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Archive for March, 2005
Grant Gould: Step Five
STEP FIVE: Now, using the selection lasso, I go in and remove chunks of “shadow.” These are the areas where the imaginary light source is hitting your characters. While your shadow layer is still at 100 percent opacity, this looks pretty corny. But in the next step you’ll be adjusting the opacity, and it’ll look a lot better then.Story Archive |
Grant Gould: Step Six
STEP SIX: As you can see, once I lower that shadow layer’s opacity to, say, 30 or 40, it looks a lot better. I can now go and do the same thing to the other sections. It’s important to keep in mind that light and shadow goes a long way in illustration. Play around with it. Don’t be afraid of experimenting in Photoshop. (Just make sure you save what you’ve got before you try it.)Posted by Tim Leong on March 28th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Five More Grammar Rules You Must Know
On Mediabistro (The orange look familiar?) this week, HeadButler.com founder Jesse Kornbluth lists 10 grammar mistakes all writers should avoid. Read his and learn from them, but I offer five more for comic writers.
1. What’s with the exclamation points!
You’re telling a story. Excitement should come through in the story itself, with active verbs. Don’t assault readers with it. Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden, one of my favorite modern non-fiction writers, tried it in his first book, Doctor Dealer. How he got a contract for a second book, I’ll never know. The exclamation points detracted from an otherwise fascinating, well-told story.
You also have the advantage of illustrations. Work with your artist to move the story. Exclamation points are gimmicks, and excessive use of them makes writing trite.
Cut out the verys, reallys and prettys. Words like that only dilute the story. In fact, rethink every modifier (adjectives and adverbs, mostly). Read every sentence without them and see if each retains its meaning.
An aside: Verbiage means “excess words.” Slap upside the head on behalf of me the next person you hear say “excess verbiage.”
Comprise means “to contain.” That’s it. It’s that easy. So how has its meaning been so distorted? It doesn’t mean “to compose,” so quit using it in passive voice. The sandwich comprises peanut butter and jelly. So easy! (The dictionary has given in to popular usage, as it often does, and offers “compose” as third and fourth definitions for comprise. It’s wrong. Higher authorities (the AP stylebook, any respectable grammar teacher) say so.
4. Bad v. badly
Oh, how these get used badly! Bad is an adjective, so don’t use it to describe how something is done. (The exception: I feel bad, which has taken on its own idiom status.) I feel badly might sound smarter to you, but to the educated among your readers you’ll sound dumber. What that sentence actually means is that the speaker has a poor sense of touch. And while you’re reviewing this, look up good and well, too.
5. Spell it right.
Please, please, please. No editor is going to publish you if you can’t spell. That’ll come later, when you’re established. Then you can reveal your true lack of spelling knowledge. But until then, manuscripts are like resumes: One bad word and they’re in the trash.
Then again, as your weak-spelling webmaster says, it’s people like him keeping people like me employed.
The Grammar Guru always has a surprise up her sleeve, or, if the outfit calls for something strapless, in her clutch. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Posted by Tim Leong on March 28th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Member of the Week: AKAFAB
As told to Comic Foundry…
From a young age growing up in Wales, a land of green hills, song, and sheep, I always knew that I would spend my life being involved in something creative. The only trouble was that I could never make my mind up as to what that would be… As my life moved on I found myself studying fine art, video / editing (old school style), graphic design and photography. I then travelled the world living and working in places like London, New York and Sydney, which led me to meet a great many talented people who helped me develop my skills further into the field of digital video/non-linear editing, special effects, digital photography (Hallelujah!… I hated the dark room process, it takes too long) and finally, Web site design.
At long last I finally decided what area I would concentrate on… All of it!!! (why only eat one flavour of ice cream when there are so many more flavours to discover).
I have now found my creative home in Melbourne, Australia where I run my own Web site and graphic design business called Swoop Creative but I use www.akafab.com as my creative playground. My current obsession is “instructional graphics”, I’ve even had one of my designs made into a t-shirt, check it out!
The people and things that inspire me constantly change from comic art to movies and all types of design. I recently purchased a book called “Vinyl Will Kill” which features many illustrators that are doing some great stuff, check out: www.fafi.net - www.monsterism.net - www.scarygirl.com
Want to be the Member of the Week? Better your chances by uploading to your portfolio…Posted by Tim Leong on March 23rd, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Is My Graphic Novel too Graphic?
Q: Practice makes perfect, right? Well, I’ve been practicing for a while… and my stuff isn’t even close to perfect. What gives?
A: FIRST OFF, LET’S DISCUSS PERFECTION. What is it? Many would say Jesus was perfect. Well, we all know how well things went for him when he ended up on Earth. Talk about a clusterfuck … the likes of which people still spend all Sunday talking about. So really, think about whether perfection is really a logical objective. Too much of a good thing will always make you vomit. It’s even possible to get water poisoning these days. In my cross country days, I’d see fellow runners puking up transparency. Plus, perfection breeds complacency, which eventually knocks the afflicted off their pedestals. You don’t want that. The fact that you suck will only make you try harder to put your thing down, flip it and reverse it. So relish it — forget perfection. The only thing truly perfect is a Hypnotic Martini, trust me.
Q: My comic is a bit graphic (sexy) but I want to market it to everyone. What are the objections, since kids would probably be getting copies too?
A: IF YOU ACTUALLY WANT PEOPLE TO BUY YOUR COMIC, you’re going to have to let society pussy-whip you a little bit. If you don’t care about a profit margin, continue drawing your comic homage to the cameltoe. But if you actually want to market something you have to make it less HBO, more TNT. And you know what? Kids these days need to see a little leg. Sex things up a bit for them. Christ, they can’t even watch a sponge living in a pineapple in the ocean anymore without it being labeled gay propaganda. So I say it’s time to turn the tide and contaminate some minds. And it starts with your fucking comic.
Q: How do I know when I’ve taken a concept too far?
A: I’LL TELL YOU. When you start putting those stupid, massive “Support Our Troops” magnetic ribbons on your car. God, I hate those. Now I see cars with three or four of them on there. Who doesn’t support the troops, for God’s sake? And they’re tacky as hell. Think about showing your work in progress to a few trusted associates. People who will give you their honest eye. If a majority reacts a certain way, that should be a bit of a flag. When I bleached my hair and everyone said it looked like I got caught in a shitstorm of ugliness, I knew I had indeed taken a concept too far.
Ask Terp the Bartender about your dire needs at email@example.com or catch him in the message boardsPosted by Tim Leong on March 23rd, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Couldn’t you be looking at porn right now?
As I’ve mentioned before, Moliere once said that writing is like prostitution, and he’s right. Writing is like prostitution, and not just because you start out doing it for yourself, then you start doing it for a few friends only to end up doing it for money. And not just because there are going to be times when the only reward you get for putting yourself out there is a switchblade ‘tween the ribs at an untimely moment in some dirty back alley (which, if I remember correctly, was my over-the-top analogy for rejection).
Writing is like prostitution because it’s all about selling yourself. It’s not enough to be really good at giving head. You’ve got to convince that john out there that you’re worth 50 bucks and 20 minutes. (And there I go with the over-the-top analogies again. Have I beaten this metaphor like a pimp and his ho, or what?)
It’s not enough to have talent. You’ve got to be able to convince the right people that you’ve got talent, and in the rare moments when I’m confident in my ability to spin a worthwhile story, I find myself waylaid by this unconquerable fear that I don’t have it in me to win over the average editor.
I’m a fairly likable guy. I don’t get punched in the face nearly as often as I feel I should, and I’ve always figured that this is because I try to stay out of people’s way and don’t make too much of a nuisance of myself. I try to be a man who’s aware of his many faults and limitations, marking humility as the greatest virtue. I think that’s a great way to live, but it’s no way to write.
Writing, while like prostitution, is about ego and arrogance. The very act of putting words on a page is a statement that you’ve got thoughts in your head that are so important they shouldn’t be relegated to the space between your ears. By writing this column every week, I’m telling you that my reflections on my personal struggle to break into the comic book industry is worth 600 words and the three or four minutes it’ll take you to read it, which I consider a particularly bold statement when you consider the fact that you could easily spend that same time reading interviews with non-aspiring comic book writers, or looking for porn.
And if you think that’s an act of self-indulgence, and I sure as hell do, then consider the ego involved in approaching an editor with a story pitch. You hand someone your proposal for a six-issue Booster Gold miniseries, you might as well look them straight in the eye and say, “Not only do I think that what I’ve got in my hands here is worth your time to look over, I think you should have a team of artists render this puppy so it can get printed up for the world to see. Oh, and by the way, you really ought to give me some money for this.”
I haven’t yet figured out the difference between having the conviction to sell myself and just being an arrogant prick. I’m sure that there is one, I just don’t know what it is. It’s entirely possible that I’m placing too much importance in all of this, or that this is more about my myriad self-esteem issues than it is about simple modesty. Whatever the case, as it stands, it’s just one of the many things between me and my dreams.
Want to break Clark’s fall? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch him in the message boardsPosted by Tim Leong on March 21st, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Upping The Ant
Mario Gully had no formal art training, but he did have a stack of rejection letters. Now Image just picked up his book. Mario shared with CF on how he did it, and how you can be next.
You’re a self-taught artist. Can you explain that?
I haven’t attended any traditional art school or have had any classes on art or writing. I learned form reading books and going to cons. I asked pros to critique my work and then made the adjustments. But to be honest, the term “self-taught” is really an illusion. No one can learn to draw within themselves. You have to be taught by something. You can learn by nature, or from looking at people out of the window. The trees or the people teach you to translate what you see. So, everybody has some kind of teacher.
Did you notice benchmark moments as your art improved? Has your art evolved?
At times I’ve had specific moments when I learned to enhance my artwork. It’s evolutional — the whole process. The more you do it the better one gets.
The biggest turning point I had is when Erik Larsen told me to bring my art up a notch. It was one of those conversations when it’s like, if you play with the big boys you need to put out better art. I knew what I had to do and it was a matter of proving that I was ready. Now I believe my art is far superior to any of my old stuff. I just needed to be properly motivated.
How did you get your book picked up?
I first sent Ant to pretty much every publisher with an address. All turned me down flat. I called them up, I had friends in the industry, the whole nine. I was even turned down by the outcast of comics. After much digging I found a very small independent publishing house that said they could put it in the shops. I went with them because nobody else would take me. This all happened within eight or nine months.
Then I got an e-mail from Sean O’Reilly (publisher of Arcana Studio) one night. He asked me to jump aboard. He had seen Ant in a gallery of potential comics of a publisher that picked me up. That didn’t make it off the ground, I might add. I went with Arcana. That was that.
After that rejection, how did you stay committed?
It was more like 12 rejections. It was very hard on me. I actually quit for a period. It was crushing to me that nobody thought I had potential at the very least. That was a very hard time. Very depressing.
But I later dug deep and pushed ahead. I figured that I have been trying to be a comic creator for seven or so years and I needed to keep going. I don’t have a Plan B. Comics is what I choose to be apart of, and to turn the car around and to try a different carrier was worse than going forward so I went forward and kept trying.
How did you pitch your book?
I really didn’t have a strategy. I hate smoke and mirrors. I just sent in the first five pages, a synopsis and two covers. That should be enough to get a phone call.
What was in your pitch packet?
J. Scott Campbell.
ANT was also just picked up by Image. How did that change happen?
It was all persistence. In one way or another, I was always sitting at Images’ door step, asking them to let me in. I waited seven years for that door to open. Later I hooked up with Erik, and he didn’t care too much for Ant issue one, I suppose. But I grew and got better. I kept knocking. He noticed. We had a talk about what Ant and I could be with proper guidance. I was more than happy that Erik would help me. And that was that.
Can you explain the free pinups you did for Image?
I met Anthony Bozzi (former marketing director for Image) at Megacon in Florida about four years ago. He mentioned that he could possibly get me a free pin-up in one of Image’s books. I called him pretty much every other day for about six months to get my foot in the door. He saw persistence in me. He later hooked me up with free pin-ups to get my feet wet, to get published and to learn. I did it because I wanted my own book one day. And I figured if I keep at it, it would happen.
What’s the one thing you wish you knew before you got into this business?
Nothing. Because I wouldn’t change one aspect of this journey that I’m on. If I wanted to change something I might get a different outcome. No matter what happened, I always did my best. And you have to be happy with the results when you do your best. I am what I always wanted to be. I’m very fortunate.
You’ve held contests where fans can submit art for a pinup in your book. What do you see as the area with the biggest room for improvement in new artists? What’s the solution?
The biggest problem I see in most novice artists is that they just don’t draw comic sequential pages. I really don’t understand it. You see a lot of guys wanting to show you their stuff and it’s a single image on notebook paper or something. Or you get guys that paint a huge monster on a poster board and say they want to be a comic book artist.
The only solution to any endeavor is to educate yourself on what the requirements are before you apply for the job. Nobody goes to a job that is looking for help and applies for a position he knows nothing about. Why is comics any different?
How did you get such big artists to do covers for your relatively new title?
I made friends in the industry. One phone call led to another.
You worked in trading cards once. Do you recommend that for an > artist looking for work?
I did it because it is art, and getting paid for any art is a rarity in my book. A good friend of mine hooked me up with the company. Would I recommend it to artists? Sure, if that’s what he or she wants to do. Did it help me in the comic industry? I would have to say no. It’s very cool to get paid for some lead on a piece of paper, but very few people can use stuff like that to get sequential work from a publisher.
How did you deal with criticism of your book?
I listen to everything, good and bad. I eat the meat and spit out the bones.
You deal with criticism all your life. It’s how you use that criticism to make you a better artist is what counts.
—Interview by Tim Leong
Posted by Tim Leong on March 21st, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Priceless Resources at Zero Cost
Are you looking to submit your work to a major comic publisher?
If so, you’re in luck - Comic Foundry is gathered all the different forms and information you’ll need to get that pair of Keds in the door.
DARK HORSE COMICS In the past, Dark Horse has asked submitters to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope…
DC COMICS Like many creative fields, breaking into the comic book business as an artist can be an exciting…
IMAGE COMICS Image Comics accepts only proposals for new comic series…
MARVEL COMICS All submissions and inquiries must include…
TOP COW COMICS For Top Cow to review any submission we require that you…Posted by Tim Leong on March 20th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
Top Cow Submissions
Unfortunately at this time Top Cow is not accepting unsolicited ideas/scripts from writers.
Send no less than three pages of sequential art. Demonstrate your ability to tell a story using sequential panels and pages. Choose a story that allows you to showcase not only your strong points but utilizes a wide range of settings, situations, props and character types. If possible include the story/plot pages you worked from. You may also include ?pinup? splash page type work if you wish. Please use existing Top Cow or other published characters.
For a 4-page sample script in pdf format Click Here.
Quick note: Backgrounds are as important as dynamic figures! If you send us some great pinup work but not enough, or bland, backgrounds you will most likely get filed in the trash. Give us a showcase of all your skills.
You can send 8 1/2 by 11 or 11/17 inch photocopies of your work by mail to the address below: DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS. They will not be returned.
Send us no less than three pages of sequential art. We’d need to see the penciled pages as well, so be sure to send them as well. Pick pages with the widest range of ?textures? and techniques as possible. Choose the type of artist you feel you are most comfortable with but be sure the pages, or single pieces, you use contain background and figurework. Please use existing Top Cow or other published characters.
For sample pages of Top Cow characters to ink download the images from the following links. Right-click these links and choose “Save target as…” for high-res300dpi JPGs.
Sample 1 4.97Mb
Sample 2 2.44Mb
Sample 3 2.81Mb
Sample 4 2.55Mb
For the best ink sample to work from download the images from this link. Take them (or have them printed) in non-photo blue ink on Comic Book art stock paper (or the best you can get). It may require some wheeling and dealing with a friend of yours or taking the files saved on disk, C.D. or zip to a proprietary photocopying/imaging store.
Send us no less than three pages of sequential art. We’d need to see the inked/uncolored pages as well, so be sure to send them. Include pages with scene progression, action and ? quiet ? scenes, show us you can utilize color to evoke a mood, are conscious of and consistent with lighting and can clearly separate a scene. ?Pinups? are welcomed as well. Hard copies only. Or e-mail small JPEGS (under 500kb). CDs or other media are hard to deal with considering the amount of submissions we get and physical media cannot be returned. COMPUTER SKILLS ARE NOT NECESSARY. We accept color submissions produced in any media, provided that they meet the above criteria. Please use existing Top Cow or other published characters.
For the best samples to work from download the images from the following links. These images are high res ink samples for you to practice your coloring on. When ready, have them printed and send them to our submissions address for review. Do not e-mail your submission.
Right-click these links and choose “Save target as…” for high-res 300dpi JPGs.
Sample 1 3.63Mb
Sample 2 3.44Mb
Sample 3 3.86Mb
Sample 4 4.50Mb
Where to Send Them:
Top Cow Productions Inc.
10350 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite #100
Los Angeles CA 90025
Send questions only (no art, any files with attachments will be deleted) to: email@example.comPosted by Tim Leong on March 20th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
What Marvel Says:
All submissions and inquiries must include a self-addressed stamped envelope. No response will be sent without a SASE. All submissions will be reviewed and responded to within 3-5 weeks of receipt. Please note that we receive numerous submissions, so we may not be able to give specific feedback on any rejected work. Please do not inquire as to the status of your submission unless you have not received a response after this time period.
Please send us an inquiry letter, detailing your writing experience and why you would like to write for Marvel. Based on your inquiry letter, we may request to read a sample of your work. Please note: Unsolicited writing samples will not be read. Any unsolicited or solicited writing sample received without a signed Marvel Idea Submission Form will be destroyed unread.
Please submit no more than 5 pages of sample artwork. Please mail in clean 8 1/2″x11″ photocopies of your sample pages -NOT originals. Artwork can be difficult to copy, so please make sure the reproduction quality is high.
Just send pencils. Do not send inked, colored or lettered pages. If there are flaws in the inking, coloring or lettering, they may influence our opinion of your penciling. Just send sequential pages, not pin-ups. We are looking for your ability to tell a story with pictures, not just your ability to draw.
Don’t send samples inked over your own pencils. Any flaws in the underlying pencils will influence our opinion of your inking. Send copies of the original pencils along with your inks so we can see what you started with. Choose samples done over several different pencilers so we can determine how you handle a variety of styles.
Don’t send samples colored over your own line art. Any flaws in the underlying black and white artwork will influence our opinion of your coloring.
For Cover Painters:
If you are submitting samples of fully-painted (traditionally or digitally painted) cover work, keep in mind that Marvel covers tend toward iconic shots of single characters rather than groups of characters or storytelling elements.
WHERE TO SEND THEM:Posted by Tim Leong on March 20th, 2005 filed in Story Archive | 1 Comment »
c/o Marvel Enterprises, Inc.
10 E. 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
Dark Horse Submissions
What Dark Horse Says:
In the past, Dark Horse has asked submitters to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with their submissions so that the submission — along with a response form — could be returned to the author. Effective July 1, 2002, Dark Horse will no longer request SASEs, and will cease sending written responses for unsolicited submissions. From the aforementioned date onward, creators should only expect to hear from a Dark Horse editor regarding their submission if an editor wishes to hire them for work. Submissions will no longer be returned to the sender.
Dark Horse still welcomes your submissions, and all submissions will still be reviewed, just as they always have been. The only difference is that submissions can no longer be mailed back to the sender. The reason for this change in policy has primarily to do with the growing number of submissions; Dark Horse simply does not have the resources necessary to respond individually to each submission. Submitted samples are often kept on file for future reference, but only those creators for whom Dark Horse has immediate work will be contacted.
To submit a written proposal to Dark Horse, the following material must be included:
1. SIGNED SUBMISSION AGREEMENT
Dark Horse has the highest regard for creators and for the ownership of original properties, and this agreement should in no way be is construed as license for Dark Horse to appropriate your creations. This agreement protects Dark Horse from any liabilities involvin coincidental similarities to works-in-progress or other submissions. It is only required for original stories, scripts, series proposals, and characters. You do not need to sign it if you are only sending art samples or previously published script samples. Story proposals or scripts arriving without a signed agreement will be destroyed without review. Obtain a copy of the agreement here. A new agreement must be submitted with each new idea, proposal, script, etc. and must be signed by all involved creators and copyright holders.Please note that Dark Horse does not review unsolicited scripts, story ideas, or proposals pertaining to properties currently published by Dark Horse or any property not owned by the submitter. Such material will be destroyed without review.
2. COMPLETE SYNOPSIS
Succinctly tell the entire story—beginning, middle, and end, omitting unnecessary details. A short-story synopsis should be no longer than a page. A synopsis for a series (limited or ongoing) or graphic novel should be about two to five pages. Indicate issue breaks where applicable. A synopsis should say exactly what happens and how, noting plot and character specifics. Do not leave the resolution of the story in question. This should be the most straightforward presentation of the story as possible, as the synopsis is often the make-or-break point for a proposal.
3. FULL SCRIPT
You must include a full script for any short story or single-issue submission, or the first eight pages of the first issue of any series, unless you are a published professional, in which case, you should include samples of previously published work. You can download a sample script on which to base your script format on here. If the work is already completed—story, art, and lettering—copies of this may be sent instead. When preparing to send your story, consider the following questions: Are my characters believable and consistent throughout the script? Is the plot clear and easy to follow? Is all the necessary information—including subtext, symbolism, essential background detail, communicated clearly to the artist? Does the script allow the pictures to tell the story rather than relying on captions or other forms of exposition? Does the story work as a comic book, taking into account the conventions and the language of the medium?
Where to Send Them
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street
1. SEQUENTIAL ART
Consider carefully what you are sending. An editor wants to see that you can draw sequential art, not pinups. Five or six consecutive story pages is usually adequate. Include quiet scenes as well as action, utilize a wide variety of faces, figures (male, female, normal people as well as “super” characters, etc.), and well-realized settings. Ask yourself the following questions: Does the angle you’ve chosen take full advantage of the dramatic potential in a scene? Do the backgrounds establish where the characters are in relationship to their surroundings and to each other? Is there a well-defined foreground, middleground, and background? Is there a clear, readable story even without word balloons or captions? Have you left adequate room for the dialogue and captions?
2. COVER ART/PIN-UPS
Please submit only up to five covers/pin-ups. Be forewarned that it is extremely rare that we would hire someone solely for cover work or pin-ups. Also, you must include a signed copy of the Submissions Agreement if you are submitting any artwork featuring a character of your own creation.
Where to Send Them
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street
Consider carefully what you are sending. An editor wants to see that you can ink sequential art, not pinups. Five or six consecutive story pages is usually adequate. Include quiet scenes as well as action, utilize a wide variety of faces, figures (male, female, normal people as well as “super” characters, etc.), and well-realized settings. If you would like sample pages to ink, please send a large 11″x17″ self-addressed stamped envelope to:
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street
MIlwaukie, OR 97222
Where to Send Them:
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street
Milwaukie, OR 97222
1. SEQUENTIAL ART
Please submit at least 5 pages of sequential art. We would also be interested to see how you handle different types of storytelling. For instance, how would you color 5 pages of Hellboy as opposed to 5 pages of Usagi Yojimbo? Editors are looking for colorists who can work in many different styles and moods and accurately aid in telling a story through the use of color.
We can accept files in any standard format such as JPG, EPS, TIFF, etc. However, all files MUST be CMYK. Files can be either 72 dpi or 300 dpi and it’s recommended that file dimensions are no smaller that 7″ x 10″. Files may be supplied on CD or Zip disk. Please include a resume of past work history (if applicable) and a cover letter. Feel free to scan any black and white comics if you are in need of pages to use if you are in need of sample pages. An example of a popular black and white comic is Usagi Yojimbo.
Where to Send Them:
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street
MIlwaukie, OR 97222
1. SEQUENTIAL ART
Please submit at least 5 pages of story to show diversity of balloons and sound effects, as well as font choice. In addition, please show exmaples of italicized and bold text.
Please include examples of titles in your submissions. By titles, we mean story/story arc titles not logos.
We can accept files in any standard format such as JPG, EPS, TIFF, etc. Files can be either 72 dpi or 300 dpi and it’s recommended that file dimensions are no smaller that 7″ x 10″. Files may be supplied on CD or Zip disk. Please include a resume of past work history (if applicable) and a cover letter. We prefer black and white or grayscale submissions rather than color. It is easier to determine your skill if we aren’t distracted by coloring.
Where to Send Them:
c/o Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main Street
MIlwaukie, OR\\ 97222
• Do not send scripts or story proposals for any title currently being published by Dark Horse. Dark Horse’s agreements with its licensors and creators prohibit Dark Horse editors from reading such submissions. Such submissions will be destroyed unread.
• We do not publish page rates. If an editor is interested in working with you, you will work out a financial deal at that time.
• If a submitted project has an artist collaborator, samples of the artist’s continuity work (not just pin-ups or character illustrations) must be included.
• We accept proposals for both limited series as well as ongoing series.
• Do not send samples/proposals via facsimile (fax) or email. All such submissions will be destroyed without review.
• Do not make telephone follow-ups to check on the status of your submission. It is now Dark Horse’s policy to respond to submissions only if an editor wishes to hire the creator.
• Never send original art. Send photocopies only. Make sure the photocopies you send are clean and sharp and easy to “read.” Be sure that each page has your name, address, and phone number clearly written somewhere on it.
Dark Horse’s Portfolioi Prep 101 Tutorial
If you’re planning to show us your portfolio during a convention, PLEASE read through our Portfolio Prep 101 tutorial. It’s full of information on what our editors look for during portfolio reviews and it’s recommended that you follow these guidelines!
ARTIST’S PORTFOLIO REVIEW PREP CHECKLIST
Showing your work to an editor for the first time - especially in a convention setting - can be an exhausting, nerve-wracking event. It’s likely you’ll have to wait in line for several hours with other people who are vying for the same jobs as you, watching as, one by one, those in line ahead of you take their turn. By the time you reach the head of the line, you may be tired, hungry, or dying to use the restroom. You may be nervous, excited, or filled with dread - all natural reactions to being in a situation in which you’re submitting your work to a stranger for judgment. It’s not unusual to discover afterwards that you failed to voice all of the clever things you were going to say, or that all of the questions you had planned to ask were forgotten. (For this reason, you should write them down ahead of time and consult your list at the end of the review.)
Likewise, the editor may be tired as well. He or she has perhaps seen dozens of portfolios already that day and has repeated the same advice to probably ninety-nine percent of those who have come before you.
Put it all together and it’s a recipe for miscommunication, conflicting expectations, and possibly dashed hopes. Below are some steps you can take to create the best possible experience for both yourself and the editor, and to ensure that the hours you’ve put into preparing your work and waiting in line are worth the effort.
BEFORE YOU GET IN LINE, ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS HONESTLY:
Have you shown your work to:
• your parents?
• your friends?
• your teachers?
• and especially to professional artists attending the convention?
Has the consensus been that your work is of professional quality?
If the answers to those questions is no, then we strongly advise you not to go through the process of showing your work.
Consider this: an editor’s job is to find artists whose work is polished enough that they could start on a professional assignment today. An editor can look at your work and assess whether or not your samples demonstrate that you have what it takes to be a professional comics artist. If your work is not yet of professional caliber, most editors are not qualified to tell you specifically what you need to do to raise your skills to a professional level. They are project managers, not teachers.
Unless you have people honestly telling you that you’re working at a professional level, instead of wasting your time waiting in line for an editor to tell you that you’re not ready for professional work, avail yourself of the many professional artists that attend major conventions. Most will have their original work on display, and are often happy to discuss specific techniques, how they developed their skills, what kind of classes or schools they attended, etc.
Becoming a professional comics artist doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a lot of dedication and hard work. Until you’ve studied the craft and learned the essentials, you have nothing to gain by showing your work to an editor.
For many aspiring artists, showing ones work to an editor seems to have become an end in and of itself. Unfortunately, those artists are usually disappointed by the experience because they have not thought through what their goals should be when showing their work.
WHAT YOUR GOAL SHOULD BE IN SHOWING YOUR WORK:
To get a job drawing comics.
If your work is not yet of professional quality, you’re not ready for a job and should not be showing your work.
Treat the portfolio review experience like a job interview. Would you apply for a job as a brain surgeon if you weren’t already a qualified brain surgeon? Of course not. Comics artist is a job, just like any other, with its own set of necessary skills and qualifications. Come to the interview prepared to show that you’re qualified.
Now, if this is your first time showing your work, the odds are stacked against you walking away with an assignment, but you can still learn and benefit from the experience.
WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT:
Two to ten minutes of an editor’s time. Period.
The editor will look at your samples and discuss them with you. He or she will tell you what they like about what you’ve done, as well as areas they think you could improve upon. They may invite you to send them more samples in the future. There is a very, very slim chance that the editor will like your work enough that he or she may offer you a job on the spot, but don’t expect it. Look upon this as your first opportunity to develop a professional’s “thick skin.” Editors are often harried and tired at conventions, and they aren’t always at their best. If you receive brusque treatment, don’t take it personally. Keep in mind that the editor’s primary job is to find creators who are accomplished enough to take on an assignment right now - not a year from now. Most will give you a fair assessment of your work, but if you’re looking for advice on how to draw and/or a detailed critique, show your work to friends, family, teachers, and other artists, especially professional artists who are also attending the show.
WHAT TO BRING:
Five or six consecutive story pages showing panel-to-panel continuity.
Pick a story or sequence that shows your range: a quiet scene followed by an action scene; scenes that demonstrate how you handle a wide variety of subject matter, including regular people, street scenes, cars, buildings, trees, animals, etc. The more range you can demonstrate, the more likely you are to land a job. You may bring more work to show, but don’t count on the editor looking at every single page you’ve ever drawn. Show only what you feel to be your best work.
The script or plot from which you worked.
If you drew your story sequence from a written plot or script, bring it along. The editor may not ask for it, but if they want to compare what was asked for in the script with what you’ve drawn, you’ll be able to show them.
If you also plan to show inked work, bring good, readable copies of the pencilled pages.
If your inks aren’t of professional quality, you’re better off not showing them. Concentrate the review on what you do best. No editor expects you to be accomplished in every aspect of the field. Show only what you feel to be your best work.
If you wish to show pinups or other single-page illustrations, show them last - after your story pages.
While it’s true that editors hire artists to produce covers and the occasional pinup, the vast majority of work available for artists is drawing story pages (the average comic book has 22 pages of story and one cover). An editor needs to know you can tell a story with pictures. Show only what you feel to be your best work.
An envelope containing copies of the work you’re showing with your name and contact information on every single page.
The editor may or may not ask you to leave copies of your samples. If he or she does, you’ll be prepared.
At least six story pages showing panel-to-panel continuity.
Pick a story or sequence that shows your range; scenes that demonstrate how you handle a wide variety of subject matter, including regular people, street scenes, cars, buildings, trees, animals, etc. The more range you can demonstrate, the more likely you are to land a job. If possible, obtain pencils from a variety of artists of varying styles. Show only what you feel to be your best work.
Good, readable copies of the pencilled pages from which you worked.
An editor will absolutely want to compare your work with the original pencils.
An envelope containing copies of the work you’re showing (and copies of the pencils) with your name and contact information on every single page.
The editor may or may not ask you to leave copies of your samples. If he or she does, you’ll be prepared.
WHAT TO DO:
Use the time you spend in line to prepare.
Hopefully, you will have prepared your portfolio before ever getting into line for Portfolio Review, but while you’re waiting, take another look at it. Make sure that it is well organized and that the pages you wish to show are in the front of the portfolio and in the correct order. Talk to the people in line ahead of you and behind you. You’re going to be there awhile, so you may as well take advantage of each other’s knowledge and experience. Compare experiences, share tips, and critique one another’s work. It’s not altogether improbable that the person sitting next to you may one day be a fellow professional, a collaborator, or a helpful contact.
Treat the review session like a job interview.
You don’t have to dress up, but be neat and clean. Speak clearly. Make eye contact. Let the editor know you’re engaged in the process. Try to relax. If the editor didn’t want to look at your work, he or she wouldn’t be there.
Listen to what the editor has to say.
That’s the reason you’ve been waiting in line. Take notes if you want. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what point the editor is trying to make or the terminology he or she uses.
Let the review end when it’s over.
Yes, this is your big chance, but remember what we said about not setting your expectations too high. If the review session appears to be at an end and the editor has not offered you a job, it is permissible to ask him or her if they’d like to see more of your work (assuming you’ve brought more to show), or if you can send additional samples in the future. But don’t overstay your welcome. Other people are in line waiting for their turn.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Don’t apologize for your work.
If your portfolio is unorganized, or you don’t have any story pages to show, or the work is only half finished, then do apologize for wasting the editor’s time. However, if you’ve done your prep work and you’ve waited in line, let your work speak for itself and allow the editor to get on with the review.
Don’t defend your work.
Any comments the editor makes will be directed at specific aspects of your work, not you. Listen to the editor’s comments and try to learn from them. If an editor makes critical comments about your work, don’t try to “explain” them away. Those initial context-free reactions are valuable, because that is what a professional editor is honestly “seeing” when they’re looking at your work, regardless of what you intended. If you disagree with the editor’s assessment of your work, let it go. Find another editor to whom you can show your work. Arguing with an editor will not change their opinion of your capabilities, and it certainly won’t get you any closer to a job. Sure, some editors are jerks (just as some artists are), but there also exists the possibility that he or she knows what they’re talking about.
Don’t force copies of your work on the editor.
If the editor doesn’t ask you to leave copies of your work, take the hint. If you force the issue, the editor will most likely accept the copies, but they will end up in the garbage before the end of the convention.
Don’t call the editor after the convention.
The only time it is acceptable to phone an editor after showing them your samples is if they told you they had a job for you. Other than that, restrict your contact to mailing new sets of samples (for God’s sake, don’t send editors the same pages they saw at the convention unless they’ve asked you to!).
The most important thing to remember when showing your work to an editor is that this is your first contact with a new aspect of the comics industry. If you’ve been a life long comics fan, this is your opportunity to see things from the side of the people who create comics for a living. Even if it’s just for a few moments, you’ve been invited behind the scenes. Take advantage of the invitation, use the opportunity, and learn from the experience.
FOR WRITERSPosted by Tim Leong on March 20th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |
We’ve saved writers for last because, unfortunately, conventions are not ideal places to present stories or scripts to editors. Art can be looked at and evaluated in a few seconds; reading a script takes time - more time than an editor has available at a con. Writer’s guidelines can be found here.
George: It’s what’s for dinner
I’VE ALWAYS WANTED A TRAVELING PARTNER.
What’s Paris without a lover, the Vatican without a Catholic, Marquee without a wingman?
Lucky for them, commas often travel with a twin, just one of their fabulous features. The tiny buggers show up more than almost any punctuation mark, except perhaps the period, but rarely is the period misused — it goes at the end of the sentence. Or to show emphasis in a hip new way, like my friend Holly does. Then again, she is so. fucking. hip. But as far as proper grammar, which Holly also does quite well, the end of the sentence is the only place to put a period. There is similar, albeit longer, list of rules for commas, so why are they so often flouted?
For starters, writers often write how they talk, so they insert commas where there are natural pauses in speech. Fine. But when it’s each man for himself, what usually happens? Disaster. So we make rules and follow them, and we have order. For a grammar geek, also known as your editor, order is bliss. Therefore, I give you a few simple comma rules to follow to keep your editor happy and, more importantly, your reader clear-headed.
1. If you see a comma, look for its partner. Those pairs show up most often around years, months, states and appositives: On Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. See the cherry trees blossom in Washington, D.C., in the spring.
2. Commas set off nonessential parts of a sentence. These are parts of the sentence that (surprise) the sentence can stand on its own without: The car, which won’t start, is in the shop. My dog, who is sick, is at the vet. I saw your boyfriend, who cooks a great breakfast, out last night.
3. Keep commas out of compound objects. A compound object is when the subject is doing two things or when two things are being done to the subject: “They danced all night and exchanged phone numbers before they left the club.” In that sentence, the two things they did (dancing and exchanging) share the same subject, “they.”
4. Conversely, use commas to separate compound sentences. Not going to bog you down with grammar terms such as “independent clause” and “coordinating conjunction” (we’ll do that in a future column), so the simple explanation will do: Two sentences joined together by a short word such as and, but or so need a comma. “I drank too much on an empty stomach, so Saturday was a rough morning.”
5. Use commas to set off direct address. Direct address is using a person’s or character’s name at the beginning of a sentence in which the speaker is addressing them … directly. It’s the difference between “Let’s eat, George” and “Let’s eat George.”
6. Separate coordinate adjectives with commas. Coordinate adjectives is a fancy term for something that can be easily spotted by the biggest grammarphobe. Adjectives are coordinate when you can reverse the order in which they appear before the word they’re modifying and if you can insert “and” between them: “The stunning, armless woman got hit on all night.” A note, though: Adjectives referring to shape, color, race, age and material (SCRAM!) are never coordinate.
These are a few basic comma rules every writer should master; for more, The Associated Press’ Guide to Punctuation, an adorable book so tiny it can even fit in a clutch, devotes almost 20 pages to the subject.
The Grammar Guru always has a surprise up her sleeve, or, if the outfit calls for something strapless, in her clutch. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Posted by Tim Leong on March 18th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |