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Alum Marta Tanrikulu is Co-Editing Passages, A New Kickstarter!

Comics Experience alumna and Creators Workshop member Marta Tanrikulu is co-editing an anthology compiling NewMyths ezine’s best stories into a new Kickstarter campaign! Passages collects some of the most popular sci-fi/fantasy poems, prose, and art with an eye for telling an overarching metanarrative about the major stages of life, from birth to death and all points in between.

We spoke with Marta and her fellow editors, Scott T. Barnes and Susan Shell Winston, about Passages.

Comics Experience: Can you tell us the story of

Scott T. Barnes: Ten years ago I was beginning to have some success as a short story writer — a few sales to the smaller magazines — and I had just completed the six week resident program Odyssey, a fantasy writing workshop.These two factors brought me two distinct revelations: 1.) there are very few markets for short fiction that pay anything, particularly online; 2.) it is extremely difficult for a newbie writer to promote him/herself until they have had significant sales — and yet how do you get those sales without an ability to self-promote? Unless you have some sort of name outside of fiction, it is nearly impossible.

I founded NewMyths as a partial answer to both those issues. It was meant to be a paying market which developed a community of writers who would support and promote one another. Over the years, we have published many first sales, and we consider each of these a cause for celebration.

The first couple of years, I did all the work myself with just a little help from my technical guru Rob del Sol. Over the years as my life has become more complicated (a wife, children, and more writing) I have come to rely on volunteers and guest editors to do more and more of the work. Today, I manage NewMyths from afar and most of the day-to-day business is handled by Susan Shell Winston and Marta Tanrikulu. Without them, neither the magazine nor the upcoming anthology would have been possible.

Rob del Sol continues to work with us, and we have made great strides automating the submission process, with the goal of ever improving the interaction with our writers and building a stronger sense of community among both writers and readers.

CE: How did the decision to chronicle the stages of life in Passages come about?

Marta Tanrikulu: The four stages chosen are somewhat arbitrary; the classic Sphinx riddle associated with Oedipus has three, but the hero’s quest type of story is often a young person’s coming of age story, so this stage of life is included explicitly.

STB: I had the idea of putting NewMyths stories in an anthology for some time, but other obligations simply did not allow me to pursue it. When Susan suggested supervising one, and her suggestion coincided with the 10-year anniversary of the magazine, I felt the stars had aligned. The first step was to read the hundreds of published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry and see what we had. Patterns began to emerge, and from these patterns the theme of the first anthology was born.

Susan Shell Winston: My inspiration for suggesting an anthology came over the last three years of reading the slush piles and noticing a trend. At first we had one or two stories where children were the main characters, and then a few more where elder adults were the protagonists, dealing with losing their life work to memory loss, or trying to rejuvenate their spouses, or the most memorable one, six elders being sent as the first colonists to Mars because they were too old and so expendable in the expectation they would fail. Over the next two years after publishing that story, a flood of stories of older adult protagonists started coming in. I felt they needed their own collection.

CE: What was the selection process like?

SSW: At World Fantasy Con last year, and in our December 2017 issue, we sent out a call for stories and poems dealing with coming of “any age” stories and then started reading through back issues to find stories that also fit that theme. Many excellent stories and poems came in response, and we published three of them in March’s issue and five of them in June’s issue for readers to vote for the their favorites. The top three won a Readers’ Choice award and monetary prize and are highlighted as winners in our anthology. We also had a list of stories we were considering for original publication in the anthology, but we found so many favorite stories from back issues that fit the theme that we had to make hard choices even among those. There are four new stories and one new poem in the anthology. One of those never-before-published stories is the fiction version of Marta’s comic Dancing with Dragons. I found it very interesting to see it in both forms, and note the different interpretations.

MT: In making the final selections, we also considered which stories and poems best fit together to make an anthology that was better than the sum of all its parts. In looking over stories that I’ve wanted to tell, I was surprised to realize that four of the comics I’ve scripted happened to fall neatly into the “passages” theme: Name Day (artist Daniel Franco) is themed around a child reaching a key milestone on a distant planet. Dancing with Dragons (artist Jenny Gorman) follows a young hero’s quest. Traveller Seeks Gainful Employ (artist Leila del Duca) explores the challenges of an exiled mother-to-be, and The Last Sleep (artist Silvio dB) examines a death bed encounter with an alien exile. So those four are collected as a bonus Kickstarter reward.

CE: The Kickstarter mentions attempting to establish a new sci-fi/fantasy subgenre. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

MT: The subgenre taking shape is, like the title of the anthology, the story of a passage. Beyond the coming of age story, in the broader subgenre, the protagonist can be of any age, someone ordinary or extraordinary, who is facing a life-defining event. Science fiction and fantasy both explore a wide range of such passages.

SSW: The flood of stories where the protagonists were seniors often came with the comment that these stories would be the rarest. Quite the opposite, and I wondered why. At first I thought that as many writers who grew up with Star Wars and Tolkien were now seniors themselves, they were starting to write of their experiences from their new life. That might be possible, but there were so many. Then in going through our back issues from the last ten years — our stories and poems only reflected that trend in the last three years. Classic coming of age stories where the protagonists were young adults are no longer as common as they used to be in our slush piles nor in our issues. But stories and poems where the heroes are ten to fourteen, or their worried parents crushed by taking care of children and their own aging parents, or seniors facing the end of their stories are out there instead. Something else must be happening!

You can follow and support Passages here!

Episode #161 of the Make Comics Podcast Posted!

CE_podcast_logoA new episode of the Comics Experience Make Comics podcast has been posted! Each episode provides ~15 minutes of advice on all aspects of creating comics and breaking in to the industry.

Join Joey Groah, Nicole Boose, Heather Antos, and Jim Gibbons as they discuss making comics!

Subscribe to our podcast via iTunes! Or check out the latest episode below or on our Podcast page!

Episode #161 – Portfolios and Talent Scouting with Will Robson
Artist Will Robson (Typhoid Fever: X-Men, Spider-Man/Deadpool, Star Lord) talks about his portfolio goals over the years, getting hired by Marvel, and working with editors like Heather Antos. Heather shares her tips for portfolios and talking to editors.

List of All Episodes

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Next Call for Submissions: January 2019!

Comics Experience offers a publishing program in partnership with Source Point Press, and we’re opening a new submissions window this January! If you’re eligible to submit to our publishing program, we encourage you to start getting your project ready — we’d love to hear from you.

Submissions are open to those who have participated in our courses, mentoring program, or Creators Workshop, and meet other eligibility guidelines. For full details and more general info about our publishing program, visit our publishing page here!

If you’re a Creators Workshop member, you can also access a dedicated online Publishing Q&A discussion forum, as well as a recorded Town Hall meeting with CE’s Andy Schmidt and Source Point’s Travis McIntire. There, the pair offer their own feedback and insight into how our publishing process works.

Since announcing our partnership with Source Point in January 2018, we’re pleased to have helped produce a number of unique projects developed and workshopped within the CE community — including these titles, available this October 4 through 7 at New York Comic Con:

WILD STRAWBERRIES by Bruce Kim and Katia Vecchio


HALUS by Chris Clark, Atung Yupas, and Owen Welsh

THE LOVE SHE OFFERED by Glenn Moane and Tirso Llaneta


GUTTER MAGIC HARDCOVER EDITION by Rich Douek, Brett Barkley, Jules Rivera, and Nic J. Shaw

Titles currently available in print are listed here!

Many of these books’ creators started their journey to publication right here within the Comics Experience community. We’re proud of them, and proud to have had a role in their achievements! Info about our courses and other programs is available throughout our site, and we hope you’ll check them out.

We look forward to receiving and reviewing new submissions in January!

If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose

Writing for Animation with Zac Atkinson Now Open!

Screenwriting 103: Writing for Animation is now open for enrollment! The class, which is part of our Screen Experience initiative, will run for six weeks beginning on Thursday, October 4. You can sign up here. Our courses tend to fill up pretty quickly, so make sure to enroll and ensure your spot as soon as you can!

Instructor Zac Atkinson has worked on Transformers Rescue Bots as well as other Hasbro television properties, and serves as a judge on screenwriting competitions at the Austin Film Festival and other events. We spoke with him about the upcoming course.

Comics Experience: What is your approach to teaching the Writing for Animation course?

Zac Atkinson: Rule one in Writing for Animation is to have a great time! I aim for fun, with learning woven into it. Education is the base of the class, but this is a course about telling stories. So we get wild and weird every chance possible. Animation can depict literally anything you can imagine, so I try to bring that wide-open concept to the class.

CE: What are some of the common misconceptions about writing for animation that you plan to address?

ZA: One of the biggest misunderstandings I see time and again is that animation is often referred to as its own storytelling genre. Animation is not a genre. It’s a medium that is open to all types of stories, not just kid-friendly or family-friendly fare. I strongly encourage students to write any kind of story they want to tell in this course.

CE: How is writing for animation different than writing for comics, in ways that many students might not realize?

ZA: Animation is a moving medium and the moment unfolding before the audience’s eyes is all that matters. Like all TV, movies, or video, the immediacy of the moment requires a different approach than a story in print. Comics are open to a myriad of narrative devices that don’t always play well on a screen. I cover this in more detail in the class.

CE: What are you most looking forward to in teaching the Writing for Animation course?

ZA: Meeting the students! Every time I teach this course, the students are the most fun and interesting part of the experience. Everyone brings their own unique point of view and their own strange experiences to the class. This makes for exciting conversation and wildly inventive stories! I love it!

If you want to guarantee your spot in Introduction to Animation Writing, click here.


If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

CE Community Member Heads Diversity Comic Con!

On Thursday, October 11, 2018, Comics Experience Creators Workshop member Ramon Gil will launch the very first Diversity Comic Con at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)! The con will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Great Hall of FIT’s Conference Center.

Ramon Gil

Ramon is a professor at the school, who also serves as Art Director for Pronto Comics, and is an independent comics creator in his own right. While Ramon has participated in and helped organize multiple comics-related events throughout his career, Diversity Comic Con will be his first time organizing an event specifically combining his love of comics with his commitment to increased visibility for underrepresented groups within the industry.

Other participating Comics Experience community members include instructor Chris “Soto” Sotomayor, Creators Workshop pro member Reilly Brown, Make Comics podcast co-host Heather Antos, and former Workshop member Matt Kelly. An impressive showing of additional guests, panels, and exhibitors is available at the Diversity Comic Con website.

Admission to Diversity Comic Con is free, but reservations are required! Visit the convention website for details and tickets.

Congrats to Ramon and collaborators for creating, organizing, and launching this event!
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!

Posted by Nicole Boose

Kenny Porter in DC’s Cursed Comics Cavalcade!

Creators Workshop member and course alum Kenny Porter will be writing a Green Lantern story for the Cursed Comic Cavalcade! Out October 10, he’ll be joined by Riley Rossmo on art, Ivan Plascenia on colors, and Tom Napolitano on letters. For fans of horror comics, now’s your chance to see your favorite DC superheroes fighting seasonally appropriate horrors.

We spoke to Kenny briefly about the project.

Comics Experience: What is your relationship like with the creative team?

Kenny Porter: Riley Rossmo and I developed the story together and we had a blast doing it. We’ve known each other for a while and have similar tastes, so having an excuse to collaborate was a lot of fun. I haven’t met Ivan Plascenia or Tom Napolitano, but they both did excellent work with the colors and letters. Also, our editors Dave and Alex were great to work with and really helped us develop the story.

CE: What are some of the challenges unique to working with a licensed character that you don’t face in personal work crafted from the ground up?

KP: I think that the biggest challenge is saying something new with the character while still being true to who the character is at their core. You know that you’re not the first person to write or draw this character, and you won’t be the last, so you have to add something to a bigger tapestry rather than just weaving your own story any way you want. But those limitations can be really fun when you try to consider the world and the future of the character beyond you and your work.

CE: How has your experience with Comics Experience helped with creating this Green Lantern story?

KP: My classes and the workshop helped me out quite a bit. Early on there were a lot of challenges where we would have to take a licensed character and write a short story as if it were going to be published. I did a Rocketeer story years ago in the workshop that gave me the chance to experiment, research, and prepare for writing other popular characters.

You can pick up Cursed Comics Cavalcade on October 10!