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Dark Horse editor Jim Gibbons offers “breaking in” advice

jimgibbonsDark Horse associate editor Jim Gibbons joined the Comics Experience Creators Workshop recently to discuss his career, Dark Horse Comics, and the art of editing comic books, including Black Beetle and the award-winning anthology Dark Horse Presents.

During the session, Jim was also asked about the best way to break in to the comics industry.

“I think making comics is your best resume or your best pitch to working in comics,” he said. “If you send me a 100-page Word document and you’re like, oh, I’ve got the next 100 Bullets here–I don’t think anyone’s going to really take that pitch seriously until you’re a guy like Brian Azzarello.”

DHP-28Jim explained that the most important thing for him as an editor is seeing that a creator knows how to tell a story, as opposed to showing an ability to put together an extensive pitch package.

“If you can show me four pages that convey that you know how to tell a story, or a comic you’ve written that can convey that…that ends up standing out a lot more because it takes a lot longer to read a script,” Jim said. An editor can look at a comic and get a feel for if it’s working or not in about five minutes, Jim added.

Another benefit of a shorter story is that it either highlights (or exposes the lack of) crucial character work immediately.

“If you can’t put together a short story that conveys some information about a character or some sort of little character journey or something like that, then it’s going to be very hard to cut through everything else you’ve got going in a pitch.”

Jim likes to work with creators who show enthusiasm for their work, and those creators are the ones Jim tends to remember later.

black-beetle-tpb“It’s not necessarily about making something because it’s going to make you money,” he said. “It’s about making something because you have a story you really want to tell and you’ve just got to do that.”

In short, in an age where creators have multiple avenues for distributing their self-published work, from digital to webcomics, there’s nothing stopping a creator from starting to make comics.

“I think DIY is a really good way to get yourself into comics. If you’re taking the time to do it on your own, without a paycheck maybe, it shows you’re not a slouch. You’re working on stuff. You’re passionate enough about it to do it. It tells me you’re serious.”

Thanks to Jim for taking the time to join us on the Creators Workshop.

Creators Workshop sessions take place every month, giving members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career.

There’s still plenty of time to sign up before the next session. We hope to see you there.

Guest Blog: CE Alum Vito Delsante on learning, lettering and being a creator

vito-delsanteIn this guest blog, CE alum Vito Delsante talks about learning, lettering, and the challenges of being a creator. His Kickstarter project, Stray, is currently live and ends November 8th!

I’ve been a professional comic book scripter for nearly 10 years (my first published work, a back up in Batman Adventures #9, came out December 17, 2003). And in those ten years, my career has gone up and down and up and down. I’ve quit more than once, only to be bugged “back” by some crazy idea that I had to see sequentially translated. I could have gone to film or to novels, but comics just make sense to me and speak to me. As a writer, you live for validation, and when you don’t get it, you lose your way a bit, creatively.

For me, this happened a few years ago. I was working a full-time job at the former Jim Hanley’s Universe, writing at nights and weekends, and just…I was blah. I had three, maybe four, different scripts in four different artists’ hands. I was waiting. And waiting kills creativity. So, I had to get off my butt. I had to stop being a “maker” and start being a “creator.”

And that’s where Comics Experience came in.

stray-interiorI know, it seems like I’m just praising CE just randomly, with a great story of success to follow. Not quite. I’m not what anyone would consider “successful.” I’m not writing for a paycheck or a page rate. I write to write. So, before you think that’s where this story is going, just take a second to read the following.

I signed up for CE’s Comic Book Lettering and Production course with Dave Sharpe. To me, this was an interesting choice. Why not sign up for the writing class? Or the editing class? Why lettering? I think in the back of my head, I thought, “Well, I’ve been published by DC and Marvel and others at this point. I’m always learning new ways to write and new tricks. Will a writing class help me?” The answer is, “Probably.”

But instead, I looked at my past. What always kept my books from coming out? What cost is unnecessary enough that I can save on a creative team? What can I learn? I chose lettering, because my old roommate, Jeff Powell, is an amazing letterer (he letters Atomic Robo). I picked up a few things from him (not much…I never actually asked anything, I just watched). I figured I could pick it up if I got into it.

I’m not going to tell you I’m a world class Todd Klein-like letterer now. I’m not going to say that I’m even good. I’m getting better. At the writing of this, I’ve lettered or I am lettering four different books, three of my own, with a fifth book on the way. And what I’ve learned is the ART of comics. How words and letters work together. As “just a writer,” you forget that. You write, hand off and wait. Now, I write, hand off, wait, and then make the story better. Maybe.

Taking the lettering class extended my career. I was out. Lettering my own comics has made me, dare I say, an artist. Not necessarily a good one, but one that is improving every page. And I get EXCITED to letter! It has made me excited to write, as well. Because now, I’ll put a script together, and then letter the art, and I have to self edit…it’s making me a better scripter!

I would never take away the contributions of any of the great letterers out there, which is why I tend to letter my own comics exclusively…’cause I can take the criticism a lot better. But now, with my two new books (World War Mob for New Paradigm Studios and Stray, currently on Kickstarter), I can’t wait to get into the pages. I can’t wait to write. I can’t wait to letter.

I can’t wait to create.

Vito Delsante

Check out Vito’s Kickstarter for his new comic book, Stray. The campaign ends November 8th! The incentives include copies of the Kickstarter special edition with a cover by Stephane Roux, t-shirts, sketches, commissions, a statute, and more!

Episode #56 of the Comics Experience “MAKE COMICS” Podcast posted!

MakeComicsPodcastA 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 Comics Experience founder and former Marvel and IDW Editor Andy Schmidt and his co-host Joey Groah as they discuss making comics!

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

Episode #56, “Script Formatting Tips”
It seems like no two comic book scripts look alike. This week Andy and Joey discuss script formatting and the reasons behind certain formatting practices. Plus, info on the Comic Book Script Archive and the Comics Experience Script Template!

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!

Comic Book Script Archive & Comics Experience re-launch repository of pro scripts!

We’re pleased to announce a new alliance between Comics Experience and the Comic Book Script Archive, showcasing nearly 100 comic book scripts written by some of the biggest names in the comics industry.

scriptarchivecoverThe Comic Book Script Archive was founded several years ago by Tim Simmons because he couldn’t find a good online resource for comic book scripts. Eventually, he decided to make one and the Comic Book Script Archive was the result.

“I’ve been a member of Comics Experience’s Creators Workshop for a long time,” said Tim Simmons, “and the script archive was always intended as an educational resource, so I’m pleased to now have it associated with Comics Experience.”

Andy Schmidt, founder of Comics Experience and a former Marvel and IDW Editor, added, “This alliance is a natural step for us. One of the most common questions I receive is ‘how should I format my script?’ Now, I can point new creators to this great resource of donated scripts.”

The two groups will work together to build on and expand the script archive. One immediate new addition is the Comics Experience Script Template, created by CE alum Paul Allor, which is based on the format Andy suggests in his Intro to Writing courses.

In addition, Andy has contributed scripts he has written himself for BOOM! Studios and IDW, including the scripts to his creator-owned series Five Days to Die.

The Comic Book Script Archive may be accessed right here or via the new “Scripts” menu item on

If you are a pro writer for one of the top comics publishers and you’d like to donate a script, please contact Tim at or Comics Experience at

CE Alum Paul Allor writes TMNT mini-series & GI Joe for IDW!

TMNT-Utrom-Empire-GI-Joe-Paul-AllorWe’re pleased to note that Paul Allor, Comics Experience alum and staffer, has TWO books solicited by IDW in the November Diamond Previews catalog. Both books will be shipping to comic shops in January of 2013.

First up is G.I. Joe #12, written by Paul, with art by Alex Cal, S L Gallant, Atilio Rojo, and Nicole Virella, along with a cover by Steve Kurth.

According to the solicitation, this begins a story on the secret history of Cobra. “In the aftermath of COBRA’s New York attack, Baroness leads a new up-and-coming officer called Siren around the world–and into the past! Siren uncovers the secrets of the previous Cobra Commanders–and comes face-to-face with the ruthless current one!”

Then, check out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Utrom Empire #1, the first of a 3-issue mini-series, with art and covers by Andy Kuhn, and a special variant cover by Kevin Eastman.

The solicitation on this one reads: “Intrigue and betrayal abound on Burnow Island! This mini-series takes us to the Technodrome where Krang’s plans to destroy the Earth are ramping up. Little does he know that Baxter Stockman plans to harness its power for himself! As the two villains scheme, one imprisoned robot holds the key to success–Fugitoid! Will he be able to reach out to the Turtles in time? All this plus the long awaited story of the alien Utrom race!”

In the turtles universe, Paul has previously written the TMNT Micro: Fugitoid and the TMNT Micro: Shredder for IDW. Paul recently launched the Monkeybrain series, Strange Nation. He has also recently written a story in the Pathfinder: Goblins mini-series from Dynamite. Paul has produced creator-owned work as well, such as Clockwork, Volume One and Orc Girl.

In addition to his writing work, Paul has served as the editor on several titles, including the Rex, Zombie Killer mini-series from Big Dog Ink, Girls Night Out and the currently-ongoing Sheltered, from Image Comics. Additionally, he is a graduate of writing, art and lettering classes through Comics Experience.

Congratulations to Paul on his new mini-series, as well as his work in the on-going GI Joe title!

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!

Rex, Zombie Killer #1, produced by 5 CE alums, hits comic shops October 30th

rzk-ms-cover-01-LOGO-72dpi-400x600Rex, Zombie Killer #1, produced by FIVE Comics Experience alums and Creators Workshop members hits comic shops today, October 30th!

The 4-issue mini-series from Big Dog Ink is co-created by writer and CE staff member/alum Rob Anderson, and artist/CE alum DaFu Yu, with interior colors by Juan Romera, cover colors by CE alum Kevin Volo, letters/design by Workshop member E.T. Dollman, and edits by CE staff member and alum Paul Allor!

The miniseries follows Rex the hyper-intelligent Golden Retriever and a small pack of animals (including a gorilla with a baseball bat!) as they attempt to cross the country after a zombie apocalypse. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Rex and his pack are now also being pursued by a group of primates who escaped from a zoo!

The miniseries continues the story begun in the double-sized Rex, Zombie Killer One-Shot from last year.

Each issue will be a full-color comic book, priced at $3.50. The book is rated TEEN+ (13 & up) for mature themes and zombie violence.

Congrats to all the CE folks behind the book!