Blah Blah Blog – Tough Choices

This was a post concerning how the point of view of the Editor is different from that of the Writer. Also, I showed off the logo that now adorns the top of this page.

Tough Choices

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

You know what everybody needs? Their own logo.

*****

A quick dissertation on one of my points of editing philosophy. I believe I’ve mentioned the point before, but haven’t necessarily elaborated on why:

As Editor, Your First Loyalty Is To The Book.

While you want to have good, productive relationships with all of the people who work on your various titles, at the end of the day, the editor’s first loyalty in any given situation should be towards the title. What is best for it in the long run and the short run.

This can be a tough thing to do, especially because you do develop friendships with the people you work with, and nobody wants to tell their friends no, they can’t do a certain story, or even worse, that they’re now out of a job because you feel the need to bring somebody else in. But asa comic book editor, you’re going to be called upon to make these sorts of decisions and have these sorts of conversations every day.

There’s an underlying belief in everything we do, based on no concrete evidence in particular: Good Comics Will Sell Well. If you make it good, then people will respond. Doesn’t always work out quite this way, but there you go–it’s the best mission statement you can have. And in that mission, you are allied with the creative team. But there’s a difference in perspective. The writer’s job, for instance, is to worry about his story. Whatever’s best for his story is the course that the writer should pursue. Or, to put it simply, the writer most often thinks in the short term. But as the editor, you have to keep the long-term in mind as well, and not yield to the temptation to do lasting damage to the title for the sake of short-term sales. (Which isn’t to say that all short-term sales boosters or radical status quo changes are inherently bad–only that you’ve got to be able to tell the ones that are apart from the ones that aren’t.) The editor is supposed to think long-term, because the editor is the person with the best chance fo being there long-term.

But the job, in its most basic form, is to Make Comics That Sell, that people like. The nebulous part of the equation is that notion that Good Comics Sell. Therefore, if you make good comics, comics that you yourself really like, then you’ve got a good chance of finding an audience and fulfilling your ultimate mandate, making the books sell.

A correlary to this is the absolute fact that, as the editor, You Cannot Save Everyone. Comics are a cyclic medium, tastes change, and creators who made a steady living in the field one year can find themselves on the outs with the industry the following year. Your talent and your creativity is your currency when you’re a creator, but the field is a machine that chews up ideas and stories and is always hungry for more. And newer.

It’s brutal, but it happens–and it happens to almost everybody eventually. For example, say what you will about Chris Claremont, but he’s the only writer of his generation who’s still actively writing in the field. Everybody else from Chris’s “graduating class” maybe does a project now and again around the field, maybe something for a smaller publisher now and again. But their days of making the majority of their living from writing comic books has come to an end. The same can be said of the “graduating class” of John Byrne–everybody else has fallen by the wayside, more or less. (The one saving grace seems to be creators who leave the monthly grind–and sometimes the industry–at their peak. There’ll always be interest in, say, a new Alan Moore project, but that’s partly due to the fact that he largely walked away from doing monthly books in the late ’80s. Same for guys like Neal Adams, or Jim Steranko, or James Robinson.)

More later.

Tom B

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