GRAPHIC NOVELS Metaphrog gets an agent


Graphic novelist couple, Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers, aka Metaphrog, have been busy all summer juggling several projects, including two books for Harper Collins. They recently signed with a literary agent — and tell us all about it.

After making comics and graphic novels for over 25 years, we signed with an agent this summer and wanted to share our experience here. We began making comics together in 1994, and self-published for over a decade under the name Metaphrog. Then we released three graphic novel fairy-tale adaptations with New York-based publisher Papercutz. After that, we decided it was time to create some new work. We received support from Creative Scotland to allow us to develop graphic novel pitches with a view to finding an agent.


Over the years, we’ve seen a growing interest in graphic novels in an increasingly visual culture. At the moment, there are lots of agents interested in graphic novels in the US, but only a few in the UK. While there are a lot of agents out there, it’s still very important to do research and find a good fit. Submission guidelines vary and each query letter must be tailored. The great thing about graphic novels is that you can make a pitch packet for querying rather than complete a finished book. Graphic novels are very time-consuming and labour-intensive to create, so it's a lot easier to make suggestions and changes in the early stages of the creative process.

Artwork from our initial rejected pitch
Artwork from our initial rejected pitch

Initially, our submissions met with rejection. We hadn’t expected an easy road, but it was still disappointing. To improve our pitch, we had it critiqued and received really useful pointers and feedback. We’re members of Kids Comics Studio, a program on Kids Comics Unite! Through this, other members also shared their thoughts and further feedback on the art. From all this feedback, we improved our pitch and approached agencies again. At first, this led to more rejections, although we did receive some positive feedback and encouragement.

The graphic novel market for young readers hasn’t really taken off in the UK in the same way as it has in the US yet. But we thought that there were maybe still some signs of hope. At the time, we were still piling up rejections — more than 40 in fact. Authors don’t call it the 'pitching trenches' for nothing! But this time, we had some positive feedback and also requests for full pitch packets. One of our favourite agents was maxed out, another really liked our material but was looking for a different genre (she encouraged us to pitch to her again later), and yet another referred us to a colleague. We were bracing ourselves for a possible third round of pitching, with new material, when Molly Jamieson from United Agents contacted us. 

We’d queried United Agents during our first round of pitching and had received a polite rejection. We queried again (to a different agent this time) and our pitch eventually found its way to Molly, who replied with interest and set up a Zoom meeting. We liked her straightaway. She likes graphic novels and she offered representation that day. As the ink was drying on the agreement, another agency expressed interest, but we had already committed to and were happy with Molly.


Artwork from our new reworked pitch and portfolio
Artwork from our new reworked pitch and portfolio

So that’s our experience of finding an agent for middle grade graphic novels. But everyone’s experience is unique, so what we’ve written above is not a recipe or a “how to”. If we had a piece of advice though, it would be to write your best possible pitch, stick to the agents’ submission guidelines, personalise every query, and persevere. Also seek out critiques and take advice on board. Many agents already have a full list of clients, and have to be very selective about who they take on. A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean that your work is not good enough. It might just mean that the timing isn’t right for a particular agent or the market. There are so many variables and this is a very subjective industry. Bear in mind that response times can vary from very quick to extremely slow.

If you’re interested in reading more about our experience of finding an agent for graphic novels, we’ve written a more detailed blog about our querying experience.

To view our work in person, you can visit The Graphic Novel World of Metaphrog exhibition which will run for Book Week Scotland and beyond in The Mitchell Library from 7th November 2022 until 9th January 2023.

*All images by Metaphrog


Sandra Marrs and John Chalmers (aka Metaphrog). The Franco-Scottish duo are winners of The Sunday Herald Scottish Culture Awards 2016, Best Visual Artist. Their graphic novels have received international acclaim and multiple award nominations, including three for the Eisner Awards. 

You can find Sandra and John on Instagram @metaphrog_art and Twitter @metaphrog  Find their work on and


Tita Berredo is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Find her work at Follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Contact her at:

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