Thursday, August 23, 2012


The more you work in comics, the more you realize it's always a volatile industry. Like most entertainment, there's a lot of egos in the room, both from the creative side of the table (the writers, artists, idea generators) and those from the other side that help manage everything (the editorial and office staff all the way up to the executives running the show). Did I mention egos? Those trying to force their will, those trying to be the next big star (or maintain being talked about), and probably the rest of us just trying to do our jobs with as little hassle as possible and hopefully get some enjoyment out of it. Somewhere in there, we hope the reader gets to enjoy it too.

Editing is a thankless job. It's probably right up there with inking and lettering, but even more so. As a reader, there's probably no reason or ability to know good editing on the books you read (if you like the comics, then the writer and penciller are given a parade of hosannahs from the highest geek mountain). But if there's a bad story told, bad art delivered, late books, crummy crossovers, or horrible direction…then the editor gets lumped in with the rest of the accused. And sometimes, gets the lion's share of it, whether purposefully or not.

You won't work in this industry for any length of time without coming across your fair share of bad editors. Those that don't seem to know what they're doing. That dump more of their own job responsibilities on the creative people rather than handling it themselves.  They'll change your words without asking or force their own ideas over yours. Those that can be hard to talk to, hard to track down, and hard to get answers from (of course they get their fair share too trying to track down missing creators or late blown deadlines). And the worst I always feel…changing something for the SAKE of changing it. Not because of any specific reason. Almost like they're trying to throw their weight around or to make themselves "useful" in their jobs. And some of those times, even after arguing against it and making changes…they'll end up not using them or forgetting about them, and just going with what was turned in originally. Like it's some weird mindscrew for you to hop when they ask you to jump.

At the same time, I've had some fantastic editors, and you tend to want to hold onto them like a life preserver. These are the ones that show enthusiasm for your work, becoming the biggest cheerleader for your creativity. They can be a perfect muse in that way, asking just the right questions or giving just the right recommendation of something to add or take out. But still leaving the decision up to you. And of course, the old notion of them just getting out of the way so that the writer and artist can create. Seems weird that can't happen more often, but it's not always the case on every project and every editor.

And ultimately, you work long enough in the industry, and you see job turnover. I think editing, more than any other job in the comics industry, is in a constant state of flux. Editors come and go. They can work their way up, switch offices (and production jobs), hop to different companies, or just burn out and jump to a different industry altogether. Some even decide they want to sit on the other side of the desk and do the creating themselves (as was the case with one of my early editors now superstar-writer, John Layman). Editors can help find the talent (find ways to employ you), listen to your needs, guide you, and when they move on…you find yourself having to adjust to all new "bosses". Having to meet new people and network all over again. Some editors, you end up sending email inquiries for years with no luck, only to end up working for them many years later with them remembering you (Mike Marts…classy guy!)

Once again I'm rambling long.

Tomorrow is the last day I'll be edited by Ben Abernathy at DC Comics, although really the day will be spent for him saying goodbye to everyone at the office I'm sure. Technically all this week was spent setting things up for who his replacements will be on projects I'm working on, to hand off to the next crew (some of whom I've worked with before). But already I'm missing Ben. How he'd get into the office early in the morning and get caught up on emails (usually when I was ready to end my day he was just beginning). How he'd ask a question about story ideas, and then get excited as we started to toss info back and forth. And also the few times I'd get a chance to grab a meal with him and Dustin at a con and just chat about work and everything outside of it. Plus he was great at just looking super serious when really he was pulling your leg the whole time, just waiting for you to dig your own grave with your words, until he'd crack and laugh it off.

I knew OF Ben for many years before I ever got the chance to work for him. During the time I spent working away from Wildstorm and DC, at Marvel and Dark Horse and any number of places. But with Dustin still exclusive and doing a lot of work with him, I'd always heard how good he was. And he was always someone I looked the most forward to working with sometime in my career. So it was fun that he would be the one to edit the Beyond comics. He got to see Dustin and my ideas for Justice League Beyond at their infancy, as well as all sorts of ideas still yet to come. He got to see how excited we were to sort of control our own destiny on the Beyond comic, writing as well as handling the art, and to see its success. He was as much a fan of sitting back and watching what we'd do, as he was editing over it. For all the bad press you hear about company controlled big media books, Justice League Beyond is one of the easiest jobs I've ever worked on. And that's a huge part thanks to Ben!

I look forward to what he does next as well as getting to work with the new crew helping to steer the Beyond stories (and other projects). But I definitely am always sad to have another editor leave. So many of the nice people I've worked with at Marvel, Dark Horse, Wildstorm, and now DC, have moved on. Some have stayed. It's just the natural part of life and work. Nothing stays the same, or lasts forever. You just try to enjoy as much of it in the moment while you can.

Thanks again Ben!  (And to all my great editors in the past who have moved onto other companies and projects).

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