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.

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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