Baby Boom – From Kindergarten To Comic Book Editing At Wondercon

Peter S. Svensson writes for Bleeding Cool

Boom Studio’s Director of Marketing Chip Mosher and Editor in Chief Matt Gagnon held court at Wondercon for a panel on editing comics. Sadly, I was only able to attend the last half.

A fan asked about how Boom acquires its licensed titles. Mosher explained that licensed properties are a varied thing, as sometimes licensors go to them, other times they go to the licensors. The degree of involvement varies widely. Boom regularly has meetings where they bring up certain properties they are interested in. Sometimes it’s things that they personally enjoy, other times it’s things that they’ve been approached to consider.

Gagnon explained more about the process of editing, stating that every title and creator needs to be treated differently by an editor. They have to find the right way of doing it for each book. There isn’t a set in stone way of handling the process of editing. Some editors might do everything digitally, adding notes into PDF files while others might work entirely from hardcopies. Some people use technology to a much higher degree. Gagnon explained that because the average age of editors at Boom is lower than many other companies, there are lot of editors who are very comfortable with the use of computers than is traditionally the case. The only thing that ends up being consistent regarding the use of technology is that FTP is used to upload work from freelancers onto their servers.

The relationship with a writer is important to cultivate. For the most part, an editor has two jobs and one of them is pretty simple. The basic copyediting, ensuring that words are spelled correctly and that commas go where they need to and the such. Creators almost never have problems with that aspect of editing. The more important element is the content editing: asking “Are you amenable to changing this scene?” or stating “We have to change this.” Editing is organic and done on the fly, it’s all about the rapport built between editor and creator. An editor needs to be there for the creators, help them execute their vision without being obstructive.

The topic shifted towards how to break into comics, and for writers the best way of doing so is to self-publish a five page comic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a self-contained story, one can write the first five pages of a longer work. Though because writing a short story is so much harder than a full issue, a well done short story will impress. Either way, the talent will be readily identifiable. Because Boom schedules their output for years in advance, they very rarely take submissions for series from writers, but often can find writers whose talents they find promising and match them up with series that they’ve already got in the pipeline.

As for artists, they recommend the artist forum on the message boards hosted at Boom-Studios.com. Peter Krause, who drew Power of Shazam for DC in the 90s had been out of the comics industry for years when he posted some art on Boom’s message board on a lark. And that was what got him the job on Irredeemable.

Peter S. Svensson (peterssvensson@letsreadcomics.com) is not just a journalist, but a retailer at SpaceCat (www.superspacecat.com), an eclectic comic, video game and multimedia store in San Jose, California.