Earlier today, it was announced on several comic news sites that Marvel Comics, the leading American comic publisher, closed it's mail boxes to unsolicited submissions. Unsolicited submission is the easiest way to potential success in the writing world, and I would assume in the art world as well. So what does this mean? Well, honestly not that much.
This change of policy is more of a blow to the artist than it is to the writer. Before now, an artist could send pages to Marvel without any red tape and get a response. A writer was asked to send a query letter (To prove that you had the bonafides) and a document signing away your right to sue if Marvel were to release a product similar to your idea before they'd look at your work. In essence Marvel hasn't had open submissions for writers for a long time now, despite what today's articles suggest. A positive response to a writer's query letter essentially makes their word solicited.
Marvel has said that they're going to continue their other means of finding talent- which is the nice way of saying "Hope you have friends in high places!" [ I'm looking at you Brian Reed!] and/or "Hope you're already famous!" - Though on the newsarama audio clip it reveals that no talent has been taken from open submissions in over two years.
Losing open submissions- at least from a company like Marvel- isn't that much of a loss for budding/undiscovered talent but it doesn't make it any less sad. Marvel wasn't going to pick up any writers from open submissions, and an artist not going to conventions to show off their work isn't going to have good enough stuff to get picked up anyway. All Marvel is really saying by getting rid of open submissions is that they don't want to fake it anymore. Hard working semi-known artists and connected writers is all they really wanted to begin with. Still, it was nice to have the dream, wasn't it?
I hate the thought of any place closing it's doors, not only for myself but for anyone. The success of one nobody is the inspiration of a thousand. The reality is that most who have made it big did it step by painful step. That's great, but it makes it a little harder for everyone else to slog through the mess without the misguided hope of a golden ticket.