Twitter advice from Marvel’s C.B. Cebulski

Marvel Comics talent liaison C.B. Cebulski has been twittering up a storm of advice to new creators of late. Cebulski, who scouts for new artistic talent for the publisher, has had a lot of practical things to say. Keep track of his latest by following him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/CBCebulski. We’ve recaped most of his recent tweets for you here.

  • When and if sending an editor samples pages, always save as JPEGs and keep all files under 300K.
  • PDFs are cool too, but try and keep them around 2MB tops. Last thing you wanna do is crash an editor’s inbox.
  • And limit attachments to your 5 or 6 best pieces. If the editor wants to see more, he/she will ask you to send more.
  • Yes, a link to a blog with your art would always be recommended over attachments to begin with.
  • Sorry, writers, but I’m offering advice for artists. Maybe some of the editors here can chime in and help you guys?
  • Blogs are always structured chronologically with newest posts first which is another reason I recommend them.
  • Yes, it’s definitely harder for writers than artists to break into comics these days, in my opinion.
  • And when I say “breaking into comics”, I’m generally referring to working for the more major mainstream publishers.
  • Truth be told, it’s easier than ever for anyone to “break into comics” via webcomics and self-publishing these days.
  • The internet &/or print-on-demand services mean anyone with an idea, motivation & a little $ can bring a comic to life.
  • Barely anyone has “broken in” at Marvel or DC directly. We always say it’s better to be published elsewhere first.
  • I always recommend people make comics, whether it’s for themselves or to try and break in professionally.
  • It’s easier than ever for writers to find artists, and vice versa, here on the net. (cont.)
  • Like Digital Webbing, Deviant Art, conceptart.org, and lots of creator boards, like Bendis and Millar, to name a few.
  • The question of digital art vs. on the board is a question each artist needs to answer for themselves.
  • Makes no difference to the editor or publisher really. How you create your art is your business.
  • Yes, “good, fast or nice.” If you’re two of the three, you can get a job in comics, as the saying goes.
  • I can almost guarantee you that my idea of being “Marvel ready” and an up-an-coming artist’s idea of “Marvel ready” are totally different.
  • The two main things we look for are style and storytelling. Speed is something we learn and judge later.
  • I don’t really know as I don’t recruit writers or review their work, but I would assume so.
  • Bad storytelling is bad even w/ the flashiest finish. Good ST is good w/ a crayon.
  • Got my first “where does a nobody like you get off giving advice on breaking into comics” note. Must’ve been from someone I didn’t hire.
  • If your work gets picked for review at a con, it means yours was one of the better drop-offs the Marvel editors saw.
  • Sample pages = TEST pages. They’re a means for artists to “try out” for an editor. They’re not a guarantee of work.
  • If you have published work, it’s better to send the editor the actual books than links to the stories online.
  • The most important thing to remember about working in comics is that THIS IS A JOB!
  • Your portfolio is your resume. Talks with editors are your job interviews. Be professional.
  • Yes, working in comics is a lot of fun, but it’s still work and has to be approached as such.
  • No need to dress up to meet editors at cons. It’s more about acting professionally. Showering helps tho. :)
  • Proper etiquette for following up with an editor after a meeting at a con? I recommend the rule of 4 Ps. (cont.)
  • Be persistent. Be patient. Don’t be pushy. Don’t be a pain-in-the-ass.
  • Wait a week to send out your initial e-mail. No attachments. Follow-up two weeks later if you don’t hear back.
  • Then just send updates letting the editor know what you’re up to every 4 – 6 weeks. Never more than once a month.
  • Yup, everything I say here may be common sense, but you have no idea how many people don’t get it right.
  • I’d say the Rule of 4 Ps applies to both artists and writers.
  • It’s interesting, in discussing it over beers last night, we all seemed to agree that writers tend to be much pushier than artists.
  • We also noticed an increase in the disturbing trend of “editor fishing” going on of late.
  • Editor fishing = Telling Editor #1 you’re coming to the office for a meeting with Editor #2 when you don’t actually have an appointment.
  • This done in hopes of Editor #1 not checking with Editor #2, thereby tricking him into letting you into offices for a meeting you never had.
  • Oh, yeah… people just show up at the Marvel offices all the time. The receptionists are experts at dealing with it!
  • Although there was one time Dave Finch dropped by unannounced to drop off pages and they didn’t believe him or let him in. :(
  • You’d be surprised. There’re 2 writers famous for it & always manage to pull it off. They usually pull it on new editors.
  • Oh, editors check, but you’ll find comics people are very forgiving of talent and always like to believe the best in creators.
  • No, wearing a Marvel t-shirt to a con will not improve your chance of getting a meeting with a Marvel editor.
  • You know, this is actually working. Gotten lots of e-mails and replies with intros and links to sweet art blogs. Cool!
  • Who knows… maybe Marvel will soon have our first Twitter hire?
  • Again, I am not trying to pick on or deny new writers opportunities. It’s just not part of my job. NOT what I do. I’m Marvel’s artist guy.
  • I come across many new artists via links on creator blogs. So new artists, get your pro friends to start linking to you.
  • There have more new opportunities for new writers at Marvel these past two years than ever before. I see a new name at least every month.
  • Astonishing Tales, X-Men Manifest Destiny, MCP… almost every issue debuts as new voice that the editors have discovered.
  • Looking at the new issue of Astonishing Tales, there are two new writers in there. One who had a short story in MCP, one making his debut.
  • Marvel also has new writer specific one-shots that they do to test run new writers who they think have the chops to write for Marvel.
  • I know for a fact Axel Alonso hired an up-and-coming writer he likes just this past Thursday for a Punisher one-shot of this nature.
  • He’d been following this writer’s work at few other publishers, read his newest issue, thought he’d found his voice, and called him.
  • Yes, these gigs are on short stories, one-shots and maybe not the best sellers, so you might not hear read them or hear about these guys.
  • But the point is the chances are now out there. Systems are in places at Marvel to get new writers in on a regular basis. More so than ever.
  • “New” meaning “new to Marvel”, yes. Which brings up another myth I’ll be happy to dispel re: screenwriters and novelists at Marvel. (cont.)
  • Just because they work in another entertainment medium, that doesn’t mean they have an automatic in at Marvel. Far from the case.
  • TV/movie/novel writing is very different from comic writing. Writing for an artist, understand the pacing, etc., are completely different.
  • And the editors at Marvel know and understand this. Any writer from Hollywood or literature has to try out just like any other new writer.
  • Yes, you may see more names crossing over into comics these days, but the door wasn’t magically just opened for them.
  • Maybe they get more “buzz” due to their other writing, but that’s to be expected. But they now write in comic cuz they KNOW and LOVE comics.
  • You know, I’d bet there were more “new” writers than “Hollywood” writers hired by Marvel in 2008. You just never heard of the newer guys.
  • Yes, you can sit here and argue and debate every point I bring up about breaking into comics, but really… what’s the point?
  • You don’t like what I have to say? Feel free to ignore me. Follow your own path. Break in your own way. Please.
  • My opinions and advice are my own, formed from personal experience. I pass it on with only the best of intention. I’m only trying to help.
  • Oh, I don’t mind. I know I’m just a Marvel corporate stooge to some people, doing spin control to covering up the big Marvel conspiracy.
  • “I’ve got the best ideas for (insert Marvel character here) since Stan Lee and Marvel won’t publish them cuz they’re scared I’m so good!”
  • Oh, you found us out. You’re so good that we’re keeping you down just so we don’t have to fire hacks like @BRIANMBENDIS & @mattfraction!
  • None of this sours me on Twitter or the internet in any way. I’ve been getting it for years and expect it. Makes me smile actually.
  • And I’m saving it all for my book. The chapter on how NOT to break into comics continues to grow on an almost daily basis. :)
  • Yes, breaking into comics really can be murder. :)
  • Most of the comments I’ve been getting have been via e-mail and DMs actually. I guess people want me to see them but not make them public.
  • And as some seem to have missed the point, the tweets about a Marvel conspiracy and me calling my friends Brian and Matt hacks WERE A JOKE!
  • Woke up to inboxes full of material ripe for Twittering about!
  • First and foremost, don’t use the current “global economic crisis” as an attempt to get work. It’s not just you who’s suffering financially.
  • Comic jobs are given based on talent, not economic need. Can’t believe I had 2 e-mails trying to guilt me into work! What’re you thinking?!
  • There are plenty of already established pencilers who have fallen on hard times and who are out there looking for work as well.
  • And we’re more than likely to call up and offer a gig to a pro we’ve worked with before and know we can trust.
  • I don’t care if “I’m new and hungry and will work cheaper than the other pencilers out there because I desperately need money to get by.”
  • And another thing, if you happen to find out personal details about an editor, don’t try and use them as an in to get work.
  • (And I’m not saying this about me as I put all my shit out here online and am always happy to talk about anything I post.)
  • But I’ve heard from other editors how artists at portfolio reviews, complete strangers mind you, asked about their wife and/or kids by name.
  • Or knew where they went to college. Or challenged them to a game of one-on-one as they heard the editor liked basketball.
  • There’s a line between the personal and the professional. Between being friendly and being creepy. Just know where it is and don’t cross it.
  • The number one piece of advice I give newer, up-and-coming artists: stick to the grid! There’s nothing more important in my opinion.
  • And for those that haven’t seen it, here’s “Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Always Work”: http://tinyurl.com/lcgqu
  • Second piece of advice I always find myself giving newbies: Don’t break the panel borders. It’s distracting and usually not necessary.
  • New pencilers often make the mistake of breaking borders to add dynamicism to a page but it usually just confuses their storytelling.
  • Third piece of advice, don’t neglect your panel borders and gutters. They are an important part of your page that are often forgotten.
  • Fourth piece of advice, don’t forget that word balloons and SFX need to go on the page. Make sure you include them in your initial layouts.
  • Sounds obvious, I know, but there are even pros I know who don’t always take them into account and complain when their art gets covered up.
  • And my last piece of advice for new pencilers today, don’t attempt to draw in any sound effects. They’ll only serve to clutter your art.
  • Certain artists, like Adam Kubert, are masters at it, but it’s an art to be learned. Tell the story first without cluttering your pages.
  • And as I’m just a lowly writer & talent scout, I would greatly appreciate any artists here jumping in with advice/experiences of their own.
  • As Hollywood’s invaded and San Diego’s grown, it’s not the best con to try and meet editors and show your portfolio at anymore.
  • Unfortunately, there’s no real set answer to that. “Marvel ready” is a subjective term. When I see, I know… that’s about it.
  • I discovered @skottieyoung ‘s artwork simply walking thru Artists Alley in Chicago, so I always recommend new artists get tables at cons.

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