Although my comic creating guide is in the main primarily aimed at writers rather than artists, be aware of these principles…
1) Have you submitted strip work to the title of your choice, as well as illustrations? In general, when you submit artwork to a company (British or American), they want to see at least three to four continuous pages – that is, a continuing story. They don’t want to see splash pages or covers.
Your whole package should be roughly eight to twelve pages long, so they can look at it quickly and get a good idea of what you do. The most important thing an editor is looking for is your ability to tell a story. The next thing they’re going to look for is your ability to draw a car, a telephone, a tree, a house, a couch, and so on. Basically, they’re looking to see if you can draw. People are the last thing they’ll look at; an editor assumes that if you want a job in comics, you can already draw people. But if you can draw anything else, put it in your samples ? let them see it.
2) Have you read the comic you’re trying to get work on? Do you know what makes the character you’re writing/drawing tick?
3) Have you submitted work to a company featuring that company’s characters? No-one at Rebellion, publishers of 2000AD, wants to see how well you can draw Spider-Man, for example, and no-one at Marvel wants to see Judge Dredd. Tailor your submissions according to which company you’re selling yourself to.
4) Have you submitted photocopies? Never send original work. It is almost never returned.
5) When you send something to a comics company, include a covering letter telling them who you are, where you’re from and thank the addressee for looking at your samples. Hopefully, they’ll have time to respond although the big companies receive hundreds of submissions a day. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to include a stamped addressed envelope or International Reply Coupons if sending material to the United States. Any response is good, although most US companies now return material as a matter of course to avoid potential claims against them for ripping off characters.
6) Always include your name, address and telephone number on each sample and each page that you send in. In a busy editorial office it’s very easy for a covering letter to become separated from the art? it happened to me on a couple of occasions and this is frustrating, not just for the aspiring creator!
7) Presenting art at conventions: Artist Dave Gibbons’ advice is: “Leave the sketchbooks and most of the pin-ups at home. Take a few (maybe six) finished pages showing continuity and a couple of un-inked pages. Don’t bother lettering them unless you can do it to professional standard. Make sure its your latest, best work. And never, ever, apologise for it!”
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.