Blah Blah Blog: Submissions

A post from my old Marvel blog about dealing with art submissions.


April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

All right, here’s a question for discussion. And the good part is, you don’t actually need to deal with the situation; I do.

One of the things you deal with at a big company like Marvel is submissions. Especially during convention season, when we’ll do portfolio reviews, you come into contact with all sorts of people who’d like nothing better than to make comics professionally, and who’ve been working towards that goal.

And some of them aren’t very good.

Ask any editor who’s been in the business for any length of time: there’s always that one moment when somebody shows you their stuff, it’s amateurish enough and the person is old enough that you just absolutely know that they’re never going to be able to make a living drawing comics.

What do you say to these people? That’s the question. Some editors are brutally honest, which doesn’t win you any friends. (Heck, some guys will hold a grudge for years even if you’ve given them a legitimate critique.) But the theory is that, rather than expending this much energy on a dream they have no Earthly chance of reaching, by being honest with the submitter, you’re giving them the opportunity to channel that energy elsewhere, into something more productive.

The school of thought on the opposite end of the spectrum is that you try to be encouraging to everyone, regardless of their talent level, giving them advice on how they can improve what they’re doing even though they don’t have the faintest chance of becoming a professional. This can be difficult to do as well, because some of these would-be creators are certain that they’re a lot closer than they really are, and want to hear about the secret clubhouse handshake, rather than that they need to study anatomy and perspective. (I’m putting this all in terms of artists, because it’s easier that way, but the same thing applies to prospective writers—moreso, in fact, because just about everybody breathing thinks they have what it takes to be a writer.)

This was all brought to mind a little bit before the holidays, as I was contacted by a creator looking to get into the business. He was sent my way by another editor with whom he’d been corresponding for many months. And he had all the enthusiasm in the world, but he’s just not ready to be doing professional work for Marvel. This other Marvel editor fobbed him off my way—and now I need to decide what I’m going to tell him.

So that’s the bag right there. Discuss.

More later.

Tom B

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