Make a comic, use it as your business card

The World’s Finest website has a nice interview with Phil Bourassa, the lead character designer for the Young Justice animated series. I found his answer to this first question…

The World’s Finest: First off, while you don’t need any introduction to Young Justice and animation fans, care to fill us in on your background, including some of your earlier work, recent work, and what you’re doing as you answer this question?

Phil Bourassa: I got into animation a little bit by accident, I guess. Originally I had wanted to be a comic book artist. I published an independent book about ten years ago with a grant from the Xeric Foundation, hoping I could use it to get work in the industry. As fate would have it, one of the people who bought my comic happened to be a producer for WB at the time. She gave my book to Denys Cowan, (co-creator of Static and the rest of the Milestone characters) who was just getting ready to start developing the third season of Static Shock. I guess he liked my work well enough to take a chance on a newcomer. At that point, they were looking to get a fresh take on some of the characters and were probably hoping I would be able to bring a new perspective. I think they figured out pretty quickly how inexperienced I was, but still let me stick around long enough carve out a little spot for myself on the crew.

…quite interesting, for a multitude of reasons:

Obviously, it highlights the importance of actually getting out there and creating something. If you want to be a comic book writer, don’t just talk about it or fill notebooks with ideas, write a comic! If you want to be a comic book artist, don’t just post sketches to Deviantart, draw a comic! That book that you create, that you put all your heart and soul into, will be the best business card you can ever carry. It’ll be worth more than a 100 unsolicited pitches or a dozen times chatting up editors at conventions.

And as evidenced by Bourassa’s experience, and that of countless other creators, including me, you never know where your work is going to end up. In his case, it was Denys Cowan who saw something in the young artist’s work. In my case, it was Chris Ryall at IDW, who remembered my Lifelike webcomic when it originally ran on Kevin Smith’s MoviePoopShoot website, where Ryall was the webmaster. The point is, once you have a fully formed piece of art out in the “wild,” there’s no telling how it will cross pollinate.

I also got a kick out of this story because although I wasn’t familiar with Bourassa from the various animated shows he’s worked on, once I looked him up on the web I recognized his Xeric grant-winning comic:

First World – The holy temples of Kurutu are being destroyed by an army of demons led by the cruel demon lord Rizen. Pyrus Brand, healer and practitioner of the mystic arts, strikes up an alliance with the immortal spirit Kanun and reluctantly embarks upon a quest to put an end to the wanton destruction of his world.

I picked up his comic when it first came out back in 2001 at my local comic shop, The Laughing Ogre. I’m even fairly certain that Diamond Distribution, the monopoly in comic distributors, didn’t carry his title. Instead, it was distributed by one of the now-defunct small indie distributors, FM or Cold Cut. I really enjoyed the book, too, especially his clean art and subtle coloring.

Now obviously he was also the beneficiary of some good luck (or fate, or being in the right place at the right time…whatever you want to call it). But none of this would have happened for him if he hadn’t put all his skills and energy into creating his own comic first.

So: stop reading this blog, and get out there and create your own comic book!