracle occurs, and you get an offer from your target industry (for the sake of discussion, let's say an advertising agency.) How do you leave? No employer wants to hear "I'm quitting in two weeks" - and in comics, two weeks is NOTHING.

Further, with all certainty, this is the surest case of burning your bridges behind you. And in today's market, NO job is assured of permanence...

My opinion is, you do the best you can where you're at. If you intend to leave, then leave a good reputation behind at the least. Or hell, who knows... you might really LIKE where you're at, and stay on with comics!.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 10:21am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

 Eric Sofer wrote:
Because if you're just on a stepping stone - why, you wouldn't use your BEST stuff, now would you?

Good point, Eric.

I feel I can apply that to anything. Like my police example. If someone is using a short NYPD tenure as a "stepping stone" to working for a federal law enforcement agency, what will his/her commitment be like? He/she won't be building bridges, acquiring contacts, building up a rapport. He/she will be looking ahead to dumping the cap and uniform in order to become a federal agent.

Insert your own example here. 

It doesn't even have to apply solely to skilled jobs. I have done non-skilled jobs in locations where someone is "phoning in" and waiting for their better job. I believe in giving something your all.
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 12:56pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

I'm on the side of wanna-be comic creators....I wanna be a comic creator myself "when I grow up" because I think creating comic books is the best job anywhere...;-)

But I don't understand why this is striking the nerves of folks. Publishing a comic book or graphic novel is the right of every single person. If someone wants to market their story and get exposure by first creating a comic book or graphic novel, so be it. 

Hopefully, it'll be a great story and accomplish the goal. If it is not a great story, publishing it as a comic book or graphic novel isn't going to save the day.

So the goal should be to make a great comic book or graphic novel and see if you get noticed.

The world has changed and independent comic book stories, if the rumors are true, are being bought for TV or movie rights. I recall one fellow who was making graphic novels for Scholastic and claiming he made 100K off selling the rights to one of his graphic novels. And this is a low profile story by an unknown (in the comics industry) person. I haven't read the story, but I hope it's well made and written/drawn well.

What really matters, is do your best no matter where you are. Life will (usually) take care of the rest.


Edited by Robert Shepherd on 12 March 2018 at 1:10pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 1:26pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

 Robert Shepherd wrote:
But I don't understand why this is striking the nerves of folks.

Robert, for me, it's because I don't want someone half-heartedly creating comics. And that's what it feels like if he considers it a stepping stone.

I am not asking for passion in every profession. If a McDonalds employee serves me good French Fries and a burger, I don't care if he has a passion for fast food/aspiration towards a fast food career or is simply doing an entry-level job before he moves on to something else.

Provided a taxi driver can get me from A to B, I don't care if he has a passion for taxi driving, and wants it to be his lifelong career, or is simply driving cabs until he does something else.

So it can be nuanced.

But there are some professions where I do want passion and sincerity.

If I had kids, I would want their teacher to be committed to and passionate about teaching. I wouldn't want it to be a role to them (until another profession comes along), I would want their heart to 100% be into teaching.

I wouldn't want to see a nurse or doctor or cop to serve me if they are not committed to medicine/policing.

If I'm going to support a comic, I would prefer it to be someone who wants to be in the industry, is passionate about comics, etc. I don't want someone who looks down on the industry and treats it as a stepping stone.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 1:33pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

Most of those who "stepped" to Hollywood were in for a rude awakening. More money, sure, but they found themselves transformed from big fish in a small pond, to minnows in an ocean.
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Robert Shepherd
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 1:58pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Ok Robbie, let's debate this (a good clean debate).

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I understand the emotion in what you are saying, and I agree with you. I want people to do what they love and that, in turn, should elevate the quality of their work.

But you are also saying, whether you realize it or not, is that comic book creators are only legitimate if they follow your rules for entry. A person can only have one goal in life, according to your parameters. Is it then wrong for a comic book writer to transition to a novel writer? Would that make all their comic book writing insincere or irrelevant? Of course not.

I see some assumptions made and I don't see where they came from. Why assume the work is going to be sub par? Why assume there will be no passion in the project? For all we know, the fellow asking the original question may be and should be hyper passionate about his/her project. Why assume anyone is treating the comic book industry as a sub-par career in the first place?

With all that, I ask again - why is it not ok to leverage comic book style publishing to promote your story and your vision, even if you hope to get noticed by Hollywood? If the story is good, maybe it should get noticed by Hollywood. And if the story is good, it helps build the comic book industry as well as any other offering out there.

If it is good.

Now, crap is crap no matter where it is. And I would not want anyone in an industry where they thought the industry was sub par. So for the sake of the debate, I am assuming that anyone who bothers to invest in making a comic book or graphic novel is putting their best efforts into the project.


Edited by Robert Shepherd on 12 March 2018 at 2:00pm
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 2:15pm | IP Logged | 13 post reply

Thanks, Robert, especially after a certain other person here often seems to mock and be a contrarian in all my posts.

I do read and listen to others, anyone who knows me will tell you that. In my life, I have changed my mind on two issues (I used to be pro-death penalty and was against university education being free, but someone's compelling arguments changed that for me).

I also appreciate, that as human beings, we can all forgo nuance at times. Example: I may rant about traffic cops pulling over drivers all the time for minor increases in speed (and how all traffic cops are lacking in empathy). It's a comment I may have made at a particular time, but in the heat of the moment. Truth is, I don't think that. I am sure, because people are complex, that traffic cops come in all sizes.

Exploring that further, and based on your points, I accept that what I posted were my rules. It is complex. 

I mean, I've sort of been on your side of the argument over wrestling. Some wrestlers resented other wrestlers for being bodybuilders who came in, made an impact and then disappeared to other endeavours. I've heard comments such as, "He had no passion for wrestling, he was using it to get a foot in the door of other entertainment professions or sports." So I have used your arguments in defense of wrestlers.

You've given me food for thought. I suppose one area I am coming from is the fact that the comic industry is troubled in many respects. And if I had a preference, I would want people to come in who want to be lifelong comic creators. But, yes, it is possible, and I do agree with you, about how there CAN be quality for anyone who is creating a comic book, whatever their motivations.
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Rebecca Jansen
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 3:44pm | IP Logged | 14 post reply

A really good, or even great, comic book is a thing of beauty worthy of respect. It has been considered from the start though as a sort of ghetto, a lesser sibling of the comic strip, but early artists like Sheldon Mayer, Will Eisner and Carl Barks among many others (Stan Lee, Bill Gaines) worked against and in spite of such looking down on the form. I think there have always been those who cared and put more than the minimal effort into their comics long before there were really any fans for them to know about. It kind of weeds out the tourist slummer type to have the form be not so respectable or profitable. The greatest thing about it may be that one person can actually do the entire thing, like a one man band, something impossible to do in other mediums.

Nothing is stopping anyone from making their own comics exactly as they would like if they just get some paper board and some pencils and ink, nothing ever has. Making even a low budget indpendent film though is stilll expensive and the tools costly. The more the merrier! It is a form that many things can come out of, but usually when they take a movie and make a comic from it the result isn't much worth having. Great comics are not simply storyboards for movies with word balloons.
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Eric Sofer
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 4:49pm | IP Logged | 15 post reply

Robert S., I understand your point of view, in that no one should take a position with the mindset of being locked into it. It is entirely reasonable that someone should take a job with the idea of, at some point, progressing past it to another position that they want.

I think the phrase "stepping stone" invokes the idea of a professional who is only using a job as a short term education on the way to another position. I think Robbie and I were saying the same thing in that, if that person is using, say, Boom Comics just to put in a six or seven month tour of duty, marching in place and producing mediocre material, while picking up tips and tricks, making network connections... well, to me it sounds as if the employers are getting rooked, and more importantly, the paying customers aren't getting the best possible material.

Of course, there are some who might think, "I'm going to IDW Comics, and I am going to blow them away with the talent I'm bringing, and learn even more about the business while they get my best."  After a couple of years, if that creator moves on - well, good luck! But the arrangement seems to have been fair.

Perhaps it's as simple a concept as that... if someone is giving their best in return for their paycheck, then it seems like a reasonable idea. If they're marking time, but getting paid for their best... then it grates on me, at least a little.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 5:10pm | IP Logged | 16 post reply

I suppose if we return to my police example, if someone's gonna give 100% to policing, and help victims to the best of their abilities, I have no issue if they might have an eye on a federal law enforcement career; but if they are treating city policing solely as a stepping stone, that's wrong.

Some manager I worked for years ago told me he didn't mind ambition and people having thoughts about promotion. But he didn't want their mind/eyes fixated on the promotion/higher grades to the detriment of their existing role. Or words to that effect.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 10:32pm | IP Logged | 17 post reply

Robbie Parry: "Thanks, Robert, especially after a certain other person here often seems to mock and be a contrarian in all my posts."

That other person, whoever they may be, probably finds this assessment pathetic and might well wonder why you think you'd be worthy of such an effort. I certainly have no wish to speak on their behalf; they no doubt can certainly do so themselves, but they'd probably point out that you often speak of the time you were unfairly and quite terribly maligned on a Dr. Who forum for having (Gasp! The temerity!) "tunnel vision." A blow, no doubt. A crushing blow. And one cruelly dealt, sir. I myself would say to them in your defense that the important thing was that you were able to deal with the horror of that experience like an adult and put it behind you. Except... you haven't and do not seem capable of doing so.

April is the month a publisher would sell an April's Fools Day magazine, and I would say as much regardless of who was posting otherwise. Not everything revolves around you. Had you not once again bleated so tremulously and in such a high, keening tone, you wouldn't have crossed my mind at all today, just as you haven't for days now.

As for this thread, the example given relates to someone outside the field entirely attempting to follow a path beaten by others to the big screen. As such, very little written here about career responsibilities or work ethics has any bearing on the matter. This is a writer trying to get his work seen by those who can do him the most good. It's a shame he does not appear to love the comics industry as much or in the same way many of us do, but not everyone shares the same passions. It's fine, I suppose, to take note of the glancing insult to the comics form as this story flies past, but then we need to grow up and move on. We all know how to do that, right, everyone? 

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James Woodcock
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Posted: 12 March 2018 at 11:39pm | IP Logged | 18 post reply

I think it is OK to have a career path/plan. Current young readers may well see that comics properties are the hot topic for Hollywood (whatever that is) and see comics as a possible way in.

They may also see that ‘mainstream’ comics are a way to self owned characters/stories which earn more.

Nothing wrong with either of those views.

It’s what they do in the middle that can be the issue. Because that drives how they treat the characters in the stories they write. Are they out to make a name for themselves through shock and awe or are they going to try to tell the best story that services that character? One services their career without any regard for what the next writer has to deal with, the other services the character’s longevity by producing a sustainable, recognisable series.

Remember, Kirkman doesn’t have to worry about what happens to his characters in The Walking Dead because no one has to worry about that comic after he is gone. You cannot bring that same thinking into writing The Fantastic Four.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 3:29am | IP Logged | 19 post reply

 James Woodcock wrote:
Remember, Kirkman doesn’t have to worry about what happens to his characters in The Walking Dead because no one has to worry about that comic after he is gone.

Oh right, so the title won't continue after he's gone (I don't really follow that particular universe closely)?
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James Woodcock
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 4:20am | IP Logged | 20 post reply

Doesn’t matter if it does or doesn’t Robbie - he owns it and doesn’t have to think about that question really. If he chooses to end it, he can end it. 

A writer of Spider-Man should never be thinking about whether THEY get to decide to end the comic
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 5:01am | IP Logged | 21 post reply

Ah, I see. I was unaware of that. It makes it interesting, eh?

So true about Spider-Man.

The "leave the sandbox as it was" argument is more valid than it's ever been, I feel.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 7:33am | IP Logged | 22 post reply

As someone said about this old planet of ours, we do not inherit it from our parents, we borrow it from our children. So, too, with characters like Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, the FF, etc.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 8:23am | IP Logged | 23 post reply

I know it may sound odd, but I was very protective of superheroes when I wrote fan fiction. That fan fiction was never going to be seen by anyone but I respected the integrity of the characters.

I wrote a (bad) Batman time travel story as a kid. It got a bit silly and quirky. And although it was seen by only me, and its destination was a trashcan, I felt like I'd not served the character.
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Charles Valderrama
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 10:35am | IP Logged | 24 post reply

Speaking of stepping stones....


-C!
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Drew Spence
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Posted: 13 March 2018 at 10:40am | IP Logged | 25 post reply

Let's not beat around the bush.
When comics first tried to transition to other mediums they failed.
Horribly. Miserably.  Especially movies.
Wrestling is your parallel.
Wrestler + movie = suck.
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Fast forward and once the mindset changed from making a movie to sell a comic to.....make a movie to sell a movie.....there was a change.

Now that the Dwayne Johnson is a huge star- now, new wrestlers can see the vehicle. You can be a wrestler with dreams of being an action movie star. Welcome a crop of posers. lol

And just like comics, it's a tough business. If you don't love it, you'll quit and do something else. The problem will fix itself.

But those that ONLY work comics, yep it's your passion. To those who do more (or alternative things) comics is just a MEDIUM. That's it. It's a vessel to tell your story or show your artistic skills or whatever. Wrestling becomes a means of showing your athleticism and charisma.

The only problem (as noted) is the term "stepping stone" which denotes one medium is more valid/respected/worthy than another.
Lucrative? yeah...I can see the desire to be bigger and make more......

Wrestling makes (some) stars and comics have (some) great writers. The best stories SHOULD be translated again and again. Long as the source is respected and held true, we should have great results.
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It happens in music too. One career first to launch another in nothing new. Usually it's a lucky twist and not something you can aim for. Those that do, underestimate how hard it is to be a success at that first career.

Alert: Rude Awakening ahead.


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