Ask the Right Questions

Going to conventions is one of the best way to learn about the industry, meet new people and get advice from peers and pros. But often wannabe creators will waste the opportunity to learn by talking about themselves or asking the wrong questions.

“How do I break into comics?” is one of the questions I hear a lot by aspiring creators. The question is not easy to answer in a meaningful manner – and it certainly won’t be a short answer (my best and shortest possible answer is this podcast episode). It also requires a lot of background information on the person asking the question.
When not asking impossible questions like the one above, these creators will try and impress whoever they are talking to, pitch their comics ideas, tell rambling stories about their journey and aspirations – instead of using the opportunity to gain new insights and valuable knowledge. I’ve certainly been guilty of this myself. Becoming a better listener and asking smarter questions is something I would like to improve. So you could say this post is just as much for me as it is for you.
So instead of asking “how do I break into comics?” here is a list of smarter questions you may ask peers and pros alike, when you get a few minutes of face time at a convention or pin them down in a Twitter conversation:
  • What areas of my art do you see needs improvement?
  • What are your favorite cons to go to and why?
  • Who do you think I should meet while I’m here?
  • What is one thing people get wrong about the way the business works?
  • Is there any resource you can point me towards that could help me learn more about X?
  • What’s a mistake you see a lot of beginners make?
And then I also recommend taking notes! Either during the conversation or directly after. You can’t even memorize your Mom’s phone number so I’m willing to bet you can’t remember a key insight from a conversation a week later. It’s one thing to ask better questions but you also need to actually listen to the answers.
If you have a question for me, leave a comment below!

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4 Responses to “Ask the Right Questions”

  1. Kat November 12, 2019 at 7:43 pm #

    Hi Palle. Love your stuff!
    I see many novice comic artists do all their own inking, lettering, and drawing. Yet professional artists often only do one of these things. Are there many professional comic artists who still tackle all aspects of the comic process? If not when does the split happen, and more importantly, why?

    • Palle Schmidt November 27, 2019 at 8:13 am #

      Hey Kat,

      There is one simple reason for doing it all yourself; Money! When there is a different inker, colorist and letterer, it’s usually because the budget allows it. When you’re starting out or – like me – catering to a small market, it makes sense to do it all yourself. That way you can get going without having to spend time trying to persuade others to help out for free or save up to pay them. People with a pro skillset rarely work for free.

      Hope this answers your question. Good one, btw 🙂 And thanks for the kind words!

    • Palle Schmidt November 27, 2019 at 8:15 am #

      Come to think of it, there is another reason to do it all yourself, which is control. Not having to explain your vison and get someone else invested in the same way you are. And getting the result exactly like you wanted.

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