Two members of the CE community have been named winners in the Top Cow Talent Hunt in the last two years!
In this two-part feature, they talk about the experience of preparing their submissions, seeing their stories through to the print stage, and what they picked up along the way.
CE Community Member Kenny Porter was a winning writer in the 2012 Top Cow Talent Hunt competition. A member of our Creators Workshop, and an alum of our Intro to Writing course, Kenny had his story published in Artifacts #33, available here.
Read about Kenny’s experience below, and look for Devon’s commentary in an upcoming post!
I heard about winning right after posting on the CE boards about the Talent Hunt, so I always found that kind of funny. I don’t remember exactly what I posted, but right after hitting the send button I got an email from Matt Hawkins letting me know that I’d been selected. I think the people in the booth next to me at the coffee shop jumped when I shouted and did a fist pump.
A few weeks went by and I was put in contact with an editor. “The Teacher and the Preacher,” the story that I’d written, was originally just an 8-page script. The editor and I were tasked with expanding that into a full one-shot, and I found that process extremely helpful in learning how to collaborate with an editor and what their role is in creating comics.
The new 20-page version of the script we did for Artifacts #33 let me build up the tension a bit more. That short story is still in there, but the lead up to it is where I really got to play with the new length and shape of the story. The musical notes, the longer fight scene, and the creepy reveal of what happened to the villain’s victims all got to have bigger moments.
-ROM-, the artist on the project, had a visual style I’d never really encountered at that point. She treated her panels like paintings, so they had much more movement, life, and exaggerated gestures than anything I’d worked on up until that point. She also loved to do splash pages, so the script was rewritten to fit her style and add a few more big reveals.
When we locked the script -ROM- went to work on the pages. It took a long time for me to hear anything, which I read was the same case for Devon. So much of working with bigger companies is waiting. Patience is a virtue, but it’s a tough one to master.
The pages came in great and then I was tasked with doing another run at the dialogue before it was ready for print. My issue took a lot longer than Devon’s to be released. Just about a year since the contest had started. That was mainly due to the fact that they had to wait for an opening in the schedule for Artifacts, which was written by Ron Marz at the time. After that, the issue came out at the end of December and I felt the rush of having my work on the shelf next to the other Wednesday releases.
What surprised you about the experience?
I think the waiting was still the thing that surprised me the most. But again, that was due to the fact that the schedule had to be freed up. Then there was a problem with the printer and the issue was pushed back by another month. It’s just the kind of things that happen when a company is maintaining multiple books at once, so I got a crash course in those kinds of publishing situations.
Working with an editor was one of my favorite parts of the Talent Hunt. It was the first time I’d really shaped a piece with someone else and made it as good as it could possibly be, and then some, before sending it to print. No matter how good you think your work is, there’s always room for improvement.
How did you go about assembling the rest of the creative team?
The creative team was selected for me. -ROM- and I were paired based on the subject of my story. It was very horror based, so they figured that she could capture that tone.
What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them?
For the most part the experience went smoothly. There were one or two panels that didn’t exactly sync up with what I had written, but we were able to fix those with dialogue rewrites and they still turned out really well.
What lessons did you take away?
I learned that a lot of making comics is similar to making a film. There’s a ton of collaboration and most of it is putting in the time and being patient while the project comes together.
Any advice for those interested in entering the competition in the future?
I remember talking to Matt Hawkins about the original winners. He said that the writers who won were the ones that told more original stories and had premises he had never seen before. So much of what he had received was the same plot and story over and over, which we both found kind of surprising. My advice would be to do a story that only you can tell but also complements the characters in the Top Cow Universe.
Thanks to Kenny for sharing his experience!
Come back for our upcoming Q&A with fellow CE Community Member and Top Cow Talent Hunt winner Devon Wong.
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!