Bleeding Cool’s Joe Glass writes:
DC selected a number of their talent to share with the SDCC audience just how it was they broke into the comics industry and DC. Featuring Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Joshua Williamson and Cecil Castellucci, and presented by Dan DiDio.
DC co-publisher Dan DiDio started by taking the mic behind the curtain so we could all hear what goes on behind there. We hear someone who talks about how awesome it is to work with Scott Snyder…who sounded deceptively familiar.
Didio gets in the crowd and starts getting them hyped and asking them about their show. How the man has this much energy on a Sunday, I have no idea. He says it’s his last panel of the convention, so he’s burning all his gas to make it the best panel of the show.
Williamson just wanted to get into comics his whole life, and just went to conventions and linger around the DC booth hoping to get someone’s attention. Then he got a job at DC for a while, before leaving. Then at C2E2, someone suggested he pitch again, and he contacted Didio to organize a meeting and pitch some ideas. And then he was late to the meeting. So he ran all the way there, and Didio was having to leave. And he didn’t realize at the time but he was drenched from head to toe in sweat, and he wouldn’t let Didio leave the room, but to his credit he put up with it and said…no. Gave Williamson a bunch of notes. He turns around and Snyder was in the doorway looking terrified.
Thankfully, it led to a much more calm meeting some time later where they sat down and really talked the Flash pitch out. And Didio loved it. It went so well, later he thought that none of it was real.
Didio, right now, seems to be teleporting all over the room, and each time he speaks into the mic he is somewhere else.
Didio then winds up interviewing Nightwing, who he has some history with. Asking the fan about how he got into comics, and it was his sister, who Didio then asks about how she got into comics too (via the Batman Animated Series and Killing Joke).
Snyder talks about being on a tour for his short stories, and is a huge comics fans, and one of his readings had editors Jeanine Schaefer and Mark Doyle, who he told about his love of comics and suggest he pitch for them. Snyder says he was very, very lucky. But it’s all he ever wants to do.
Didio then interviews an older Marvel fan, who loves Spider-Man, the character who got him into comics. Didio asks what he’s got to do to make him a DC fan, and he says a better idea of their origins.
Orlando next, says how he’s been coming to SDCC since he was 12 years old, and coming back for 19 years, coming to bug his “friends” in editorial. He’d come and show his scripts he had at 12–14 years old, he talks about this whole spec script he wrote all about Beast watching the Food Network.
He talks about meeting people at SDCC back then who are still here today, and he talks about the only other person he remembers coming to comic con with his mom was the late Seth Fisher, and meeting him.
But he kept coming, kept showing his writing and what he was doing, and even all the people who met him then would say “when you’re ready, we’ll help you.” He talks about it being a network who helped him, and they were waiting for him to come to them, and ultimately it was the work, both in meeting people and writing comics, that got him to where he is now.
Didio now is over the other end of the room and asking a fan what got them into comics (Incredible Hulk) and how it built from there. His brother got into comics via video games, the Incredible Hulk game on the Xbox. They keep reading comics for the constant surprise of not knowing what is going to come next.
Castellucci talks about falling in love with comics when she was about five, and when she mailed a letter to Adam West, or Batman at The Batcave, to come to her birthday party. Her mom made her dad a Batman costume to give her some Bat-binoculars and a Batman anthology/omnibus, which started her reading and reading comics. She then talks about being older and meeting indie comics creators doing comics jams that she just loved. She read Dead Enders by Ed Brubaker and realized it was like young adult fiction and she felt like she could do that. She’d search how to submit to Vertigo comics, as she felt she was a Vertigo girl, and it seemed difficult so she just did some herself. Then Shelley Bond called her for the Minx line.
The panel have talked about Didio’s big, big bear hugs a fair bit.
Didio interviews another fan who doesn’t actually read comics, but loves the movies. She mentions loving Wonder Woman. Didio is finding it interesting is he’s finding the people he has to convince to come into comics. It’s his main goal now, working out how to bring people from those other mediums to come in and enjoy comics.
Onto Tynion IV jokes his Secret Origin is sitting on the dais with him. He says he too came into comics via Batman the Animated Series and X-Men the animated series. But they were only on TV so often, so he’d make his dad take him to the store so he could get the comics too. He started reading Marvel chronology, and he worked out then in his head the stories and making his own. He talks about onto High School, in the early to mid-2000s, and he felt there was a real resurgent quality in comics, and also the time he was discovering Vertigo books, and one that really spoke to him was Sandman by Neil Gaiman. And that was when he decided to make it into comics.
Reading Gaiman’s blogs on breaking in, he decided to focus on being a writer in general, and maybe then making a book and side-stepping into comics. He ended up in Sarah Lawrence College, which he describes as a small and intensive school, where students interview their teachers and see if they click. Looking into it there was this new young teacher there, and he looked at his short stories, and decided to take this class — taught by Scott Snyder. They built a relationship, and at some point Snyder sent him his first pitch for American Vampire, and he loved it but instead of just emailing him back he loved it, he sent him back a ten page critique of the whole thing. And he’s done that ever since.
Eventually this would leave him on the balcony at the advertising agency he was working at, and getting the call from Snyder to come and help him with the backup stories in the New 52 Batman books.
Castellucci points out the common theme: that while there is no one road to break in, there is one thing in common — they were all constantly writing.
DiDio finally interviews someone still reading comics, and first comic they ever read was Killing Joke. He liked Batman growing up and loved the animated show, which he’d run home to see. Now what is he reading? Ms. Marvel.
DiDio returns to the dais: what is the moment you really felt like a comic writer?
Tynion IV the moment he got the first comps where he had his name on the cover, an indescribable experience. In that moment he sent Neil Gaiman a message through Tumblr thanking him for being an inspiration.
Williamson says the moment he got the phone call and he got the job. Writing the Uncharted comic at DC, it felt like the first time someone gave him a job. But even then he never feels overconfident and cocky about it. He still feels like a rookie. He feels like he never wants to lose that edge of having the hunger for it.
Castellucci says this is first year she has an ongoing, and that’s what really makes her feel like a comic writer, and sharing a round table with other creators literally makes her feel like she finally has a seat at the table.
Snyder says you’re always waiting for someone to point out you’re a fraud, as a writer in general. He remembers when he got the call about getting American Vampire, in the daycare parking lot waiting to pick up his kids. For a couple of years, he’d been working in the book market, where they were trying to guide him down into making a bestseller, and it was making him miserable. And his wife asked why he was doing the comics which didn’t pay as much, and he said it’s because it was the only time he loved what he was doing writing. So worked together with him to help him have the time and focus on the thing that actually made him happy. His biggest fanboy moment was meeting Adam West, who was wearing a velvet blazer and a silk cravat and very ’70s sunglasses, he introduced himself knowing he’d have no idea who he is and West turned to him and said, “Scott. Welcome to the party.”
Didio then shares his own Secret Origins, and talks about submitting work and getting rejection letters which he keeps to this day. He talks about the back and forth with DC pitching a Guardian book, which saw them adding Superboy, then coming back and increasing Superboy’s role, and then back again being told to lose the Guardian from the Guardian pitch…and he realized they were now just writing Superboy. His experiences on that book was something that taught him a lot of lessons about working with talent.
At the time, he had also applied for a job at DC…and he then got it.