That’s only part of the story for breaking in as a comic book writer, artist, or business professional. To learn about the complete process, check out my book “Creating Comics from Start to Finish.”
Many comic book publishers do not want to be inundated with submission packages. As of this writing, Marvel Comics has a line on their submissions page that reads “…and if you have the right stuff…we’ll find you.”
Breaking into comics is a real challenge for creators, particularly writers. Every year, I host panels at New York Comicon where I ask comic and book editors to offer advice about breaking in. Just about every comix editor wants the same thing from aspiring artists, which is sequential comic book work. You need to submit more than pinups and sketches. Nothing proves that you can make comics like making actual sequential comics.
If you’re interested in breaking into Marvel Comics, check out this interview I did with Joe Quesada, chief creative officer at Marvel.
For writers, it’s even more difficult, since an editor can’t review your work at a convention. So creating a comic, having it drawn, and getting it published will give you an edge with editors. I know, I know, it’s a chicken-or-egg thing of “I need something published to get something published,” but there are always small publishers and Kickstarter to help you get your first project off the ground.
If you want to work in comic books as a professional, learn about the industry and the publishers you are targeting. Buy (never pirate) the comics they publish, which will help them stay in business as you break in as a pro.
Here’s a list of submission guidelines by publisher. Bookmark this and check back. I’ll keep it updated. If you see a broken link, let me know.
The Big Two: DC and Marvel Submission Guidelines
There’s a reason Marvel and DC are considered “the Big Two.” By sheer sales numbers, they dominate the newsstand and the direct market (comic shops). Marvel and DC tend to be difficult to break into because they have highly desirable superhero characters. For many writers and artists, Marvel and DC are their fantasy dream job. This isn’t true for all creators, but when you go to conventions and see the lines for portfolio review, you know that a lot of people want to get paid to draw and write their characters. I’ve written Deadpool and other comics for Marvel Comics and will tell you that it is a lot of fun.
Publisher of Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Sandman, Preacher, Teen Titans, Green Lantern, Mad Magazine, Vertigo titles, and many others.
For Mad Magazine: http://www.madmagazine.com/submissions-form
Publisher of Spider-Man, The X-Men, Avengers, Daredevil, Iron Man, Hulk, Deadpool, Wolverine, Captain America, Ghost Rider, Thor, The Ultimates, and many others.
Large Independent Publishers Submission Links
There are quite a few top independent publishers, and you can debate who they are. Some of them are so large and established that it may not be accurate to call them “indy publishers.” But this is why they are part of the elite “large independent publishers” section. This list is completely subjective and you should feel free to challenge my listings in the comments section below.
Publisher of Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, Sonic, Afterlife With Archie, and other comic books and supermarket digests.
Publisher of Crossed, Robocop, Friday the 13th, Night of the Living Dead, and many others.
Publisher of 3 Guns, Adventure Time, Peanuts, Planet of the Apes, Irredeemable, and many others.
Dark Horse Comics
Publisher of Hellboy, Star Wars, Buffy, Conan, Buffy, Grendel, Terminator, Ghost, and many others.
Publisher of Bionic Man, Battlestar Galactica, Project Superpowers, Shadow, Flash Gordon, Green Hornet, and many others.
Publisher of Love & Rockets, Hate, Acme Novelty Library, Eightball, and many others.
Publisher of Kiss, Locke & Key, Transformers, GI Joe, My Little Pony, Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and many others
Publisher of Walking Dead, Invincible, Spawn, Savage Dragon, Chew, Kabuki, Dead @ 17, Saga, Youngblood, and many others.
Top Cow Entertainment
Publisher of Witchblade, Darkness, Cyberforce, and others (part of Image Comics).
Publisher of X-O Manowar, Archer and Armstrong, Quantum and Woody, Harbinger, and other comic books.
Indy Comic Book, Graphic Novel, and Book Publishers Submission Guidelines
Some of the most interesting and creative comic books are being published by independent (indy) publishers. Even though many of these publishers are smaller in total number of titles, they may be the perfect way for you to get your foot in the door, if you want to make comics.
Many of us broke into comics through indy publishers willing to take a chance on a new writer or artist. My first published work as a comic writer was all through independent publishers.
Not all comic book publishers have clear guidelines for submission, especially independent publishers. In that case, the links I include here may drive you to an About page or a Contact page. If I haven’t found anything else, I will send you to the home page.
Remember, not all small indy publishers are prepared to publishing anything beyond their own projects, so do your research.
As with any publishing submission, read a few issues of comics that they have already published. You can get a sense for their publishing strategy by reviewing upcoming releases. Get as much information as you can about a publisher before reaching out with your comic book ideas.
Also, know yourself. Do you need to get paid to make comics? If making an income from comics, understand that a small indy comic publisher may not be able to meet your needs. Research your options carefully to determine the best creative and business fit for you.
Publisher of Casefile Arkham, World War Kaiju
Publisher of The Ride, Body Bags, 25 to Life, Boondock Saints, R.P.M.
Flutter, Black River, & Breakneck
Publisher of Judge Dredd.
Publisher of comics, prose books, and non fiction books, including Futurians.
Publisher of Femforce and other comic books.
Publisher of comics and digital comics.
Publisher of Fubar, The Chair & Mother Russia
Publisher of Gold Digger, Ninja High School, Airship Enterprise, and others.
Publisher of Kade, Isis, and other comic books.
Publisher of Fathom, Shrugged, Charismagic, and other comic books.
Black Mask Studios
Publisher of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, Space Riders, Ballistic
Blank Slate Books
Publisher of Psychiatric Tales, Nelson, & The Silver Darlings
Publisher of Die Kitty Die, Captain Canuck, Life Death & Sorcery, Agents of P.A.C.T.
Publisher of Cla$$war and other comic books.
Comics Experience Publishing
Packages comics for IDW & educational resources
Digital publishing distributor
Publisher of The Standard, Oxymoron, & educational resources
Devil’s Due Entertainment
Publisher of Mercy Sparx and other comic books.
Drawn & Quarterly
Publisher of many graphic novels.
Publisher of zombie comics by Bill Jemas. (Out of business.)
Evil Kat Comics
Publisher of Vampire Books for Blood and Manchester Unbreakable
Publisher of Hero Hotel, Identity Thief, Penguins vs Possums, Quince, & The Gamma Girls
Graphix (imprint of Scholastic Books)
Publisher of Bone, Amulet, Smile, Ghosts, Baby-Sitters Club, Bad Island
http://www.scholastic.com/GraphixContest/about.htm (Submissions guidelines & submissions contest)
Heavy Metal Magazine
Publisher of Heavy Metal magazine and many graphic novels.
Publisher of Flare, Lady Arcane, Icicle, Murcielaga She-Bat
Hocus Pocus Comics
Publisher of Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allen Poe, Elevator, Houdini’s Silver Dollar Misfits
Publisher of American Bison, Convoy of Corpses, Hang Low Aim High, Hollow Girl
Publisher of Antitheis, Flesh of White, Roadkill Du Jour
Publisher of Skip to the End, Clockwork Lives, The Baker Street Four
Publisher of graphic novels including Poorcraft, Letters of Lucardo, Smut Peddler Presents, Shadoweyes
Publisher of The Fifth Beatle, Tin Tin, and other graphic novels.
Level 8 Comics
Publisher of Brethren Born
Publisher of Knight Rider, Airwolf, and other comics.
Publisher of Lexian Chronicles and other comic books.
Publisher of Kolchak, Mandrake, and other comics.
Publisher of ComicsLit, Boneyard, and other graphic novels.
Publisher of The Legend of Bold Riley, Rise, & A Waste of Time
Publisher of New-Gen anthology comic
Publisher of Dread Gods, Demi-GOD, Beasts of the Black Hand, Ominous Press: Legendary
Publisher Scott Pilgrim, Queen & Country, Courtney Crumrin, Wasteland, The Sixth Gun
Red Anvil Comics
Publisher of The Mighty Titan, Owlgirls, Cyberines, Mazscara
Red Giant Enterprises
Publisher of Exposure, The First Daughter, Markiplier
Publisher of Neozoic, Seven Percent, Versus
Publisher of The Sea is Ours, Echo Gear, DayBlack, Stories for Chip
Publisher of Henchgirl, Solarman, Girron
Self Made Hero
Publisher of An Olympic Dream, The Boxer, Filmish, Aama, Klaxon
Publisher of Halo and Sprocket, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, and other comics.
Source Point Press
Publisher of Norah, Holliston, The Rot, Torso Bear
Team Girl Comic
Publisher of anthology featuring women creators
Publisher of comic books and graphic novels.
Tidal Wave Comics (formerly Bluewater Comics)
Publisher of Logan’s Run, 10th Muse, and biographical comic books.
Publisher of Albion, Charley’s War, & licensed properties.
Top Shelf Productions
Publisher of Box Office Poison, Owly, Blankets, and many others.
Publisher of science fiction, horror, and fantasy books and graphic novels.
Publisher of comics history, comics journalism, and other fan publications.
Publisher of Dark Souls II, Persona 4, and art books for video games and manga characters
Publisher of Elfquest
Publisher of Twilight & Maximum Ride.
Publisher of Grimm Fairy Tales and other comic books.