Meet Mark Elliot, a 24 year-old from San Diego, California, who’s dream of being a comic book writer got a big boost at this year’s Comic-Con.

August_markZen Pencils came into my life at a time I needed it the most. Not that I was in a bad state in my life, thankfully that was all behind me. I was now in a confused, vulnerable state, thinking what would happen next. I was in the process of rebuilding myself to become a stronger person. I kept coming across these humble little comic strips online that carried the most profound messages and emotional impact. Eventually I found the source – Zen Pencils! The messages of the comics, in particular Ira Glass’s Advice for beginners, Neil Gaiman’s Make good art and Helen Keller’s When one door closes all helped me grow and inspire me to move forward into change.

The biggest part of my self-improvement was the decision to take my artistic life a lot more seriously. I moved away from playing music and instead decided to try a new creative venture I’d always loved and greatly admired, but never really put a concerted effort into pursuing. That new art was writing. I would finally devote a huge deal of my time to accomplish writing many worthy stories, and to have my art published one day. My biggest goal was to write comic books. The only thing holding me back was that I can’t draw at all. I would keep writing scripts having no art to compliment them, or for that matter any chance to submit them to major comic book companies.

So when I learned that the San Diego Comic-Con had a comic creator connection, where writers who can’t draw can meet artists who were in need of a writer, I jumped at the chance. After not getting in for the 2012 comic creator connection, I made a vow that I would do everything in my power to accomplish the goal of getting into that meeting in 2013. For a whole year and a half I talked about nothing but getting into that meeting and damn well worked my ass off striving to write the best stories possible, pushing myself to go beyond what I did in the past. I must have visited the Comic-Con website everyday for that year-and-a-half to check if it was time to sign up.

The day finally came on the 14th of June that spots were officially open. As I wrote the email requesting to be let in, I got worried for a second. But I knew I couldn’t give in to self-doubt, and the dream outweighed my fear, so I hit ‘send’. Then came the nervousness again, this time though it was from just wanting to know whether or not I got in. It started to eat at me a little until it became full-blown panic. That’s when I saw Zen PencilsNature loves courage. It deeply moved me and made me feel I was doing everything Terence McKenna talked about.

The next day, I got an email telling me that I’d been accepted! I started crying and was in a state of inexplicable joy. For a good hour I kept looking back at the email thinking I was dreaming it, but it remained the same – I had got accepted. It felt like I was rewarded for the effort and commitment I put into making my goal real, and that nature was on my side

Fast forward to July 19, I’m standing at the doors of Room29b at San Diego Comic-Con, holding a big stack of my stories, as well as business cards I had made for the event. There was no fear or worry in me. I didn’t think about my inexperience compared to others there. What mattered was that I was there for all the right reasons, and whether or not I met a collaborator, I knew I would not give up because this is what I wanted and loved. After it was all over – after meeting so many talented artists and after getting such positive feedback for my stories – I stayed in the room for awhile thinking about everything I did to get to that point.

I walked out of the convention centre with my head held high.