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For Tulsa native and comic writer Sterling Gates, story began early

BY RANDY ELLIS Published: March 22, 2009
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As a child in Tulsa, Sterling Gates loved to immerse himself in the fantasy worlds of The Flash, X-Men and his other comic book superheroes.

As an adult comic writer in Los Angeles, Gates now gets to help create his own fantasy universes.

Since October, his work has been published monthly in DC Comics’ Supergirl series, which he creates with artist Jamal Igle.

Gates said he has some other projects in the works, but he’s not at liberty to talk about them yet.

"It’s a tough business,” Gates, 28, told The Oklahoman. "It’s a lot of luck out here — knowing people and networking.”

For Gates, it all started in Tulsa where he grew up.

"My father actually owned a comic store in Tulsa: Sooner Books and Comics,” he said.

Comics have been a big part of my life from age 7 to now, really.”

"We always had a garage full of back issues, so I would just go and read comics in the garage for hours,” he said.

"I was really big into X-Men, because what kid doesn’t feel like an outsider,” he said. "I was really big into Teen Titans. ... I was totally into The Flash. Unfortunately, I was that chubby, slow kid, so the idea you could be the fastest man alive was awesome to think about and dream about.”

His big break
After graduating from Tulsa’s Thomas A. Edison High School, now Thomas Edison Preparatory High School, Gates said he decided to go to the University of Oklahoma.

"I graduated from OU in 2005 with a degree in art, with a specialization in film and television production,” he said.


CAREER SPOTLIGHT:
COMIC BOOK WRITER

→Education: No formal requirements, but many comic book writers have college degrees in fields such as filmmaking and English.

→Annual salary: $50,000 to $150,000 or above. Salaries vary greatly depending on reputation, skill, past success and quantity of work.

→Necessary traits: Vivid imagination, passion for comics and willingness to do extensive research to create comic scripts that are consistent with the fantasy universes in which the characters interact.

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