Part of the problem being a writer trying to break into comics is that without an artist it’s twice as hard.  I’d say even more than just twice.  Editors want to see art or they want to see finished comic pages.  What they don’t want to see is a script.  So if you’re a writer you need to find an artist to work with, someone who will help turn those words into pretty pictures.   Back in the day when I’m talking about, the late eighties/early nineties it seemed to be easier for a writer and artist to hook up to create something.

While I say it was easier there still was a major huddle to overcome.  How do you find each other?   Unless you are lucky enough to be living next to someone who can draw and wants to be a comic book artist there still was the major obstacle of finding someone to work with.   While not going into a history of how and where you could find artists at that time I will talk about one place:  Comic Buyer’s Guide.   The CBG, as it was known as, was a weekly newspaper that covered the world of comic books.  From news to reviews to columns to just about everything you could think of.  And one thing it had plenty of was ads.  In fact the newspaper started life as an adzine, a paper that was strictly ads selling comics and related material.  After the original owner, Alan Light, sold it to Krause Publications the format changed to more or a newspaper about the comic book world.  The new owners hired Don and Maggie Thompson, two of comic’s biggest fans, to edit the paper.   For many years the CBG became the official paper of the comic book world.  It’s hard to imagine in today’s world with the internet delivering news at the instance it happens, but with a weekly coverage you felt you were getting the scoop when you read the CBG.  I always felt up to date on what was happening reading CBG.

Like all papers CBG ran a classified section in the back of the paper.  One of the sections was geared towards creators finding each other.  I don’t remember exactly how it was labeled, but it was here that I ran a simple ad looking for artists.   I think I took out the first ad for a month, so it was in four weeks.  I was hoping that would give enough people a chance to see it.  And see it they did.  I don’t remember how many answers I received from that ad, but I know it was quite a lot.  And yes I could go on about the bad ones, the ones that still had a ways to go, but instead I want to focus on the positive.  I was really surprised by the amount of good artists that answered the ad.  I met Ron Wilber through that ad.  We ended up working on a series that ran through Fantagraphics CRITTERS comic book for most of the length of its run.  I met other really good artists that I might not have published anything with, but we ended up working together and becoming friends.  And I met Brian Clifton because of that ad.

Brian and I hit it off immediately.  He was about ten years older than I was.  Living in Florida.  Had a wife and kids.  A regular day job.  Comics was something he had tried when he was younger and when it didn’t work out he did like so many of us and found a job to make a living and support his family.  Brian was childhood friends with Mike Zeck, who went on the fame as an artist for Marvel on their titles as Punisher and Secret Wars.   Brian loved the old EC comics.  His style reminded me of Vaughn Bode.  I loved his art.

Brian sent me pages from his sketch book to get an idea of what his style was like.  In the next post I want to talk more about that.  Suffice to say Brian and I ended up working together.  Besides DIEBOLD Brian and I worked on my series LIZARDS and we did THE BARBARIAN for Conquest Press.