Pitching Art Samples – A Comic Editor’s Notes

Lost Fleet - Corsair #3 Cover A by Alex Ronald
Lost Fleet – Corsair #3 Cover A by Alex Ronald

As regular downthetubes readers know, I’m currently editing a couple of comics projects for Titan Comics, (Lost Fleet – Corsair #3, a military SF title based on and written by the novelist John Hemry, as Jack Campbell, is on sale today in all good comic shops).

This has prompted some talented creators out there to pitch me some samples of their art. Thank you. But before you join them, here’s my guide to what I like to see in any comics sample package. It might not be the same guidance you’ll get from other editors, but it’s my preferences… I hope this is helpful.

1) I edit comics. I want to see sequential pages – three minimum, five maximum.

2) It doesn’t matter if the work you send me is material featuring characters I’m not working on, but make it your very best work. Be absolutely ruthless about what you send and make sure it’s your best. (If you were sending to a specific publisher that accepts unsolicited submissions, only send them samples of their characters. The editor of 2000AD, for example, does not what to see how well you draw Spider-Man).

3) Personally, I prefer it if you send a pencil sample and an ink sample. A lot of publishers don’t use separate inkers these days but it’s useful to see the stages of your work

4) If you have a colour version of the sample, send that, too.

5) Jim Campbell (letterer extraordinaire) usefully suggested putting at least one page of ‘mundane’ conversation in a normal setting in your samples. “… Editors see lots of pages with people getting punched through walls, but two people talking in coffee shop? That stuff is HARD to draw.

“See also: cars, horses, hands and feet. An editor can spot a mile off if you’re avoiding drawing specific things because they’re difficult.”

6) If you’re an inker, I’d say you need to send the original pencils – pointing out that you aren’t the penciller! – as well as the inks you’ve done. That way the publisher can see what you had to work with. Some publishers shy from using a penciller-inker combination these days but US publishers such as Marvel and DC still use the system

7) You can send me illustration samples if you want to pitch for cover work but if you do, look at what I’m editing (currently, Lost Fleet and Doctor Who). Getting a cover commission is not easy and there are a lot of hoops that anyone doing covers has to jump through. It might not just be down to an editor’s decision.

8) Send low res .jpgs or a PDF. Don’t send massive TIFFS or other formats! Don’t just send a link to an online sample page

9) DO Include information on who you are,what you have worked on, if you are being currently published and your contact info (email, web, social media links). I share samples with other editors – they might not know you as well as I might.

10) Do let me know if you are a) happy for me to share your samples with other editors b) happy for me to post your samples on my social media

Send them via the contact address on downthetubes. Include “Art Samples” in your message subject, please.

I am NOT currently reading unsolicited scripts, pitches or other text-based submissions – sorry.

For more about portfolio presentation, check out this article on downthetubes

For more about pitching to editors at conventions, have a look at this feature

John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative", currently working as a freelance editor for TITAN COMICS, as Creative Consultant on the new DAN DARE audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the LAKES INTERNATIONAL COMIC ART FESTIVAL and LANCASTER COMICS DAY. John has worked in British comics publishing for over 30 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary. His numerous credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine at Marvel and Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine at Titan Magazines, where he was Managing Editor. He also edited STRIP Magazine and worked as an editor on several audio comics for ROK Comics, including TEAM M.O.B.I.L.E. and THE BEATLES STORY. Most recently he is writing CRUCIBLE as a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and DEATH DUTY and SKOW DOGS with Dave Hailwood for the digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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