Judge David Gutierrez will pencil you in for a comic book career counseling session.
Try winning the lottery. The odds are just as good.
How hard can it really be to break into the comic book industry? The comic book industry is unique in that fans can mingle with the professionals. Conventions are constantly held for the sole purpose of introducing fans to professionals. You don't see that as often in television or film, with the exception of the Sci-Fi and Horror genres. (If it does happen more often, please let me know the next time Mariska Hargitay (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) hosts a meet n' greet.)
Facts of the Case
Countdown to Wednesday: An Inside Look at the Comic Book Biz and How to Break In refers to the holiest of days for comic fans—the day new comics come out. Rain or shine (except if a federal holiday falls on a Monday), Wednesday is the day that that new issue of Superman, Gotham Central or Small Gods is expected to arrive.
Loving comic books is one thing. Making them for a living is another thing altogether. Countdown to Wednesday: An Inside Look at the Comic Book Biz and How to Break In provides accounts, tips, tricks and some of the best ways to possibly make it as a comic book professional. Complete with testimonials from Stan "The Man" Lee, Paul Dini, Jim McLauchlin and Marc Silvestri, Countdown to Wednesday isn't the definitive way to make it, but it does provide the viewer with ideas of what to do and what not to do.
The best ways into any field are connections, nepotism and talent. The comic book industry is no different. It may look like it's nothing more than a series of panels and word balloons, but it's much, much harder than that. The DVD runs through the entirety of the comic book process. Most importantly, this DVD reminds the viewer that a comic book office is not a bunch of adults riding tricycles around the office after doing a series of whippits. Instead, it shows us that comics are business first and foremost.
Special features include a still gallery with commentary; a featurette on three interns; footage from a Top Cow staff meeting; a public service announcement on ACTOR—an organization dedicated to helping out professionals in times of need—and some outtakes.
Countdown to Wednesday: An Inside Look at the Comic Book Biz and How to Break In won't give you all the answers. In fact, it might just raise more questions. For those looking for a key to a career in comics buried inside a DVD case: Forget it, because you won't find it here. To paraphrase writer Mark Waid, "Breaking into the comic industry is like breaking into Fort Knox. Once they find out how you broke in, they'll seal that entrance." If anything the DVD shows us that it's not a cakewalk.
The idea of comics as an industry might make some viewers uncomfortable because it removes a bit of the romance from the process. In fact, some of the obstacles might be downright depressing. While brief, the footage of the production meeting shines light on the business side of a comic book company. For those hopefuls out there—develop a thick skin.
The DVD menu is structured brilliantly. Want to become a penciler? There's a section devoted to that. Want to know about publishing? You can skip all the rest and zero in on your topic of interest. Best of all, the DVD doesn't neglect the silent backbone of the comics industry—the letterers and the colorists. Even those with a mind for business will find something useful here.
Hopefuls, take heart. It can be done. The DVD profiles some interns who have gone on to or are well on their way to becoming professionals in the medium of their choice. Not everyone can do it, but everyone on the DVD started from essentially same place: kids with a love of comics.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Viewers that are turned off by talking heads ought to stay away. Since this is essentially a how-to DVD, don't expect a great deal of action or camera movement.
The DVD centers mainly on the staff of Top Cow Comics. With the exception of Paul Dini, Stan Lee and Mark Waid, you won't see anyone else outside of the company. Accounts from other industry professionals would have made a nice addition. Also, despite Top Cow being an independent company, it would have been nice to hear from representatives of smaller or newer companies.
I noticed a few sound synching errors. It's not constant, but it was present almost completely through one interview.
The DVD is a good start. It may not provide a hopeful with all the answers, but it will give them a push.
Countdown to Wednesday: An Inside Look at the Comic Book Biz and How to Break In is released of all charges and free to go
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Ventura Distribution
• Still Gallery with Audio Commentary
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