|The first unassuming cover by Matt Bingham
for the comics zine that helped me
get into comics publishing. Subscribers
included Alan Moore.
Download a cbr of the issue
Regular readers will be aware, we hope, that our main downthetubes site features some guides to Breaking Into Comics, espcially on the writing side.
I recently had a few more requests than usual for tips on how to find work in the comics industry. It isn’t easy, especially with the industry being quite small these days, at least in the UK, but here are some thoughts and suggestions…
• Post your strips online on a blog (which can be done for free) and see if they attract interest in your work
• Create and publish your own fanzine with your own strips (and perhaps some from other people you know) and sell it locally and via the above-mentioned blog (use Paypal), or get to nearby Comic Marts or events and try sell them there (all of which I did to get myself known several years ago). Your magazine doesn’t have to be in colour (although a colour cover wil help) and you don’t have to print many (because you won’t sell many – it’s about getting yourself known!)
• Get along to a comic convention – there are several across the UK through the year and we list them on DTT. Meet fellow creators and pick their brains. Show editors your work.
• Make sure that the portfolio you show editors includes only a small selection of your best work (and I do mean best work – if you feel you wouldn’t pay to read it, it doesn’t qualify!); make sure that if you want to show it to 2000AD, for example, you include a page of art featuring a 2000AD character; include samples of pencils and inks; and make sure the samples are comic strip, not full page illustrations (with editors it’s more about seeing you can tell a story rather than ‘can you draw’?)
• Listen to the feedback; learn from it. If an editor likes the work, get their details and then send copies of what they were shown once you get home, plus a couple of new pages, saying how much you enjoyed meeting that editor and that you hope the new samples have taken on board the advice you were given
• If you don’t hear anything within six weeks, send a follow up, polite email asking if the editor has had a chance to look at the samples and that you’re still keen to get the chance to draw
• Build your relationships with any audience you have built up through your blog and fanzine, develop your own audience. (Think about using Facebook and Twitter to maintain your personal marketing)
Quality will out in any industry but as with most things, breaking into comics is 10 per cent inspiration, 90 per cent perspiration…
• Check out downthetubes.net for other practical and hopefully useful advice. Our Writers Guide is here
The founder of downthetubes, which he established in 1998. John works as a comics and magazine editor, writer, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. He is currently editor of Star Trek Explorer, published by Titan – his third tour of duty on the title originally titled Star Trek Magazine.
Working in British comics publishing since the 1980s, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Babylon 5 Magazine, and more. 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 “Pilgrim: Secrets and Lies” for B7 Comics; “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood.