Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1983 - Marvel Try-Out Book

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.


  1. I still have pages from the Try-Out Book. Unfortunately, I bought mine at a discount store a few years after the contest ended. Also: I was only 10 or 11. But still, loved the concept. And with John Romita Jr. art!

  2. i remember seeing ads for this again a few years later (circa '87 maybe?). anyone know if they re-did the whole contest or just re-issued the book? if it's the former, i wonder who won!

  3. It took YEARS, but I finally got my TRY-OUT pages back from Marvel. I thought they were finally going to print the thing, as I had inked some extra pages initially. When I was asked to ink the rest I was way too busy (fortunately), so I'm not sure if they indeed ever published the finished comic/story. I sure never got a copy.

  4. Hi Doug, welcome to the blog and thanks for sharing!

  5. Does anybody know if it ever finally saw print as a comic book?

  6. I don't believe they ever did. I chatted with Mark Bagley a few weeks ago and he never mentioned that it ever got published...

  7. Well, that solves that mystery.

  8. I recently read an issue of Power Pack (#19 maybe) that had a soapbox promotion for this contest. It said it would be printed a year after the contest ended as ASM issue. Gave the title of the issue, but I can't remember it now. I was also wondering if it ever saw light.

  9. I remember seeing this in maybe '84 or so. Thought it was neat. I was only 10 so obviously wasnt going to compete.



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