Comic Art

Mentoring: One-On-One Instruction

In some cases, more personalized attention is needed, either to help a particular creator grow or to help the creator with his or her particular project. This goal-oriented program has proven successful for many creators, and may be just the thing you or your project needs!

In these one-on-one, conference phone call sessions, you’ll meet with your professional mentor and plan out a path to success to achieve your individual and specific goals. And your mentor is there to help all along the way, scheduling calls when needed. Many of our students tell us the calls are not only extremely helpful, but often inspiring as well. Our mentoring sessions are geared to teach you how to overcome obstacles all on your own–it’s not our objective to keep you coming back forever. Like all good mentors, we hope to see you flying high all on your own!

Look at the details in the tabs below and you’ll see that we’ve got just the mentor to help you through the comics industry landscape!

Email to inquire about availability of our mentors.

  • Mentorships vary from individual to individual, so you’ll meet with the same mentor every time unless you choose to switch for a different perspective.
  • Look on the Mentors tab to see which mentor is right for you.
  • Each call with your mentor lasts for one hour.
  • There is a minimum purchase of three, one-hour calls at a time.
  • The calls do NOT expire and are scheduled, as you need them, at your pace.
  • The time of your mentor is valuable, and he or she will work with you to help plan how to maximize the use of the mentor’s time–and your budget. We make our best effort to keep your budget as low as possible.
  • See the FAQ about pre-reads and notes on documents and artwork.
  • Please note that prices vary from mentor to mentor.
  • Mentorship programs are extremely limited and schedules fill up quickly. They are subject to availability.

If you’re ready to sign up or have further questions, contact, and we will begin the process and get you on the path to your first one-on-one call!

Stephen Pakula

A 15-year veteran of the comics and entertainment publishing industries, Stephen has had major roles in just about all aspects of the business; from editorial and design, to sales and marketing, all the way through to production and distribution, his years of experience make him the perfect mentor for anyone that wants to be a writer, editor or artist in the comics industry (and for manga creators too!). As a mentor, Stephen will diligently work one-on-one with you, offering personalized guidance to help you achieve your creative goals.

Fred Van Lente bio

Fred Van Lente

Fred Van Lente is a six-time New York Times bestselling comics writer, novelist and playwright whose work spans mystery/thrillers to historical fiction to superheroes to comedy.

Van Lente burst onto the scene with his first collaboration with cartoonist Ryan Dunlavey, Action Philosophers, which became a YALSA Best Book for Teens and the NYT called “intensely goofy but intellectually rigorous”.

From there he went on to a long career at Marvel, where he worked on titles like The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America and Marvel Zombies. He’s also written for DC, Archie Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Comics, and Valiant, where his run on Archer & Armstrong was nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Continuing Series.

Van Lente has continued writing non-fiction graphic novels, often with his artistic collaborator Ryan Dunlavey, including the bestselling Comic Book History of Comics and the middle grade series Action Presidents. Two entries in the series were nominated for the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards. In 2021, the third volume won the Theodore Roosevelt Association’s Theodore Roosevelt Children’s Book Prize.

After years of short story writing (including “Neversleeps,” which shortlisted for Best American Science Fiction), Van Lente graduated to prose novels with the acclaimed mysteries Ten Dead Comedians and The Con Artist.

His Platinum Studios graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens was adapted into a film in 2011 starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, directed by Jon Favreau. The following year, Helen Cho, a character created with co-writer Greg Pak in their acclaimed Incredible Hercules series, made her MCU debut in the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. His MODOK’s 11 and Scorpion became Hulu’s Marvel’s MODOK, which named the elementary school in the show after him (in S1 E2).

King Kirby, his play with Crystal Skillman about the life of the legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, was a New York Times Critics’ Pick on its NYC debut in 2014. It debuted as a much-acclaimed free audio drama podcast in 2020 featuring the original cast on the Broadway Podcasting Network.

Starting as a 2020 pandemic lockdown hobby, Van Lente has a regular comics history column on the website 13th Dimension, where he tackles such burning topics of the day as Stan Lee’s legacy and which is better, Justice League or Fantastic Four?

Of course, none of this should be confused with Fred Van Lente Day, the annual celebration of his work on the Comic Book Resources web site that has been happening since 2005…the year Action Philosophers first came out.

Fred lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the playwright and his frequent co-collaborator Crystal Skillman, and some mostly ungrateful cats. He loves to hear from readers at

What’s the best part of the Comics Experience Mentoring program?

It’s the individualized attention. We’re qualified to mentor on all aspects of comics creation–story, characterization, storytelling in art, perspective, etc. We also offer career guidance and planning–strategizing how to maximize your creative impact so that you can achieve your goals as quickly as possible, as well as more nuts and bolts things like how to find collaborators and so on. If it’s in the comics realm–and you’re at the point where you need individualized attention–this is the place for you!

Do I have to use all three hours at once?

Of course not. You have three, one-hour sessions to be scheduled at your pace. They do not expire–ever. We work with you on an individualized plan and schedule.

How does payment work?

Send us an email at and we’ll discuss if this is right for you and whom you should/could mentor with. Once we’re all set and the mentor is confirmed as being able to take on a new client, we send you a PayPal money request for a three-hour block of mentoring. Simply pay that, and then we schedule your first appointment!

What if I can only afford three hours?

That’s okay. We maximize what you’ve got to work with. If you can only do three sessions, then we’ll hit the most important topics with you. Our goal is NOT to keep you coming back forever–it IS to get you up and running with confidence on your own so you won’t feel the need to keep renewing.

Will you review scripts or art outside of the call?

Of course we will, if that’s what’s most useful. The time taken to do that does come out of the three hours allotted. We will talk with you to make sure that reviewing material is the best use of the time at that point, and we can tailor the level of review to maximize what you need out of it. For example, if you just want to know the broad strokes about a script or about your art–that it communicates clearly, is compelling and the characters feel real and are engaging, then we won’t comment on the small stuff, and that will save more time for the calls. Or, if you really need someone to look over the whole thing to make sure it’s ready for publication, we can do a deep dive that takes longer, but should catch just about everything. It all depends on the needs of the individual client.

What does it mean if Comics Experience can’t accept me right now?

It means one of two things–we’re either simply too booked up to take on a new client at all, or it means that we don’t feel that we’re the right fit for what you need. We have turned people away on occasion because what they want or need isn’t something you get uniquely with us–in fact, we’ve often recommended a less expensive course of action if we know of one.

For further questions, email

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to get your comics career started! Literally–

  1. Every mentorship must be approved via an email or phone conversation.* Please email us at
  2. Once approved, Comics Experience will send you a PayPal invoice for the proper amount.
  3. Once the invoice is paid (can be done in minutes). Your first session is scheduled!

All you need is a telephone! A conference call number will be provided so you are not charged for the call within in the United States.

Please note that all scheduling and communication emails go through Andy Schmidt.

*(Usually, any issue that comes up is due to scheduling, but on occasion, we get calls from people who are looking for a service we don’t provide–so don’t worry, we’re not judging you–just making sure this is a good fit to mutual benefit.)

Jason Teiken

"Our conversations have improved the direction of my project and have really motivated me to push forward. Each conversation we had was measured, re-assuring and extremely constructive. This was a tremendous experience. I now have a real sense of confidence in my project and this comes from my sessions with Stephen."

Curtis Lawson

"This was an incredible experience. Mike gave me some invaluable insight into my own work, the craft of comics and the workings of the industry. He was professional, friendly and insightful. I would like to set up another three hours…"

C.D. Lacroix

"I only wish I had stumbled upon your website much earlier in the time I've been pursuing comic book writing. The mentoring sessions I had provided exactly what I was looking for. My mentor was direct in what he liked about the proposal, but also offered some refreshing advice on a potential major weakness of the story. Now I have renewed confidence and insight to take that bold next step in my creative writing efforts."

Paul Allor

Creator of Clockwork and Orc Girl, writer for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from IDW Publishing

“The Comics Experience mentoring sessions have been an invaluable resource to me, both artistically and professionally. I end every mentoring session armed with new plans, new ideas, and a better perspective on things.”

Mark Behar

Owner, Cartoon Daydreams

“I learned a great deal while working with Andy. He and his team of qualified experts own the expertise required to mentor aspiring creators. I can’t overstate the importance of receiving direct guidance from those who have earned success in the industry. It ain’t easy, but the folks at Comics Experience can show you how it’s done.”

Dave Castlenuovo

Creator of the hit video game and comic book Pocket God

“Andy has been a huge help in refining my skills. Through a combination of written critiques and phone calls, he has helped me evaluate our beat sheets, scripts, thumbs and finished inks. The entire process has really helped me grow as a comic creator.”

Sean McArdle

On becoming Platinum Studios’ 2007 Comic Book Challenge runner up

“Jon and I both attribute much of our success to the refinement Comics Experience provided our pitch and first issue. Andy's guidance and direction helped us turn our first issue into a focused, coherent, well-polished narrative that is intriguing without being obtuse. He also aided us in distilling our original ponderous pitch into its essence. Thanks, Andy!”

Keith Salmon

"I took Andy's consultation and found him very easy to relate to. We talked about breaking in with different types of publishers and I got to ask many questions about his experience as a professional editor, working with licensed properties, and producing his first creator-owned comic. The best part was how it was tailored specifically based on his questions about me. I plan to take another consult again in the future, after I have made some actual attempts at approaching editors. I feel much more confident. Thank you Andy."

Michelle Therese

“These mentor sessions are fantastic! Nicole has been extremely helpful and I am beginning to venture out of my comfort zone and into the challenging territory I have always avoided due to lack of confidence in my ability as an aspiring writer. It might sound like a cheesy advertisement clip but whatever: Comics Experience is absolutely making my dream come true! I might not end up published any time soon but I am moving forward! How else do you achieve your dreams unless you move forward, right?”