Comics Creators

Can we still submit stories/art outside of the annual?


Hey, so I know the winners have been chosen and that Mark is doing his Annual Competition each year but is there still a way to submit our work outside of this time period? I ask because with our signing the Submission Agreement form it’s worded in such a way within the legalese that it makes me think that it includes all future submissions and not just for the Annual.

Also, besides the annual competition, couldn’t we have some our submissions considered as short backup stories within the books published each month, or perhaps on the MillarWorld website? The Annual is of course a great outlet but, as was witnessed by the sheer number of submissions received, it need not be the only source of exposing new and emerging talent.

In any case I am very grateful to Mark for making this opportunity for future creators. I wish companies like Marvel or DC were as generous and willing as he is. So, God bless him for his effort to help us future creators out. I’m just hoping to have a chance to get my work seen somehow. Having so many entries like the Annual did with such a limited amount of open slots makes it seem impossible though.

Personally speaking, I know I’ve got the craft of writing a comic story down well, because I’ve put the time into studying from the pros. And, I know I have a good storytelling sense because I believe I write with an artists eye and not just with words or ideas. Also, I have had the privilege in the past of being the winner of Wizard Magazines “Last Man Standing” contest. I believe I am at a level to be doing professional work, it’s really just a case of finding the right opportunity and character/story to write.

For my entry in the annual I chose to write a character that probably received one of the greatest number of entries (Hit-Girl) but I had some other ideas for the other books that I wanted to submit but couldn’t because of the limit. That’s why I’m wondering for both my and the other creators sake if we could submit stories for consideration outside of the annual.

Thanks to all for any feedback on this topic.




From my understanding it’s a once a year thing, and that’s it. I can see this being the case for a few reasons.
The sheer amount of work that went into reading and choosing the stories for the annual would be very hard to commit to for editors involved, I imagine. Yes, there would be less entries at any one time, but a continuous stream would be very labour intensive and I can see Mark and Co not having the time nor resources to do this.
Mark pays his creators. That is something he has morally chosen to do. I am quite sure if he had not offered any page rates many of us still would have taken him up on the offer (we do this to create comics, after all). No matter how successful Mark is and continues to be, the ongoing income needed for him to pay an editorial team to look at submissions, chase up creators and pay both creators and additional staff would increase his costs greatly.

I think the annual submission is a great idea. It keeps creators hungry and gives them more time to hone their craft in order to level up and try for a spot the next year. It is a very rare thing to be offered and think we should all be very grateful that Mark gives us all this opportunity.


You’re right, Benjum. I can definitely see it being expensive.


The annual is annual (surprise!). Outside of that Mark can’t even look at submissions. The legality of intellectual property is a minefield and anyone can claim Mark took ideas from their work without permission and cause all sorts of headaches. Even looking at unsolicited artwork can be trouble if a character design ends up looking similar to a new character Mark may create. So the easiest solution is to not look at stuff. It’s one of those situations where the arseholes can ruin it for everyone - like most laws!

As such we required the legal agreements for every entry, but you specified what that contract covered on the first page - it’s not a blank sheet for everything as that wouldn’t be the proper thing to do for your rights. So you’re only covered for your Hit-Girl (or whatever) short story, or the three pages you covered for your submission.

Mark won’t be doing backup strips or anything outside of the annual for the forseeable future. Also, Marvel and DC don’t want to see stuff either, for the same reasons. However, there are lots of other publishers out there welcoming new talent, many many board members have had success with that route. Honestly if you’re new you shouldn’t focus on Marvel or DC. It’s like coming out of highschool and trying to get an NFL team to sign you. Not going to happen without a track record of exceptional skill. Small time before big time - look at mark’s own history to see what a journey it can end up being.

With all that being said, feel free to post and make yourself known in the creative section. It’s set aside specifically for that purpose, and Mark also avoids it so he doesn’t see anything he shouldn’t. We also have other ways here to get your talent out there.

The best thing you can do however is start your own website and direct people there. Can’t stress how important that is, particularly considering it’s pretty much free to create a nice site displaying your work.


Yes and to add to Jim’s comments 2000ad have re-opened their submissions for Future Shocks which were temporarily closed when their backlog built up too much.

Their advice on short stories applies equally to what we have been doing with the annual. Well worth reading even if you don’t submit a story.

Spot on, nobody in this process, apart from the winning entries and any letterers/colourists used, is earning a penny. We read all the submissions in our spare time, Mark had to take some time out of his writing, and any profit the final product may make is being given away.

It would be nice to do more but even outside the legal issues Jim mentions there are limitations on people’s time and effort.


That’s great about FutureShocks, I had no idea, thanks so much for letting us know.


Much as I’d love for my story to be seen, I actually really agree with this. If I had’ve won, I’d feel a bit gypped that a runner-up else got to be published in Hit-Girl (or whatever)! It diminishes the prize if it’s handed out to too many, and especially if the secondary prize is better than the first prize!

That said, regarding the legalese, is anyone opposed to writers giving their entirely tov artists on the boards and posting the results? I know these are Mark’s characters and we’ve given him the rights to use our work, but does that technically mean we can’t turn the into ‘fan-art’?

NB: Can’t believe you guys were doing thus for free; this just gets more and more ludicrous. All I can say is ‘thanks,’ but ‘Thanks!’


Step One: Get money.

Step Two: Submit script.

Questions? See Step One.

There is basically no longer any such thing as “an unsolicited manuscript”. That’s quite 1940. This is not at all How Things Work and has not been for a long, long time.

So, what to do?

Write. Write until your fingers fall off, just like mine did and Mark’s did and Neal Adams did and everybody else. Yes, it is much more difficult than it appears! That’s why it’s magic! Get to know people. Go outside. Use social media. Participate on this here board like everybody else is more important than you. Give away samples. Get arrogant. Develop the facility to write anywhere under any circumstances. Never fall in love with your own work. The whole other half of the game is making other people ask you to write. Appreciative readers are very rare; value them.


If we have to settle for just an annual that is better than nothing. I hate to seem like a complainer or ungrateful because that’s not it. What it is, is frustration at how the comic book industry is like this secret club where you’ve got to know the special handshake, nod, pat on the back, password etc, oh and you only get one try for the first 100 people to find this secret location.

Mark understood that for this industry to survive it’s got to be more receptive to new creators. The thing is, though, most often the industry has an open door policy to artists and the storytellers/writers are treated like Jehovah Witnesses that people don’t even want to come to the door to see. How is this industry going to last another 50- 70+ years if we don’t start fostering the future Stan Lee’s and not just the Jim Lee’s?

Yet for an industry that is so hard to get your foot in the door, it is not the end all, be all for people’s entertainment. A below average, crappy, critically jeered movie at the weekend box office still trumps the average Wednesday comic that kicks its ass backwards and forwards in terms of art and story. That’s sad, but true. The point I’m making though is the comic book industry has this avante garde/elitist attitude when it comes to hiring new talent. The film industry meanwhile, year after year ushers in all kinds of new faces on tv and the big screen.

It’s like the comic book industry wants to employ only “those who have proven themselves” and even when these creators are dying out, they still think there is going to be enough of them left around 50 years from now just like the characters they draw or write. Even the Schwarzeneggers, Willis’, and Streeps have to eventually retire.

We need more people in the industry to do what Mark is with this Annual. But, it sounds like fear of being sued has stifled its growth just as much so or more than this elitist attitude. It’s a shame that so many talented artists and writers have to have their dreams squashed because of those who are so quick to sue or to be shut out because you don’t have the right connections.

Sometimes, just sometimes, a person needs an opportunity. It doesn’t always have to be about who you know, but by the quality of a person’s talent. The future of the comics industry depends on providing more opportunities to the unknowns, be they artists or writers. And its going to take more than a once a year annual for this to happen. The big two like Marvel and DC need to step up, or some kind of company has to come in and fill this void. The talent is out there, all they need is the exposure.

So, again, I am grateful that Mark has made an effort to help future generations. I just wish the door didn’t have to be closed on so many talented people.


Heh, still the hardest lesson to learn :smiley:


Personally, as a writer I do not feel this is the case at all.

For me it comes down to how bad do I want it? I will keep on working on my writing and self publishing my stories and trumpeting my own horn until people have no choice but to read my stuff. Then I will take their feedback, apply it, level up and improve.

Rinse and repeat.

I know plenty of creators who have broken in or are in the course of breaking in by having this attitude. I focus on what I can give to the industry, not who I feel the industry is focused on.


Thanks for your comments. I really would like to dismiss this whole unsolicited manuscript crap that companies had come up with. It’s frustrating and very stifling to the growth of the comics industry.

2000 A.D. is a pretty good outlet. Some other ones I’ve been looking at is Dark Horse, Titan Comics and Dynamite. Of these three, I know Dark Horse has had the longest history of creator owned properties and they seem very receptive and nurturing as well.

I wonder though, has anyone on these boards had any experience with submitting to DH or those other two mentioned above. Besides DH’s comic division, I wanted to submit to their novel imprint but they don’t seem very good at responding to any inquiries.

Also, I think that is a very generous thing of Mark not only to pay professional rates to the new artists and writers but to take the proceeds and donate them to helping our comics forefathers. I have much respect for his doing that. And, I think it was very generous for the volunteers to be hours of their time during Christmas to reading and looking through those submissions.

So, even though I wasn’t fortunate enough to be selected this time, I hold no grudges. I’m going to be working in this industry whether it’s getting my foot in the door this way or it’s through my own creations.

Thanks for the advice.


That’s a good attitude benjum. Yep, you have to have some admantium-like resilience whenever you’re pursuing any dream. Perserverance, self-motivation, optimism and resilience is something we all have to embrace. Otherwise, you can become awfully bitter at the world.


So much of it has to do with the times we live in. Working in Comics or entertainment in general is a viable career with high visibility. The cooler the job, the more people want to do it, and the harder it is to get in. You hear stories about how back in the day, companies couldn’t find enough creators, but now you have dozens of professional caliber creators unable to get a shot. Back then there were like 3 art schools in America and they all taught painting and drafting. Now there are a few dozen schools that produce hundreds of fully employable and hungry artists every few months. Compound that with everywhere outside of North America.

I always come back to that Steve Martin quote. “Be so good that they can’t ignore you”. Talent isn’t enough unfortunately. The one thing i’ve noticed from most creators origin stories, is that they had one break-out work, that put them on the map. For many it was a great piece of indie work that just catapulted them into recognition and opened doors. I even have a few friends who i’ve watched go from self publishing on Kickstarter, getting press and now they’re invited to pitch big publishers and even getting gigs…all within a year or two. Its possible.


Fan art is encouraged here, Mark highlights fan art in his books. However he can’t run strips, and won’t be able to even look at them. But the rest of us are fair play.

Though I’d encourage you to do scripts on your own character if you can!


Oh yeah, totally, I’ve done that, in lots of mediums and am actually editing a feature at the moment. But when you write a comic script one of the great joys is seeing it drawn – if we’re allowed to pin up the results here maybe an artist wouldn’t mind drawing it?


Sorry JDI, but this is completely and totally wrong, and entirely the wrong way to look at things.

Marvel and DC are tough to get into. They want a track record. But you can’t blame them. They’re billion dollar franchises, they’re not going to hand them off to unproven talent. And they’re not going to pay you to write a book and then spend more resources editing and fixing. They want professionals who can write a mini series, or an ongoing. They need to trust you before you get the nod. And that’s really really hard - writing a book is difficult, and you need that to earn trust. Until you’ve done it you don’t know how hard it is. The idea or pitch is probably the easiest thing. Millions of people have an idea. Thousands wrote the damn thing. Hundreds rewrote it and worked it until it was as good as they could do. Dozens have something great on their hands that eager companies would snatch up in an instant.

Millar takes 2 solid weeks, 8 hours a day to hone a single issue script. Just those 22 pages. That’s the professional standard, and honestly hardly any amateurs practice like that. Sure Bendis can churn out 5 scripts a month, but it’s hurt his quality. This is like wanting to start on an NBA team because it doesn’t look that hard when you watch on TV. You need to put in the time.

But, and here’s the big but, it’s so much easier to break in these days. There’s hundreds of outlets and it’s easy to get your work noticed. Imagine how hard is was for Millar 30 years ago in Scotland dreaming about working for DC one day. And if you look at Mark’s back catalog you’ll see just how much small work he did just to get work, writing characters he maybe didn’t want to write. It was only with The Authority that it turned into a full time career - that was after a decade of writing. Most professionals have the same story. Why do you think so many great writers are bald???

If you want to be a writer you write first, and enjoy just writing. You don’t care about not having an artist, you don’t let not being published hold you back, you just write. All the time. Your own ideas, other peoples characters, flights of fancy. You don’t just have a pitch and do nothing. You write it, fully, put in the time. If it takes 10,000 to be good at something, whether it be basketball, playing the guitar or writing comic books, put in the 10,000 hours. Because thousands of other people are putting in the time.

And like I said, it’s easy to be noticed. Promotion is free. A website is something everyone on the planet can see. And if you’re good you’ll find an artist who wants to work with you, and from there you create something as good as you possibly can, hold nothing back, and that’s your business card. But don’t wait for them to call you, get out there and promote your work to others. It’s easier than ever.

That’s a path hundreds of professional’s have taken. You can see them at every con. Folks are devoted to a career in comics just like you have to put in the work to be devoted to any career. Honestly if all this sounds like too much work then it’s just not for you, because it shouldn’t sound like work, it should sound like the most exciting thing ever.


Brilliantly put Jim!


I will say I tried comics for a while but it’s hard to get that track record. Then I started making films and, I don’t know, it’s just seemed easier to get finished products. I have so many undrawn scripts or scripts people said they’d draw but never got round to or collaborations that I put the time into and then never heard back from the other person. I’ve found film people (at least where I live) tend to be more … committed? Is that the right word?

I don’t know, maybe it comes down to the fact that there are schools for filmmakers and so when someone puts money into learning the trade, they really want to apply it – with comics there aren’t really schools and so for a big chunk it never really changes in their mind from a passion to a dedicated career? I don’t know, just spit-balling.

And then, where do you promote your work? Websites? Yeah, but, where do you promote that website? And how do you get people to visit it even if they do see your website? Getting 2000AD work like Mark did or something similar would be great, but even that’s a very competitive market (because there are so few popular magazines of the sort), and it’s hard to get in without that track record or without an artist to show what your work is like.

This is part of the reason Mark’s contest seemed so compelling to me. It’s another venue to be seen in, and you don’t have to find your own artist. Fucking brilliant! (Excuse my language, but that was my reaction. I love the man, and you all, for providing this opportunity.) This was the first comic script I wrote in a long time, probably since I started writing movies in a dedicated fashion. It’s not because I like films more (although they are great), but I really just feel less like I’m pissing in the wind. Obviously it’s not impossible to do well in comics, but I think if you’re talented it’s just easier to get other talented people to work for you in films, and there are more venues for that work to be seen.

If only there were more contests like Mark’s … but at the moment I do share JDI’s perspective that comics are excruciatingly hard to break into, even at the lowest rungs.


I don’t mean to really disagree with you, you’re absolutely right that you need to be good to expect to do well in any medium – you have to put in the hard work and the 10,000 hours and even then you might still just not be critical enough of your own work or well-read enough to understand what’s original or what sells (depending on where you want to pitch your tent). I just mean that it’s a lot easier for a talented person to be completely ignored in comics than it is for a talented person to be ignored in film. Or at least that’s my feeling and/or my experience.