2000 AD Artists Submission Guidelines
Download Example Scripts
2000 AD is a comic - we want to see if you can tell a story, not paint an album cover. Rather than spending months working on fully-painted pages, you should send black and white layouts of comic strip work based on the characters of 2000 AD. Only send copies - never originals!
You must make sure you leave plenty of room for the dialogue and captions in each panel - the more dialogue, the more 'dead space' you need to leave. As a rule of thumb, never put any significant imagery on the top quarter of the panel. Leaving no room for the lettering is the surest sign of an amateur.
The panels must also flow sequentially - the reader's eye should move through the story effortlessly. If it isn't obvious which panel comes next, you're not doing your job - which is to tell the story.
Telling the story means recognising what is the most important aspect of each individual panel and focusing the reader's attention on it in an interesting and dramatic way. Eye-level medium shots make for pretty boring visuals. Use a variety of "camera angles" to tell the story in the most interesting manner possible. If there's a dramatic action panel - blow it up! If it's a silent panel simply showing an expression on someone's face - make it a close-up. Bird's eye views, worms' eye views, close-ups, long shots - variety keeps it interesting. Knowing which type of panel to choose is part of the knack of good comics art.
You should also vary the weight of your inking to make foreground figures stand out - giving the image a depth of focus, rather than letting the foreground be swamped by the background detail.
If you'd like a spec script to draw, just send an A4 SAE to the editorial address. Never turn up at the 2000 AD offices expecting to show us your portfolio - you will not be seen.
Finally, always include an SAE large enough to return your work - or you won't get a reply. And don't be daunted. If you have never been published before, you can expect to receive plenty of rejection letters before you see your name in print. If you do receive a rejection letter from an editor, listen to his advice and then try again. You will be learning and improving all the time - and if you have talent, you will get there in the end. Unfortunately, talent is one thing that can't be taught.
The 2000 AD Artist's Ten Commandments
- THE FIRST PERSON TO SPEAK SHOULD ALWAYS BE ON THE LEFT
- ALWAYS LEAVE THE TOP 25% OF EACH PANEL EMPTY FOR LETTERING (MORE IF NECESSARY)
- LEAVE ROOM FOR THE TITLE AND CREDITS ON THE FIRST PAGE
- LEAVE A 5mm (on A3) GUTTER BETWEEN EVERY PANEL
- KEEP THE 'CAMERA' ANGLES VARIED AND VISUALLY INTERESTING
- TELL THE STORY - SHOW WHAT'S RELEVANT
- MAKE YOUR CHARACTERS ACT AND REACT - GET INSIDE THEIR HEADS
- NEVER BLEED THE IMAGE OFF THE LAST PANEL OF THE STORY - LEAVE ROOM FOR 'NEXT PROG' LINE
- LEAD THE READER'S EYE ACROSS THE PAGE SMOOTHLY
- IF YOU'RE NOT SURE ABOUT SOMETHING, ASK THE EDITORIAL TEAM!
2000 AD: Guidelines for new writers
Before you send us your fully-scripted Judge Dredd mega-epic, hold it! It doesn’t matter if you’re a complete newcomer to writing or Stephen King - if you’ve never had a script published in 2000 AD, you should start by sending in ideas for one-off, four-page Future Shocks. You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run.
If and when you’ve proved yourself by writing professional quality one-off stories, you’ll be invited to develop longer series in the future. But bear in mind that the vast majority of story submissions we receive are simply not sufficiently appropriate, original or entertaining. Or grammatically accurate, for that matter.
Let’s look at how to get yourself started...
Future Shocks are self-contained, four page science-fiction short stories with a twist ending. That means you only have four pages to establish your situation and protagonist, develop the situation through dramatic conflict, and then resolve it with an unexpected twist ending.
"Dramatic conflict" doesn’t just mean obvious, battling-the-bad-guys conflict. It can be internal or emotional, wrestling with inner doubts or demons. But remember, all drama comes from conflict - so if there’s no conflict in your story, there’s no drama.
As for the twist ending, the real trick is to come up with an ending which a) isn’t wholly predictable, and b) has a point. A degree of dramatic irony generally works wonders here, and is what separates a real story from (as Homer Simpson would put it), "just a bunch of stuff that happens".
You must know the answers to these questions about your story:
Who is the protagonist?
What does he/she want?
What does he/she do to get it?
What’s preventing him/her from getting it?
Future Shocks do not have any strict settings or situations to follow. They can be set in the present or the far future, involving sci-fi, fantasy or horror. Let your imagination run riot!
Story is paramount. That means you must come up with a compelling idea and dramatise it. Remember, an idea is not a story! “What if a prisoner discovered he was trapped in virtual reality?” is not a story, it’s a premise. The ability to turn an idea into a dramatically compelling, original and surprising story with a beginning, middle and end is what writing is all about.
The reader must want to know - what happens next?
Finally - be original. Be patient. Be polite.
How to submit
You should enclose a one-page synopsis along with your four-page script. Because we receive so many submissions, we will usually only read the synopsis at first. Only if it engages our interest will we read the full script. Sorry, but that’s the way has to be!
Always enclose a stamped, self addressed envelope, and await our response before sending further submissions.
Avoid overly verbose panel descriptions.
A useful rule of thumb for script-writing is to have no more than 25 words per speech balloon, and no more than 3 balloons/captions per panel.
Average 5-7 panels per page.
Never use two words (or panels) where one will do. Condense it down, keep it moving. Keep the reader intrigued, surprised, and wondering what’s going to happen next. Less is more. Boil your barrel of weak beer down into a shot-glass full of rocket fuel!
Let the visuals tell the story. Show, don’t tell.
Writers often use cinematic terms like "medium shot" or "close-up" to describe the scene. It is very important to visualise the imagery in your head when writing a script - your job is to make the artist see the image in his head, but without overwhelming him with too much detail.
Don’t put too many separate actions into one panel. “Dredd leaps out of the window and grabs onto the fire-escape, swings up onto the roof and fires his Lawgiver” is three panels worth of action, not one. How is the artist supposed to draw every action simultaneously?
An excellent way to practise script writing is to take a 24-page American comic, and re-write it so you can tell the same story in four pages. Learning to cut and re-write your own material is vital. Write it, then pick it to pieces. What works? What doesn’t work? Where does it drag, what needs tightening up? Is it too linear and predictable? Then you go back and re-write.
Finally, watch your spelling and grammar! Always get someone else to check your submission before sending it in. If you can’t spell or form a proper sentence, you can’t expect to be employed as a writer. And always include an SAE!