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Monday, December 05, 2022 

2 creators in Pittsburgh tell how they entered the business

Next Pittsburgh interviewed artists Jim Rugg and Tom Scioli, who've lived/spent time in Steel City, and they told how they got into the business. However, it begins with the usual sugarcoating of the present medium:
Comic books have become widespread and popular in recent years with the success of movies and TV shows based on the most marketable characters. Some enjoy the artwork, others the storytelling or just following well-known characters like Spider-man and Superman.
Now surely this isn't telling of a flaw in the approach Hollywood takes too? If it's only done according to marketability of specific characters, not artistic merit, then again, that's the problem right there for you. Even the part about just following the most well-known characters is telling. If their stories aren't written well, what's the use of following them?
While some fans dream of being able to draw and write a major comic book or graphic novel, the local creatives who work in the industry say the jobs with Marvel and DC Comics come with challenges and struggles as well.
It's worse than that. Creative freedom's been stripped away from anybody whose viewpoint doesn't coincide with the now politically charged visions the Big Two's management has, and as a result, who knows how many still dream of writing and illustrating Marvel and DC books? They've become more like closed shops today, with gatekeepers shutting out anybody considered unacceptable (including, but not limited to, conservatives), and with only so many company wide crossovers, no wonder there's so much challenge and struggle, all for nothing.
That’s why many locals in the comic industry, such as Jim Rugg and Thomas Scioli, draw, write and publish their own work.

“Self-publishing means you can do anything you want,”
says Rugg. “And if you’re smart about the business and budget, you make all the profit. This can mean that a book with a small print run is more profitable to the self-publisher than working with a publisher where the profits must be divided among more people.”
I'm sure there's value to this argument. But small print runs could suggest the books they write and draw sell in small numbers of copies, quite possibly less than a million, just like the Big Two's output, and how can you expect to find a wider audience when your copy number is that low? Of course, it's regrettable that no proper effort is made to convince a wider swath of the public to try and read your product. Rugg does address some of this though:
Rugg says that just being good at drawing and storytelling is not enough today.

“It’s just really competitive to be in the entertainment industry, and in addition to working on your craft, trying to be good at storytelling and good at art, you also have to work on keeping up with your audience and building that audience and getting your work in front of a receptive audience,” says Rugg.

Scioli adds that in addition to the comic book industry being a competitive market, finding the right publisher is challenging. He says it is rare to go straight from one project to the next, and it can sometimes take years to find a place willing to publish his work.
I'm sure this makes sense in more ways than one, if you're a right-winger. If Dark Horse and Image refuse to publish the work of a conservative, that additionally sums up the sad state of the medium in its modern form. There are publishers where this isn't a problem. But the aforementioned twosome certainly can't expected to give their backing to right-wingers, with the way things are going.
Despite the challenges, Rugg encourages those who want to work in the comic book industry to find their voice and to keep practicing the skills needed in the industry: writing, structure, dialogue, plot, timing, characters, setting, fashion, atmosphere and the ability to draw all kinds of people.
And I encourage conservatives to work in the medium, and be supportive of each other, both within and without. That's how to build up success properly. I hope Scioli and Rugg will agree. I wish them good luck for now in publishing and selling their latest comic projects.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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