Earlier this year Gold Key Comics, the iconic publisher of TV and movie tie-in comics in the 1960s and ’70s, announced their return with the launch of a Kickstarter for a reboot of Boris Karloff’s Gold Key Mysteries, one of the publisher’s most popular legacy titles. The project, which features work from creators including Michael W. Conrad, Steve Orlando, Artyom Trakanov, Kelly Williams, Jok, Craig Hurd-Mckenny, Sergey Nazarov, and Kyle Arends, was successfully funded at the end of last month. Beyond that, Gold Key has been open for submissions since their return, but the guidelines for submitting work have raised some eyebrows on social media, and elicted a response from the publisher.
As noted by comics creator Zach Chapman on Twitter, on the publisher’s submissions page, among the criteria listed is an item stating that submitting creators should have at least six issues, or around 200 pages of comics, completed prior to submitting:
lol wut. this feels like it was written by someone who doesn't work in the field. pic.twitter.com/Uo7VQ6tRZi
— Zach Chapman (@ChappyZach) May 15, 2023
(The irony of having that bullet point directly below “Gold Key respects creators and their work.” has not been lost on us.)
Further down on the page, the submission form includes a question about how many issues of the project are completed already (highlighting ours):
The tweet drew the attention of figures from around the industry, including creators Fabian Nicieza, Christopher Sebela, Neil Kleid, and more, all of whom noted how unreasonable an ask this is for creators just looking to submit work.
What level of insanity is this?
I'm asking honestly.
Who can we reach out to for this so they can be better educated on how comic books are made?
Submit six issues? Insanity.
Be open to edits? Sure. But 1 edit on page 12 of issue 1 could result in dozens of pages to be reworked. https://t.co/COOfGblUie
— FabianNicieza (@FabianNicieza) May 16, 2023
I mean the six issues thing is insane, @GoldKeyComic but the worst part is “be open to edits” which means you may have to redo those six issues completely. Come on. https://t.co/j3571IXE6O
— Neil Kleid (@neilkleid) May 15, 2023
whoa. this is like those frogs that have special coloring to let you know they're poisonous. run away! https://t.co/7Bs0ZVkUir
— Christopher Sebela (@xtophersebela) May 15, 2023
This is madness, who produces six issues of a book for submission? (hand who is capable of producing 32 pages per month!) https://t.co/h8Lh3IXUY5
— @pauljholden (@Pauljholden) May 15, 2023
If you have 200 pages completed you probably already have a publisher or you don't need one. https://t.co/J6O5CWttbn
— Fraser Campbell (@FraserC69) May 15, 2023
For their part, Gold Key was quick to respond to the criticism, replying to Chapman’s tweet within a few hours to clarify:
You’re absolutely correct, we wrote that copy over a year ago. We now have 3 legacy titles and 3 originals we’re working on and none were anywhere near 6 issues completed (we’re learning) – the form copy is being edited and we appreciate you brining it to our attention.
— Gold Key Comics (@GoldKeyComic) May 16, 2023
“You’re absolutely correct, we wrote that copy over a year ago,” the publisher tweeted. “We now have 3 legacy titles and 3 originals we’re working on and none were anywhere near 6 issues completed (we’re learning) – the form copy is being edited and we appreciate you brining [sic] it to our attention.”
Michael W. Conrad, who contributed to Boris Karloff’s Gold Key Mysteries, also rose to the publisher’s defense:
I've worked with these folks, and they've been very kind/understanding at every step. That submissions thing is news to me, but it sounds like it was old/unrealistic. https://t.co/K81IgPbn4M pic.twitter.com/mOtWyZhkiQ
— Michael W Conrad 🗿 (@michaelwconrad) May 16, 2023
“I’ve worked with these folks, and they’ve been very kind/understanding at every step,” Conrad tweeted. “That submissions thing is news to me, but it sounds like it was old/unrealistic.”
Gold Key still appears to be working on updating their submissions page, which from another of their tweets sounds like is taking longer than expected due to the form portion of the page.
With so many predatory outfits in comics ready to take advantage of up-and-coming creators looking to get their work out into the world, it’s no surprise that the existing submission guidelines for Gold Key drew swift criticism. It’s heartening, though, to have seen a response and an openness to critique from the folks behind Gold Key, and hopefully they’ll resolve their web form issues soon.
Yikes, good to know up front this endeavor is being run by people too inexperienced to have any clue how out of their depth they are.
No one is commenting on the second and third terms?
Industry professionals cannot apply, and those amateurs (using the dictionary definition of someone who hasn’t been paid for what they create) have to build a creative team to be considered?
The only larger publisher who accepts subs and doesn’t require a team to be pre built is Humanoids afaik. All others require you to submit completed sequential pages (usually at least 6) to be considered.
“Industry professionals cannot apply”
When they say “Not have been previously published,” it seems like a stretch to assume that means that industry professionals can’t apply rather than simply that the submissions shouldn’t have been previously published.
I’d be a little more concerned with the idea that you have to be able to produce 32 pages a month rather than the 20-22 that seems to be the industry standard for periodical comics these days.
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