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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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uot;I wanted to be a television writer.”

"I made some terrible short films in college that I pray never see the light of day,” Gates laughed. "We watched them one night a few weeks ago, my girlfriend and I. I was so pretentious, like trying to make these artsy, intense deep films, and I had no idea what I was talking about.”

After graduation, Gates said he and some friends packed up their things and moved to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams.

Gates said the first job he got in Los Angeles was on a television show called "Blade: The Series,” which was a 2006 television show based on Marvel Comics’ superhero Blade.

"I was a production assistant — like the lowest of low,” he recalled. "I got the coffee. I got the drinks. I went and got lunch.”

But he also got to meet Blade script writer Geoff Johns, a well-known comic writer who was just starting to write for television at the time.

The two men got to talking and Johns learned of Gates’ shared passion for television and comic writing.

"We developed a friendship based on our love for comics,” Gates said.

Johns sold a movie titled "Naughty or Nice,” and Gates got to serve as his assistant on that film.

While working on that film, Gates said he got to know Johns’ editors and befriended one who suggested he pitch some stories to DC Comics.

"So I very nervously started submitting pitches, and after four or five months, they bought a story from me and it sort of went from there,” 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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