1) Before submitting your work, check for spelling and grammar. Also, revise and polish your submission. Is it a story you'd want to read featuring your chosen hero? Have you written a story using characters you're familiar with? Could you edit it to improve the storytelling? Re-writing is an important part of any creative process, be it comics, TV, film, radio or novel.
2) Format: There
is no particular format for writing plots or scripts but companies my require
submissions to be in particular formats. Comics strips scripts do not, for
example, need to be double spaced. (For
more on this topic, have a look at Chris Bunting's web blog article on the
subject, written in July 2005). If you are using a computer to
write scripts, many creators prefer the program Final Draft to other word
Warhammer and TOXIC Writer
Stu Taylor advised back in 2005 (via Chris Bunting's site): "It's not particularly
cheap, but if you buy it direct from the American website (www.finaldraft.com),
you can get it for half the price you'd pay at somewhere like PC World. Once
I started using it, I could never go back to just using Microsoft Word."
3) If you are targeting a particular company, submit
work featuring the company's published characters you're familiar with.
it's pretty pointless submitting new character ideas in the first instance, unless
you've teamed up with an artist to knock 'em dead (another good idea, and one
you can realize by publishing a fanzine). Also, check with the company before
you send them anything. Neither Marvel nor Dark Horse now accept unsolicited
submissions. Find out what a company's submission procedure is before you make
4) If pitching to a British title such as 2000AD,
send in storylines/four page 'Future Shock' ideas, not multi part epics.
(2000AD's full submission guidelines are here) These plot lines should be brief never be more than a single side of A4.
If you can tell the story or explain a character in a sentence, it really
helps. US editors will also want to see self-contained short stories. don't
use well-known characters, either ? you may stand a better chance of getting
accepted as a new writer if you submit a story featuring a lesser-known
character in need of development or revamping.
For anyone struggling to get stuff published in 2000AD, Andrew Ness wrote to mention
that there's a dedicated mail list where you can get critiques and (sometimes)
helpful hints. To join, just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Browsing through the online archive is recommended before posting, just to avoid
repetition. Other than that, all welcome.
5) DC Thomson Commando Library
Published as 64 page black and white
books, Commando war stories centring on armed forces action (stories can
come from every era of human history but, generally, modern conflicts)
and consist of 135 frames per story. Pitches require a synopsis of about
1000 words in the first instance but successful writer Gordon Wells
(writing in the May 2005 issue of Writing Magazine) advises writing a 2500 word synopsis in order to have sufficient material to complet the 135-frame story.
Script format differs from weekly and US titles in that almost every
frame includes a lengthy 25-30 word caption to move along the story.
Word balloons are limited to two per frame, with at most 25 words per
Research is vital when pitching ideas: there are a huge number of web
sites dedicated to retelling real military action. While editing the
launch issues of RAF Magazine for Titan I compiled some links to RAF sites which may give you a jumping off point to other resources -- click here for my RAF links page. There are also numerous World War One links on the unofficial Charley's War web site, dedicated to the comic created by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun for Battle Picture Weekly.
My resource page of historical sites is by no means exhaustive, but may also be of interest: click here for my History links. The military books or history section of your local library or a trip to your local museum may also provide story ideas.
DC Thomson buys all rights to any accepted script.
• Read a December 2007 interview with Commando editor Calum Laird offering a guide to submitting to DC Thomson titles
6) Writer Warren Ellis recommends sending script samples
to companies. It's worth a try if you're
an unknown. An editor needs to know you can write good dialogue as well
as come up with sparkling ideas.
I'd also STRONGLY advise that as for artists, if you are approaching a particular
company, you should submit a sample script featuring the characters that company
features, rather than your own. As they want to see artists can really draw their
characters, so they'll also want to see that writers can really write for their
characters. Keep the script short, perhaps: write an eight page vignette rather
than a 22 page complete story.
include your name, address and telephone number on each sample and each page
that you send in. Include a stamped addressed envelope.
8) Be prepared to wait for a reply but in the case
of writing, because there are generally fewer submissions, I would say a phone
call won't hurt your chances. If you do phone
leave it until about four weeks after sending your submission. Plus, be polite
and be quick. Editors are always busy, even on the toilet. (They're also
partially insane and never in the same mood from day to day. In this, they
have a lot in common with traffic wardens, but that another story).
9) If you are sending in story ideas with new characters
you've created and feel paranoid (not necessarily a bad thing), you might want
to post a copy of the material to yourself. Then
leave the envelope unopened in a box file somewhere. The date stamp on the
envelope serves as the indicator of when you sent the company your work, so
if your character appears in another form you at least have some evidence of
your creations being ripped off.
Many American companies adopt the same principles as TV companies, requesting
that you send a legal release form with any submission so they can avoid any potential
legal wrangle if 'simultaneous creation' occurs. It does happen...