Ask a Pro

edited January 2013 in The Toolbox
Because you demanded it! (Or asked politely about it.)  It's the return of the "Ask a Pro" thread, @Jay_Latimer!

Have a question that only someone with actual pro experience can answer properly?  You're in luck, because we have a bunch of those here, who've worked in many parts of the comics industry.  Remember: the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.  (Well... or "Where do you get your ideas?")


  • Hey thanks! (I guess I'm obligated to ask a question now?) 

    This query is for those of you who've been published by Image or one of the other Indy publishers. 

    I have a new comic project roughed out, a tongue-in-cheek GGA super-heroine saga that is intended mostly to be funny, but with some pointed commentary on international relations / gender roles / etc. slipped in. I’m not an artist myself, but will have one of the artists I work with draw it. 

    Some questions: 

    I’d like to submit it to one of the indy comic publishing houses, but instead of just floating the concept I’d prefer to complete the whole first issue or two, which stand on their own anyway. Would I be better off submitting the first two completed books, or submitting just the script and concept drawings and a few finished art pages so the potential publishers have a chance to put in their 2 cents worth before everything is finalized? (I do have a portfolio of completed comics so they can see that I've done this before) 

    What rating should I shoot for to get the biggest audience? I'm really not up to speed on current comics, but when I do go to a comic shop there's usually an "adult" area that has lots of dark-looking violent comics with sex scenes. I'd kinda hate to be relegated there. 

    Any other suggestions on things I should do to tie things up before submitting the proposal? 

  • edited January 2013
    First off, do the comic that you want to do.

    If you want publishers to put in their 2 cents then aim for the WFH (Work For Hire) club where editors / publishers will hammer that round peg into a square hole.

    Second, as for Image... they have submission guidelines on their site.  They don't need an entire issue for a pitch, but if that's what you submit then they'll take that, too.  As always, it depends on what they see / read on the page.

    I will say this (it's in Image's guidelines) they do not want a written pitch /script with some concept art.  They want to see sequential book format art which proves you know what a finished comic looks like.

    I am saying this as advice to new comers.  Established writers / creators / artists / et. might find other paths to an Image deal.  Some have pitched their work on a handshake, over the phone, or at a con.  Everyone at Image (and the various studios) have a story to tell about just *how* they got a deal.

    Personally, (not speaking as a pro) I would just do what you like and then find the audience / publisher for it.  If it's going to push the envelope then that publisher might be *you* -- putting it online or selling POD copies at conventions, et.

  • @Jimmie_Robinson, thanks for the excellent advice. Of course you're right - if I'm not doing the comic I want it kind of defeats the whole purpose of indy publishing. 

    Showing my inexperience (again) I'm not sure I understand what you mean in aiming for the "WFH (Work For Hire) club"? Are you saying that I would be the WFH guy with my script getting hammered by the editors? Or is there some WFH group of artists out there that insiders know about? 

    At any rate  think your last advice is best. I'll just do my thing and let the chips fall where they may. If the publishers don't go for I can always sell it myself. 
  • There's also the question of what your artist is willing to do before y'all have anything lined up. If I'm trying to land a back-end deal, I usually ask the artist to just do 4-6 full pages, as that's generally what most publishers require.

    For your never hurts to have as much script in the can as possible before bringing on a publisher/artist. Some people see that as inefficient/spec work, and it can be; I wouldn't do it if I was on deadlines for other work, but if it's just me in a vacuum, I like being as ready to go as possible before other people come in. It frees up time/mind to selling the property, promotion, rewrites etc.

    (And on a sketchy note, if you don't tell anyone how much script you've already done, you look damn fast when it's time for you to "write" the script, haha)
  • @Jay_Latimer
    Jimmie's just talking about creators who work on company-owned books, whose editors have no shortage of feedback. There is no actual "club" for them (even though there should be).

    If you're hoping to get your comic carried in comics shops, I'd keep the content R-rated or "lower".  Due to the fear of prosecutors trying to get reelected, and puritans trying to apply their standards to everyone, a lot of shops won't touch comics that go beyond just T&A.  On the other hand, if you distribute it yourself (either publishing it online or selling direct to readers) you can do whatever you want.
  • edited January 2013
    Thanks Josh and Jason - @joshhechinger great advice about getting the script done up front. Even if it never gets done it's worth the effort. 

    @JasonAQuest thanks for the comment - I'd hate to be persecuted by puritans! 
  • Being persecuted by puritans is a life-goal of mine. :)
  • I have recently been advised that my pitches are too big. Too many pages--stuff I've send out lately has been at least a full issue worth of material. I know that Shadowline, for example, does not want to see pitches bigger than six pages.

    That said, when we pitched Sixsmiths we sent thirty odd pages. If your potential publisher is looking for OGN length works you can get away with more, but again, if they expect their editorial to have some input (as SLG did) they don't want to see too much
  • Jason: Persecution by, or successful conversion of?
  • Oh, I'll never be able to convert them.  But being persecuted is how I know I'm living my life the right way.  Ask any puritan. :)
  • Question:
    What's the best software for making a comic book trailer for online promotion?
  • @Jimmie_Robinson You mean to make a video trailer for a comic?

    Whatever you have available and know how to use.

    I know that sounds like a cheating answer, but it's the truth. If you're on a Mac and have iMovie installed, use it. Same goes for Windows Movie Maker (um, do they still bundle that? I have no idea ...). You could use Flash, or Anime Studio, or Final Cut, or whatever, but again, use what is easiest and cheapest (freest) for you.
  • Yeah, the learning curve for iMovie is pretty smooth.  Of course that's assuming that you have content (video, animation, whatever) to assemble into a movie.  That new app from Smith-Micro (Motion Artist) might prove useful in turning art into semi-animated clips.
  • I teach drawing in an animation program -- when I get around to needing something in flash or toonboom  I'll corral some kids who know what they're doing.

  • I've been advised by multiple people, not to try to pitch anything too grand (or to conceal the true scope of a project until you have a bona fide hit; to wait until the publisher is clamoring for more before you reveal that you have three years worth of "sequels" planned for that "mini-series" you pitched). So here's my question: what is the ideal length for a new creator with very few credits to pitch? Have people noticed a tendency of publishers (I'm thinking Image, Dark Horse and Archaia here) to favor four, five or six issues?
  • Archaia only does OGNs now, too, I believe. They might maybe serialize it as chapters on Comixology for some books, but for print, it's just OGNs.
  • Image doesn't care, Dark Horse prefers 4 issues right now.

    That said, I think it's wise to design your thing, even if it's long, so that you can end at six if need be. Better to give a satisfying if premature ending than leave people hanging.
  • Yeah, if the publisher pulls the plug before you can put an ending on a creator-owned story, a segment of the readers will see you as "the creator who doesn't finish his stories", rather than blaming the publisher (or retailers or other readers) for it.

    (This is why I'm sitting on my epic 12-issue life-of-Jesus adaptation... I need to figure out a way to do it in 4-6 issues instead, because leaving the protagonist hanging would totally change the story.)
  • Exactly.

    I had to cut one series from 4 issues down to 3 because sales were so bad on it that it would die before the end.  I opted to *finish* the story rather than play it out as originally intended.
  • I think it's best to have a "nuclear option" in your computer to end the story in a single issue if need be.

    @JasonAQuest sorry for the unsolicited advice but have you thought of telling the story from the P.O.V. of a fictional narrator who is close to Jesus but whom you could kill at any time if sales are bad?
  • edited January 2013
    Interesting idea, but it wouldn't fit with the goals of the project.  Rather than derail this discussion, I'll elaborate a little on the sleepy work log for this imprint.
  • Question: Colouring query chaps - I currently use Corell painter for colour, will likely swap over to Manga Studio 5 when the EX version arrives in the summer. But my problem is finding a way to convert RGB files into CMYK without breaking a sweat or the bank balance [no photoshop] . Any ideas/ software suggestions? [I'm on Mac but have both OS and Win installs - much rather stay in mac though.]

    Also, is there a decent article/book on colour profiles for mac - a bit of a mystery to me currently.

    Many thanks!
  • @jorgefmunoz - I thought that didn't work anymore- but it worked a treat, thanks Jorge problem solved. :)
  • Question: Colouring query chaps - I currently use Corell painter for colour, will likely swap over to Manga Studio 5 when the EX version arrives in the summer. But my problem is finding a way to convert RGB files into CMYK without breaking a sweat or the bank balance [no photoshop] . Any ideas/ software suggestions? [I'm on Mac but have both OS and Win installs - much rather stay in mac though.]

    Also, is there a decent article/book on colour profiles for mac - a bit of a mystery to me currently.

    Many thanks!
    I believe Manga Studio allows you to specify conversion to CMYK if you export as a TIFF, and even specify a colour profile if you want to.

    As for the mystery of colour profiles -- don't worry about it. Just ask whoever's printing the work what profile they want and give 'em that. It's all I ever do!


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