Adult Animation Revolution: Why Aspiring Showrunners Should Make Comics

by Tito W. James

Many art school graduates dream of making the next Adventure Time or Stephen Universe and becoming a showrunner in their 20s. However, I would advocate for young professionals to consider creating comic books.

Most young creatives want to do: hand drawn animation, high concepts, plot driven narratives, female and queer protagonists, stories with life and death consequences. All of these are uphill battles on traditional channels. Even an established creator like Alex Hirsch had to fight tooth and nail to have his vision exist on the Disney Channel.

Making comics also makes good business sense. It can cost $25-80K to make an indie animated pilot. For the same budget, you could make an entire graphic novel filled with characters that fully explore their world and tell a story with a beginning, middle, and an end. Plus, you’ll own the rights and have an established IP to show an animation studio. ND Stevenson’s, Nimona is great example of how this can work.

As a comic reader, I wish I’d see more comics that were informed by charming cartoon sensibilities. What’s lacking in too many indie comics are colorful casts of lovable characters that are fun to draw. It’s important to remember that Pendleton Ward and Rebecca Sugar both began as comic creators. Imagine if they had stayed as comic creators. A new generation would have been introduced to their worlds and gotten hooked on comics. If more animation students decided to make comics we’d see the creativity and fun of cartoons!

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