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Breaking In to Comics

Here's what I did...

Yesterday, I got a request from Tyler Starke about doing a post regarding how I broke into comics. I figured I’d oblige.

I’ll start with a “recap” of my career so far…

My first published comic was in the first issue of Alterna ComicsALTERNA TALES anthology. It was an 8-page  horror story titled “What I Am” that was illustrated by "Kraven" Kurt Belcher. The book came out in summer 2007, though I don’t recall the exact month. 

My first published series was a three issue mini titled RUIN.   "Maniac" Mike Gallagher illustrated it and it was published by Alterna Comics throughout the latter half of 2007 and, I believe, into the beginning of 2008.   The thing’s currently out of print, so if anybody wants to see it, shoot me a PM and I’ll see what I can do.

My second published series was, of course, HYBRID BASTARDS! with "Killer" Kate Glasheen.   The first two issues came out winter 2007/2008.   Around that time, my publisher, Archaia starting going through a company restructuring and, now, the hardcover collection’s coming out this March (and it’s available to order on Amazon right now!)

It may seem like there hasn’t been a lot of activity over that period, but behind and in-between these published credits are many, many false starts. I actually broke-in to comics in 2005 with a title that ultimately got aborted because the artist stopped producing pages. We were set to be published, we had completed an issue and the guy just stopped drawing for us. The short story that wound up in ALTERNA TALES was originally supposed to be in another anthology, but the editor ended up being a big talker and the story went to Alterna instead, who got it printed within a month.

I got asked in an interview once if there were long hours in writing. There can be, depending on your own workflow, but the real long hours come in waiting for a project to come to fruition. For instance, I came up with the idea for HYBRID BASTARDS! in 2004 (if not earlier). Writing is the realm of delayed gratification. Italicize that, underline it and put it in bold. Writing is delayed gratification.

There’s a lot to cover about writing for comics, both professionally and philosophically, so I’ll stick to three basic questions right now.

How do you find an artist? There’s no one answer for this. Kate’s a family connection - - her folks are my Godparents.   I got to working with Mike after I saw his General Grievous fanart he drew on’s fanart gallery and sent him a blind inquiry. I’ve known Kurt for almost ten years - - we met in CBR’s chat room - - but we’d known eachother for almost three years before we started collaborating. He actually drew my first short, "The Legend of Minimus", and my first series pitch, THE DELETION OF VOLT MAN. Both projects never went anywhere, but they established an excellent creative relationship that continues to this day. We've actually got a mini-series in the pipleline that should be formally announced soon.

How do you get a book published? Go to conventions! It isn’t the only way, but it cuts through a lot of red tape.   There’s no effort more valuable that getting face-time with a publisher. If ticket’s are too pricey for you, then volunteer. That’s what I did at Wizardworld Chicago 2005 when I first met Archaia. You can spend half the day managing lines, save $45 (or $135 if you go all three) and do whatever you want for the rest of the day.

How do you get taken seriously if you’re an unknown? Be realistic about your goals. Keep your comic relatively short - - I’ve stuck with three issues, so far.  There’s no quicker way for a publisher not to take you seriously than for you to say, “This storyline’s the first part of a hundred issue epic.”  That’s not just presuming success, that’s presuming enormous success. Listen, it's hard enough to write a good 8-pager. Learn how to crawl before you try to sprint.  Also, don’t even bother talking to somebody if you don’t have a full creative team with you.  The publishers wants to see comics page that are inked, colored and lettered.  I've shot myself in the foot a number of times by handing in pitches with only pencils or inks.

I’ll stop before this runs too long in the tooth. If you, the rabid Comic Vine community, would be interested in more columns like this, I can certainly go into more detail. Or if you’d like to see another column about something else, shoot me a PM.

-- Tom Pinchuk is the writer of UNIMAGINABLE for Arcana Comics and HYBRID BASTARDS! for Archaia Comics.   Watch out for the HYBRID BASTARDS! hardcover collection this March - - available for pre-order now on

18 Comments Refresh
Posted by inferiorego
@Tom Pinchuk said:

 I actually broke-in to comics in 2005 with a title that ultimately got aborted because the artist stopped producing pages. 

Story of my life. I've fired more artists than hired because they weren't getting their pages done. I've also dropped as many smalltime publishers because they seemed shady.   
Nice article Tom. It's a win.
Posted by Aspenite

Great article! I really want to read more about that topic. 
I´m more a penciler than a writer but this is very interesting!

Posted by Tyler Starke

Ha wow I didn't think you would respond with an article so fast , thanks man. I'm definitely interested in more articles like this I'd love to know as much as possible on the subject.

Posted by No_name_here
@inferiorego: Thanky spanky, Mat. The guy I just mentioned is just one of many I've dealt with. He kept talking about how he was trying to find time to do the pages in between his studio job, then would keep updating his DA gallery with incredibly detailed fan art.  
If I ever meet him in person, I'm going to suplex him off the top of the steel cage.
Posted by AirDave817

Excellent! I'm always a sucker for a How I Broke Into The Biz story. Each one is usally unique and filled with luck and serenditptiy. I'd sure like to read more tips on writing and finding an artist, or a creative team...

Posted by inferiorego
@Tom Pinchuk: If you're going to San Diego, we should share horror stories.
Posted by arctoscomics

This is one of the places I think webcomics are most helpful. The delay in delayed gratification is much, much shorter. With Orion the Hunter (, I get out a page a week, my artist is great and great to work with. A lot of that comes from the lack of pressure to produce, and the fact that he's being paid on delivery. Same with our new title Belter. In both cases I get feedback from fans right away, emails and comments come in through the site and through various forums I frequent. Its great not having to wait months (or years) to hear people's responses to my work and that f my collaborators.
Cliff VanMeter

Posted by Fresh0133

Heck yeah I want to hear more.  Myself and three other individuals are, and have been for a while, working on putting a book out, the more advice we get the better off we are.
I always appreciate when a writer or artist takes time to tell how they were able to get their foot in the door to their fans and I'd love to hear more about you and Kate were able to harness the insanity and put out Hybrid Bastards.

Posted by Grim

...your making it difficult to hate you Tom Pinchuk.
 While i'm not that interested in breaking into comics (i have no real aptitude for scripting) i am an aspiring writer. as such, your emphasis on the Delayed Gratification of writing made me crack a smile. I also took to heart your suggesting writing something small before you write something big. Long story short, when i first started writing, my masterpiece was a superhero story that mutated over the last 10 years into a Harry Potter sized epic... and as my harshest critic i feel like i havent gotten anywhere.  Still, that story is pretty much all i ever focus on, with the few short stories ive writen on the side really being tweaked bits of that grand scale that i cut out. Maybe i should just put my baby on hold and focus on independent shorts for a while.
 you got lucky this time, Tom Pinchuk! but next time, expect a mild flaming. EXPECT!

Posted by Manchine

Give me more info.   

Posted by 1eyejoker

I can't do art for sh!t, and I don't know anybody who can. Seriously frustrating when you write tons of scripts but have nothing to do with them.
Posted by Archetype

I appreciate the insights into the Origins of Tom Pinchuk as we know and love him today.However I don't think writing is something I am cut out for; characters and generalities I can do but an actual narrative and dialog and creating whole universes with certain rules that apply and logic that dictates it I just don't have the patience or the scope of imagination it would take to get something like that off the ground besides it's just not my passion...I mean I love what you guys do obviously but it's just not my cup a tea.Good luck on future endeavors, and that goes for all of you struggling (or not) writers and artists.

Posted by InnerVenom123

I wanna write comics.... but what is the exact format of a comic book script? It's been driving me crazy....
Posted by DeathinFire

It's always a huge opportunity for everyone when someone who works in the industry gives us any kind of insight.  Thank you for sharing your time and knowledge with us.

Posted by Bearded Justice

I'd love to write comics.  About a year ago, when I was a complete idiot, I sent something to Dark Horse.  Never got a reply, of course, because... I was a complete idiot and it was terrible.  I'd be great at The Tick.   

Posted by Bergquist

i volunteer   at   Wizardworld Chicago 2005    too
Posted by Illyana Rasputin

Thank you for the honest and insightful information. I appreciate it.
Posted by DoomDoomDoom

Great article!