The final panel of a busy Friday at the 2018 for DC Comics was a massive affair in the cons biggest room. But the DC All Stars panel worked to provide star power to match the space as a big lineup of big names appeared to tell their personal stories of comics history.
“It’s not really DC All Stars panel. It’s comic book All Stars,” DiDio said, promising the fans that the talent lineup on stage would come out to share their stories on how they came to comics and made a life out of it.
Joining the Publisher on stage were a lineup that DiDio gave slightly notorious intros of their earliest work including Jock (former Magic The Gathering artist), Tom King (Valiant fan fiction writer), Jimmy Palmiotti (starting at Malibu Comics), Amanda Conner (Barbie comics), Brian Michael Bendis (“toiling in obscurity for 20 years at some minor company”), Sean Murphy (the “very aggressive” Punk Rock Jesus) and Scott Snyder (who had the distinction of starting on big name characters like Batman).
DiDio opened up the discussion about how panelists broke in. Jock said that after his initial work on role playing games and cards, he started up on strips for 2000A.D. in 2000 before shifting to Vertigo with The Losers. “Did I think I’d be sitting here right now? No way,” the artist said. “I feel very lucky.”
Snyder recalled how his breakout series American Vampire was rejected the first time he pitched it to Vertigo, but Mark Doyle called him up and said that they’d give it a second look if “you don’t make it such an elevator pitch and tell us what it’s actually about.” After the book got approved by the skin of his teeth, Snyder was able to interest Stephen King to co-write the first story. Still, even after that it was hard to sell his ideas to DC, and Snyder explained how he only got Jock to be the artist of his first major Batman story after going beer for beer with the artist at San Diego Comic-Con. When Jock agreed, Snyder went back to his hotel and fell asleep at his computer after writing the message to his editor “Guess what? Jock is innnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn”
Connor and Palmiotti both broke in due to their passion for comics. Connor had worked in comics retail and slowly started to get her portfolio out there despite the tough job market. Palmiotti had gone to school to study comics, but “At the time, the comic artists I met were all poor.” So he at first looked for a day job, but eventually he took a gig as an inking assistant on Punisher and Ghost Rider for artist Mark Texeira where he would have to show up at the Marvel offices after hours and complete pages late into the night.
Of his shift to DC, Bendis said “So many people have been whispering to me ‘What’s it like?’ as if I’ve been held hostage,” he laughed. “Everyone thinks there’s some giant secret, but it’s just awesome people making awesome comics.”
Murphy said that he has a political nature of his work, particular with his start-out series Punk Rock Jesus. “[That title] was not really the best career move,” he laughed, but he said he’s learned that he can deliver a strong, complicated idea in projects like Batman: White Knight so long as he “put in a shitload of Batmobiles.”
The artist found the best way to bolster his early career was to take on students who would pay to learn craft from him even though they had to come to his house in Maine with no heat in the winter. “I think Dan hired them for a few projects, so it worked out, but I’m never doing that again.”
King said that he started out as the king of internships as he worked as a student for both DC/Vertigo and Palmiotti and Joe Quesada’s Marvel Knights line where it was his job to proofread scripts and field calls of complaint from creators ringing up Marvel including Chris Claremont. Years later, Karen Berger took King’s submission out of the slush pile and invited him to meet with her at New York Comic Con, which finally brought him full circle.
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