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Todd McFarlane offers a glimpse of his 350 rejection letters

mcfarlane-rejection letters

Over the course of his 30-year career, Todd McFarlane has spoken frequently about his lone road into the comics industry, one dotted with more than 700 submissions and 350 rejection letters. If you thought that was an apocryphal story akin to tales of having to walk five miles to school … uphill … both ways, think again.

On his Facebook page, the creator of Spawn shares a few photos from his submission days, featuring a sampling of his rejection letters, including one from former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter, as well as a chart he created to track where he sent the packages, and whether he received responses.

Related: Jim Lee’s rejection letters should give aspiring creators hope

“I was always flattered when anyone would take the time to look at what I had sent them and would then lick a stamp and send a return note,” McFarlane writes. “It is kind of funny that the Marvel envelopes and letterhead had Spider-Man on them, because in a few short years after getting some of these rejections I would actually be drawing the Spidey comic itself.”

And the rest, as they say, was history. Be sure to visit McFarlane’s Facebook page to read the full post.




Well, he never got over those “occasional lapses in the drawing–anatomy” that Shooter saw, did he?

Well, we now know how he got work at Marvel: he just wore them out until they gave in for a quiet life.

Bill Williamson

April 29, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Well yeah, these rejection letters are mighty ironic considering, but at least Shooter took the time, both to look at McFarlane’s artwork and to respond. Nowadays Marvel (or any comic book company) would just throw your submission in the trash upon receipt, and they’d probably never send you a rejection letter.

I think it’s been stated that Marvel only looks at published work now. So you need to get yourself started elsewhere. No point just sending them artwork!

Lady Destiny is laughing her ass off!

I’ve heard Shooter could be abrasive, but by all accounts he was a fair dude. The real irony here is that Shooter’s criticism is still spot on.

I miss the old way of doing things. Back then , the gatekeeper would actually tell you why you were rejected. Now-a-days, you just get ignored.

Great job, McFarlane for sticking it out for that many rejections before he finally landed the job. I know that comics are a hard industry to break into but, damn that is a lot of rejections.

Bill Williamson

April 29, 2014 at 9:24 pm

{1234}: It’s really to do with legal issues. The business has become more like Hollywood, and the reason that Marvel (or DC or any big comic book company) don’t just look at unsolicited submissions is because they’re afraid of getting sued. Too often, people have filed lawsuits against film studios or other entertainment companies claiming that they sent whatever unsolicited submission (usually screenplays) and the studio/company rejected them only to produce an eerily similar product.

OT: Whatever Shooter’s personality you can’t deny he did a lot for Marvel and it’s creators. The period where he ran things was probably one of the most creatively prosperous decades in Marvel history.

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