After marathon reading sessions and high-spirited debate, IDW-distributed Darby Pop Publishing has announced the winner of its “Breaking Into Comics” writing contest. The company put out a call for complete scripts featuring the character of Stingray — a hero-turned-villain from the publisher’s flagship title, Indestructible. All told, Darby Pop Publishing received more than 170 entries in just one month.

“We were thrilled by how many quality scripts we received,” said Darby Pop’ founder and Indestructible’s creator Jeff Kline. “It goes to show that there is untapped talent out there. And they’re willing to put in some real work to get a foot in the door of this industry.” Managing Editor Renae Geerlings elaborated: “It was difficult to choose just one. In fact, there were several scripts that we all would have been happy to publish.” Ultimately, Jeff Marsick from Fairfield, CT was named the contest’s winner. “And not just because he has such a fetching first name,” Kline added.

“Like many of the submissions received,” Kline explained, “Mr. Marsick’s was professional, tonally consistent with Indestructible, and featured strong dialogue. But, Mr. Marsick also made a bold choice that turns the character’s implied backstory on its head. As a longtime TV writer/producer, I’m not terribly precious with my material; best idea wins. And Mr. Marsick came up with something I hadn’t really considered… but that should work remarkably well within this universe.”

Marsick has been trying to break into comics for some time as a regular contributor to Newsarama’sBest Shot” feature, as the host of several podcasts, and as the writer of two creator-owned series, “Z Girl and the 4 Tigers” and “Dead Man’s Party,” all of which Darby Pop was unaware of at the time. “We read the scripts blind,” said Marketing Director Joshua Cozine. “We didn’t even read the emails people wrote to accompany their scripts. So apologies to the few people who wrote lengthy introductions, but we didn’t want anything to influence our opinions of the work. Marsick’s other comic activities just go to show his level of commitment and that you have to keep at it.”

Marsick’s first work-for-hire script will now go into the editorial and production pipelines, and Marsick will receive a $500 bounty. Readers can expect to see “Indestructible: Stingray” with cover art (PICTURED) by another comics first-timer Jeff Langevin in comic book shops and online in May of 2015. And, according to Cozine, chances are good that Darby Pop Publishing will hold a similar competition sometime soon.

There was, of course, some uncertainty when we first announced the contest,” Cozine explained. “But, the results have given us the confidence to reach out to the fan community again. So find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and keep an eye on our feeds.

And I’d just like to add,” said Kline, “that we truly appreciate the efforts of all who participated. Though we can’t publish 170 scripts, we’re going to send everyone who entered a free iTunes code that can be used to download the first issue of Doberman – another Darby Pop title with a definite comedic bent. Just to say ‘thank you.'”

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