Nov 26 2010

Mail Call (comic synopses, writing jobs and love interests)

Published by at 4:05 pm under Mail Call,Questions from Readers

Here are some questions I got from letters and Google queries.

How long should a comic synopsis be? For a series, 2-5 double-spaced pages.  For a single issue (a standalone/one-shot), one single-spaced page.

Does a hero need a love interest? No, but it’s a nice change of pace for the hero to do something besides superpowered brawls all the time. Romances are one option.  Other options include the protagonists’ work, school, family, protecting one’s alternate identity, relationships between teammates and/or relationships between the heroes and side characters, etc.

How to write an synopsis for comics. The hardest part is condensing your story into an interesting and easily understood form.  In addition to the advice of Warren Ellis, I’d highly recommend checking out Query Shark and Flogging the Quill for examples of how novelists condensed their stories.  Once you have that down, the synopsis should be easy.  Other notes: Focus on the main elements, rather than getting bogged down in peripheral details, and I think the main character is usually the best point-of-entry for new readers.  (If you need to lay out the premise or setting before getting to the main character, please make it quick).

Can a carrot be a protagonist? Survey says no.

How can I get published with DC Comics? Like Marvel, DC doesn’t accept unsolicited scripts. Most of their writers started for other publishers and then got an offer from DC or Marvel.  Alternately, you can start working for DC (or Marvel) in some other capacity, like editing or sales or promotions or whatever, and then move laterally within the company.

How do I write for Marvel Comics? Same as DC: Get known somewhere else, OR start working for Marvel in another capacity and move laterally.  Unlike DC, Marvel has a ton of (unpaid) internships, so that’s one way to get started there.  I’d particularly recommend looking at editorial and editorial operations internships because those involve the most work with writers.

How can I get DC’s attention? + comic writting. I think most of the people that have a chance at a career in writing (for any company) are so good at basic writing craft that it’s purely instinctive.   You’ll obviously put more thought into your professional work than a Google query, but misspelling “writing” may suggest that brushing up on your mechanics would help.   As for getting DC’s attention, I think the easiest ways are to publish elsewhere (preferably a superhero comic, since that’s their focus) and/or work at DC.

How do first-time novelists get their books published? First, finish the manuscript and rewrite as much as necessary.  (The ideal length for an adult novel’s manuscript is ~70,000-90,000 words). After you’re ready to submit, you can send out queries (page-long proposals laying out your project) to literary agents or directly to publishers.  For more advice on the querying process, I’d highly recommend Query Shark’s reviews of queries and Flogging the Quill’s reviews of first pages.

How long should a comic book be? It depends on which publishers you’re looking at, but usually something on the order of 22-24 pages of content. (Some pages of comic may need more than 1 page to script, so the script may be a bit longer).

How many chromosomes would a superhero have? 46 if he’s a human, 18 if he’s a carrot, and almost certainly irrelevant regardless.

Give me an essay on if I were a superhero. Write your own, hippie.

Why are so few homeless people found in Canada? Because the moose eat the bones.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Mail Call (comic synopses, writing jobs and love interests)”

  1. ShardReaperon 26 Nov 2010 at 6:01 pm

    I’ve got a question: what program do you use/recommend for writing comics? I use Celtx, but I’m thinking of changing or saving Project Hero as a comic just case. Also, did you get the email I sent a few hours ago?

  2. Beccaon 26 Nov 2010 at 7:06 pm

    The hungry stoners also consume many of the homeless people.

  3. Milanon 27 Nov 2010 at 8:11 am

    Definitely some of my favourite answers here. Worth reading to the end!

  4. Contra Gloveon 27 Nov 2010 at 12:10 pm

    First, finish the manuscript and rewrite as much as necessary.

    In my case, “as much as necessary” means “starting over from scratch.” 🙂

  5. B. Macon 27 Nov 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Celtx has some cool features and I’ve used it before, but I slightly prefer Word. For one thing, everybody can open up Word documents.

  6. Mynaon 05 Dec 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I wonder what’s the plural of moose anyway… is it meese? o.O

  7. B. Macon 05 Dec 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I think it’s moose! 🙂

  8. ekimmakon 06 Dec 2010 at 3:08 am

    Must… write… superhero story… about… Carrot!

    Or sheep!

  9. B. Macon 06 Dec 2010 at 9:14 am

    Or rabid otter villains!

  10. B. Macon 06 Dec 2010 at 1:36 pm

    This video feels like a zombie movie.
    “What’s wrong, little otter?” It wants your brains!


  11. Sean Higginson 06 Dec 2010 at 3:06 pm

    OMG! That’s friggin’ hilarious!

  12. Sean Higginson 06 Dec 2010 at 3:06 pm

    (Feel free to edit above comment as necessary to make me not sound like a teenage girl.)

  13. NicKennyon 06 Dec 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Sean, I’m not sure that’s possible. Ladies and Gentlemen, the next Justin Bieber.

  14. Sean Higginson 06 Dec 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks a lot Nic – Maybe I can get some of his money.

  15. Nayanon 30 Oct 2012 at 4:25 am

    ”How many chromosomes would a superhero have?”
    Did someone actually ask this question? Cheers for him/her.
    Then I have a question on this.
    How many chromosomes does that so called ‘morally correct’ superman has? He is not human.

  16. Andrewon 22 Feb 2016 at 4:59 am

    I am hoping to be a writer at DC. I’ve got a few superheroes and villains, a mythos, city etc. I know it’s not gonna take a short period but I am hoping. Only problem is I got rejected by college and went into internship at a hospital. What would the preferred course of action be if I want to establish myself?

  17. B. McKenzieon 22 Feb 2016 at 7:27 am

    College is not directly relevant to getting a comic book (or novel) published. When companies ask for proposals, they almost never ask about your educational background and it’s less than 1% of the decision-making process. However, DC doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals, so I’d recommend establishing a name for yourself by writing elsewhere. The other route (start working at DC Comics in some other capacity, e.g. editorial, and eventually moving laterally within the company) is probably not viable without a degree, although there might be some sorts of jobs where it’s not a deal-breaker (e.g. if you’re preternaturally skilled at art/illustration).

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