Comic Book Writer Doug Wagner Teaches BEAU Students How to Break into the Industry
One of the best benefits to coming to Broadview Entertainment Arts University is that you get to take classes from professionals in the field. These are people who have been down the path where you want to go, and can show you how to do it. Recently one of our students, Daniel Peck, sat down with one of our instructors, Doug Wagner, to ask him some questions about his career and his role in teaching at BEAU.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.
I’m Doug Wagner. I’m a writer. I’ve been writing now professionally for over fifteen years. All comic books is what I do. I’ve done stuff for DC, Image, 12 Guage, Top Cow, Dynamite… The only two companies I think I haven’t worked for is Dark Horse and Marvel at this point. I’ve done everything from Batman to all-ages material.
2. Last month at Salt Lake Comic Con FanX, you had a panel? What was the subject?
The subject was writing and health. So basically what the panel was about, was the fact that most creatives spend their time sitting at a desk, which is very unhealthy for you. So the panel really got into things you could do, you know, like taking breaks every fifteen minutes just to stand up, getting a writing desk, eating properly, exercising every day, that kind of stuff.
3. How did you get involved in the comic book industry?
It goes back… I started reading comics when I was really, really young. I was like five or six years old. At the age of seventeen I decided that’s what I wanted to do, and so I spent the next fifteen years practicing the craft and trying to break in. Basically, over that time, I met enough people to where, eventually I got a chance… and that was kinda my break with The Ride, which was through Image. Everything kinda branched out from there.
4. How did you get involved with BEAU?
I decided, about a year and a half ago, that I wanted to teach some writing classes. I thought it would be beneficial to the people that wanted to learn how to write, and it would be beneficial to me in revisiting all the foundations. So I just picked up the phone and called, and I said “Are you guys looking for anybody to teach any writing courses?” At that point there was a different administrator, and he said “Yeah, come on down.” And that was it.
5. What do you teach here?
Some of the classes, of course, with the program change have gone away. What I will be teaching now, in the future, is Comic Book Scripting, Graphic Novel Scripting, and Graphic Novel 1. Before that, I was also teaching Screenwriting 1 and Screenwriting 2.
6. What advice would you give anyone interested in trying to get into the comic book industry?
Patience. Practice. Persistence. If you can’t handle those three things, comics are not for you. You’ve gotta be really patient, ‘cause it does take time. It’s not like any other job where you can just go “Hey, would you look at my credentials and hire me?” There’s a lot of networking. There’s a lot of tryouts, but again if you don’t practice that and you’re not ready to go, you won’t be prepared for it… And then the first couple of times, or first dozen times, or first one hundred times, if they turn you down, you have to have the persistence to keep coming back. That’s what it takes.
I can’t speak for all the other creative fields, but I’ve heard the same thing through all of those. You have to be willing to put in the time. Depending on the creatives you talk to, some people are against schooling and some are for it. I personally didn’t get a degree in writing, I got a degree in IT, but I think the benefit of going to school, at least in my class, is that I try to pack in at least five years of the time it took for me to learn something into only three months. So you get the benefit of like “Oh, Doug’s kinda cutting some corners for us. We’re not gonna have to go find all of this stuff on the internet.” you know, and slowly learn it and try to digest it.