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The Comics Experience Blog

Here you will find all the latest Comics Experience news and events! Check back often, or subscribe via RSS for updates!


Meet Andy!

Andy Schmidt

Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt will be teaching his signature Introduction to Comics Writing course beginning February 6. But there’s more to his life than running our fair community!

Comics Experience: Tell us a little bit about your life outside of comics.

Andy Schmidt: I have a need to constantly be learning and trying new things. I have a tendency to get really into something, learn a ton about it, and absorb a hobby or skill and then move on to the next one. I can see it in my career working in comics, animation, film, video games, and so on. And I can can see it in my hobbies diving into anything from comics and film to Arthurian legend, to Astronomy and physics. I love learning new things.

But most of all, I love discussing all of these things. And now that my kids are a bit older, what I love most is sharing all of these things with them. Whether we’re out stargazing or pouring over a comic together, watching embers of interest in a subject turn into a bonfire of passion for it is the most exciting thing I can think of.

Also, I dig walking my dog in the mornings through our local park.

CE: What non-comics hobbies do you enjoy?

AS: I’ve been diving deep into astronomy and NASA lately. Not just the stars, but the history of this great organization and what it was able (and continues to) accomplish. For me, NASA might be the most inspiring thing that the US government has ever created or done.

I also play soccer regularly twice a week with other adults and am constantly playing it with my kids in the yard. It’s a wonderful game and there’s so much character building that can go along with it, which makes it a really useful parenting tool.

And that’s probably the last hobby of mine. I try to be very involved with both my sons and I’m constantly on the lookout for ways to be a better parent and to learn how to see things from different angles so I can make as few mistakes as a dad as possible—I know, I know, good luck with that. But you gotta try!

CE: If you weren’t running Comics Experience, what career would you like to have?

AS: I think about this a lot, actually. Not because I want out of anything, but as I said, I like learning new things. And lately, I’ve been learning a lot about engineering and I think I would have loved being an engineer. And when I think about that further, it makes total sense. I’ve built my career on my ability to build projects. I just would like to build more physical things now as well.

CE: What books, movies, and music have had the biggest impact on you? Why would you recommend them?

AS: So many jump to mind, but some of the biggest ones that I always come back to are:

The films of Stanley Kubrick. Not only is he one of the finest directors in cinema history, but he managed to make movies in multiple genre and they’re all among each of those genres best.

I look at Harrison Ford’s trilogy of awesomeness with The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Blade Runner. Those three films in particular are ones that I always come back to for inspiration and a reminder that entertainment needs to do more than simply entertain.

The paintings of Robert McGinnis, who did a ton of crime novel covers. I get completely lost in his work. Much of it is a bit risqué but when you look at the colors he puts together, the textures, the way he handles cloth, flesh and metal and the compositions. His work is fascinating.

There are still some slots open in Andy’s Introduction to Comic Book Writing course! If you want to grow your skills and talk to Andy about his trip to Johnson Space Center, sign up here!

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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!


Gutter Magic Now in the Script Archive!

Creators Workshop member, class alumnus Rich Douek has generously donated his scripts to the Script Archive!

“Whatever success I have had in comics so far is, in a big part, thanks to Comics Experience – and not just the courses I took, but my involvement in the workshop and the community,” Rich says.

“Anything I can do to give back to that community, even in a small way, like providing my old scripts, is something I am more than happy to do. I see a lot of talented people coming out of Comics Experience, and I’d like to help them succeed if I can.”

The Script Archive collects comic book scripts from industry names like Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, our own Paul Allor and Jennifer de Guzman, Brian K. Vaughn, Mark Waid, and plenty more. It’s a completely free resource to help aspiring comic book professionals learn how to best set their scenes and pace their stories.

Rich says, “I hope that anyone who reads the scripts will get some insights into how the story was crafted. If Gutter Magic was a book they enjoyed, I hope they can look at the script side by side with the finished product, and learn about how it was structured, paced, and turned into a comic.”

“I also hope that writers who are a part of the CE workshop can look at it as an example of a set of scripts that went through the peer review process we use on the boards, and were then successfully published, with insights and changes that came from that process included in the final work. Workshop members with a bit of time on their hands might even be able to track down the original threads the scripts were posted in and read some of the comments and changes made!”

You can access Gutter Magic at the Script Archive here!

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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!


Organizing Your Comics Workflow Video Now Available!

Andy SchmidtCreators Workshop members can now access a video workshop on Organizing Your Comics Workflow! This 35-minute video, featuring Comics Experience founder Andy Schmidt, discusses the benefits and how-tos of setting up a seamless system for yourself and your collaborators.

It’s not flashy, but it’s a topic that should be discussed more than it is. The benefits of an organized workflow with yourself, your collaborators, and your publishing partners cannot be overstated! The truth is, the more organized you or your project manager are, the more time you’ll save, and the more quickly the project will come to completion. Not only does an organized workflow help save you time and frustration, but the chances of errors slipping into the final book drop dramatically by following some of the simple organizational features outlined in the video.

This video is the first in a two-part series, and is presented as part of the Comic Creator Workshop video collection available as part of Creators Workshop membership.

The Creators Workshop provides plenty of other benefits as well! To learn more and to join, visit the page here.

Current Workshop members can check out Organizing Your Comics Workflow by logging in and visiting the video topic thread here.

Enjoy!

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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!


2019 Introduction to Screenwriting Now Open for Enrollment!

The first 2019 Introduction to Screenwriting class with James Janowsky is now open to enrollees! It all starts January 24. Our courses tend to fill up quickly, so make sure to sign up here to ensure you land the slot you want.

James is a comic book writer and screenwriter with six years of teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and founded the James Richard Janowsky Awards in 2012 to honor the best of the best film students at Columbia University, New York University, and School of Visual Arts… among other accomplishments.

We asked him a few questions about the relationship between his experience as a moderator for film Q&As and involvement with the Student Academy Awards and other screenplay competitions and his approach to education.

Comics Experience: What is some of the most insightful advice you’ve ever received while moderating Q&As with filmmakers? How have these exchanges with other creatives in the industry shaped your approach to the medium?

James Janowsky: That’s a good question.

The majority of the Q&As I moderated were with talent that were promoting their soon-to-be released film—which, in most cases, if not all, they were contractually obligated to do. Often, we discussed their film and how the project came together. So, there wasn’t a lot of advice given. However, collectively, I started to see a pattern that shaped my opinion about filmmaking and the film business.

The major overarching thing I learned was that the good films come down to an initial good story idea, then making smart and interesting storytelling choices during the screenwriting process, and then hiring the proper talent—director, directory of photography, actors, editors, etc.—best suited to tell that story. It sounds simple, but it isn’t.

Now, I don’t want it to seem like I didn’t learn anything from the talent. Off the top of my head, there are two moments with directors that stick out for me. The first happened during the end credits when I was meeting the talent outside the Paramount screening room before the Q&A. I was talking with the director and he unexpectedly said to me, “I don’t make movies anymore, I just promote them.”

I was a bit stunned by his honest response, but it made sense. A commercial film is about promoting the film and getting it into the publics’ consciousness… basically, getting as many fannies in the seats as possible. But a student short film is the complete opposite. It’s objective is to promote the student filmmaker; demonstrating that the filmmaker has the ability to tell a story effectively in this medium and, hopefully, convince a producer to hire you on their next project.

The second was when I was moderating a Q&A with Todd Solondz, the director of such dark, dark comedies as Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness. He mentioned that he didn’t have the budget for rehearsals. So his workaround was to extend the audition and rehearse the actor—especially children, if my memory serves me right—to prepare them as much as possible before they got on set. I thought that was a smart and resourceful way to save time and money when you are making a low-budget movie.

CE: What is the judging process like for the film festivals you’ve participated in, such as the Student Academy Awards? How has this shaped your teaching style?

JJ: First, let me say, that I have a different approach to student grant giving than I do for film festivals.

When I was the Student Grant Committee Chair for a not-for-profit film organization, we would watch finished student short films and then award a monetary grant to each of the deserving students. For me, it was about awarding the student, not the film. Therefore, you don’t only give grants to students that made good films, but also to students that demonstrated potential even if the film was just okay.

I never wanted to treat the student grant giving the same as year-end awards where you give honors to commercial films made by professionals. They are students, they are learning, and in most cases their crews are also students, and that has to be taken into consideration. Even now, that’s how I approach my own student grants, the James Richard Janowsky Awards.

As for the Student Academy Awards, that’s pure competition. They award the top three student shorts—Gold, Silver and Bronze—in each category. So, you are looking for the best films and awarding excellence.

What I learned during each process is that not all film schools are created equal. One particular undergraduate film program annually submitted students’ work that was not good. Each shorts’ running time was the maximum time allowed, every gimmick/trick was used—flashback, flash forward, dream sequences—there seemed to be a lack of understanding how to tell a story.

It was really sad to watch the films because you could tell the students were very creative, very inventive, but they didn’t seem to understand storytelling fundamentals for this medium.

For me, I want my students to understand that writing is about asking questions about their characters, their scenes, their conflict… then, coming up with creative, smart, and logically sound answers… solutions when they sit down to write their screenplays.

CE: What are your expectations for students? What are the desired outcomes you have for them, based on your extensive experience?

JJ: My expectations? Hmmm… This may seem old-fashioned, but it is true: I want my screenwriting students to know the storytelling fundamentals when they sit down to write. I want them to write with confidence, and that only comes with understanding the medium. Eventually, as they grow as writers, I want them to write stories that people want to produce and people want to watch.

Ready to transition your ideas into screenplays? To secure your spot, sign up here!

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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!


Episode #166 of the Make Comics Podcast Posted!

CE_podcast_logoA new episode of the Comics Experience Make Comics podcast has been posted! Each episode provides ~15 minutes of advice on all aspects of creating comics and breaking in to the industry.

Join Joey Groah, Nicole Boose, Heather Antos, and Jim Gibbons as they discuss making comics!

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes! Or check out the latest episode below or on our Podcast page!

Episode #166 – Tips on Hiring a Freelance Editor
Nicole Boose (Marvel, Millarworld, freelance) shares five tips for hiring a freelance editor for your comics project. Goals, roles and convos to get your project moving!

List of All Episodes

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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!


Why Do You Want to Make Comics?

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!