This is the first in a two-part series on trying to work in the comic book industry

At FanCon Comic Convention last weekend, Matt Hawkins, the president and COO of Top Cow Productions (a partner company of Image Studio who have published such titles as Witchblade and the Darkness), dropped an interesting piece of information:

  • There are 1,200 rostered baseball players in the MLB in the United States
  • There are 450 professional basketball players in the NBA
  • There are around 300 working professionals in the comic book industry.

That’s a staggering comparison: we all know how good a basketball player you need to be to make it to the best league in the world, but it’s actually harder to break into the comic book industry. And, with the world becoming ever more connected, artists and writers from around the globe can compete for these jobs, making the chances even tougher.

South Africa holds its own in the comic book industry

If you do manage to break into the mainstream comic book industry, then it’s quite an achievement. And South Africa holds the flag high in this regard with a number of local artists and writers making it in this competitive field:

  • Sean Izaakse, from Johannesburg, currently draws “The Avengers” for Marvel Comics, and has previously drawn “Deadpool” and has his own published title called “Stray”
  • Jason Masters, also from Johannesburg, has drawn “Batman” for DC comics and was personally selected by comic book icon Warren Ellis to draw the “James Bond” comic
  • Dale Halvorsen and Lauren Beukes, from Cape Town, partnered to bring “The Survivors Club” to life for DC’s Vertigo line.
  • Finally, Warren Louw has seen his work grace the covers of DC Comic’s “Power Girl” and “Harley Quinn”

The above represents an interesting duality: the fact that there are only about 300 working professionals in the industry means these people are at the top of their game. But, it also shows if you’re good enough, you can make it in one of the toughest industry’s in the world, that it IS possible to make it.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel

A great aspect of the comic book field is that most of the professionals in the industry are happy to help those who are trying to get their big break. An example of this is Top Cow’s ‘Talent Hunt’ – a worldwide talent search looking for new writers and artists that have never been published by a major comics publisher (for more information, head to the article on this year’s announcement –

In part two, we’ll look the best advice you can get when it comes to breaking into comics from those that have done it themselves.

You can meet Sean Izaakse and Jason Masters this Saturday, 6th May at The Nexus (21 Harley St, Randburg, Johannesburg) for Free Comic Book Day! In addition to getting copies of their work signed, The Nexus will also be running a pre-order special for the new ‘Injustice 2’ console game! Loads of other activities, including a costume competition, are happening all day, with the fun starting at 9 am. Be early to make sure you get your free comic book!