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Portfolio Advice: A View from the Editor’s Chair for Comics Artists

Here’s my guide on what a comics editor might like to see in your comic portfolio when you present it at a convention. You might also like to take a look at this guidance on what you should – and shouldn’t – include in your art portfolio when you’re showing it around at comic conventions. There is some advice from independent comic creator Pete Ashton here about presenting yourself to an editor; and more advice here from Marcia Allas and Matt Brooker.

Both writers and artists agonize over their work and many fine tune it a lot before delivering it to an editor. That’s a welcome sign of a professional approach, but it is possible to go too far.

An editor should appreciate a script that is well laid out and also follows any company stipulated layout if the publisher has one. They also appreciate good spelling.

My next point is a bit harder to explain, but I hope it makes sense. Ever since my days at Marvel, we often encountered a situation where an artist had delivered a draft or layout that instinctively worked well in terms of comics storytelling – and then ruined it in the final pencils by ‘overpolishing’ the art.

In some cases, especially on comics work, this means a page becomes a piece of art rather than a piece of storytelling – the energy and dynamism of the artist that inspired you to employ the artist was lost.

Sometimes, your first, gut instincts when it comes to drawing or writing are often the best. Too much re-working can stifle raw creativity.

About John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John describes himself as is a "freelance comics operative" who is 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 25 years, starting out at Marvel UK, where he edited a number of the Genesis 1992 books with Paul Neary, including DEATH'S HEAD II and WARHEADS. At Marvel he wrote strips for THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, THUNDERCATS, DOCTOR WHO and co-created SHADOW RIDERS with Brian Williamson and Ross Dearsley. 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. He has written comics for Marvel UK, Judge Dredd Megazine, Lucky Bag Comic, CGL (an Italian publisher), STRIP Magazine and ROK Comics; and edited some of Titan's British comics collections including Dan Dare and Charley's War. 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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