How To Break Into Comics: The Chuck Wendig Way!

Okay.

OKAY.

I’ve seen on Twitter the whole thing going around and around — “How do you break into comics?” and a lot of really smart people like Mags Visaggio and Ed Brisson and Chris Sebela have been answering that question. So I figure, ha ha, oh ho, I should offer up my suggestions on this particular front, clearly laying out an easy-to-follow map that is guaranteed to WIN YOU A LIFELONG COMICS CAREER.

Buckle up. Let’s get comicky. Comicy? Colicky? Whatever.

STEP ONE: Don’t forget to take a selfie and turn it into something that vaguely looks like a panel from a comics book. This isn’t really essential, but it makes you feel cool, and feeling cool is definitely a part of writing the fuck out of some fucking comics. Example, where I took a usual shitty selfie and made it look like I’m some kind of BROODING ASSASSIN WIZARD:

STEP TWO: Write novels.

STEP TWO POINT FIVE: Have those novels published.

STEP THREE: Those novels will get the attention of someone at DC Comics and that someone says, “Hey, you should write an spec issue of Batman just to see if you’d be a good fit,” and then you write an issue in which Bruce Wayne gets cancer, which is a villain he can’t really fight, and then if I remember correctly he has to fight Anarky as Batman? Whatever.

STEP FOUR: Have DC Comics tell you, “We can’t give Batman cancer, the fuck is wrong with you?”

STEP FIVE: Know Alex Segura, who is a novelist, but also works at Archie Comics. Just know him. Know him well. Intimately. Hunt him in the night with night vision goggles to learn his habits, then ingratiate yourself into his life as a “friend.” When he has finally fallen for your ruse, it’s onto

STEP SIX: Alex will ask you to reboot an old comic called The Shield with your other good novelist friend, Adam Christopher, and you do it, and you gender-flip that shit, because why not. Then when they publish the comic they’ll put both of your last names on it, but it’ll look like one guy named CHRISTOPHER WENDIG wrote it. Anyway it’s collected, go buy it?

STEP SEVEN: Have a wonderful editor named Katie Kubert call you from Marvel, and she’ll ask you to pitch a comic. And she offers you to pitch for either a well-known comics called Agents of SHIELD or for a comic nobody probably wants called Hyperion, and you choose the latter because there’s more freedom in fringe projects (also less chance anyone is going to buy that series, but we’ll get there.) Also don’t forget to ask why they invited you to pitch in the first place. “Is it because I wrote this great comic called The Shield?” you eagerly ask and the editor answers, “What? No, it’s because I read your weird criminal underworld meets the literal monster underworld urban fantasy novel, The Blue Blazes, and I liked it.” Oh! Which reminds me, we need to rewind:

STEP TWO POINT SIX: Write a weird  criminal underworld meets the literal monster underworld urban fantasy novel called The Blue Blazes and get it published, and then when the publisher goes south, engage in a year of shenanigans to get the rights back so you can self-publish the thing and its sequel, but don’t forget to make sure that the third book will never see the light of day, thus forcing the second book to end on a really weird bummer note. Okay, jumping ahead again…

STEP EIGHT: Pitch Hyperion. Get the gig as you land and turn on your phone to go hang out at Phoenix ComicCon. Get excited. You work for Marvel now!

STEP NINE: Have Hyperion canceled the day before the first issue hits shelves. Ha ha, comics are fun, L O L. Don’t worry, it’s nothing you did, because nobody’s even read your stupid comic yet! At least you got to work with Nik Virella, who is great.

STEP TEN: Have the very fine people at Marvel Star Wars ask you to write a Star Wars comic, in particular, the adaptation of The Force Awakens, which ends up being a thing you pitch as an adaptation but is a thing that they want to be, instead, “Just take the words from the script and put them in comic book format,” which means less an adaptation and more a direct translation, but whatever, it’s cool, and you do it, because it’s fucking Star Wars, and also it’s Jordan White and Heather Antos. Don’t forget to ask why they invited you to write it in the first place. “Is it because I wrote Hyperion?” And they say, “What? No, it’s because you wrote Star Wars: Aftermath!” Oh, which reminds me, another rewind —

STEP TWO POINT SEVEN: Write a trilogy of Star Wars novels. As to how you get to do that? Well, shit, I guess I need to rewind a little bit again…

STEP TWO POINT SIXTY NINE NICE: Tweet about wanting to write a Star Wars novel.

STEP ELEVEN: Write a bunch of other comics, like Bucky Barnes in Year of Marvels (that’s right you forgot I wrote that didn’t you), and a revamp of Turok, and a cool Darth Vader annual.

STEP TWELVE: Get hired to write more Star Wars comics, whee, two more series —

STEP UNLUCKY NUMBER THIRTEEN: Congrats, now you live in a pseudo-fascist dystopian state where Donald Trump is president ha ha what that can’t happen OH YES IT FUCKING CAN, and that will make you very mad, as it should, because you’re human and not a goblin draped in human skin, so! You continue your usual pattern of rage-tweeting about the Current American Situation, like, for instance, when credible accusations of sexual assault are hand-waved away to make room for an untrustwothy Supreme Court Justice — don’t forget to do this just as you’re about to walk to New York Comic-Con for the day where they are going to loudly announce your new Darth Vader series.

STEP FOURTEEN: Get booted off those books for your vulgarity and your politics, neither of which are new, but hey. Bonus round: your being booted will be the result of a recipe of fun ingredients, including the butt-stung Comicsgate movement, a passel of right-wing clowndicks, and a glut of Twitter bots and sock-puppet accounts. Congrats, you were at the center of a miniature info-war! The future is now! And the future is really fucked up! Ha ha whee!

STEP FIFTEEN: Fuck it, go back to writing novel… and as to how you do that, well, shit, that requires us to rewind again, I guess? Time to nest a smaller map inside the larger map, HOW TO BREAK INTO PUBLISHING NOVELS:

STEP ZERO POINT FIVE: Spend a decade-plus writing freelance game design materials for pen-and-paper roleplaying games and then write five junk drawer novels and then win a screenwriting competition in the hopes of having the screenwriter help you adapt your piece-of-shit novels to the script page so you can then use the script as an outline to turn it back into a proper novel and along the way write a script with your writing partner that takes you to the Sundance Screenwriting Lab and the following year you will have a short film premiere at Sundance and eventually you’ll co-write this cool thing called Collapsus and then eventually you’ll get a become a movie producer and help produce a movie on the SyFy channel based off of your shitposting tweets with fellow novelist Sam Sykes but that’s beside the point we were talking about novels right, okay, then you get an an agent and a publishing deal and you write 20-plus novels across a variety of genres and age ranges and also this blog god, jeez, don’t forget the blog and then that podcast and uhhh

And that is how you break into comics. And novels. And movies.

A simple, easy-to-follow map.

You are welcome.