Submissions to Epic Comics from non-Americans

Marvel is no longer accepting submissions for Epic Comics. See here for more information.

(To everyone from countries other than the U.S., I want to say this: I voted for one of the other guys.)

Epic is accepting submissions from other countries. They've received a fair number of them already. I wouldn't worry much about the editors being prejudiced against foreign submissions. Despite our image overseas, Americans are generally friendly to people from other countries, regardless of politics. This is especially true of people in cosmopolitan international cities like New York, which is where the Epic editors all work.

Submissions do have to be in English, of course. While most Americans have absolutely no moral right to criticise the quality of others' English (my own best non-native language - Spanish - makes me sound like a not-very-smart 7-year-old with a speech impediment), unless you're good enough with English to be mistaken for a native speaker, I suggest finding someone who is that proficient to proofread your script. Seriously, I'm actually pretty good with languages, and back when I used my Spanish enough to be good at it (sounding more like a not-very-smart 10-year-old), there were subtle things I would get not-quite-right, and I see a lot of the same in the English of people who don't speak it all the time. (Just between you and me, many native speakers have similar problems.) You don't want the submissions editor to be too distracted by your unusual conjugation of the verb "to teleport" to notice your clear story structure. And to anyone who learned the Queen's English rather than Hollywood's: using American spellings of "centre" and "licence", and terms like "truck" instead of "lorry" or "cigarette" instead of "fag", will also help focus the editor's attention on your content rather than on your "colourful" use of the language.

A far greater challenge comes from trying to figure out the U.S. tax system. I am not at all an expert on tax law, but as I understand it, regardless of who you are or where you live, any pay you'd get from Marvel would be subject to U.S. income tax. If you're a citizen of another country, it may be subject to your own local income tax as well. Many countries have tax treaties with the U.S. to deal with this "double taxation" situation. (If it's any consolation, we have similar problems with taxes levied by the various states within the U.S.) Marvel needs the proper paperwork filled out for this, because they're required to withhold (and forward to the government) income tax on the payments they make to you. I do know this: If you're living in the U.S. as a "resident alien", you fill out the same standard tax forms as any other U.S. tax-payer.

If you're a "non-resident" (whether in the U.S. or not) it's more complicated. The Epic web site provides the IRS* forms you'd need to fill out, depending on whether you're in the U.S. (8233) or your own country (W-8BEN). They neglected to provide links to the instructions for filling out those forms: 8233 and W-8BEN. You'll probably need to know the terms of your country's tax treaty (if any) with the U.S. Here's an index of current tax treaties; what you're looking for is information (such as a percentage rate) for withholding of personal income tax. As I said before, this is not an area I know much about, so this is about as far as I can take you. If you need further help, I'd suggest finding an accountant or tax lawyer in your country to help you. However, I can offer this tip: If you leave out the tax form, Epic will review your submission regardless. You'll still have to figure out the tax documents if your proposal gets accepted (good luck with the form 1040 next April!), but at that point you'll know it's worth the trouble.

*Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. tax agency.

A more trivial matter is the self-addressed stamped envelope (usually abbreviated SASE and pronounced "sayzee") for Epic to use for their reply. Many countries' postal services sell International Reply Coupons; I'm told you should include two of them. Otherwise, you can order U.S. postage online. But if you enclose a properly addressed envelope without stamps, Marvel has said that they'll pay for the necessary postage. They just don't want to have to spend 37 cents on every single domestic submission that comes in the door. The SASEs will be used mostly for rejection letters. Be sure to include an e-mail address and your phone number, so they can make contact more quickly for an acceptance. For the phone number, don't assume they know your country code... or even how to dial internationally. For calls from the U.S. the procedure is to dial 011 + your country code + your city/area code + your local number. List that whole set of digits as your phone number, and indicate how many hours earlier/later it is where you live compared to Eastern time (where New York is)... unless you don't mind getting a call in the middle of the night telling you that they've accepted your proposal. {grin}

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