A post from my Marvel blog of days gone by, this one commemorating the departure from staff of my longtime associate editor Molly Lazer.
Once again, our content-server ate the last chunk of yesterday’s post, making a cogent point about how X-Men used to be considered a lower-tier title in the 60s and a bit of a failure, but the right combination of elements was found that turned it into the vanguard of the industry for years thereafter.
But that’s not what we’re talking about today.
Today is Molly Lazer’s last day as a member of our team and our office, a real loss to our operation. Molly’s gone from assistant editor to associate editor during her tenure here, and has shouldered the lion’s share of the burden of dealing with all the millions of details involved in getting these books to the printer and onto the stands every month. Hers will be large shoes to fill.
A lot of people wonder what it is that Assistant or Associate Editors do. I once made the analogy that, in the body of the office, the editor is the head, the assistant is the hands, and the intern is the feet, but that’s simplifying the job a bit too much. On an average day, the assistant editor is the one who’s in constant contact with the talent, cadging work out of them on the schedule we need it on, either through cheerleading or guilt-ladling. The assistant is also the person most likely to interface with the production team in the Bullpen, to keep track and generate the overall schedules, to traffic and proofread the lettering and the coloring (many letterers and colorists may go weeks without hearing directly from the editor, at least by phone) and to read and respond to each script as it comes in. An Associate Editor does all of that on top of managing two or three projects that are entirely their own, functioning on those projects as the editor.
An assistant editor’s pay is pretty crummy, the hours tend to be long, and the perks are few. But you learn an awful lot in a very short amount of time—you have to, it’s a survival skill. And those who can step up to the job find themselves on track to grow into larger positions of responsibility. But it’s not a job for everyone. At least at Marvel, if you’re not prepared to go above and beyond on a regular basis and to shoulder a workload that’s just this side of unreasonable, don’t even bother sending in the resume, you’re not going to last. But for those who can, the job is like a Masters program in making comic books. And for the right person, you can make a difference in the quality of the books.
Molly Lazer made a difference, and the titles she worked on are going to be weaker for her absence.