GROUNDED: The Purple Note Game

Good morning! Welcome to your first day as an official submission vetter for one of the largest independent comic book publishers in the nation. I see that they’ve got you all set up with your desk and equipment and whatnot, so let’s just dive right in, okay?

Every morning you’ll stop by the shipping dock on your way up and collect a supplies cart—I’ve brought yours today. We’ve put your name on it so you’ll know which one to grab. Shipping divides the submission packets equally between the team, so if we got a hundred yesterday, each of you gets 33.3 today. Nah, I’m kidding, no one gets .3 of a packet. The odd one out just gets assigned at random. I’ve actually walked in on the shipping guys chucking the last one at the carts with their eyes closed…we had to put a stop to that because it bent the manuscripts, but anyway.

Since you’re new, I’ve given you ten to start with today so that we can go through them together and you can get to grips with what we like to see around here. As you can see, I’ve also brought supplies.

We’ve developed a very technical sticky note method of categorizing submissions. I’ll walk you through the colors and what they mean.

Pink notes are for manuscripts that are definitely not going past your desk. Manuscripts that get pink notes can get them for several reasons: they can be poorly written or drawn (or both), they can be boring, the story might be too close to another one already being published. Heck, sometimes you get stuff that’s nothing more than thinly veiled fan fiction. The company likes to think of itself as fairly liberal and open-minded, but there are certain things we won’t publish under any circumstances, and those get pink notes faster than you can pull up that reversing “nope, nope, nope” octopus gif on your pho—Oh, you’re quick. Well, you know what I mean.

Orange notes go on manuscripts you think require a second set of eyes. You’re probably going to use a lot of orange notes for the first little while here, and that’s okay. Obviously, we trust your judgment or we wouldn’t have hired you, but we all know what it’s like to get used to a new publishing philosophy, so if you’re on the fence about a book you bring it with you to our daily “What do you think of this one?” meeting. That’s every afternoon at three o’clock, by the way. Your week to bring snacks is going to be the third week each month, and Lars is allergic to peanuts—just FYI.

Yellow notes are for any manuscripts that show promise but are missing parts of the submission package or that maybe you just want a little more detail to vet properly. You sit on any yellows and correspond with the contact on the cover sheet until you feel like you have enough info to make a decision. Make sense?

Green notes equal green lights. Anything with a green note goes up the chain to the next level for review. A green-note manuscript is well put together, the pitch is solid, the writing and art are top-notch, the story is intriguing or insightful or both—in other words, the book is solid and worthy of consideration.

Blue notes are exceptional. Blue notes go on manuscripts that are above average—they’re like green notes with the volume kicked up to eleven. It’ll probably be a while before you hand out any of these at all, but when you get into the swing of things and do feel comfortable giving a blue note it’ll be because you feel a submission is stellar.

Purple notes, well, purple notes are kind of an inside joke. Purple notes go on manuscripts along with another color (pink through blue, it could be anything,) and the game is to see how many purple notes you can get in a batch of submissions. We give out purples for a number of things: unusual character deaths, use of the ‘accidental baby acquisition’ trope, allusions to Freud, any time a character eats toast, a panel where the artist deliberately puts something in front of a character to avoid drawing bare feet, any form of Easter Egg (up to and including literal Easter eggs), any time a superhero-type character wears their underwear outside their pants, for the use of certain phrases like “I’m too old for this shit”, “What do I look like, a [whatever]?”, or “Cover me, I’m going in!”…the complete list is on the shared drive, I’ll show you later. You’re more than welcome to suggest new categories, by the way. The scoresheet is in the same folder. Our current #1 on the Purple Game leaderboard is there because he got doled out a doozy of a book last week that racked up fifty-six purple notes all by itself! By the way, to save on the departmental stationery budget we use one actual note to indicate that a book contains a purple-worthy item, and multiple points are tracked on the note with hash marks.

But that’s enough with the instructions for now—let’s see what came in the mail!

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Elizabeth Fazzio
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--
Elizabeth Fazzio
Written by
South Bay native turned East Bay resident. Holder of two less-than-useful arts degrees. Human Resources professional by day, creative recluse the rest of the time. Favorite words: Weasel, toast. Mental health advocate--

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