By Joey Gonzales
Hours. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.
The passionate sacrifice their most valuable resource in order to reach for a dream. TIME. Time away from family, friends, and the rest of their lives outside of view. They keep their eyes on the goal, through blood, sweat, tears, ramen noodle dinners and all.
My childhood and teenage years were filled with routine. I was an athlete in a sport none of you have ever heard of (inline speed skating), traveling the country and world to race and compete. Things were simple. I practiced, I worked on my technique, I went to the gym, I watched what I ate (sometimes), and I slowly made progress which motivated me to keep the cycle going. This was cool for me, because I was so bad in every sport I have ever played. But this sport opened my eyes to a truth. I can do anything if I practice it long enough. My coach, Charlie Lucas, taught me two great lessons in my life.
- You get out of it what you put into it.
- It is what it is. Repetition is the best teacher. Doing something over and over again, allowing your muscles and your brain to become so familiar that your desired skill/task is second nature. If you sacrifice your time to study [insert craft, skill, language, etc.] you will learn it. I don’t believe there is a set timeline for everyone, but you will learn. You can learn how to do anything if you dedicate yourself to it.
- When you aren’t training, someone somewhere else is.
- This one always kept me on my toes. This is the one that made me spend an extra 30 minutes before bed going through more technique in the mirror. When you aren’t, someone else is. This can be for anything, but applying it to learning or training, it’s about giving a mental image of a rival. Leroy in Little Rock, Willy in Wichita, the list goes on. You have to stay motivated with that fire inside your belly and lightning on your fingertips! Or else someone that’s hungrier than you are will surpass you.
Now, the latter may be intense, I’ll give you that. But it’s true, and it’s a lesson that I use to motivate me in my adulthood. It is one of my most treasured pieces of knowledge.
How these two lessons apply to comics
Every expert was once a beginner. When I decided I wanted to pursue writing comics as my lifelong career, for better or for worse, I knew that no matter what adversity I faced, I would not steer away from my goal of being a published writer. My first scripts were barely worthy to be called scripts, and were more one page summarizations of a season’s worth of content crammed into the two pages I could afford to pay for (Shout out to Greg Woranchak, mybad dude I was new). Even though they were bad, I kept writing. I have at least a dozen composition notebooks filled with a rollodex of ideas. Some I’m using now for Plus Waco Comics.
Eventually I began to study the works of other writers. I studied their scripts, scoured online for their notes, trying to pick their brain. Cullen Bunn’s old website was a godsend for me with his breakdowns and sample scripts and pitches. I began to mimic their style, while changing a few things to keep it comfortable for myself and my workflow. Eventually I developed my own system and format that allows me to write clear, instructive scripts for artists I hire or partner with.
Not only did I study format, but I studied story as well. Scott McCloud has a great series of books I read over and over. Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner was another that taught me a lot. But the best thing that taught me how to write comics, was reading comics. So I dove into my longboxes and started reading as much as I could. I went to my LCS to pick up trades upon trades and engulfed myself in story after story. And I learned another great lesson.
There is no right or wrong way to make a comic book.
I began looking into interviews with the creators, almost dissecting their creative nature as I listened to them speak on how they write their stories. Almost all of them said something to the effect of- “It’s a story I would love to read.” They enjoy what they do.
After some time working on my own, I met Danny Flores and Armando Ramirez. I’ll tell that story another day. But they finally began to see me as a serious writer AFTER I had mounds of scripts, an email full of rejections from publishers, and TIME sacrificed to this dream. And sometime after meeting them, I learned I couldn’t do it all on my own. And everything clicked. Almost like a math equation, adding the lessons together.
“You get out of it what you put into it”+”When you aren’t, someone, somewhere else is”+Enjoying what you do+A Team = Plus Waco Comics.
I’m sure you can apply this “formula” to anything you want to achieve. I hope it helps, it’s what guides me daily.
Thank you for taking the time to check out this post!