Colton Worley has been a comic book artist since 2009, producing his work with paints, pens and computers. He has a degree from Spokane Falls Community College in graphic design, although he’s mostly self-taught. He’s worked on "The Complete Dracula," "Kato: Origins," "The Spider," "The Shadow Now," "The Shadow Zero" and covers for books like "Jennifer Blood," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Sherlock Holmes vs. Harry Houdini." Below are five tips from Colton on how to become a comic book artist.
“When people ask me how to become a comic book artist, I always answer, ‘Don't do it. There's no money in it.’ The video game and movie industries pay a lot better for a talented artist than the comics industry. In 2014, I made a little over $2,600 a month if I could get a full 22 pages done. That's not a lot, especially when you throw in Uncle Sam's cut. I work 12 hours a day, six days a week (I'm lying there -- I work seven, but I'm trying to cut back). That's 288 hours a month, which means I make $9.03 an hour, less than the minimum wage in Washington, where I live."
Keep It Cordial
"In your emails to an editor, publisher or anyone you're working for, don't make jokes that could offend someone. You never know who's been blind copied on that email. Think before firing off those emails and make sure you re-read them and do a spell check before sending them off. When meeting an editor or publisher, be courteous and respectful and always thank them for their time. You'd be surprised how many editors remember that kind of thing. If an employer isn't being all that professional to you, just take the high road. Most of all, don't let your pride or ego get in the way of your job."
Get Ready for Research
"Ninety percent of what you draw in comics isn’t all that exciting: office buildings, desks, chairs, trees, rocks, houses, dirt -- all kinds of stuff. You'll have to look up references for most of it. Can you draw an old-fashioned compass that a pirate would use, right now? Off the top of your head? Of course you can't. You need to break out your web browser of choice and open about thirty tabs. That's about the number you'll have open by the end of that day from all the references you look up. Can't find the reference you're looking for? Get a decent camera. Sometimes going out and getting your own references is your best option."
"If your editors, writer or publisher tell you your pages or your cover aren't all that good and ask you to redo them, just roll with it. Don't try to defend what you've turned in and don't take it personally. When you're doing a comic with your own characters that you're publishing, you can make your own calls. If there’s something you don't want to do due to personal beliefs, give them a solid 'no' followed by a solid explanation. If you’re courteous and respectful, they'll understand and will work with you for a better option or maybe even get you onto another book that you're more comfortable with."
Deadlines Do Matter
"Comics is a deadlines-based industry. This is a hard lesson to learn, and I hated learning it. If you can turn in some decent work and turn it in ON TIME, then you'll more than likely keep getting work. That's the secret to continued success in this industry. I never liked having to compromise the work I do to meet a deadline, but you have to find a way. Once you've found a style or way of doing things that you actually like and can achieve it in the amount of time given to you, then you'll start seeing some success."