Mar 09 2009

An Introduction to Thirty Comic Book Publishers

These are some of the biggest comic book companies.  Knowing which publishers are geared towards your style of writing or art will help you decide which publishers to apply to. (Please note that I tried to stay away from publishers that do not accept unsolicited queries, like Marvel and DC Comics).

A-List

  • Dark Horse.  Not nearly as large as Marvel or DC, but it still chalks up about 5% of the market.  They work with a wide variety of stories, but not very many traditional superhero stories.  DH is one of the only publishers that accepts scripts unaccompanied by art samples. (That’s really useful if you can’t afford to put together an art sample).
  • Image.  It does a few superhero stories, but they usually have some satire or other spin on the genre.  A lot of its stories focus on material that is supernatural, gritty or just plain loopy.   Its series are mostly creator-owned.

Mostly Professional

  • Top Cow.  Their art tends to be more realistic and dark.  Their stories sometimes have a sci-fi, cyberpunk element.  They are… ahem… not shy about using sex appeal.
  • Zuda Comics.  This is DC’s webcomics division.  The idea is that webcomics compete against each other and fans pick a winner.  The winner gets a contract.
  • Boom Studios.  They have a very wide range of material, but humor and horror tend to stick out the most.
  • IDW.  Initially known for horror, but now they also specialize in licensed properties like Transformers and GI Joe.
  • Abacus Comics.  They only publish ongoing series with at least four issues in the can.  Their art tends to be anime-inspired.  The colors tend to be bright and lively.
  • Avatar.   Avatar does a lot of work that is ridiculously dark and “edgy.”
  • Oni Press.  Its series tend to have a more cartoonish style.  It also has some dark, emoish cartoons, like Black Metal.  It doesn’t do much in the way of superhero stories.
  • Devil’s Due.  Very eclectic.  Its series include traditional military action (GI Joe, The Corps), wacky investigator stories (ODD Squad, The Lost Squad), horror, and a bit of fantasy.  Hardly any superhero stories.
  • Tokyopop.  They publish manga, not comic books.  A typical American comic book will have around 24-32 pages, but manga is much, much longer and uses a less laborious style of art.  If you want to publish manga-inspired comic books, do so elsewhere.
  • Red 5 Comics.  Best-known for Atomic Robo.  Their work tends to be offbeat (like a teen angst about the son of a supervillain, or Atomic Robo).  It looks like Midknight is also about a superpowered family.
  • Bluewater Comics. “With stories that range from classic myths, science fiction and superheroes to Hollywood legends such as William Shatner, Roger Corman [and] Ray Harryhausen… Bluewater is a fresh voice in comic publishing.”  Bluewater’s artistic quality seems very uneven.  Some of the art is  respectable, but some of it makes me want to drive a railroad spike through my eyes.
  • Arcana Comics.  Canada’s largest comics publisher.  Many of its comics have a fantasy, sci-fi or supernatural bent, but it also has a few traditional superhero series.  Its webcomics have a wacky, eccentric bent.  A few of its series deal with political issues, mostly from a left-liberal angle.
  • Viz Media.  They do manga and anime.
  • Gettosake.  Focuses on “urban style animation, comics and illustration.”  It looks like most of their characters are African-Americans.  Some of their projects relate to African-American history (Nat Turner, the Underground Railroad, etc).  The production quality looks fairly high, but the publisher doesn’t look like it has really gotten off the ground yet.
  • SLG Comics.  Specializes in dark, offbeat humor.  Its series are creator-owned.  In 2005, it added an imprint (Amaze Ink) that would publish more genre-oriented series.  They also do some Disney-licensed series, like Gargoyles.
  • Komikwerks.  Specializes in webcomics, particularly the kid-friendly World of Quest.  It also has some grittier fare, such as a WWII werewolf story and a cop drama.
  • Moonstone Books.  Focuses on gritty comics about private investigators and the like.  Some of their works also have a spooky supernatural bent (werewolves, mummies, etc).
  • Top Shelf Productions.  “Hip but endearing.”  They have a very broad range of stories, from gritty sci-fi (The Surrogates), comics for kids (Johnny Boo), superhero satire (Marshal Law), some historical stuff (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Moving Pictures).  Many of TSP’s series look deep and somber.
  • Teshkeel Comics.  Mostly involved with distributing American comic books in the Middle East.  However, they also some original work of their own.  As you might imagine, that tends to focus on young characters from around the Islamic world.
  • Chimaera Studios.  Your guess is as good as mine.  They have a few traditional superhero stories, a few horror series, some sci-fi, etc.  Some of their works are marketed as humor.
  • Digital Webbing.  Focuses on superhero stories, supernatural noir and supernatural investigator stories.
  • Sweatdrop Studios.  They’re a UK outlet that produces English-language manga.
  • Dabel Brothers Productions.  Focuses on comic book adaptations of novels.

Seedy

  • AK Comics.  This Egyptian company has a focus on Middle Eastern stories, but it also prints in English.  It doesn’t look very professional, though.  They’ve been up for 4 years and don’t have a website in place yet?
  • SuperReal Graphics.  Its name is a bit of a misnomer… its art is notably bad compared to pretty much any of the other companies listed here. On the plus-side, their titles are all creator-owned and it looks like they’re very welcoming of newcomers.
  • Markosia.  They have a lot of fetish-looking stuff.  They also have grim sci-fi that looks very professional and well-done, but umm, yeah.  A lot of fetish stuff.

(Please

21 responses so far

21 Responses to “An Introduction to Thirty Comic Book Publishers”

  1. Stefan the Exploding Manon 09 Mar 2009 at 5:11 am

    I understand that Marvel and DC have smaller imprints like Icon, Wildstorm and Vertigo and I’ve noticed that they do less superhero comics and there are some writers who seem fairly new to comics. How different would submitting to an imprint of a major company be?

  2. Dforceon 09 Mar 2009 at 1:52 pm

    Hey, I noticed Antarctic Press isn’t on here… Why’s that?

  3. B. Macon 09 Mar 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Mmm. They’re kind of an eccentric outfit in terms of what they’re looking for. According to their submissions page…

    It is far more desirable for you as a submitting artist to be versed in penciling, inking, and writing. As publishers, we prefer creators who can do it all. If you can’t ink your own work, but we like your pencils we’ll team you up with an inker, but remember, the royalty will now be spread between you and the inker. The same deal applies if you work with a writer. It’s much more beneficial for you to be multi-talented in these areas, but it’s not essential. If you can do it all, then it’s better for you and for us.

    Umm, if you’re interested in being a writer and all-around illustrator, they’re definitely worth looking into. However, I don’t think that many writers would be comfortable doing their own art, or vice versa.

  4. B. Macon 09 Mar 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Also, we left off a few publishers that do not accept unsolicited submissions, like Aspen Comics.

  5. Dforceon 09 Mar 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Yeah… I’m an artist and I have this saga(s) in mind. For now, I’m developing the two stories to see what I’m capable of, writing-wise. (Its very… troublesome).

    Ideally, I’d like to collaborate with a writer on something; but of course, I’m a little iffy about trusting just anyone, or how the money-splitting would take place, how far I can trust people, and how much control over the story I would have. Its a viable option to just illustrate someone else’s story, but I don’t think I would sit well with that; partly because I may want to put in my two-cents on the story (i.e. control events), or the “writer” would leave me with all actual writing work. Errgh…

    Antartic Press was one I was heavily looking at, since they offered to publish you and pay royalties…

  6. B. Macon 09 Mar 2009 at 5:27 pm

    I’m kind of intrigued by the idea of an artist-driven series. If you have a loose concept in mind, if you’d like, I could write up a few sample pages for you. Then, if you’d be interested, we could talk numbers and schedules. I know it probably seems unusual to have someone fleshing out your story, but it happens quite a lot in most media (video games, tv shows, etc).

    So that’s one way you could guarantee that you’d have final say over the story (well, at least until publishers get involved) without getting stuck with all the writing work.

  7. Dforceon 09 Mar 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Well, while getting stuck with all the work, isn’t necessarily bad (I, one day, want to do it all), I would like someone to guide me along as to what works and what may not in writing (and drawing, too; so that’d be… two Senseis).

    This passion-driven endeavor is pretty self-involved. People, i.e. publishers/editors, can tell you what flies and what doesn’t, but you have to discover how to make those things work for you… and convince publishers that you’re on the money.

    It’s not like there’s a Bible for this stuff (secular, of course). Sure, there are books on the matter, but they’re all tips and hints (albeit, good ones). No one can tell you how to write your work and have it be an opus every time; only trial and error will do. I… rant, and somehow lost my point…

    Hmm… I am interested in pitching things to you and getting a script, and pages, and all that swell stuff. Alright…

    Gimme a minute and I’ll find something…

  8. Dforceon 10 Mar 2009 at 12:08 am

    Thinking about it, I wasn’t really sure what was meant by “loose concept,” so in lieu of that I give you this:

    Superhero: An alien, the last of her kind, crash-landed on Earth and was raised by X to be an honest and to give it her all. She’s loud, idealistic, and positive.

    Powers: She can wall climb (her absorbent skin adheres on a molecular level to walls and such; it also makes clothing hard to remove), “+20 dexterity” (alien agility/more muscle than bone… less support, small body, but quicker; not a strong as a normal human, but quick enough to get to someone’s eyes or to swing a bowstaff to their face), super touch (she can tell if someone was standing somewhere by touching the ground where the feet stood, detecting the minute traces of warmth), and super sight (she can zoom in from a distance a la Byakugan, though she can’t see chakras or the like).

    Balance: Though she may have super sight and touch, she can’t smell, and she has poor taste (rendering airborne or foodborne poisons a tactical choice for villains who get savvy). She may be faster than the average human, but she is weak (a human punch, if landed, could knock her out). Though she can jump high and far, she’s not faster than any trained human. And she prefers dry climates since too much water can be bad for her.

    Power Checklist –
    Wall Climbing (Hyper Bio-Molecular Adhesion)
    Super Agility (Hyper Dexterity)
    Super Touch (Hyper Somatosensorisys)
    Super Sight (Supra Acuity)
    ~moderate speed and muscle control, allowing for mastery of martial arts and distance jumping

    Weakness: When in contact with water (H20), she begins to melt, causing her skin to swell with water (eventually rupturing, leaving her innards accessible to germs and such).

    Weakness Checklist –
    No sense of smell (can’t smell fires, rubbing alcohol [which could kill her(?)] etc.)
    No sense of taste (can sneak poison in her food)
    Physically weak (can be beaten up)
    Excess water, i.e. pools or rain, causes her skin to swell and rupture (a squirt bottle will be a good defense against her)

    Cost: She gets tired.

    Look: She’s short and slender (but more muscle than bone, though that won’t really show).Shoulder length hair (black?). Unusually violet eyes. Brown-skinned. (~15 year-old).

    Alias: “Geko”… because she wall climbs and has good vision and reflexes. (Other name suggestions are welcomed).

    Villain: He’s quiet, scheme-driven, and negative/sarcastic/manipulative. (No real reason as to why they’d fight yet, though; if better villain in mind, go ahead and replace).

    Idea: (Somewhat bland right now). Crime-fighting girl picks up the cape and breaks kidnapping rings, considerably armored bank robbers, and biological weapon-carrying villains who are out to make money for themselves at the expense of others’ lives. (Moral of the story – live honestly and don’t try to kill people, he he).

    Genre: Action driven comedy.

    Age Group: (?) ~14 – 18

  9. B. Macon 10 Mar 2009 at 2:10 am

    Hmm, ok. I think the story could be fleshed out in these areas.

    1. Personality
    –Mainly, I’d suggest adding something that would help build conflicts for her. If she’s loud, idealistic and positive, she might be blunt, naive/childish, overconfident, impulsive, unreliable, easily bored, etc.
    –I’d also try adding a personal flaw, something that would cause her to make mistakes once in a while. You might consider overconfident, impulsive, unreliable, insufficiently serious/motivated, sheltered, or maybe slightly bizarre if she’s an alien.

    2. Art style/mood.
    –This will help determine an appropriate goal for her and the villain.

    3. Goal.
    –If the art is cartoony, I’d recommend going with a simpler goal, like whether she can save the day. (Probably saving her mentor from the villain, or something like that).
    –If the art is more gritty, I’d recommend using something more complex, like “I want to be accepted” or “I want to be normal.”

    4. Mentor.
    –There are a few models for mentors. Mainly, the Kents (a friendly but thoroughly normal foster family) vs. Professor Xavier (also friendly but much more accustomed to super-events) vs. Batman (a much tougher mentor who’s so accustomed to super-events that it’s started to warp his mind) vs. Noah Bennett (accustomed to strangeness but trying to raise his superpowered daughter to be normal and safe).
    –Does the mentor know about her superpowers and her work as a superhero?

    5. The level of superness in your story.
    –Are there other heroes in your story?
    –I assume she goes to a regular high school and has to protect a secret identity, but there are a few young characters (notably from the Ultimate Fantastic Four and X-Men) that don’t. I think having a regular high school would add relatability, but the story can work either way.

    6. Villain.
    –Goals? Origin? This isn’t too important yet, but it’s something to think about for later.

    7. Series structure.
    –How many issues are we looking at? (One-shot vs. finite vs. ongoing). That’ll help pace the plot.

  10. B. Macon 10 Mar 2009 at 8:10 am

    Stefan asked:

    I understand that Marvel and DC have smaller imprints like Icon, Wildstorm and Vertigo and I’ve noticed that they do less superhero comics and there are some writers who seem fairly new to comics. How different would submitting to an imprint of a major company be?

    Imprints usually have very similar submission processes, but the imprints usually focus on a particular audience and/or style of story. For example, Vertigo is very fond of “titles that push the boundaries of traditional comics. Aimed at the mature, literate reader, titles from Vertigo are created for adults and are labeled appropriately.” Wildstorm does mostly superhero stories with a darker bent, like Authority.

    Unfortunately, as far as inexperienced artists and (especially) writers are concerned, these DC imprints are pretty much off-limits. DC Comics and its imprints do not accept unsolicited writing or artwork.

    It’s not quite as bad for would-be DC artists, though. A lot of conventions provide artists the opportunity to receive 2-10 minute evaluations by editors. In contrast, writers can’t get that sort of fast feedback.

  11. Holliequon 10 Mar 2009 at 9:23 am

    Dforce, I like the idea of your story. Your characters origins seem similar to superman, except that your character actually is different to humans. Not having a good sense of smell is a really quirky addition, which I think could provide some interesting scenes at high school (if she goes to high school).

    I think B. Mac’s recommendations for flaws are sound, but I might recommend against unreliable. Because of her superhero work, she could seem unreliable to school friends (unless she’s homeschooled). I think that the audience will sympathise with her if, say, she misses a friend’s birthday party because she had to save somebody, and her friend gets mad at her. I don’t think people will be sympathetic if she “couldn’t be bothered” or something like that.

    I think sheltered and/or overconfident would be good flaws for this character. You can toss a few other ones in there as well. I think blunt could also be a good one. She might be blunt because she doesn’t quite understand human feelings, not really mean to be harsh.

  12. Cadet Davison 10 Mar 2009 at 11:27 am

    I agree with Holliequ: the protagonist’s origin is very similar to Superman’s. However, I don’t think that will be as much of a problem because your series is an action-comedy and Superman is pretty much straight-up action.

  13. Dforceon 10 Mar 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Holliequ, Cadet Davis,

    The origin story is based on the archetypal Alien Warrior Race, in which the last of their kind (usually a lie) is sent to Earth due to unforeseen circumstances , along with a nice package of powers to boot. To be honest though, I was influenced more by Goku’s origin story (his alien race, being Saiyans, send children to other planets to conquer them; the children are super-powerful).

    She does go to a normal high school (after all, isn’t that the niche?).

    B. Mac,

    Hope this is what you were looking for. (And sorry for the eye-strain).

    1. Personality
    – I envision her blunt and up front, not because human concepts are alien for her, but because she’s straightforward. She’s overconfident in her abilities just because no one around her has them, and she’s easily bored (being an Action Girl, she wants to get to the fighting; though she does have girly moments).
    – A personality flaw would be her impulsiveness, in that she’ll chase a baddie without thinking ahead much (Is it a trap? She cares not).

    She’s not too unfamiliar with the modern world, though she did grow up outside of the big city. Her parent found her in the forest. Old Wise Man didn’t want a child, but couldn’t leave her to die, so he took her in and thought her to be honest, noble, good. She might have grown in the woods, but she did have a TV, so knew of the world and was eager to join it (to be normal). However, she didn’t think ahead as to what people may think about her and her powers (this is an afterthought to her, though she knew showing off may cause a panic and would be boasting [not good-guy behavior]; maybe something a savvy, introspecting villain may use to confuse her with?).

    2. Art style/mood/Goal
    – The art style will most likely be similar to the other two I’m doing (a blend of Bruce Timm, Ben Caldwell, Sean Galloway [lol], and Masashi Kishimoto [manga]). It may come off as cartoony, but with little deformities. The mood is… action and comedy? Something like bloody fight scenes, scratches, torn clothing, and the occasional innuendous teenage joke (from the other cast, not the heroine). A villain in her world would want to get into big money as quickly as possible as soon as a situation arises (killing meaning not much to them). (Of course this goal seems a tad generic, and could be easily replaced by something more villain-centric, like him/her wanting a mentor, or revenge, or the formula, or to disect her… etc.).

    She just wants to help and actively use her abilities (it makes her feel good to use ‘em and help others). Unless you can come up with something else to do with their goals. (As a note, she IS the last of her species; no retconning this).

    By this line I had just looked at #3. The art is cartoon-esque, but not un-gritty. Also, her mentor needs not saving (I see him as bad ass grandpa/dad; old but wry and agile).

    4. Mentor.
    – I pictured her mentor Samurai Jack-esque: a silent but strong loner. Not eager to raise a child, but unable to offer kindness and a home. He teaches her to be a good man (somewhat odd, since she’s a girl…). Inherently quiet and distant, but noticeably friendly. Also, he knows about her powers but isn’t told of her superheroing (he does figure it out though; maybe call her on it?).
    One thing to clear: They lived in a wooden house in the forest. She walked to elementary and all was fine (that school was near the opening to the woods and was small; for country folk). However, when she graduated elementary, they found out the only High School was in the middle of the city (that’s where all the elementary children from around the city went to). She and her mentor were then “forced” to move into the city, and there’s where she noticed the mean, ruthless, criminals there were and resolved to help the people.

    5. Superness.
    – No other heroes in this.
    – She has and protects a secret identity in a regular High School.

    6. Villain(s).
    – A group of armored (SWAT caliber) bank robbers on a spree. Goal: To score the big hits and leave the city, never to be heard of again. Origin: Were ex-convicts who finally finished their sentence and had planned to go through with their dream “Big Heist.”
    – A local drug gang goes around extorting small businesses, and kidnapping. Goal: To control the city. Origin: From poorer areas of the city, those who couldn’t support themselves and had no jobs, banded and made contacts with outside drug suppliers and began to enjoy the easy money.
    – A domestic terrorist is angry at the Mayor’s new (what are those decrees called?) which lifted a ban that outlawed the sell (not consumption) of alcoholic beverages (you could still buy it outside and bring it into the city). Goal: To use terrorism to bring back the city-wide ban on the sale of alcohol. Orign: He’s angry in that he thinks this will raise violence, theft, and murder in the city (he grew up with an alcoholic father and hates drinks…).
    – A local scientist by chance gets ahold of some of her DNA and begins to wonder. Goal: to see what viscerally makes her tick (he eventually discovers she’s an alien). Orign: A high school grad who joined the local research station on biology.

    7. Structure.
    – I’d like a finite story. Right now, I’m thinking to eventually kill her (not via the scientist though; I’m thinking falling into a pool/large body of water or being caught in the rain shortly after a brief period of bliss from having a boyfriend [boyfriend and her went out for a picnic... didn't watch the weather news...]).

    A rough guess would be 6-7 issues, each focusing on one of the baddies, and the plot of her fitting in and getting romantically invloved. A lot could be cut, simplified, or expanded here, so tread with care.

  14. B. Macon 13 Mar 2009 at 9:52 pm

    It looks pretty good. I have a few observations and suggestions but not too many.

    –I’d recommend allotting at least 2 issues per primary villain. Also, I notice that none of the villains (except maybe the scientist) are superpowered. I like the SWAT-calibre bank robbers.

    –Except for maybe the terrorist, I don’t feel like the villains have very much personality.

    –I’m not entirely satisfied with the mentor, but I’m having trouble articulating what feels wrong. Umm, my impression is that his relationship with the daughter will not be particularly interesting. Any conflict?

    –I think that the character motivations could probably be more ambitious and concrete. Wanting to do good and be a good person is fine, but is that a strong enough motivation to take on a band of SWAT thugs singlehanded? Likewise, wanting to steal money is fine for low-level crooks, but I think that it’ll help to have at least a few villains that have higher goals. (The domestic terrorist is a good example).

  15. Dforceon 13 Mar 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Lemme see…

    –2 Issues is fine. About you noticing, is that a bad thing or sorta just odd. I think they could all give her some trouble: The SWAT-Robbers have superior firepower (she’s not invulnerable, at all). The gang has many members and possibly sympathizers (making it harder to find the actual leader; or getting rid of it completely). The terrorist has a serious stake and will make sure to hide himself (which makes him harder to find) until his job is done. The scientist is just up in the air; I have nothing specific in mind for him yet.

    –Does personality equate motive? I’m not sure what you mean.

    –I didn’t really envision conflict between the two. Just worry; perhaps he feels she doesn’t take enough protection against what could hurt her? I dunno.

    –As for her motivation: She feels that since she can do something more proactive than regula people, she has to (mentor’s teachings kicking in). (I should mention that she knows of her powers since she was little). I suppose she could beforehand witness, for her first time, the murder of someone innocent in front of her (… and she vows not to just stand there again?). For other villain motives, I’m blanking out right now… The robbers want to be legendary and live well for the rest of their lives? The gang wants city control, including businesses? The scientist wants to learn why she’s different?

    Upon re-reading the previous post of mine– on 4, I meant that the mentor couldn’t just leave her there, and couldn’t resist giving her a home.

    Also, again, am I writing and you pitching in (if time allows), or the inverse? I don’t mean to be a bother– but I’d like to know.

  16. Stefan the Exploding Manon 14 Mar 2009 at 9:00 am

    Just a thought, I think the ability of Super Touch could be better described as psychometry or possibly even a mild form of clairvoyance. That long word you used may confuse readers.

  17. Dforceon 14 Mar 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Lol, yeah.

    The scientific name was really just for me (I like the big word), but I’ll probably just leave it to the public as Super Touch, or Touch Sense, or Heat Touch… something along those lines.

    Thanks.

  18. Ragged Boyon 14 Mar 2009 at 1:50 pm

    I wonder. :P

  19. Nayanon 06 Nov 2012 at 8:04 am

    Looking at the list, it seems like not many publishers are interested in superhero stories. Also most of them do not pay on page rates. Only royalties. It’s risky for a newcomer. Even if the proposal gets accepted, the creators may not see any money if the project does not sell well. Again, the creators have to submit 2-3 issues of a series before the first issue goes to the market. That means a lot of money and work is at stake.

  20. Anonymouson 06 Nov 2012 at 4:13 pm

    “Also most of them do not pay on page rates.” Are you sure about that?

  21. Nayanon 06 Nov 2012 at 7:04 pm

    @Anonymous
    Reading the submission guidelines of the above publishers, I got that impression. For a newcomer ‘Dark Horse’ is the best and safest bet. They even accept comic script without art.

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