Do you have what it takes to be a comic book writer? Marvel's Chip Zdarsky offers 7 tips

The writer and illustrator, who has worked on Daredevil, Spider-Man, Jughead and more, talks about how to make it in the comic book industry.

Marvel's Chip Zdarsky on how to be a successful comic book creator

4 years ago
Duration 4:31
The writer and illustrator of comic book characters such as Daredevil, Spider-Man on how to make it in the comic book industry.

Chip Zdarsky is a comic book writer and illustrator. The creator with a quirky sense of humour has worked on books such as the award-winning Sex Criminals, Kaptara, Jughead, Howard the Duck and most recently wrapped up a run writing the Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man series.

Zdarsky spoke with CBC Books about what it takes to be a successful comic book writer and offered seven tips for aspiring comics creators.

1. Planning is essential

"One thing that a lot of people don't realize is that comics are 20 pages — at least Marvel Comic books are — so you have to be able to break down everything that happens page by page before you actually start writing. Figure out a plot that will work within that structure, which is the trickiest part."

Chip Zdarsky is the writer of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man. (Marvel Comics)

2. Read widely and read more than just comics

"You have to read. You have to read comics, that's clear, but you have to read outside of comics. You have to read novels and nonfiction books, otherwise you're just building off comic book ideas and things become too comic book-y."

3. Think about the artist

"You have to study the artist's work before you write for them. You want to play to their strengths."

4. Start small, think big

"The easiest way into Marvel is to produce quality work on your own. Self-publish it, which is easy to do online. And there are a ton of small publishers out there that could look at your work and maybe give you an opportunity."

5. Writing is work

"A lot of people think that writing Spider-Man is just fun —  but it's a job. People tend not to realize that. You have to actually segment your day and do aspects of the job that you might not necessarily enjoy — and it never stops. If you don't have an organized schedule, you're screwed. Procrastination and a lack of a schedule is usually what does in most writers."

6. Stay true to your character

"The biggest rule when you're writing a character like Spider-Man is to stay true to the character. The tricky thing with a character like Spider-Man is that he's appeared in thousands of comics over the years. Everyone has their own vision for what Spider-Man is. So you have to figure it out for yourself what you want to say with the character."

7. Don't give up

"Like most creative industries, comics is riddled with noes and rejections. Even after you've been doing comics and think you've made it, you're still getting stuff turned down. I have pitches turned down all the time and you just have to be able to move on and take the criticisms as they come. Perseverance is key."


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