New York City used to be the comic book mecca.
Hosting the likes of DC and Marvel Comics (as well as being the fictional home of Spider-Man and the Avengers and the basis for Gotham City and Metropolis), New York was where you had to be if you wanted to work in the comic book world.
But now, you don’t have to live close enough to walk your art or scripts into the Manhattan offices of Marvel Comics, and many creators choose to live here in the Midwest.
Bruce McCorkindale creates art from his Gretna home. Dennis Hopeless writes scripts in Kansas City, Missouri, and sends them to artists all over the world. Phil Hester draws Green Arrow, Wonder Woman and Green Hornet from rural Iowa. Jason Aaron wrote this month’s million-selling “Star Wars” comic in Kansas City.
Comics artist Bob Hall moved from Nebraska to the East Coast in the early 1970s.
“It was the mecca. Pretty much to get started, you had to live in New York,” said the Lincoln-based comic book artist.
Hall, now 70, lived in the Big Apple for decades while he worked on such characters as Thor, Shadowman and Batman for Marvel, Valiant and DC. While on the East Coast, he worked with legends, meeting Stan Lee, editing Jack Kirby and writing and drawing Batman titles for Dennis O’Neil.
As overnight shipping services such as FedEx became more widely available, Hall was able to move to London and eventually back to Nebraska, where he continues to draw comics and work in theater, his other love.
Initially, artist McCorkindale also had a ritual that involved packing up pages and hoping FedEx would deliver them undamaged. But the Internet has blessed him and other creators.
Uploading digital art files makes it easy to communicate with writers, editors and artists all over the world.
“It doesn’t matter where you live,” he said.
McCorkindale, 54, has lived in Nebraska for all but a few years of his life, and it’s here that he worked on titles including “Godzilla” and “Green Hornet.” He also does advertising illustration and reproductions of classic comic book art.
With friends and his fiancee in Nebraska, he sees no reason to leave.
“I’ve always lived here,” he said. “And when I was struggling, it was more practical. The cost of living is so much easier here.”
Kansas City writer Hopeless is able to work with artists from all over the world while he stays in the Midwest with his wife and twin children.
“I get to pay Kansas City mortgage prices and gas prices and get paid from New York,” said the 33-year-old writer, who has written books such as Marvel’s “Avengers Arena,” “X-Men: Season One” and “Cable & X-Force.”
Hopeless, 33, began writing comics in 2007 when a friend offered to do the art. His own projects were successful enough that Marvel Comics hired him.
He’s not the only comics creator in Kansas City, which hosts a cadre of comic book talent. Writers Jason Aaron (“Star Wars,” “Thor,” “Wolverine”) and B. Clay Moore (“Hawaiian Dick,” “Superman Confidential”) live there, along with artists such as Kevin Mellon (“Hack/Slash”).
“It’s really nice to go to lunch with people who have any idea what you’re doing,” he said.
Hopeless has worked with artists such as Salvador Larroca, who lives in Spain, and he stays in touch with his co-creators via email, Skype and instant messaging.
“It’s so easy,” he said.
There are occasional problems when you’re 4,500 miles away from the artist who’s drawing your comic book. It can be difficult to work with an artist that speaks another language.
“Certain stuff gets lost in translation,” he said. “I write my scripts in a very conversational tone, and slang doesn’t always translate.”