Marvel Comics released The Marvel Try-Out Book as an oversized 11”x17” book (and rather expensive one at $12.95) meant to encourage young, undiscovered talent. The incentive was that the winners would be given work at Marvel Comics. The book outlined each role in the comic book creation process, from writer, penciler, inker, letterer, and colourist. It then allowed an opportunity for you to fill that role, for example, pre-penciled pages for you to ink and letter, or blank pages for you to pencil.
The Marvel Try-Out Book contest winners weren’t announced until 1986:
* Plotter and scripter: Chuck Duffie
* Penciler: Mark Bagley
* Inker: Doug Hazlewood
* Colorist: P. Jeanine Pasda
* Letterer: Robin Riggs
As you may know, Mark Bagley is the now famous penciler on Ultimate Spider-Man. Inker Doug Hazlewood went on to join DC Comics as a regular inker for their Superman family of books. And Robin Riggs “graduated” from lettering and went on to a career as an inker.
From an interview with Comic Book Resources, Bagley stated:
I thought it was a gimmick…something Jim Shooter came up with, and I didn’t buy it. Luckily, Cliff Biggers, the guy who publishes Comic Shop News, was a friend of mine. He owned the comic book store that I went to at the time. He told me, “If you don’t do this, you’ll hate yourself.” So, he gave it to me. And, I won first place. That got me a trip to New York and a chance to meet all the editors. I went, and they threw me out of their offices. The last editor I saw on the last day I was there said, “Hey, I bet you’d like something to draw, wouldn’t you.” I said, “Yeah!” That was, I think, Mike Higgins who was editing the New Universe which was kind of winding down. He was desperate for people to work on it, and I was desperate for work. I did 4 or 5 jobs for him. After about a year and a half of doing it, I was able to quit my regular job and do comics full time. And, I’ve never looked back.