Earlier last year, comic writer and movie director Greg Pak took to Twitter to share his experience and expertise regarding writing comic book scripts. To his surprise, the tweet garnered almost half a million clicks. Clearly, there's a hunger for this kind of information. The response to the 2018 Twitter thread blew Pak's mind, he told
Earlier last year, comic writer and movie director Greg Pak took to Twitter to share his experience and expertise regarding writing comic book scripts. To his surprise, the tweet garnered almost half a million clicks. Clearly, there’s a hunger for this kind of information. The response to the 2018 Twitter thread blew Pak’s mind, he told WWAC in an interview. That thread, which he went on to summarize on his website, is not the first time he’s offered his advice to hopeful creatives. In 2014, Pak collaborated with Fred Van Lente and Colleen Coover on Make Comics Like the Pros: The Inside Scoop on How to Write, Draw, and Sell Your Comic Books and Graphic Novels, which boasts a healthy four-star rating on Goodreads.
“I’ve always known there’s a real hunger out there for those kinds of tips. Just last weekend, I signed for a few hours at 4th World Comics in Long Island, and at least four different people asked me for advice about writing comics.”
That hunger prompted his step into the world of Patreon where he regularly shares his growing knowledge with patrons to help aspiring amateurs on the path to professional comic writing.
“I started off in independent film, and my career would never have taken off without incredibly helpful advice from dozens of fellow indie filmmakers over the years,” Pak explained. Throughout his career, he’s always tried to pay that advice forward wherever he can. “Over the years, I’ve written articles about different aspects of making comics, done how-to panels and workshops at conventions, and answered hundreds of questions on Twitter. Eventually, my buddy and frequent co-writer Fred Van Lente and I did a talk about making comics for the CBLDF, which book editor Patrick Barb attended. Patrick asked if we’d be interested in putting together a book proposal, and we said, boy, would we!”
Make Comics Like the Pros serves as an excellent resource that Pak can point people to when they are looking for more detailed advice on the entire collaborative process of making comics, but he notes, “everyone learns in different ways. And a series of posts online might be a better way for some folks to absorb some of this material.” While the book is a helpful general resource, Pak’s new Patreon is all about feeding the hunger for “an in depth, practical treatment of topics very specific to comics writing.”
Pak is no stranger to crowdfunding, which is changing the shape of the comic industry. I’m looking forward to finding my kickstarted copy of The Princess Who Saved Her Friends in my mailbox very soon. Pak has created several successfully funded Kickstarters, including one revealing his secrets to a successful Kickstarter after his first successful Kickstarter, Code Monkey Save the World in collaboration with Jonathan Coulton and Tak Miyazawa.
“I often say that I owe my career to the internet,” Pak said. “Way back in the early 2000s, the internet and email were absolutely critical for working the grassroots and getting my indie feature film, Robot Stories, out into the world.” Now, the majority of his work is published by established companies, “but the internet remains the most critical venue for promotion. And as a freelancer and independent creator, I try to keep my eye on every new tool for reaching audiences.” That means he’s had his eye on Patreon for a while, and has admired the work done on the platform by many of his colleagues. Up until now, his independent projects have been one-offs, better suited to the Kickstarter medium, but with this new endeavour, he decided that Patreon was the way to go.
“Over the last year or so, the idea of writing about writing through Patreon started to make more and more sense. And then I saw my comics colleague Vita Ayala pointing out that Patreon was about to change its payout structure, so to get on the better current plan, it was important to launch as soon as possible. That was just the kick in the pants I needed, and here we are!”
Once again, Pak hopes to turn his digital resource into a more tangible offering. In a year’s time, he hopes to have enough material to pull together a new comics writing how-to book. “That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but could never make time in my schedule to write all at once. By doing it bit-by-bit through the Patreon, I create a bunch of micro deadlines for myself and a manageable schedule that will kick me in the can to produce something over time.”
At the time of launch, Pak already had five posts ready to go for new patrons. These include some templates, panel primers, and more, and he’s since added a piece on how to handle reviews of one’s work.
Pak seems to be as passionate about offering advice to others as he is about his work, but he will always value the most significant piece of advice he received.
“Many, many years ago, I visited Oberlin as a high school student, and an amazing creative writing professor named Stuart Friebert told me that writing by young people was very often ‘overpraised and under-cherished.’ I was blown away by that. He said it with great gentleness, but also great seriousness, and it felt momentous to me, like someone who respected me enough to tell me the truth was telling me there were higher standards out there, that I needed to be stretching and learning and growing all the time. I absolutely feel that even after all these years working as a writer, I’m learning and relearning essential lessons about writing all the time, so those words have stuck with me in a wonderful way.”
Professor Friebert’s advice continues to shape Pak’s career today, and through the many resources Pak is compiling, some future comic book writer might feel the same about him.