Comic Book Writers
There are approximately 123,200 writers and authors currently employed in the United States, a small percentage of which are comic book writers. In 2018, 61 percent of writers and authors were self-employed, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
Comic book writers are employed by the five largest comic book publishers—Marvel (which is now owned by Disney), DC Comics (which is owned by Warner Bros. Entertainment), Image Comics, IDW Publishing, and Dark Horse Comics—and by smaller comic publishers, book publishers who publish graphic novels, and humor and pop culture magazines. In many instances, comic book writers make a living by working on a freelance or part-time basis for several publications.
Full-time writers also work for advertising agencies and public relations firms and work on print and online journals and newsletters published by business and nonprofit organizations, such as professional associations, labor unions, and religious organizations. Other employers are government agencies and film production companies.
There is no one path to becoming a comic book writer, but a fair amount of experience is required to gain a high-level position in the comic book field. Some writers start out in entry-level positions at comic book publishers as assistants or interns, which are sometimes unpaid positions. An assistant may at first be asked to sit in on brainstorming sessions to get a feel for how new ideas are decided upon. He or she may gradually be given more responsibility or input on new comic book projects, which might include some writing responsibilities.
In many cases comic book writers are simply comic fans who diligently submit their proposals and synopses to established comic book publishers in the hopes of eventually getting an acceptance letter. Others pool resources with other talented friends and produce and distribute their own comic books with the hopes of eventually finding an audience. In any scenario, it is important to learn as much as possible about the workings of the comic book industry and to form a substantial portfolio of ideas and writing samples. Showing that you can tackle various comic genres (such as action, horror, comedy, drama, romance, and science fiction) will showcase for publishers your creativity and versatility as a writer.
Another option for comic book writers is to self-publish one's work on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other retailers. Authors can produce an e-book and print edition for very little financial outlay. Amazon even offers a Kindle Comic Creator tool to assist with the process of transforming a digital file to a print and e-book compatible document. Some creators turn to Kickstarter to crowdfund their work. Self-published authors receive royalties monthly based on the number of books they sell.
Many comic book writers find their first jobs as interns or editorial or production assistants. Promotion into more responsible positions and full-scale writing responsibilities comes with diligence and experience. Freelance or self-employed writers earn advancement in the form of larger fees as they gain exposure and establish their reputations.
Tips for Entry
Participate in internships to obtain hands-on experience. Visit the Web sites of major comic book publishers such as Marvel (http://marvel.com/corporate/interns) to learn more.
Visit the Web sites of comic book publishers to get advice on how to prepare writing submissions.
Talk to comic book writers about their careers. Ask them for advice on entering the field.
Apply for entry-level jobs in the comic book industry in order to gain experience and make networking contacts.