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I began sending submissions to Marvel Comics in 1986. Back then I was so confident of my “talent” that I worried that I would have to stop going to school so I can begin work at Marvel right away. I mean, I thought I was that good. But then this rejection letter came and my immediate reaction was that of relief. Relief that I wouldn’t have to quit school. Later, I realized hey, it looks like I’m not good enough yet. Later, I got the sinking feeling that I might not be good at all.

Nevertheless it was thrilling to receive a letter from Marvel, signed by Eliot Brown no less. At the very least, someone at Marvel knew I existed, and for it to be Eliot Brown, I thought it was great. I was familiar with Eliot’s work. He drew technical drawings of various gadgets, ships, and structures for Marvel’s Official Handbook. Since I was taking up Architecture and was heavily steeped in technical drawings, I understood Eliot’s work and I connected to it.

It was to be the first of many rejection letters from Marvel that I would receive over the next 7 years.

I was never discouraged by the letters. In fact, I took them as a challenge, improving and developing my work with every submission. While I was sending samples to Marvel, I was also sending samples to DC Comics.


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I had read about the late Neal Pozner from various letter columns, and how he was much admired as an editor. I had heard he was very helpful towards aspiring artists in improving their work. And to receive a letter from him was just fantastic. In fact, before he sent this rejection letter, he had sent me another letter saying he had wanted to see more and sent me a Green Lantern script to work on. It was my understanding that if I did a good job on it, it may well have been my first published work.

Unfortunately, as I was doing the submission, my girlfriend broke up with me. I had been trying to break into comics partly because I wanted to follow her to the US, and have a good job when I got there. With her gone, my will to do comics went with her. Needless to say, I bombed that submission. And that is the letter I got in response. I stopped drawing for an entire year.

And I think that was the last submission I had sent via the mail to either Marvel or DC. I would later meet Whilce Portacio who would help me develop my art further, leading to jobs not only for Image Comics, but eventually Marvel and DC.

My first work for Marvel was inking Wolverine over Leinil Francis Yu on a few pages of Warren Ellis’ “Not Dead Yet” around 1997-1998.

My first work for DC was Superman: Birthright with Mark waid and Leinil around 2003.

I post these rejection letters in the hopes of inspiring other aspiring comic book artists to keep the spirit alive in the face of great challenges. All of us working in comics today underwent years of rejections like this, years of disappointment and heartbreak and in my case, even tears. Nobody got it easy. Plenty of times I just wanted to give up. And one time I actually did. From 1993 to 1994 I never drew anything. I went back to Architecture and worked as a draftsman and construction supervisor. I thought comics and I were done.

But if comics is in your blood there’s no discouragement strong enough to keep you from drawing. And I eventually went back.

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That said, you can no longer send submissions to Marvel and DC through the mail. For a detailed account of how to show them your samples, click here.

If you wish to show your work to Marvel, you’re in luck because Marvel’s talent guy is coming here to the Philippines this March. Click here for info. Hurry, you don’t have much time.

Comments

20 Responses to “My Rejection Letters from Marvel and DC”

  1. Nicolo Yu on March 6th, 2012 10:51 am

    I didn’t know your first Marvel work was for Wolverine and during the the Not Dead Yet arc by Warren Ellis. I have two issues of that story. Leinil sneaked in a lot of Philippine Easter eggs in there. I distinctly remember you working on Wolverine #125 though.

    Sad to read you bombed the Green Lantern tryout though, but obviously you got better art wise. Who wrote the script by the way?

  2. Johann Reyes Serafica on March 6th, 2012 11:36 am

    Hi sir Gerry,
    What can I say? You are a very awesome guy for many things, but this takes the cake! When I was 10 years old, I sent a letter to John Krisfaluci, the creator of Ren and Stimpy, he sent me back an official drawing or sketch on notebook paper from his own desk. I also sent a letter to David Walker of the zine BadAss Mofo, and he sent me a reply letter too, last I sent two letters, in my time to Eric and Martin of the Asian Pop Culture Magazine Giant Robot, and they published them. I used to want to be a comics artist, but I’m more of a literature freak. I think you’re a great person, and you have the same love for comics that I had when I first discovered them in my friend’s parents conveninient store in San Pablo, CA, when I was 10 years old. How many comics you got? I got close to 1000, not kidding.

  3. Cheps on March 6th, 2012 4:35 pm

    This reminded me of how I tried to “peddle” my illustrations to local children’s book publishers. Na-miss ko tuloy mag-drawing ^__^

    (Hey, Gerry! I did an article about you in our college publication back in 1999. While the exchanges have been through email, you were very accommodating and answered all of my questions. Salamat pala nang marami!)

  4. Faye on March 6th, 2012 7:33 pm

    This really made me nervous! But may I ask a question? What are the odds of a girl artist breaking into the comics business? I don’t see girl artists in the business very often.

  5. LanceCatan on March 6th, 2012 8:03 pm

    WOW..

  6. LanceCatan on March 6th, 2012 8:07 pm

    Sir Gerry pwede po maging student nyo?..

  7. Robert Nacion on March 7th, 2012 12:33 am

    sabi nga nila. ‘kung may tiyaga, may nilaga’.
    at may sidlene story pa ng break-up sa ex GF hehe!
    goodluck sa mga parating mo pang prject bossing. masaya ako at ng mga kaibgan mo sa mga blessings na dumarating sayo. godbless you and your family.

    say hi for me para kay madam ilyn :)

  8. Gerry Alanguilan on March 7th, 2012 7:05 am

    Faye… in the end editors look at the work itself. Since many artists really don’t go face to face with editors, many editors don’t even know the gender of the artists sending artwork. And they get hired by the quality of it. I think a lot of women are put off submitting because there’s an impression it’s a boys kind of club, but in my experience, women have always had an equal chance. It’s just that probably more guys are just submitting.

  9. Gerry Alanguilan on March 7th, 2012 7:06 am

    Nicolo… I don’t remember who wrote it….

  10. Gerry Alanguilan on March 7th, 2012 7:06 am

    Johann… I think I got around 25 rejection letters.

  11. Eliot R. Brown on March 7th, 2012 8:39 pm

    Gerry! Well, it’s been a long, strange trip! Amazing to see that ragged hoary old piece of paper after so much time. First– really do like your linear, graphic style; very evocative and a good direction for comics to go in. The coloring adds a nice painterly enhancement to your foundation. Really like the acting. So nice to see perseverence!
    And that was the hope of those letters. Now between you and me, there were a bunch of form letters, which I had been instructed to use (a detail of inner-office madness was that there was not supposed to be a “Submissions Editor.” But since the Try-Out Contest Book listed an address, we got thousands. I was tossed in to the deep end). Yours was a late model letter that I had re-written to be more “me.” But, jeez, bud– who knows who that was back then. I was soon to be hoisted by “Spitfire and the Troubleshooters” and shown the door in mere months after that letter.
    But you persevered during a terrible time in the comic industry– it’s only getting back on its feet now-ish. A whole new world of publishing and outlets are here. The only thing missing is how to get paid! I am all for an open society with kids downloading everything for free, but those utilities still want money (I tried to pay in old comics, no go).
    But– you! I was a little down on the “big” end of the comic world for oh, a decade– but I do remember seeing your stuff and admiring it– saying something like, the new kids have taken root. I especially noted that Birthright story– I may not have been crazy about DC constantly fooling around with the characters, but it’s a testament to the characters that they have the ability to be worked over and still thrive.
    And ‘thrive’ is a word that, I hope, applies to you! This is a great site and I am going to spend some time here. I hope this finds you and yours well and doing well!

  12. Wisdom from Gerry Alanguilan: Beyond the doubts, rejection and tears | News| Celebrity News | Philippine News | Tagalog Movies on March 8th, 2012 10:27 am

    [...] begin work at Marvel right away. I mean, I thought I was that good,” Alanguilan recalled in his blog. He was inspired by the thought that someone—no less than Marvel exec Eliot Brown—knew him and [...]

  13. Wisdom from comics artist Gerry Alanguilan: Beyond the doubts, rejection and tears | News| Celebrity News | Philippine News | Tagalog Movies on March 8th, 2012 7:32 pm

    [...] Graphic artist and comic book writer Gerry Alanguilan has shared the news that Marvel’s international talent scout will be in town from March 18 to 20. To inspire Filipino artists who were like him when he was a bit younger, Alanguilan also told the story of the rejection he overcame to reach comics heaven. He had kept the rejection letters he got from Marvel and DC Comics and posted images of them in his blog. “I began sending submissions to Marvel Comics in 1986. Back then I was so confident of my ‘talent’ that I worried that I would have to stop going to school so I can begin work at Marvel right away. I mean, I thought I was that good,” Alanguilan recalled in his blog. [...]

  14. Comics A.M. | Jules Feiffer honored; ToonSeum begins cleanup | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment on March 8th, 2012 10:56 pm

    [...] Creators | Gerry Alanguilan posts his rejection letters from Marvel and DC Comics from the days when, as a young artist, he sent in samples of his work. He also tells the story of how he blew his first big chance, which should prove inspirational to others in the same boat. [Komikero] [...]

  15. Paul Ramos on March 9th, 2012 3:34 am

    See you tomorrow, Master Gerry!

  16. Urban Pinay on March 9th, 2012 2:06 pm

    How I wonder how an acceptance letter look like from Marvel? Exciting siguro. :-) Sana you could post one for inspiration :-)

  17. Tiff on March 13th, 2012 6:21 pm

    HI Sir Gerry! I want to be like you. Can I be your apprentice?

  18. Gerry Alanguilan on March 14th, 2012 8:37 am

    Hello Tiff… I have an answer to that here: http://alanguilan.com/komikero/faq05.html

  19. Hazel on March 18th, 2012 2:11 am

    Did you also try Image and Dark Horse back then? How about Harvey comics?

  20. Gerry Alanguilan on March 19th, 2012 11:26 am

    Yes, I also tried Image and Dark Horse…. I also have rejection letters from them as well. I don’t think Harvey was publishing anything by the time I started sending submissions, and didn’t even consider it because they have a very strict house style you had to adhere to. Parang Archie comics in that you had to draw like Dan De Carlo.