Words of Wisdom: Flaunt It

By Tim Seeley

So they asked me for advice.
Me. The guy who’s spent twenty years in this business, making slasher comics (with boobies) and sci-fi comics (with boobies), but who is, as of yet, not a billionaire – unlike that one guy this guy started out with, who did that little black and white zombie comic. Okay, well… you asked for it.

I get asked a lot of advice about how to get into comics, not just because I sit on that particular side of the table at comic-cons, but also because I’m a goddamn professor of comics (no, seriously), and every semester, I try to educate the next generation of cartoonists on how to make these goddamn things AND how to do the business side. There’s one concern that always comes up, everywhere I sit, whether on that side of the table or up in front of a group of students.

“I really want to put my work out there, but… I’m afraid someone will steal my Idea.” I’ve capitalized “Idea” here to represent that it is the big, important, Ur-term. Like it appears in a Sigmund Freud dissertation. The Idea.

And every time I hear that, I bite my bottom lip a little, take a breath, and go into a rant. A rant, I would like to share with you, seeker of veteran words.

Ideas Ain’t Shit.

Yes, I said it. The high concepts, the cerebral nuggets, the base notions, the Ideas of any comic… they ain’t shit.

Ideas, unless executed and shown to the world, are just a collection of neurons swimming in the primal stew at the base of your brain stem. They’re hypothetical and overvalued, and really when it finally comes down to making the thing, will be completely lost in the process. The Process.

Because it’s not about the Ideas. It’s about the Execution. It’s about HOW you did it. It’s about what you BROUGHT to the Idea.

Ideas won’t get you noticed. Ideas won’t sell comics, or fund another goddamn Kickstarter. But a great, uniquely, and skillfully presented execution? Yeah, even in these trying times… that’ll sell a comic. That’ll get you noticed. That’ll get you paid.

Here’s another thing about “stealing ideas.” There’s no idea SO GOOD that it hasn’t been done, and there’s no idea SO BAD that it hasn’t been stolen. That’s right. Everything has been done. Everything is stolen. Everything has been stolen. If you post your idea on the internet, and it gets stolen, congratulations, you have joined the human race, a monkey with a long history of taking ideas like fire and cheese and running them all over the planet. And remember that guy I was talking about? The one I met when he first started, who is now a billionaire? That comic that got him there is a stolen idea. It’s Night of the Living Dead, but longer, which in itself was inspired by Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend, which borrowed some stuff from Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was partially nicked from Le Fanu’s Carmilla and… well, you get the picture.

But, in the case of The Walking Dead (and I Am Legend, and Dracula, and Carmilla), it’s what Robert brought to it. And what he brought to it was an incredible sense of pacing, a Kentucky swagger, and an unassailable enthusiasm that made that guy richer than me, by like, a lot.

You wanted words. You got some. The same I’d give to my students.

Get Your Comics Out There. Flaunt The Work.

The thing the ideas ride along on. The voice, the passion, the skills. Show us with confidence, and if you see bits of those base notions floating in someone else’s brain gravy… well, you’re ready to be the one on THAT side of the comic-con table. Giving the advice. With boobies.


Check out Tim’s Exclusive Pin-Up in Our Winter Special Edition 2023-24 on Kickstarter!

Tim Seeley (Twitter, Instagram, Website) is one of those “slash” people… a writer-slash-artist. He has drawn a number of different comic book series including G.I. JOE, HALLOWEEN, WILDCATS, and EXSANGUINE. His writing work includes NY TIMES bestselling HACK/SLASH, NIGHTWING, BATMAN ETERNAL, MONEY SHOT, and the critically acclaimed REVIVAL.

He has also done consultation work for Cacao Barry, artist Hebru Brantley, and Dreamworks Animation, and is an adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago. He resides in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and daughter and works at home, where he is never far from his 80s action figure collection.

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