Friday, November 11, 2016


There are dozens of books on how to write and draw and even publish comic books. Some of them are very good. This is not one of them. It’s not even the start of one of them.

There are a number of terrific online resources with information on how to write and draw and even publish comic books. This is not one of them.

Today’s bloggy thing is just my answers to two questions I am asked at virtually every convention I attend, and in at least one e-mail or private message a month. That’s what this is.


Will you look at my comic-book ideas?

The short answer to this one I don’t look at unpublished comic-book ideas for legal reasons. I don’t want prior knowledge of something that may or may not ever see the light of day for fear I might accidentally use those ideas in the future.

You might respond by telling me you would never sue me or anything. You’re lying to yourself. If you saw one of your ideas in one of my projects, you would get angry and you would want to sue me. If you asked me for advice in the matter, I would tell you to get yourself a good lawyer and sic him on me.

Never, you proclaim, I am not a litigious person. Maybe you aren’t. But there are plenty of litigious persons out there and I can not and will not take the chance that you are not one of them, Heck, DC Comics and I were once threatened with a lawsuit by a pair of rank amateurs who claimed we had stolen the idea of Black Lightning’s electrical force-field from them. As if there hadn’t been countless force fields in countless science-fiction stories for decades upon decades. I explained this to them nicely - really - and they never bothered me again. I won’t look at your unpublished work.

But you’d really really like to get my comments and suggestions on your unpublished work. How can we surmount this obstacle?

Simple. Publish it online.

If you published the work, even online, I will be ever so much more likely to remember it and not accidentally steal anything from it. I have more protection and you have more protection.

This isn’t an invitation for you to send me dozens of links to your work. I don’t have time to read and comment on your work en masse. But, on occasion, when someone’s demeanor impresses me at a comics convention, I will look at and comment on your work. I may not get to it right away, but I will get to it as quickly as my crazy busy schedule allows.

There’s your answer. I won’t look at your unpublished work. I will consider looking at your published work.


I have a great idea for a story with Marvel (or DC) characters. How can I get them to look at it?
The short answer can’t.

As someone who is not in the loop, it seems to me that DC and Marvel recruiters aren't looking for writers they haven’t already decided they want to hire. They recruit current writers from each other. They look at comics published by other companies. For example...

One of Marvel’s current top writers was turned down when he first sought work from the company. He was told to go off and created a new title and get it published elsewhere...and then send them that new title. He did. Marvel liked it. He started writing for them. I think that’s as valid a path to Marvel as any.

Both companies like to use writers who have been successful outside comics. They’ve written novels or even non-fiction books. They’ve written movies, TV shows and plays. They’ve written and performed their own songs. If you have done any of those things, then Marvel and DC may very well be interested in your work.

Sometimes an editor thinks how much he enjoyed the comics written by someone when he (the editor) got into comics. He might want to see if that writer still has it. If you’re new to the business, that’s probably not you.

But, you tell me, you really want to tell that story you’ve come up with. Here’s where I tell you how you can do that.

Look at your story and figure out its core plot. Then take out each and every element of the story that is owned by Marvel or DC. Then reinvent the elements you just removed.

Your story requires a government agency. It doesn’t really have to be S.H.I.E.L.D. You can create your own government agency that can serve the same purpose without being S.H.I.E.L.D.

Your story has mutants. I’m pretty sure the concept of mutants with powers is fair game. There have been such characters in tales that go back a hundred years or longer. You don’t need to use mutants who already exist in the DC or Marvel Universe.

Your intrepid reporter doesn’t need to be Lois Lane.

Your maniacal villain doesn’t need to be the Joker.

Your alien conquerors don’t need to be the Kree.

Create your own characters and tailor them to the core plot of your story. Then write it. Then find someone to draw it. Then publish it somewhere. Print on demand is an option. Pitching it to a company that’s not DC or Marvel is an option. Publishing it online is also an option.

Look at you. You’ve told your story and you didn’t need to use DC or Marvel characters. Now you have something you can send to those companies as a sample of what you can do. They still might not be interested in hiring you, but you have a completed story that you own and that, conceivably, you can profit from.


Questions asked and answered. I’ll be back on Monday with the first installment of my report on the 2016 Akron Comicon.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

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