Mail Marz

Mail Marz vol 3 – the mailbag

I haven’t been keeping up with the mail, but as my schedule settles down a little bit, this should be more of a regular feature. Thanks for writing, and thanks for your patience.

One note before we dig into this batch of letters. I’ve received a number of e-mail or Twitter requests to look at artwork, or read story submissions. I have to decline them all, unfortunately. I don’t have the time to look at every submission, and it’s not fair to look at some and not others. Thanks for your understanding on this.

Q.: Ron, what’s up with the trade binding on the Witchblade books? Two of two have fallen apart on me minutes after opening them.

I picked up vol.1 after Vince B. from EOC recommended them, and I took the first one back to my shop and had him replace it, but I don’t want to put him out again.


Chris Miranda

Ron says:

Sorry for the binding troubles, Chris. When Top Cow rebranded its trade paperback program, starting with my run on Witchblade, it had the first three or possibly four volumes (I can’t remember which) printed in one large run at a printer in China. Unfortunately, the printing plant used a batch of bad glue on the bindings. Obviously there’s no way to know that until the books actually hit shelves and are purchased. Those volumes have been reprinted (at the printer’s cost), but some copies of the “bad binding” batch are still out there. You or your retailer can contact Top Cow via their website for replacement copies.

I’ve had fans complain to me about “inferior Chinese printing,” which I frankly find a little bit racist. Most publishers utilize Chinese and Korean printers for certain trades and hardcovers, and the quality is usually superior. The binding problem was an isolated incident, but it impacted a number of volumes because they were all gang printed. I definitely appreciate you picking up the books, Chris, and I hope you enjoyed them despite the binding issue.

Q.: Mr. Marz,

I am a writer who would love to work in comics, but every time I try to submit samples or published, I get told, “We won’t even look at it!”

What is the deal on submitting scripts, or story ideas, to comic companies?
Any help you could give would be appreciated.


Jason Phillips

Ron says:

Jason, large publishers like Marvel and DC won’t consider anyone unless they’ve already been published elsewhere. Smaller publishers have pretty specific submission guidelines usually listed on their websites. Breaking in as a writer is akin to trying to be a professional athlete; there are many applicants, but very few openings.

The best way to have a publisher see your work is to have published work to show them. Editors are much more receptive to a comic than a submission pitch. I know, “How do I show a published work if I can’t get a publisher to look at my work?” You have to start small, working your way up from self-published work, to small press, to larger publishers. It’s a long process, almost like a baseball player trying to work his way up through the minors to the majors. Most don’t succeed. The ones with the most talent, and the best work ethic, have the best chance.

Find an artist to work with and make your comic. Find a GOOD artist, because fair or not, your story will in large part be judge upon the art. Get your work on the web, so it can be seen. Network at conventions, where you can get face time with editors; always be polite and never demanding. They’re doing you a favor even talking to you, so be appreciative of their time. It’s a long, hard process, and you have to really want it. I’ve been giving some advice on my Twitter feed, so hope you’ve been following. Good luck.

Q.: Hi, I wanted to know what the status of the series The Path was. I know that the company that released it went out of business. Is it still going?


Matt Moore

Ron says:

The Path ceased publication a few months before CrossGen tanked, so the story had an ending of sorts (though not the one originally envisioned). CrossGen’s properties were purchased by Disney, which now owns Marvel Comics. Some CrossGen books are coming back (as mini-series, thus far) from Marvel, but I don’t know if The Path will be one of them.

Mail Marz vol 2 – the mailbag

Q.: Was wondering what your policy is on sketches and autographs at conventions:

Do you charge for autographs? If so, how much and after how many, and do you have a limit?

Do you charge for any type of sketch, and how much, and for what do you charge for? (eg. head sketches, mini-bust type sketches, full body sketches? What would you charge per different one?)

That’s all that I am wondering. If you could get back to me that would be great because I would like to know before Emerald City Comic Con.

Brian Jarrell

Ron says:

I thought this was worth answering on the blog, just so everybody knows what’s what. I don’t charge for autographs. Never have, never will. If you bought the book, the least I can do is sign it. I’m also more than happy to personalize books, so don’t hesitate to ask. I also have no limit in terms of number of items I’ll sign. If you bring a hundred books, I’ll sign a hundred books. However, if you do bring a large number of books, I might ask that you bring them to me in batches, if others are waiting to get things signed. But I’ll absolutely sign everything you’ve got.

I don’t really do sketches, since I can’t draw to save my life. I can manage a Green Lantern symbol, or maybe a samurai sword, but anything other than that is pretty much beyond my skill level. Sad but true. Obviously I don’t charge for these, uh, “sketches.”

My convention schedule for early 2011, thus far, is Emerald City (Seattle) and MegaCon (Orlando) in March, Albany Comic Con in April, and then something overseas in May that I just accepted but hasn’t been announced yet.


Introducing Mail Marz – the mailbag

So we’re starting up an old school “mailbag” section for the website. You can email your questions to

I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to answer letter that comes through the system, but when I have time, I’ll try to get to some of them.

You can view all of the mailbag posts anytime by visiting this link: Mail Marz .


Mailbag for Septmber 10, 2010

Hi Ron,

I was hoping to get some advice about how to construct panel counts. I’m a writer, not an artist, and I’m always fighting with how many or how few panels to use on any given page.

I notice that you tend to stick with 4-5 panels, while Morrison swings from 3-9.

Thank you for your time and I would appreciate any advice you could give.

Stephen Tramontana

Ron says:

Stephen, the best answer as to how many panels to put on a page is: as many as it needs. I know that sounds flippant, but it’s the most appropriate answer. Each page is a unit that must stand on its own; it must have enough necessary information – whether visual or narrative – that it’s worthy of a page. Conversation-based pages will tend to be more dense, while action pages will be less dense in terms of panel count.

A lot of artists would tell you that five panels per page is fairly ideal, because that gives the artist the most flexibility in designing the pages. An even number of panels tends to lead to more grid-style layouts, while an odd numbers of panels leads to a more asymmetrical and often creative layout. That’s not to say either is a better option, just different. Sometimes a grid is more effective for that particular page, sometimes something with one large image and a few smaller ones. I use a six-panel or nine-panel grid relatively often, because it’s a very clean storytelling device.

Story style can influence panel count as well. Something like Witchblade is more of a noir-type mystery or crime story, so the panel count is more dense. A traditional superhero story, like Velocity, is likely to be less dense because you’re dealing with splashy images and over-the-top visuals.

The artist you’re working with should also influence panel count. Kenneth Rocafort, for example, has a very design-oriented approach to pages, so I keep the panel count to four or five per page when possible, so he has more room to work. When Mike Choi and I worked on Witchblade, Mike really liked to draw the subtle character stuff, the “acting,” so the panel counts tended to be more dense. As a general rule, for a smaller and more intimate scene, the panel count should be more dense. For a larger and more expansive scene, the panel count should be less dense.

Dear Mr. Marz,

It took me a long time to really figure out what to write in this message, but I think all I want to say is “Thank you.”

I’ve been reading recently – well, in the span of the last year – all of your run on Green Lantern, and loved it to bits. Not only for the original approach to the mythos and the concept of the ring – that I dig wholeheartedly – but mostly because the way you handle your characters, you really made me feel for them, and that’s something that is not so common in the end. Your characters feel real in a natural way, and I really love how you gave them that human side one can relate to in such an immediate fashion.

Reading about Kyle’s life left me with such strong emotions in me I’ll remember it for years to come, and the loves, the hopes, the doubts of this man made me rethink some things of my life too in a moment I needed that. Too shallow, to have some important real-life thoughts triggered by a cape comic…? Who knows, but it happened, and I’m glad it did.

So thank you for writing something that left me so much to enjoy and to think about. =)

Catching up with Witchblade whenever I can. Thanks again for everything.


Ron says:

V., I’m truly humbled. Thank you for taking the time to write, as well as letting me run your very personal note on the blog.

Artifacts #1 was quite good. Will the art team remain the same on each issue or will each artifact have its “own” art team? After seeing his cover, any chance Dale Keown will be doing any interiors?

I’ve enjoyed your writing since GL, but will you still accept the money I spend on your stuff if I watch Fox News and have the occasional conservative opinion?

Thanks & have a great weekend,

Ron says:

Thanks for picking up Artifacts #1, Jim. Michael Broussard will pencil issues #1-#4 of the series, then “Act Two” (issues #5-#8) will have a new art team, which should be announced in he next week or two. “Act Three” (issues #9-#12) will then have a new art team, with issue #13 in the hands of a very special and very appropriate artist.

As for the rest … absolutely! Obviously I’m fairly outspoken and honest in my Twitter feed. I don’t hide that I’m a pretty liberal fellow, or that I think Sarah Palin is dumb as a stump. There are certainly pros that don’t make such views public, often because they don’t want to risk offending anyone and hurting their own sales. That’s certainly their right. My personal choice is to be as honest as I can be, to not hide who I am or what I think. I also don’t object to anyone else airing their views if they happen to differ from mine. I might disagree with what you say, and even debate you on it, but I will always defend your right to say it.

Hello, Ron!

Huge fan of yours and of Top Cow comics in general. I have been picking up (for the past two months) every single back issue of the official Top Cow canon books (Witchblade, Darkness, Cyberforce, Universe, etc.). I am doing a mass reading of all of them starting next week, and plan on taking notes of every single issue to make a list of a basic chronological order that the Top Cow universe takes place in.

It’s daunting, yes, but it gives me a reason to read all of the back issues of Top Cow all over again. Any tips you could give me? Are there any obscure books that are part of the Top Cow universe that I may not know about? I plan on posting the list when all is said and done.

Thank you, sir. Have a wonderful day!

Keith Bunker

Ron says:

Wow, Keith, I envy you having that kind of time! First, thanks for picking up the books; hope you like what you find. Some stray minis/concepts to consider: Aphrodite IX, Arcanum, Necromancer, Weapon X Zero, Strykeforce.

I’m not much for slavish attention to continuity, I always feel like what I’m writing should be accessible to new readers and not mired in stories from a decade ago. That said, I’ll be very interested to see what you get out of such a mass reading. Love to hear your conclusions.

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