Attorney and pro Workshop member Gamal Hennessy

The Comics Experience Creators Workshop forum supports and encourages meaningful discussion about making comics. That includes great conversation starters like the one below, excerpted from a post by entertainment lawyer and Creators Workshop pro member Gamal Hennessy. Here, Gamal challenges us to ask ourselves why we want to make comics, and to use the answers to push ourselves forward.

Gamal initiated this topic on November 26, and the conversation has been going ever since. To access the full post and the resulting discussion, Workshop members can log in here. To learn more about becoming a member, just visit our Creators Workshop page here.

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Hello Comics Experience!

My name is Gamal Hennessy. Some of you may have worked with me before. Some of you may have just heard of me, but I’m an entertainment lawyer who specializes in the comic book industry. I’ve worked with big companies like Amazon and Marvel, independents like AfterShock and Mad Cave and several creators here at CE.

Andy was nice enough to give me space in the forums to conduct an ongoing discussion about the business and legal aspects of independent comics publishing. Because this is the first post, I’m going to start with an existential question:

Why do you want to make comics?

Before you start thinking about drawing, sales or social media, it is important to figure out exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and why. Making comics, like any artistic or business endeavor, involves substantial sacrifice and investment. If you’re going to make comics a part of your life beyond the Wednesday ritual of picking up your pull box, it makes sense to take a step back and look at the big picture.

To answer this fundamental question, I suggest you take yourself out for a cup of coffee or a cocktail (if you’re old enough, of course) and figure out the answers to the following questions. Keep in mind that the answers can and will change over time, so don’t be afraid to revisit these questions as your circumstances and the industry changes.

1. Goals (or What Do You Want to Do in Comics?): “I want to make comics” is a start, but there are different aspects to the industry, and figuring out where you want to be will help you make decisions on which opportunities to pursue and which ones to avoid. Maybe you want to make your own books and sell them at cons. Maybe you want to work for the Big Two. Maybe you want to be the next Stan Lee or Todd McFarlane. Maybe you want it all. You can have any goals you want. The purpose of goals isn’t to limit you. They just guide you on your path.

2. Reasons (or Why Do You Want a Career in Comics?): It’s one thing to know what you want to do. Knowing why requires a different type of insight. Are you doing this because you have a story to tell, because you want to be a part of the comics community, or because you want more money than Tony Stark?

Like your goals, your reasons are personal. They don’t have to define you, but keeping them in mind can motivate you to overcome the inevitable setbacks and pitfalls. You can have any reason or motivation you want for getting into comics. There are opportunities for artistry, creativity, and profit at almost every level of the industry, but at the end of the day, a love of the art form will keep you going.

3. Plan (or How Are You Going to Get into Comics?): After you understand your goals and your reasons for wanting those goals, you need to develop a plan to help you get from where you are to where you want to go. As you progress with the courses in CE, you can begin to figure out which path you want to adopt for your own purposes and take the appropriate steps.

Of course, no plan survives contact with reality. The industry is in a state of constant flux. The impact of changing trends will often be outside of your control. You’re going to need to modify your plan to adapt to new conditions, so the plan you make might not be the path you ultimately take. But you have to start somewhere and making your own comic is a good place to begin, no matter where you ultimately want to go.

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To read the entire post and the resulting discussion, Creators Workshop members can log in here.

To learn more about Gamal’s work, please visit Creative Contract Consulting.

To join our Creators Workshop community, please visit the Workshop page.

Thanks to Gamal for his insights, and for launching this conversation!

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!