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The Comics Journal Writers' Guidelines

Like most magazines, the best writers guideline is to look at the material within the magazine, and give us something that approximates that material in terms of approach and sophistication. Anything else is a waste of time. For example, if we had a dollar for everyone who sent us articles on stand-up comics, we would have $43 a year. But this advice more specifically applies to comic strips and comic books. We are obviously not the magazine for discussion of comic "universes," character re-boots and Spider-Man's new costume -- beyond, perhaps, the business or cultural implications of such "events."

That exception brings up a good point: the key is almost always in the approach and in the writing, not in the basic idea. Therefore, we almost never buy writing unseen, even from our established writers. The editors, particularly Gary Groth, have been doing this long enough they know exactly the level and type of writing they desire and they have to see it in order to know they'll get it.

To make this blunt: we do not, as a standard practice, accept articles on query. And we only rarely pay kill fees, usually when editorial malfeasance or just plain bad luck keeps an accepted article from being run in a timely fashion.

WHAT WE'RE LOOKING FOR

We don't need regularly contributing critics at the moment -- we have all we need, thanks. We have been known to accept the occasional blind submission, but the vast majority of such things are turned down.

There are (extremely) limited opportunities for broader essays about comics, but we're in a "show us" mood here, as well. To the extent that we run such things, they tend to be either knowledgable, insider looks at the comics scenes in foreign countries, or critical essays covering the works of lesser-known cartoonists who've fallen by the wayside, and are thus ripe for rediscovery. A preemptive strike: We are most assuredly not in the market for essays detailing the Arthurian origins of Captain America, the Christian underpinnings of Superman, the exciting new direction recently taken by Spawn, or any other such attempts at justifying the author's longbox. Attempts at submitting pompous, jargon-laden literary theory in an essay about V for Vendetta will be met with howls of derisive laughter.

We need people to conduct interviews -- we're especially interested in someone familiar with manga who speaks and reads fluent Japanese -- but before you ask: A successful interviewer should be knowledgable, and should already be skilled in such things. We are not interested in publishing your first interview. Further, the pitched interview subject should be accessable to the writer, and should be someone of solid, proven value as a cartoonist, someone whose perspective on the artform will be interesting to intelligent connoisseurs of the medium. The fly-by-night hack who just wrote this month's flavor of tits-and-vampires dreck is not getting an interview in this magazine; don't even ask.

We also need the occasional essay of industry commentary. Such writers should already have experience in the business of comics sufficient to make his or her opinion informed, valid and interesting. We don't need the existing conventional wisdom regurgitated back to us, and will heartily reject anything that we suspect does this. Our readers pay good money for this magazine, and if we're going to publish your industry commentary, you'd better know what you're talking about and say something that readers will find to be of genuine value.

Finally, we need good investigative reporters willing to work on a freelance basis. Writers interested in covering news for the Journal should contact our News Editor, Michael Dean.

All other inquiries should be directed at Dirk Deppey.

THE FINE PRINT

Length of submissions is very much dependant on the sorts of pieces submitted. Reviews, for instance, run anywhere from 100-400 words for a Bullet to upwards of 5000 words for a full review. Articles for other features typically run about 2000 to 3000 words. Interviews generally run between 20-40 pages.

Few people make money working in arts-first comics, and you shouldn't expect to make a lot writing about them. Journal pay rates are normally 4¢ per word, with special cases being made for interviews, commissioned art work, and so forth. Writers will also recieve a complimentary copy of the issues of the Journal containing their submissions.

PUBLISHING RIGHTS TO ARTICLES

As a matter of course, and excepting articles done "in-house," the Journal retains exclusive rights to articles that run in its print or online versions for six months after their initial publication. Those rights then revert back to the writer. Excerpts of articles may be used by this magazine and appropriate Fantagraphics employees to market and advertise the Journal. Articles will not be permanently archived on the website without permission.

We are flattered if you want to put a Journal interview or article on your Web site, but barring fair and reasonable use for journalistic or academic purposes, please stop.

Inquiries about reprint rights to articles may be directed to this magazine care of the Managing Editor, or if the article is clearly past the six month time limit, then to the individual writer.


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