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© 2016-2018 Britta Buescher 

Why Your Comic Book Sucks

Advice to give your submissions a creative edge in the comic and animation industry.


Originally published on Medium.com


Oh no. I said a bad thing to get your attention. So you’ve already created a comic, story-line, pitch, or first five pages of your comic. Great! As a creative director, I look through hundreds of comic book submissions, games, and movie pitches. Now, you have to figure out where your story might live best. Whether it’s to a studio or a publisher, this content is going to be resourceful for creating a compelling pitch for your story.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that presentation takes the front seat when submitting a story. When you wrap your blood, sweat, and tears, you want it to be all up dressed up with a gold bow. This isn’t necessarily advice to make your story better, I’m leaving that one at home, plus storytelling can be subjective. Today, I’m going to go over some tips, tricks, and how to elevate your story, animation, or comic book submissions that is going to give you a creative advantage.

First and foremost, before I get into the weeds of this article, every single publisher and studio has different rules and restrictions when submitting. Obviously, when submitting your work, following the guidelines is pertinent when submitting so be sure to read carefully when taking this information into consideration.


Spend Time on Design

Spending time on design is something that artists and writers overlook when submitting. Mainly, when the artwork is colored and lettered, creatives tend to think that their comic is about to 90–95% complete. When in reality you are only 65–70% of the way to having a polished submission. Art and design are two very different and important components. A strong design is going to elevate your work. If you’re not strong with adobe illustrator, or in-design, find a freelance designer or artist who is more qualified to help you! Ask for help, gain feedback from your peers before you submit.


Cover

Let’s talk about the cover. It’s hard to not judge a book by its cover. Your cover is the first impression of your book. We’d like to believe that content is king, but trying to pitch an idea or concept, that’s not the case. It’s how well you’ve executed it. That’s why it’s imperative that your cover looks as polished as possible. There are multiple aspects to consider; cover artwork, composition, title treatment or logo design, and credits. Strong branding/elements to enhance work or world build. Using your comp titles can be a great jumping-off point for the subject matter, composition, and layout.


Logo Treatment

Your logo treatment is the title seen on the cover. Your treatment needs to be fresh, legible, it’s own artistic component (not just a typeface) and gives opportunities for your art compositions enough space and balanced room. Again, this is where you want to take some time, suggest farming this one out to a professional if you need to.


Interior pages

Did you create your first five pages? Awesome. Your “interior front cover page” is a sneaky way to world build, as well as a way to incorporate your entire team and credits into your story. Don’t pass this page up when submitting. World building is a significant component of a story. Whether it’s graphics, text set up, or artwork. don’t forget about the inside front cover.


Presentation

You want your presentation to have all the right information that’s digestible and flows correctly. This is some advice for good lead-in and introductions when presenting.


The Fewer Clicks, the Better

Use a Dropbox link, live pdf, or live websites with quick previews are your best friend. You have to think about who is viewing your submission, do they have time to click on multiple links or just one? The fewer clicks a lead creative or editor has to make, the better. I prefer links that do not require me to download, however, it varies by publisher. If you’re sending a submission or pitch, be sure that your content is in ONE convenient location, like a pdf, word doc (eh), or a powerpoint. Remember file size, anything larger than 10MB is too big, if I can’t load your file within 10 seconds, the reader won’t likely review the submission.


Crafting a Formal Email

The flow of your email is important. It typically starts with an introduction, your credentials or who is your team is, what you are pitching and why you are excited about it. Most of the people viewing your work typically have a nine to five, so the best time to submit is during weekdays during regular work hours. Submissions sent during a holiday will often get lost in a backlog, so avoid it.


Avoid Cliches

Showrunners and editors get lots of submissions, avoid overdosing on cliches in your story. Over-used cliches will turn-off people viewing your submissions, stay away from stories with cliches, i.e angels vs demons, good vs evil. If your story has these strong themes and cliches, try spinning those ideas differently. You want your story to stand out, not blend in.


Smart Track Your Data

Check bounce rate — track your links — use the data as power! When submitting your story or work, use technology as a tool and make sure you are tracking your submissions appropriately when sending digital submissions. There are online tools that help you track links and bounce rates like google analytics. So make sure your links are smart ones.


Accept Feedback

The truth is — being helpful is better than being nice. If you’ve sent a specific submission several times, ask for constructive criticism as to why they weren’t interested in the storyline. The industry is fueled by trends, be sure to follow up with submissions to see if that industry leader can also include trends or insights that pertain to your art, story, or subject matter on how to make it better.