Two Great Advice Posts: Ballooning and Pitching

Friends With Boys cover

Faith Erin Hicks continues her glimpses into the life of a freelancer by telling you how to pitch a graphic novel to a publisher. Or how she did it, anyway. As she says,

They’re tough to do, because you’re trying to convey a lot through the shortest and most succinct language possible, and you’re also trying to do it in a way that is 1) enthusiastic (“you really want to buy this comic, publisher!”) and 2) clear eyed and cool (“I believe in this project, but I am not acting like it is the second coming of Star Wars because that’s obnoxious and people can see through that hucksterism”).

Friends With Boys cover

She also shares her pitch and outline for Friends With Boys, due out later this month, pointing out “it shows I have a good idea of what kind of story I want to tell, and the publisher I’m pitching to can judge whether or not it’s the kind of story they want to publish.” In the comments, there’s also discussion about how to find an agent.

I so hope that all this supplementary material is released somehow. Just having it on the web isn’t enough (especially since I suspect that, once the book is out, the full reprint online will go away). I want a volume, even if it’s a self-published minicomic, with all these notes and commentary, to sit next to the book on my shelf.

In other example of valuable professional advice, Jesse Post reviews his work lettering and ballooning the excellent Johnny Hiro. He takes several examples from the book, following the reader’s eye flow through the work, both good and those where compromises had to be made.

If you take in the entire page and follow along naturally, one balloon to the next, you start to see how the balloons act as guides. They ask your eye to linger over artwork you might otherwise skip, back and forth across images, leaping over dead space and further enlivening the live space, words and pictures harmonious at last.

This is an important craft that not enough people pay attention to. It’s one of those “silent skills” that is most noticeable when it fails, while great work goes unremarked because of its achievement.

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