29 October 2009

Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

In The Insider’s Guide to Creating Comics and Graphic Novels, IDW editor Andy Schmidt lists three ways that comics creators can please editors: high-quality work, speed, and communication skills.

Those same qualities also came up in the advice passed on by a British artist during a panel discussion at last year’s Birmingham International Comics Convention, podcast by the Geek Syndicate and Word Balloon.

(Which British artist? I wish I could tell their voices apart. And in any case he didn’t take credit for the advice; he said he’d heard it from an older artist when he was starting out.)

The key to steady work as a comics illustrator is to be two of these three things:

  • Very good at what you do.
  • Very reliable on deadlines.
  • Very easy to work with.
Be two of those things, the wisdom declares, and you’ll always have work.

So you can be an extremely talented artist who’s fun to work with, and editors will accept that you don’t always hit your deadlines. You can be very talented and fast, and editors will put up with how you’re a lousy human being. And you can turn in mediocre work, but deliver what the company asks for on time with a cheerful and supportive smile, and editors will keep hiring you.

On the other hand, no matter how talented you are, if you’re unreliable and difficult, editors will gladly hire a lesser artist who’s not.

I don’t think the same rules apply so strongly to parts of publishing that are less dependent on deadlines. But they still seem like valuable rules for life.

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