After sifting through the hundreds of submissions they received from aspiring aspiring interior artists, cover artists, colorists, and letterers for their first round of virtual portfolio reviews, Valiant Senior Editors Heather Antos and Lysa Hawkins are ready to take no writers this time! Following the success of the first round Hawkins and Antos will peruse the portfolios of a total of 20 people and provide feedback in 10-minute virtual sessions on September 10 and 11. Submission details can be found on Valiant’s site, but in the meantime, Hawkins and Antos share with WWAC some insights on their new virtual portfolio review process.
How many submissions did you receive in your first round of virtual portfolio reviews? How many were you able to review?
Antos: Oh goodness, several hundred! I’m scared to go back and look out of fear of crashing my inbox, to be honest. It was a lot. And it was so tough selecting the ten folks who would receive the 10-minute one-on-one reviews — but we looked at each and every single portfolio submitted. And that took a lot of time.
Hawkins: It was a tsunami of a response! Over 500 came in. Our eyes hurt after going over so many submissions. To make matters worse, all were SO talented. I wanted to pore over each and every one, giving each as much time as I could.
What did you learn from that first experience and what adjustments are you making to the process?
Antos: I think ultimately we were blown away by the overwhelming response from the first round and were not prepared for the amount of time or brain power it would take to make the final selections. I probably spent at least two full work days going through each portfolio and whittling down to the final 10 I would be speaking to. So this time around we are cutting off submissions a full week in advance, rather than the night before, in order to allow Lysa and I to take more time reading and making our selections.
Hawkins: Well, after that amazing response we realized we should give ourselves more than just 24 hours to make our choices. So now we have a leisurely week to go over the writers’ portfolios. We’ll see if we’ve given ourselves enough time!
You’re switching to writers reviews this time. How does that process differ?
Antos: Well, for one — there’s a lot more reading to be done! And whereas for the previous artists review we’ve done where we’re critiquing and assessing one’s visual storytelling abilities and artistic techniques, with writers we’re assessing…everything else that makes a comic! Is the high concept clear? Is it interesting? How is the pacing? Does the structure make sense? Are the characters likable? Unlikable? Is the dialogue natural? Et cetera. Think of your favorite comic writers — what makes you keep coming back to their work, no matter the artist, concept, or character? THAT’s what we’ll be reviewing.
Hawkins: For comics, it’s really the flip side of the same coin. Last time we were looking for the art on the page and how the sequences flowed. Now we are looking for the content, the words and the pacing to see how the storytelling flows.
You’ve indicated that only published work will be accepted, not scripts or pitches. What is the rationale for this limitation?
Antos: It really just comes down to two things: 1) Time, and 2) Legal concerns. Reading scripts just plain and simple takes much longer than reading a finished comic. Also it’s important to know that these writers can collaborate with others — as that’s what making comics is; collaboration! As for legal reasons, it gets complicated, but basically unless we were to have each and every person submitting fill out paperwork agreeing to submit their unpublished ideas to us, things have the potential to get very messy. Only allowing for finished comics to be submitted for review not only protects the writer, but it also protects Valiant from unwanted complications in the future.
Hawkins: There is no possible way we can read hundreds of scripts and pitches in any timely fashion, but more importantly, legally, we can’t look at unsolicited unpublished submissions.
What is your advice for aspiring writers?
Antos: Write, write, and write some more! The best education is done on the page itself — whether you’re writing or reading. Give yourself experience many different types of characters, genres, concepts, you name it. Practice writing one-pagers, four-pagers, 10-pagers, and beyond! Most writers starting out don’t get granted an ongoing series off the bat — they’re giving a chance on a back-up or fill-in. So they more you can wow and impress on those, the more likely you’ll be asked to do more!
Hawkins: Write every day. It doesn’t matter what you write, be it a food journal, a diary, a letter or a manuscript. Never give up an opportunity, even if you don’t think you’re “there” yet. There is always something to learn.
All submissions are due September 3rd at 5pm EST. Be sure to read the submission guidelines carefully!