Archive for the 'Questions (Frequently-Asked and Otherwise)' Category

Feb 28 2013

Outside of the U.S.? I Need Your Help!

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

I’m currently writing a page for a U.S. company which is targeting business worldwide. At one point, we have a form which asks for a “ZIP code” rather than a “postal code” or “postcode.” As far as I’m aware, only the U.S. and the Philippines use the phrase “ZIP code.” Would the phrase “zip code” be hard to understand and/or annoying for many international readers? It seems like it could be a problem. Then again, I have been pleasantly flummoxed before–while writing a proposal for The Taxman Must Die, I asked ~20 international readers if they knew what the IRS was, and almost all of them did (including several readers too young to have paid income taxes).  Apparently antipathy for taxmen is global. 🙂



I categorized this post as “Questions, Frequently-Asked and Otherwise.” Umm… definitely otherwise, I think.

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Jun 29 2011

Google Queries: June 15-30 (comics jobs, superhero costumes and fire-breathing squids)

Why do people care about superhero costumes? I think audiences tend to notice them in comic books because it’s easy to screw them up. If you were doing a fantasy movie or military sci-fi comic book, it’d be pretty easy to make chainmail or a powersuit look decent and believable. In contrast, gaudy clothes can look really goofy. Your margin of error is pretty small if you’re trying to, say, tell a gritty, noir crime saga about a guy dressed like a bat. PS: In superhero novels, I’d recommend against overdescribing the costumes, especially in combat scenes. If Superman rescued you from a bank robber, would his costume be one of the first things that stuck out to you? Probably not. It’s not nearly the most interesting or important detail. (However, if you were rescued from a bank-robbery by a fire-breathing squid in a business suit, that would warrant some description).


Jobs creating superhero concepts–There are jobs creating superhero stories. You can query a novel publisher after finishing a novel manuscript or propose a comic book after completing a script (and usually some illustrated sample pages). However, I’ve never heard of any publisher buying character concepts (superhero or otherwise) without a story attached. Publishers want stories that are finished and appealing now, rather than stories that could conceivably be appealing after hundreds or thousands of hours of work. A minor exception: Nonfiction authors and experienced fiction writers can pitch proposals rather than completed projects, but they still have to finish the books themselves.


How much could I earn writing comics? I think the lower end of $80-150 per page is pretty typical for an unpublished writer. Your yearly income would really depend on your sales figures and your workload. If you sell pretty well and write 3-4 issues every month, a six-figure salary is possible, but that’s an optimistic scenario. As with any writing career, I’d recommend holding down a steady day job until your writing makes enough money to cover your living expenses.


How old do you have to be to write comics? I can’t think of any many comic book writers that got professionally published before turning 20. (Brandon pointed out that Jim Shooter was published by DC Comics at the age of 14 in 1965–if you know of any others, please let me know!) I don’t think that publishers would reject your proposal because you’re (say) 18, but you do have to be a good writer and that usually takes at least a few years of serious practice. Note: Some publishers do explicitly require an age of 18+ to submit. Please read the submission guidelines.  Please also note: DC Comics no longer accepts unsolicited submissions.  Don’t call them, they’ll call you (after you’ve made a name for yourself elsewhere, usually).

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