At San Diego Comic-Con 2012, Marvel held a “breaking in” panel to advise fans with aspirations of getting into the comic book industry. The panel was led by Marvel Senior Vice President and Talent Scout, C.B. Cebulski. Joining him was talent such as David Marquez, Axel Alonso, Christos Gage, Sam Humphries and Leinil Yu. Whether you attended the Emerald City Comic Con or just read about it here, you may remember there being a similar panel at that event.

As at ECCC, they emphasized the importance of the Internet and getting discovered through social networking. If you’re a writer looking for an artist to collaborate with (or vice versa) there are lots of great resources for that. Cebulski recommended online forums such as Digital Webbing, Penciljack, and even Brian Michael Bendis’s own Jinxworld forums as places for networking.

More than just “pitching yourself” to other talent at a convention or online, they wanted to make sure to point out the importance of building a relationship. If you meet your favorite editor and spend the whole time telling them how great you’d be for a certain book, they’re probably just going to get annoyed. Just like any interview or business connection you make, a good impression is key. They don’t just want to know that you’re talented, they want to know that you’re someone they would enjoy working with. It’s often said in the business world that what is really important is often “who you know and not what you know,” and the panel assured the audience that this is true in the comics industry as well.

Aside from the networking comments, the two most emphasized points by everyone on the panel were:

  1. Working in comics is still a job. They may love what they do, but Marvel assures us they are no strangers to hard work and late nights, so if you’re looking for an “easy” career, you might want to look elsewhere.
  2. If it’s something you want to do, do it! Don’t wait for someone to offer you a job. It’s highly unlikely you’re going to run into Cebulski or Alonso at a coffee shop one day and leave with a job offer. In order for them to discover talent, that talent must first be out there. Thanks to the digital age, there’s no excuse not to produce your own comics. The Internet is a great place for aspiring talent to create work and publish it for cheap or free. Your comics ARE your resume when you’re trying to break into this industry.

A final note that I found interesting was the emphasis on other forms of art. You might think, “I want to get into comics, I should only read comics,” but Cebulski assures us this isn’t the case. To be an effective artist or writer of any sort you need to expose yourself to all forms of art and understand how they compliment each other.