Cool jobs: I make comics

The comics scene is one that's growing and becoming a bigger part of mainstream culture in recent years. Several comics creators and artists are building careers with Michigan as their home base, including our managing editor.
I'm not usually the guy who sits around and brags about things. Heck, I barely ever talk about myself outside of a select group of people. But today is going to be a little different and I'm going to go ahead and brag a bit. 

I have a very cool job. 

You see, when I'm not editing copy, running content management systems or writing news and feature stories, I apply my writing to comic books. 

That's right--comics. I haven't been doing it very long at all, and I'm hardly anyone of note with just a couple of published books out currently, but here's the exciting thing: I'm far from the only one in Michigan doing it. 

This state is home to some outstanding comic creators. Just outside of Detroit we have the likes of one of Marvel Comics' star artists, Ryan Stegman (Inhumans, Superior Spider-Man, Wolverine), as well as respected artists Guy Davis (B.P.R.D.) and Talent Caldwell (Fathom). Ann Arbor can boast of artist and writer Katie Cook (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic).

Independent creators are thick on the ground as well, like Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl) and David Petersen (Mouse Guard).

But Michigan is also home to some very promising up-and-coming comic creators, too.

Hailing from mid-Michigan is a fellow by the name of Jay DeFoy. He actually calls multiple parts of the state home at various times of the year. Right now, he's drawing caricatures and selling fine paintings on Mackinac Island and come fall he'll be back at his art desk working on breaking into the comics industry. 

DeFoy has taken his first stab as a creator, making a comic called Threadcount that he began while studying at Mid Michigan Community College. He took a comics class under the direction of Brad Olrich there and worked on the college's yearly graphic novel, Mid-Riff

"I really enjoy drawing comics," says DeFoy, who originally hails from Clare. "There is just so much you can do, and so many great ideas out there." 

DeFoy is the first to admit that he's got work to do before he's ready to take on the big leagues, but just a glance at the work he produced a couple of years ago to what he does now and it's easy to see he's heading in the right direction. 

Also from the mid-Michigan area is comic artist Jay Fosgitt (Bodie Troll), who was featured recently in our sister publication Mid-Michigan Second Wave; you can find him talking about his career and art background here.

Another Michigan up-and-coming comics name is Ryan Lee of Traverse City. Lee has his hands in a variety of art styles, but he has already produced a web comic called Naturals with fellow creator Chris Meeuwes, and turned the first collection of those pages into a floppy, which is available via Top Comics in Traverse City

Lee hasn't stopped there, either. This past year, he had a published variant cover with IDW's Ghostbusters series, which led to a comics signing event at Top Comics. 

Creators like DeFoy, Fosgitt or Lee, or myself, can't expect to simply come into an industry as small as comics and run right to the front of the line. It's a lot of hard work, and the hours are often unforgiving and not very profitable--if at all. But there are perks, for sure. Like comic conventions, for example. 

This year I set up booths at both Motor City Comic Con in Novi as well as the also-up-and-coming Cherry Capital Comic Convention in Traverse City. Lo and behold, there were Lee and DeFoy, as well as a slew of other creators hailing from Michigan and beyond.

Conventions like those allow creators to showcase their work, make connections in the industry and, of course, sell their products. It builds the fan base for creator-owned work, allows personal interaction and makes for a good time with so many like-minded people coming together. 

The road to breaking into the comics industry isn't for those who tend to give up easily. It's long, mixed with highs and lows and lots of competition, but it also carries with it the potential to be very rewarding, especially when you're holding the comic you created in your hands or hearing a fan tell you their favorite part of your story or your art. 

Even with the tough path to success (hey, if it's not worth working for, why do you want it?), there is one thing for certain: Making comic books is one hell of a cool job.

Sam Eggleston is the managing editor of Upper Peninsula Second Wave. He was born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and has been reading and making comic books since he was a kid. He can be reached via email or on Twitter @sam_eggleston
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