Skip to main content

New Modern Tales Submissions Guidelines Released

The new Modern Tales Submissions Guidelines have been released and submissions for Modern Tales are now being accepted. Modern Tales's new free collective will be a non-exclusive relationship, allowing cartoonists to maintain their own websites or alternate collective memberships as they wish.

As promised, here's the Modern Tales submission guidelines. With this post, Submissions are now open, provided you follow these guidelines in doing it. Consider it... a test, grasshopper.

Oh... you might notice a minor little thing in the draft. Something about "non-exclusivity?"


We're not requiring exclusive rights to our free webcomics. If you want to maintain your own website, with all your archives, in addition to being on Modern Tales? That's fine by us. And if you're a member of another collective, regardless of size, we're okay with you staying a member of that collective, provided they don't require exclusivity (since... well, if they do, you can't be on Modern Tales, can you?)

Oh, finally? It's not going to be called Modern Tales Free. That's just a shorthand to make clear which part of Modern Tales we're discussing.

Ladies and Gentlemen? The floodgates are open.


Modern Tales is now accepting submissions for MODERN TALES FREE. We are interested in both ongoing and limited series webcomics ranging from single panel up through infinite canvas. We are not interested in one-shot submissions at this time.


Modern Tales is looking for professional quality webcomics updated frequently. Successful submissions will have solid art and writing and a proven history of meeting regular deadlines. Update schedule is negotiable, however all Modern Tales Free webcomics must update at least weekly. The more frequently a strip updates, the more likely Modern Tales Free will accept it.

Modern Tales is willing to work with new artists, but preference will be given to artists who have a proven track record. Previous publication is acceptable, and strips with good depth of archive are desirable. Queries are unnecessary.

Submissions must come from a Cartoonist (artist, writer or both) with creative control and copyright authority on both the current strip and the strip's archives. If the submitter shares creative control, copyright authority, or both with any other person or legal entity, this information must be disclosed as part of the proposal along with all applicable contact information. Submission packages should include a cover letter, a complete list of creative personnel working on the strip (with appropriate contact information), a link to the current home of the strip (if applicable), and at least five comic strips (links to archived strips are acceptable, as are uploads or attachments). Examples should be typical of the strip, demonstrating its strength and range. If a given strip is strongly story based, the examples can be sequential but do not have to be. Submitters must be at least eighteen years old.

The cover letter should include the goals the Cartoonist(s) have for the strip, the projected length of the strip (particularly for limited series), the strip's update schedule and a sense of where the strip is going. This is the sales pitch, so treat it accordingly.

At this time, all submissions should be sent to MODERNTALES.SUBMISSIONS@GMAIL.COM. We cannot accept submissions to any other e-mail address. Any supporting documentation or files should be included as an attachment. Text files should be saved as plain text or rich text format and attached. Example strips and other graphics may be attached directly, or links provided. Please note that Gmail has a 10 mb limit on incoming messages, so plan accordingly.

Modern Tales receives a lot of submissions. While we will work hard to answer you as quickly as possible, please understand that response time is often measured in months instead of days. Please, no followup queries for at least six weeks.


Cartoonists on Modern Tales Free not paid directly by Modern Tales. They will be given an area of their web pages where they may sell advertising (using Google AdSense, AdBrite,, or any number of other third-party advertising vendors -- or using a private advertising server we will set up for them) if they wish to do so. Ad space on the cartoonist's pages will be allotted like so: There will be a single standard 468x60 ad banner across the top of all pages on the free site, to represent Modern Tales's stake. That banner is site-wide and its compensation will go entirely to Modern Tales. An additional skyscraper sized advertisement (the more successful ad in today's ad market) will be entirely the artist's to use if they choose. All funds from ads sold into this space will go directly to the Cartoonist. Cartoonists may also choose to advertise merchandise, graphic novels, other comic strips, or anything else they wish in this space. Cartoonists who do not wish to sell independent advertising may choose to leave this space blank.

Modern Tales Free is a NON-EXCLUSIVE collective. This means that cartoonists are free to mirror their Modern Tales comics (both current and archived) on a website of their own or any other website. Cartoonists who are members of other collectives may continue to be members of those collectives as they wish (assuming those other collectives are also non-exclusive). All print and merchandise rights remain with the cartoonist. Modern Tales claims no rights save the right to display current comics and archives.

Modern Tales Free gives access to Modern Tales services like the private ad server, the Small Press Swapmeet, and the like, as well as the Modern Tales advanced content management system.

Modern Tales Cartoonists are expected to provide consistent updates in a professional manner. The most successful cartoon strips on the web have a consistency of appearance, and that consistency is key in developing a readership. When accepted, Modern Tales and the Cartoonist will set a schedule for updates. Hiatuses can be negotiated as needed, but inconsistent updating can be grounds for removal from the Modern Tales site.


How do I put together a submission cover letter and proposal? I've never done anything like that, and I don't think they covered it in school.
If you're foundering, let me quote former Girlamatic Editor and all around cool human being Lea Hernandez:

BEFORE YOU SEND ME YOUR PITCH, BUY or BORROW and READ *How To Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen. (21/103-7710080-8024610">link to it at Amazon) While it is geared towards non-fiction proposals, it does teach everything you need to know about crafting a readable proposal. I can't say for sure I'd know for sure if someone HASN'T read this when they pitch, but I bet I can tell who HAS. What I do not want to see is your entire story written out in a single-spaced block in email. Have mercy.

That's not the only way to do it, of course, but if the whole thought of building a pitch that sells is scaring you, this should help ease the pain.

The terrible, terrible pain.

What does 'Non-Exclusive' mean?
This means that your comic strip remains yours. We don't expect you to take down your own site, hide archives away, break ties with existing collectives or otherwise remake your online presence to conform to Modern Tales. In fact, using Modern Tales's Tooncasting feature, you can easily build a home page that shows the most current strip, designed however you like, and use Modern Tales Free as your archival method, seamlessly.

If you're part of some other organization, and want to remain a part of that organization, make certain they don't have an exclusive arrangement with you before submitting.

Why do I have to be at least eighteen to submit my proposal?
Because in the United States of America, which is where Joey Manley and I both live, and where the corporate offices of Modern Tales reside (such as they are), a person must be at least eighteen to enter a legally binding contract.

What advantages does Modern Tales give me?
Modern Tales is one of the best known comics collectives on the Internet. We have a reputation for outstanding quality and have been the home to some of the best webcomics on the web. In addition, we have a strong reputation outside of normal webcomics circles, both in the independent comics press and in the broader community (including past coverage in the New York Times.) Modern Tales can provide you with an entirely new audience for your work, without cutting ties with your existing audience.

Modern Tales also provides some of the best content management tools in the industry, including integration with some of the most popular systems and services. We strive to make it simple for our creators and cartoonists to get their strips onto the web and out to the people.

Further, Modern Tales has robust cross promotion. Our goal is to build Modern Tales Free into a strong community web site that will let cartoonists express themselves and support each other, while getting exposure from one another.

Over the past several years, we've also seen what works most consistently for folks who want to make some money with their comic strip. Overwhelmingly, those tools that let a Cartoonist merchandize or advertise for themselves without a middleman getting in the way seem to work the best. While Modern Tales is a collective, we want to give our Cartoonists every possible means of succeeding -- while giving them the all of the advantages of a large collective.

Finally, Joey Manley bakes a mean peach cobbler.

Once I get a strip on Modern Tales Free, I can launch as many others as I like, right?
Actually, no.

Many webcomics collectives use a model where creators can use their affiliation however they wish. Modern Tales Free, however, is organized around a more traditional print model. It's not an individual creator we're bringing onto the site -- it's a specific webcomic. Current Modern Tales Cartoonists still need to submit new comic strip ideas just like everyone else. And just like everyone else they sometimes get rejections.

Now, I won't pretend that we won't give some preference to folks we've worked with before. It's always easiest to accept a comic strip from someone we already know we can work with, know will update on time, and so on. This is also why we're more likely to accept a strip from a cartoonist with a proven track record than from an unknown.

I was rejected! You hate me!
Technically, that isn't a question.

However, it's safe to say we don't hate you. We get a lot more submissions than we can possibly use. Modern Tales is a business, and as such, we have to make our decisions based on an overall plan. We might pass on a good strip simply out of a question of balancing our selection, for example.

If you're rejected with a given strip, go on and conquer the world with that strip. If you succeed, we'll be applauding you with the rest of your loyal subjects. And if you come up with a new project, feel free to submit it as well.

Finally, we are astoundingly happy you submitted in the first place. Seriously. Getting submissions absolutely makes my day.

How can I improve my chances of being accepted?
First off, have all the basics down pat: make sure the example strips you send us really highlight your strengths; clean, clear art and good writing are always going to catch our attention; demonstrate that you're consistent with updates -- long, regular hiatuses are a warning flag to us; give us every reason to believe you take this seriously, as an art form and as a commitment.

Once you've got that, it's a question of attracting our interest with your subject matter and its execution. There's a balancing act between the cliche and the obscure that can be hard to manage -- if you send us a comic strip about a set of college roommates and their cute talking animal, it's going to have to be really, really good to stand out from the eighty-five others we've seen in the last week. On the flip side, if you're going to do a comic strip about the crystallization rate of sugar in a saturated solution, there'd better be something compelling in it.

What's off limits?
On the whole? Nothing. We're not limiting by genre or style. Single panel gag humor? Four panel newspaper style strip? Extended or expanded canvas? It's all good. Horror? Humor? Funny horror? Frightening humor? Good enough. Fantasy? Science Fiction? Left Wing humor? Right Wing humor? Good enough, so long as it's good.

Mature themes are also acceptable, though full on erotica or pornography is not. (Not because we're prudes, but because we work with PayPal, and PayPal won't accept erotica or pornography. So, keep it to a hard R or NC-17, but not X.)

This is Modern Tales. Does my strip have to be alternative/experimental/literary/Fantagraphicsish/whatever to be accepted?
Nope. It just has to be good. The real strength of a collective like Modern Tales -- one with an editor, submission guidelines and all the rest -- is that readers can come expecting quality work. That's our overriding concern. We want all the readers who come over to find stuff they like reading.

Can I e-mail my submission to one of your other e-mail addresses? Or through your blog? Or send you my submission in the mail? I want to stand out from the crowd.
Please submit all submissions to MODERNTALES.SUBMISSIONS@GMAIL.COM. No submission sent by any other means will be considered. Seriously. I will laugh. I will laugh and delete your submission and never reply to you. And you will sit and wait and hope and wonder for all eternity.

It's better by far to send it to the right address, don't you think?

Can I call you at home and pitch my strip to you?
Only if you want to hear a grown man cry.

Actually, even if you want to hear a grown man cry, the answer is still no.

Can I submit for consideration on Modern Tales's subscription service?
Not through this process. Subscription-only webcomics on Modern Tales are going to be few and far between, moving forward. If you're interested, you should query before sending a submission. Send those queries to MODERNTALES.SUBMISSIONS@GMAIL.COM, outlining in general terms what your proposal is. Make certain you explicitly state you intend your project to be subscription-only. I will forward your proposal on to the subscription editor, and at that point will have nothing more to do with it. Just for the record.

When I submit to Modern Tales, I'm also submitting to Graphic Smash, right?
Not directly, no. Though the related imprints are often called the Modern Tales Family of websites, each one is independent. By submitting through this process, you're telling us you're interested in being on Modern Tales Free in particular. If you're interested in Graphic Smash, Girlamatic or Serializer, you should check those websites for their submission guidelines.

That being said, if I see a high-action webcomic submitted to Modern Tales Free that I think is good, but can't use right at that moment, there's every chance I'll forward it on to Graphic Smash's editor. If he or she agrees with my assessment, they may contact you directly.

If Graphic Smash carries action webcomics, Serializer alternative comics, and Girlamatic comics that appeal to young adult and adult women, what does Modern Tales carry?
Modern Tales doesn't have a specific theme to our comics selections. We want quality webcomics across the whole spectrum of webcomics. We want the best comics in the known universe, regardless of their genre or style.