The Comics Survival Kit


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thank you for the amazing response to the Comics Survival Kit!

There have been thousands of new followers, hundreds more every day. We were a trending resource on Tumblr and have received press notice from many different major websites.

Best of all, lots of people have written to say they found inspiration and helpful advice here, and there’s LOTS more to come. I have some more articles to put up when I have a moment to format them, great stuff from your favorite pros!

We are still looking for helpful short articles, especially from artists, colorists, letterers, editors, webcomics makers, and publishers. If you are established in the field and have a short piece that is useful, and to the point, advice for new creators (not just writers), please let us know. You can send a dm here, or you can hit me up at @galsimone on Twitter.

Thousands of people are reading these pieces and it’s really helping. If you are an established pro, please consider contributing a short piece, to pass on whatever help and advice you were given when you broke in!

Thank you!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Jim Demonakos is the founder and operator of one of the most successful and beloved comic conventions in America, Emerald City Comicon. I have watched the con grow from one smallish hall to a massively successful event, and it is almost impossible to find anyone to say anything bad about it. It’s just a blast to attend, in large part because of Jim and his amazing crew.

Because he’s a guy doing everything right, I asked him for his advice to new creators, how should they promote their stuff at cons? This is one of THE most useful articles we have featured, I think. Thank you, Jim!




Exhibiting At A Con - Pro Tips!

Having been on three different sides of the convention table (as an exhibitor, as a fan and as a convention organizer), I thought I’d write down some quick tips to help you get the most out of exhibiting at a convention.


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Monday, July 21, 2014

Zeus Comics is without question one of my favorite comics shops anywhere. It’s in Dallas, Texas, and it’s built a friendly, inclusive community of loyal readers, due in large part to the efforts of owner Richard Neal. I asked Richard for a short article that could be helpful to new comics creators, and this is what he gave us. Listen up, people! GS



Want to get your comic or work into comic shops?
Don’t email the store.
Don’t call the store.
Don’t mail a package of material to the shop.
All of that initially is a waste of time. 
In order to get in front of retailers, think about how you navigate your own email inbox.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Calgary, Alberta retailer ALPHA COMICS is known as an excellent, community-based shop. Many new creators, and even some long-time pros, misunderstand that the RETAILER is the actual customer for each new book in PREVIEWS each month. We talk on social media to readers, but without the retailers buying the book, no reader ever gets a copy.

This article helps explain the ACTUAL process brilliantly. I asked permission to reprint it. Thanks, Alpha!  GS


Not everyone making comics is working for Marvel or DC. Here is some friendly advice from the owner of Alpha Comics on what we look for when stocking creator-owned and independent comics.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Al Davison is an amazing artist, having worked for many different publishers including Vertigo. He’s also created several graphic novels, including the acclaimed THE ALCHEMIST’S EASEL, which deals partly in the very topics this tumblr is about…creative courage. He’s also a dear friend and a master of several martial arts, so behave!  GS




This might seem simplistic, but it is often overlooked by those just getting started. Don’t avoid drawing stuff you find difficult. Work on that stuff extra hard. If you are going to be professional, chances are you will have to draw that gnarly grasping hand or that foreshortened figure at some point. If you are honest with yourself and identify your weaknesses, then chances are you can find a solution that doesn’t avoid always having your characters hands in their pockets, or off panel. Attend conventions, and if their is an opportunity, show your stuff to some pro artists, be upfront about what you struggle to draw, and seek advice.


Nothing worse than getting your first pro-gig, and finding the script full of all that stuff you have been avoiding. Do life drawing classes whenever you can, get some good anatomy and perspective books. Get to grips with the visual vocabulary of storytelling, don’t avoid shots/angles just because they are tricky, remember the story is paramount, the art serves the story, so if that difficult high-angle shot of the foreshortened figure with gnarly hands running through the streets is the best shot for the story, put it in there and work out how to draw the hell out of it. Sure, work to your strengths, but don’t avoid tackling your weaknesses.







Sunday, July 13, 2014

This tumblr was an idea I have had for a while. Welcome!

Like all comics pros, I am asked all the time for advice on how to become a pro, and how to maintain that position once you have attained it.

It is a huge question, even if we knew the answers, it would be a lot to process!

So over the past few years, I have been collecting bits of practical, useful information in tiny, bite-sized chunks. These have been little mini-lessons that might be very helpful to aspiring creators. Writers, mostly, at first, but we have lots of helpful notes for artists as well that will be going up soon.

I will be adding a couple mini-tips articles from all over the industry ever couple days. I have, with permission, used some great stuff I have found on the web, but the vast majority of mini-lessons will be new, from colorists, retailers, writers, artists, editors, and lots more. People like Greg Pak, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Jim Zub, Adam Hughes, Pia Guerra, some of the best people in the industry.

This is not meant to replace lessons, practice, or books on the topic. It’s just a collection of things that may be of real use to the right people.

Read one, read a few, listen to advice of people who really know this subject. Lots more mini-lessons coming, including some cool bonuses like excerpts of upcoming how-to books not available anywhere else.

I want to have information not just on raw craft, but also practical things; what do artists hate when given a script? What do con organizers hope for from guests? How do you communicate effectively with retailers?

Fortunately, I have a LOT of friends who helped out with hard-earned info.

Have fun, take some info from the best, and good luck!

Also, go kick some ass!

Thank you so much to all the pros who gave their valuable time to help with this project!

Gail Simone, London, 2014


Monday, June 30, 2014

Molly Mahan is one of the best editors I have ever worked with, editing my Red Sonja run at Dynamite. I asked her what she looks for in an artist’s portfolio, what are the warning signs that the person isn’t ready. Good tips here!



Two things that matter most to me when it comes to evaluating a new artist are: 1. Did she draw hands and feet consistently throughout her sample pages or did she find “clever” ways to keep them out?  And 2. Did she leave room for balloons and captions?

The former is something even the most praised sequential artists can be found guilty of doing. When I was a young fan, I used to count how many pages—not panels—it would take to see a decent shot of a foot or a non-clenched hand in the books I picked up, and often counted the hand/foot to character ratio on a splash (I recall one fine #1 cover to a huge event at one of the Big Two half a decade ago boasting 12 characters and fewer than five feet). I am not an artist myself, so I can only guess at how difficult it is to draw feet that look proportional to characters, that said as an editor and reader it’s a noticeable flaw. So for that, my only advice is to practice drawing hands and feet, especially if you know you have difficulty with them, because their absence WILL be noticed, and if you’re new to the industry, it will be marked against you.

The second matter is something that is easily remedied: put balloons and captions in your layouts. Surmise, based on the script, roughly how much space a balloon or caption will need and leave space for it! We hate covering up your art as much as you hate seeing it covered, so the trick to keep that from happening is to give space.

Artist Workshop

Hey guys! Courtney here! Okay, if you’re like me at all, then foreshortening is something you absolutely hate to even THINK about attempting. I have asked for advice everywhere, and each person I’ve asked has given me a different technique that really confused me. I was browsing youtube and found this method (also there is a bonus tip showing how to draw arms and legs!). It’s so much easier than just eyeballing it (which I have tried [and failed at] doing). 

The links below show other methods of how to use forshortening to create the effects that you want, more than just limbs flying in your face (but seriously, who doesn’t love a good flying fist into the audience?)

I hope you enjoy! And don’t forget: practice makes perfect, and even as tedious and tiresome as it may get, you’ll keep getting better…and better…until you’re even more freaking awesome than you already are!! 

Other help:

Monday, June 30, 2014