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Submitted on
August 26, 2012
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I hadn’t planned doing a second part to my journal on Editors but in light of what you may have read recently I thought I’d mention it.  Besides, some of you had asked for an idea about the darker side of the industry.

There are many things an editor must be good at; spelling, grammar, art direction, but by far the most important is diplomacy.

Every good editor is also a good diplomat.  If every good editor moved into politics I’m sure most of the world’s problems would just disappear.

Recently a well-known comic creator resigned from a series of titles he was working on, but instead of walking away gracefully he dropped every bomb he could and then dropped a nuke.  The biggest target of his ire was his editor.  He thanked the publisher for the opportunity to work together and hoped they could again in the future but he public blasted the company and his editor, then followed up by saying many others felt like he did.

The Editor did not reply to any of his accusations.  Why?  Because it is against corporate policy and the disgruntled creator knew it.  What he didn’t realize was that so many would come to his defense.

See, as an editor for a corporation you have to please several people.  First and foremost your direct boss, but that usually entails pleasing however many bosses he or she has above them.  This is mostly done by producing a book they like, while in turn keeps on its schedule and one that hopefully the fans love.

After that it’s making the creators on the book as comfortable as possible.  Sometimes a creator feels like they’re in first class while others feel they’re in the cargo hold.  Success does bring rewards, mainly money and freedom.  You get to push back against editorial a little if you disagree, as long as your book is selling enough and you are popular enough, you get that satisfaction of getting your way more often than not. 

A good editor will also fight for what he believes in and his creative team.  Many editors have put their jobs at risk by making a stand with the creators.  Creators remember which editors do that and which don’t. 

Creators that get into a position where they can call some of the shots often request certain editors to work with, which in turn increases the profile and success of the editor.  The more success an editor has, the more likely the projects he’d like the company to do, will be accepted.  

Throughout all this the editor is in the middle making sure the book comes out on time and everyone is as happy as they can be.

Editors are usually invisible. 

The creators and publisher take the credit when things go well (I've had publishers take full credit for my work), but they usually get the blame when it doesn’t (publicly they may take the blame but you'll most likely get it in the office).  Then there is the creator who doesn’t want to accept that his books aren’t selling. 

Your job is to make everyone look good.

Fans will also blame editors are while some deserve it many don’t.  We’re in an age when at least 80% of the comics you read are produced by corporations to keep their copyrights and trademarks active while promoting their various Film/TV/video game tie-ins they have. 

Creators must keep the stories going for each character on an endless loop.  There’s no end to these stories just the illusion of change and the presence of the grim specter of death, that never arrives and if it does seems too often to change his mind allowing them to come back to life.

Editors are a vital part of the publishing a machine, a part just as important as the writers and artists of what is printed on the page.  Unfortunately the role of editor has been diluted over the years.  Many have been relegated to the position of glorified traffic managers.  The creative decisions made by publishers and creators.

Is it any wonder that editors too often move into the role of creator themselves?

One last thing... The only time I've seen Reagan economics work in action (trickle down theory) was not with money (that's a proven fact that doesn't work) but with sh!t. Sh!t always travels down and if you're an editor you know what I'm talking about.

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adamantis Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012  Hobbyist
I always felt that editors were the guys who have the thankless task of having to rein in sometimes possibly intimidating writers ( due to success, be it deserved or otherwise ) from going completely insane with characters that don't belong to them ( that is more a DC and Marvel thing though ). It looks like that is just a small part of what an editor has to deal with.
DeevElliott Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2012
Sometimes a publisher promises a creator one thing (such as freedom) and then pulls back on the promise. With the big two companies the characters are ultimately owned and controlled by shareholders. The $$ always comes first and god help the member of staff who jeopardizes a characters earning potential.

It is the editor who often becomes the person trapped in the middle after the contracts have been signed and the publisher is off after another creator leaving his last creator and editor to figure out exactly what can and cannot be done. Editors sometimes become the only thing a creator can vent out on. Mostly they are vented to, but some creators vent at editors.
TonyDennison Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012
Being an Editor seems like a thankless job. If things go well and the project is well-received-- you get no credit. If the creative "vision" of an artist or author is stifled or poorly presented-- you are to blame.

When I was a kid, I always enjoyed Archie Goodwin's work on EPIC Illustrated and books like Dreadstar, The Black Dragon (Claremont, Bolton) and others. If I wasn't familiar with a particular creator's work, but saw Archie's name on the book, I assumed it was probably good and usually picked it up.

It's a strange dynamic, sort of like a professional sports coach...
DeevElliott Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012
As an editor you have to be able to be happy that you know each project went out as good as it could be and that you did your utmost to make it the best book possible. Receiving 'thanks' is just a bonus.
CassandraJames Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I have so much damn respect for editors, and inkers and colorists and letterers. Comics are a group effort. :heart:
DeevElliott Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2012
"Comics are a group effort." Exactly!!
SeanE Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
we all know who dropped the nuke on the said unnamed company... his initials are R.L... What staggers me is the arrogance of his actions and that he actually supposes that he'll work for the company again after all of this... or for anyone else for that matter... if I were the CEO of any comic company he'd be on every blacklist I could possibly find and then I'd go looking for that great unsigned new-comer to replace him once and for all.

Nothing personal against the nuke dropper here... its just the sheer arrogance that stuns me.
TonyDennison Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2012
Who is that? Rob Liefeld?
DeevElliott Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2012
Agreed, but like any industry and especially one with so many creative people, egos are rife. The best creators are the ones that excel BECAUSE of any limitations imposed on them. That they know that it truly is a collaborative effort.
theLotteryParty Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2012
"If every good editor moved into politics I’m sure most of the world’s problems would just disappear."

Classic. Though I've before called editing the only socially acceptable form of sadomasochism!
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