Blah Blah Blog – Owner's Manual

A post from my old Marvel blog containing an instruction memo written by my former assistant editor Gregg Schigiel to his successor.

Owner’s Manual

August 14, 2009 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

People have asked in the past just what it is that an Assistant Editor does. So when I came across the document below in my files, I thought it might be worth sharing. It was written about a decade ago by “Greatest Assistant” Gregg Schigiel as a primer for him successors. And while many of the nuts and bolts of the job have changed (and almost none of the specific people he mentions are still here). it still functions as a decent snapshot summary of what an Assistant Editor has to deal with on a day-to-day basis.

For the person who occupies the blue chair…

In an effort to ensure the smoothest transition, here’s sort of an “owner’s manual” to being an assistant in this office. Now, none of these are hard and fast rules, but the intention is to give you the lay of the land as it currently exists. I would suspect this would change to better serve the new set-up here, so don’t worry, I won’t be offended.

RESPONSIBILITIES; wherein I break down what is done and by whom.

Every editorial office here at Marvel is different, but as far as this office goes, there are some responsibilities that are predominantly yours.

First and foremost, you do whatever Tom doesn’t want to do. He’ll ask you to make calls, check on stuff, etc, etc. In many ways, in this regard, you’re also a runner. As things were with me, I was sort of a liason between office stuff and other departments, be they production, manufacturing, accounting, etc.

In my day, I tended to deal with art related concerns more. I called artists, inkers, etc. I dealt with cover sketches. I worked with the bullpen on setting up covers, art corrections, etc. Depending on your strengths and weaknesses, there may be a different breakdown (i.e. – if your strength is in organization and stuff, you may end up dealing more with schedules and such).

Play it by ear. Before too long you’ll get a sense of what your responsibilities are. Early on, listen to Tom. He knows this stuff REALLY well. You listen, you’ll learn…a lot.

Second, you’re the intern when there’s no intern to be found. You’ll be doing all the copying, FedExing, faxing, running of covers and indicias, etc, etc.

Third, you are the intern’s direct supervisor. You train ’em, you deal with ’em. If Tom has a problem with the intern, he’ll most likely tell you about it. That means you tell the intern about it.

In the end though, you’re Tom’s assitant, and he’ll teach you everything you need to know. He’ll coach on calls early on, etc, etc, until you get your footing. You’re gonna learn a lot. Just take it all in.

THE OTHER DEPARTMENTS

As I mentioned above, you’ll be the runner, the guy that deals with people in the building about a lot of different stuff. In my experience, I’ve learned some things that’ll come in handy.

Production — The Bullpen is a unique entity, as you probably already know (since in most cases you were once an intern). They can be intimidating, stand-offish, whatever. But, in the end, they’re a good group of people who are easy and fun to work with..

I’ve had a very good working relationship with production, and as far as I’m concerned it comes from just being on the level. We all work together, so it might as well be worthwhile, and hell, a little fun. It’s important to pay attention to what they do, it’ll help in a lot of ways.

Any problems, concerns, issues, generally Dan Carr’s the guy to go to. Other folks who get stuff done and know their shit are Paul Tutrone, Chris Giarrusso, and Tim Smith. Any issues with covers, needing archives, etc, go to Johnny Greene.

Manufacturing — Manufacturing, as you probably know by now, is our liason with the printers and color seperators.

Again, pay attention to what they do and how things work. Any problems, concerns, issues, go to Christine. She’s the WO-man down there.

Accounting — When a freelancer calls about a voucher, or vouchers need to be dropped off, this is where you go. Margaret is the go-to person here. She’s a very helpful, good person. BUT, you gotta work with her. When she calls you with a question, get back to her, don’t leave them hanging. Trust me, in the end, it the right thing to do and will be very beneficial to the workings between this office and accounting (which then affects freelancer relations, etc, etc.)

Sales/Promotion — Alright, you’ve got Bill Rosemann, Matt Ragone and Juan Collado. Bill does catalog stuff and promotions. He’s fine, you give him art and he puts it in the catalog. He works with Jeff Suter who does designy stuff.

Matt and Juan, whatever. Just know that Juan signs covers for direct/newstand. I really have very little to do with this department, both by nature of the job and by choice.

Online — Downstairs, on 9, are Gregg Sanderson and the online crew. They organize chats, promote stuff online, etc. They from time to time will come up and ask for art and stuff. Usually we ask what it’s for, so as to not blow stories, etc, etc. But by now they know Tom’s system pretty well, so they’re equally careful.

Mailroom — Brian, Charles, and John Galvin. Good people, can be helpful. Charles is the guy I generally go to for anything. Then Brian. Then, if you REALLY need to, John.

If you EVER see Charles or one of the guys come up for FedEx, HELP THEM OUT! Otherwise, I’ll come and personally kick your ass.

Creative Services — Mike Thomas and the gang. These guys work on all licenced stuff. They’ll ask for art and material for t-shirts and what have you. Help ’em out, and again, much like with online, just make sure it’s all copacetic.

There you go, all the departments.

It’s also probably worth noting that Gregg’s got a story in Chris Giarusso’s G-MAN limited series from Image Comics, on sale this very week.

More later.

Tom B

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