A Twitter fan asked: How to pitch a new comic book series?
Here’s the answer!
First of all, check our submissions page for openings.
When submissions are open, the page will also tell you where to send your submissions to.
Other companies may care about format, but I don’t. If you have what it takes, you’ll find a way to describe it.
All right. Now we get to the writing guidelines.
See at the top of the page there? It says “The best stories. The best art.”
I mean that.
New Worlds Comics is about creating the next generation of comics, a ‘Comics 2.0’ revolution.
We’re about creating standards so high for writing comic books, that they will be a genre onto themselves, a genre of visual literature, with the same depth of character, philosophy, and story that the best literature has, in visual form.
Hence: Comics 2.0.
Here are the most basic criteria for Comics 2.0 stories we’re looking for.
- Use Yourself as the Original Material. Does it come from you? Does it come from your gut? Is it about your experiences? Is every panel unique and special to how you see the world? – If the answer to all of those is Yes, keep reading.
- Expose Yourself. If a story doesn’t expose a deep truth, it’s no good. A story can expose things you think, things you’re afraid to look at, or the truth about the world. But if it’s not scary to write it, to think that people would read it, then you haven’t dug down deep enough. After you expose yourself, you hide it. It’s a story, after all. You can hide anything behind characters, plot, and background. But your story should feel like an exposed nerve. You should feel like a truth-teller. Your readers should feel elated to have experienced such truth-telling.
- No variations on existing comic book series. What’s a variation? What if Thor was a woman? What is Superman was also the smartest man on the planet? I could do a Batman that’s better than any Batman ever done! – Those things are variations. So, yes, no superheroes. But no other variations, either. No ‘this is my take on So and So’ or ‘this is how I would have done That Thing right’. We’re looking for truly original material.
- All our stories have endings. You need to have a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It can take 4 issues or 12 or 50. But we only accept stories that have the arc most basic to all stories: A beginning, a middle, and an end. A series that lasts forever? Not here.
- Characters should have depth. All your characters should be real and three-dimensional in their depth. If they only serve a purpose for another character, you’ve built the story wrong. Every character is the lead in his/her own story. Every character is different. Every character has depth. Every character is a real, live human being (even aliens, monsters, vampires, or robots). No one is one-dimensional, or even two-dimensional. Every character has contradictions. Every character has flaws. Every character has weaknesses. Every. Damn. One.
- If you write a line you’ve heard/seen/read before, erase and rewrite. To write for New Worlds Comics, you have to be original. Being original means finding a way to be you, and there is only one you. If a line comes out of you that you’ve seen before, then you didn’t dig deep enough into yourself to find how you would act/talk in that same position, if you were that character. You are different from everyone else around you. Writers who use lines they’ve heard before are lazy.
- Your first 5 pages should be the essence of your entire series. The first 5 pages (usually the first page) should include the following elements that ANY good literature has: 1) A hint of the basic conflict of the series. 2) A hint of the basic philosophical theme of the series. 3) A clear feeling of what genre the story is in. 4) A clear feeling of the emotional core the story is about. 5) The most subliminal of hints about where this story will end. – Don’t do this technically. Find the beginning of the story that encompasses all your story. Oh, yeah, and one last thing: 6) Your beginning should suck the readers right in. Reading your beginning should make it impossible to stop reading the book.
- Don’t drag things out. Every panel and every page must have a clear purpose that advances the plot and is worthy unto itself. If you create a panel or a page whose only reason for existence is that they pay off later, erase them. Build the story so that every second feels good for the reader, as if it is the reason for the story. And then surprise your readers. Another example: If your readers have to ‘wait’ for the ‘big ending’ or a big moment that really pays off, don’t send your script. Readers should never wait through something bad or boring. Make every second worth it, and then have something that pays off all those great moments!
- Assume the reader is smarter than you. So many twists, turns, progress of characters, and dialogue are bad in stories because the writer assumes the reader doesn’t know something or hasn’t thought of something, even though the reader saw it coming ages ago. The readers of today have read/seen/watched thousands of comic books, movies, TV show and (some of them) books. Assume your readers are smarter than you and push yourself to find twists and turns that people smarter than you would never see coming.
- Use both storytelling channels. One of the first things you learn in theater is that the text people say and the physical actions they perform can’t be the same. It’s the same here. Use your words to describe/tell/say something that is not what the readers are seeing. You have two different storytelling channels: the visual and the textual. Don’t make them tell the same story. Make each tell a different story. You can use the tension between them to add interest, understanding, or to make a point. These two together will form your story. Using two channels to tell the same story makes a story shallow. Using each of them to tell a different story in each panel gives the story depth. Come on, it’s a tool, it’s right there – don’t waste it!
- Be cinematic. Okay, this one is not a Comics 2.0 criteria. This is a preference. It is my solution to the question: What can comic books do that film or prose can’t do better? The New Worlds Comics solution is: Be cinematic in a way even the screen can’t. Write your film for Spielberg, Nolan, Cameron, etc. but you have a wider canvas: You can use 12 issues or 50 issues or 100 issues to tell your cinematic story. You can write a series of 15 or 30 movies that are all one big story, for example. (That’s our Lost in Dreams series, btw.) And you can do it for a much lower budget than them, and much faster! Yours and the artist’s salaries do not amount to 800 million dollars!
Do you feel your writing answers this criteria? Let me know in the comments! And when submissions are open, send them!
Lastly. Do you want to know what Comics 2.0 looks like? Do you want to see why our writng guidelines are so strict? Click here to email us and you’ll get a free PDF copy of Wynter #1, a Comics 2.0 book!