NO GUTS NO GLORY: HOW TO MARKET YOURSELF IN COMICS (Beau Smith. Blue Line Art, 2008.)
Just a quick review today since, unlike the last two How-To books about comics I read, this one is actually very good, and provides little to complain about.
Beau Smith’s book is really all about networking, getting other people in the business of comics to remember you, and getting yourself to remember them. When I got to his chapter on how to write comic scripts, I initially wondered why it was in the book to begin with, and then I realized that what he was really writing about was establishing relationships with the artist and editor.
Smith takes on a manly, rancher-cowboy persona to write the book. I say “takes on” but maybe it’s genuine, in which case he may track me down at a con one day and challenge me to some fisticuffs for casting suspicion on it. At any rate, being a wussy-writer-type, the very idea of self-promotion scares the shit out of me. Manliness of the jockish, macho, biker, or any other variety also scares the shit out of me. So theoretically, this book should have sent me running to the toilet. What I found instead was that it was genuinely ENCOURAGING.
It’s so well written, rather than feeling like he was grabbing me by the lapels and throwing me into a prison rodeo, it was more like he was a sympathetic mentor or Jack Bauer telling me, “You can do this,” before jumping into the water to wrestle the crocodiles. He is perpetually a nice guy, and all of his advice is delivered in a straightforward, common sense way that doesn’t make you feel a fool if you didn’t know it beforehand. I felt like he genuinely wanted even us wussies to get out there and do our best if it meant good comics. This was a real breath of fresh air. So many of the other books seemed like their real agenda was sabotaging any potential competition. Even his chapter on keeping physically fit to survive the war was inspiring — especially compared to, say, the ridiculous section on showering and dressing nice to meet editors in The Writer’s Guide to the Business of Comics by Lurene Haines which seemed to assume that its readers were all slavering Neanderthals.
NO GUTS made me feel like my goals were realistically achievable. And the reality is, if you are intending to self-publish, even us shy-artist types will need to get up on our feet at some stage to go out there in the world and get our work printed, marketed, and distributed. This book gives us some manageable options for establishing the necessary relationships to make that happen.
The only thing I would’ve changed is made the thing a less manly size. The book is in a large and somewhat unwieldy format despite a relatively low page count. It could have been more compact and ninja-like.
There is a lot here, and I don’t think I would be able to implement all of his advice at once. Plus, a lot of it is aimed at getting the attention of editors on work-for-hire books. This is not my area of interest obviously, and the book does not pretend to be comprehensive, but it is a necessary read for getting off your damn ass and getting to work. Recommended.