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April 10, 2008


As an offering to our young talent, and to anyone who might find this helpful--here and elsewhere, green or seasoned--I've asked a number of experienced authors to send a little word of coaching, encouragement or mentoring to them. We'll call this new category MENTORS CORNER. It will occasionally feature some authors who aren't with First Second.

Check back here on Thursdays every week for new offerings. If any of this speaks to you and answers a need or sparks an enquiry, do add your comment--who knows what dialogue may open up from it.

From MIKE MIGNOLA, who hardly needs an introduction... A few thoughts worth treasuring:

"There is so much great young talent out there these days, but I'm afraid to work with anybody who hasn't been in the business for ten years, someone who's been mistreated by all the major publishers and has a mortgage and a family to support. What I wouldn't give to be able to insert a work ethic into people. So, don't know what to tell you about that end of stuff.

I CAN pass on something that Frank Miller told me when I was about to start Hellboy--It's as good advice as I've ever gotten on this subject. He said something like "just do it, do the best you can, don't drive yourself crazy, just KNOW that when you look back on it you're going to hate it. It can't be helped. The next one will be better." I don't know if that really helps here. Your problem is that you're dealing with GRAPHIC NOVELS and they are a lot scarier than comics. They're sold in bookstores and are going to be in print for a long time. The beauty to doing comics in the old days was that you did a shitty job, it came out, and then it was gone. Now everything is collected and we have to live with our mistakes--Of course that also means we keep making money (which is good) and when we DO finally do a job we're proud of it stays in print. I wouldn't want the old days back, believe me, but it was easier to learn as you went, knowing that your early work would be forgotten.

For me the only thing that works is having a lot of projects lined up so as you are working on one, and it's not coming out quite as well as you'd hoped, you can always say the next one will be better."


I wouldn't say that it's 10 years in the business, having been mistreated, having a family, mortgage, and bills to pay that gives someone a work ethic. Maturity and a sense of responsibility does that no matter how old you are, how many years you've been in the business, etc, etc. At least in my experience.

Darryl Hughes
"G.A.A.K: Groovy Ass Alien Kreatures"

It's not about making no errors. GNs and books are too big and complex to ever make error free. It's about avoiding the big mistakes and forgiving yourself for the small ones that don't really detract from anything.

The tiny errors people repeat is their style. If you can start to allow for your own style you can look at your own work critically and not go nuts!

Wow, that depresses the hell out of me. Just because I always feel like my work ethic is inadequate and here's Mike saying, "Just in case you weren't absolutely, sure, yep! I'm talking about YOU."
Can't blame him.

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