Kaboom! Create killer comics
If you are into comic books, it can seem that their creators are so far beyond the rest of us in skill and imagination that only they have the divine right to produce comic books. The fantastic epics that roll off the presses and into comic book stores seem to be born in another realm to which mere mortals have no access. Yet if you stop to think about it, those people had to start somewhere and were once shaky novices producing forgettable work.
But how did they get from that stage to the top of their game and end up writing for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and IDW? How did they hone their skills? Is there a secret comic book school – a brotherhood or cabal where knowledge is exchanged by some impenetrable Vulcan mind-meld? Do they hold clandestine draw-offs where only the winners get out alive and losers are never heard from again?
No, not really. There’s a school, but it’s no secret. Comicsexperience.com is accessible by anyone with a web browser – you don’t even need to use the Dark Web – and offers courses given by top comic book artists, writers, letterers and publishers. You can get your work critiqued by professional comic book writers, artists and editors as well as by your fellow mortals, have access to discussion forums, take specialized courses, and just generally hang out with like minds and those mysterious beings from professional Comic-Land.
The whole thing was dreamed up by Andy Schmidt, a former Senior Editor at IDW, former editor at Marvel, and Writer. The great Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, and The Avengers, has said of Andy Schmidt, ‘Working with Andy was a real pleasure! He’s both friendly and professional. But best of all, he’s knowledgeable, creative, and understands how to tell a great story! I’d be happy to work with him again! Excelsior!’
That exclamation mark-ridden testimonial, ending with Stan Lee’s trademark catchphrase (meaning ‘ever upward!’ in Latin), is probably the ultimate accolade for anyone involved in comics.
Courses at Comicsexperience.com include introductions to comic book art, colouring, lettering, and writing. But the range of specialities is as complete as it gets. These cover advanced writing, figure drawing and anatomy, digital painting, editing and project management, comic book law for creators, perspective and environments, inking and rendering, and loads more. Curiously enough they sell out quickly, so early booking is advised when they become available again.
So there you have it. Comic book creators do learn their craft from other comic book creators. But they do it by talking, listening, practicing and using the internet. It’s almost as if they were human. Who’d have thought?