Greg is a freelance editor who just completed work on 3 Floyds: Alpha King for Image Comics with Brian Azzarello, Nick Floyd, Simon Bisley, Ryan Brown, Jared K. Fletcher, and Rob Syers. He’s currently working on a new volume with a new artist and a few other pitches for independent publishing. Before life as a freelancer Greg was part of the editorial staff of DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint.
Greg, can you explain what the role of an editor is?
An editor is a project manager, a proofreader, a brainstormer, an art director, a therapist, and (hopefully) a well-informed and supportive reader.
The daily tasks vary greatly but the main goals are to keep the book on schedule, keep all members of the creative team working and help them all do their best work to create the best comic book possible.
Other than being a freelance editor, you’re also a writer, and in general, a creative type. Do you ever find yourself wanting to add your voice as a writer/creative into the work you are editing?
Wow, this is a great question. I never want to add my voice but the goal is to contribute my viewpoint and allow the creative team to make their own decisions. So, there’s a level of influence, but hopefully done in a way that empowers the creative team and pushes them to do their own best work. I’m sure at times I’ve made mistakes in my opinions but they are always offered in the hope of helping the creative team, the audience, the entire experience. I try to keep my voice completely separate from things I’m not writing.
Part of your job as an editor at Vertigo was to bring in writers to pitch and produce new series’ for the imprint. Can you explain and de-mystify this process? At what point do you start thinking of the rest of creative team, and MOST importantly, the letterer?
This process might have modified or changed in the years since I left Vertigo but while I was there I was constantly looking for new ideas, new talent, new pitches. The process is itself an entire newsletter!
The lettering (and title design) is one of my favorite parts of the process, so even though it was generally later after the pitch was approved and on the publishing schedule, I would try and ensure a good creative fit between the letterer and the rest of the art team— matching or complementing styles is a high priority. Also, giving the letterer enough space to be inspired and do their best work is the ideal, too.
I could easily ask you all day about how you seek out new ideas, talent, and pitches, but I won’t. However, how do you know when you’ve found something that not only resonates with you and your voice as an editor, but that might work for a publisher, and have the potential to earn a readership?
This is another great question! For me, finding something that resonates with you similar to when you hear your favorite song/finish a great book/the credits roll on your new favorite film. But—this is the tricky part—the times I have felt that greatest connection have been on projects that were ultimately rejected by Vertigo (or DC Comics in general), so it’s important to be able to be objective as well. Like you mention, there is so much that goes into a pitch’s approval or rejection: is it something that will work for the publisher, for the readership, can it sell? You ultimately have to take all that into consideration as part of the pitch process.
Pitches I loved got rejected. Pitches I didn’t completely understand went on to be big hits. When you’re pitching you’re in subjective hands of all involved parties… it’s intense but when it works, there are very few greater excitements for me.
What are some of the things you consider when finding a letterer to round out the creative team?
So much information and emotion are conveyed by the lettering, it’s important to find someone whose style can complement the art but still express the mood and ideas of all the dialogue and narration. Different styles are a match for different situations. The letterers themselves are always bringing new design ideas to each assignment, too. So working with someone open to collaboration is necessary for every member of the team.
I consider portfolios, previous work and the letterer’s interests and preferences, too… do they like a certain genre of storytelling? Do they like a certain writer or artist?
In your opinion/experience, what is the best way a letterer can get on an editor’s radar? And on the flip side, what is the best way to get on an editor’s nerves?
The best way is politely asking to send a portfolio or samples. I prefer via email but direct messages are fine (for me) as well. The worst ways are the passive route— tagging me in a post I’m not involved with or @-ing me on twitter.
Since going freelance, you also started Poison Press. What’s that all about? Any titles on the horizon?
Yes! Tim and I have a short story we’re hoping to release as mini-comics late this summer. The story is titled “Lieberstrasse” and it is a romance that takes place in the end of the Weimar Era in Berlin. It was definitely a challenging story to write but Tim’s art is just gorgeous and I’m very excited to get it out into the world.
Poison Press is actually Tim Fish’s own self-publishing imprint that he has published with for decades! Right?! It’s amazing. After I went freelance, we formed a comic making collective with Monica Gallagher to apply for conventions and festivals (and for me to gain experience self-publishing with Tim and Monica’s expert guidance). We’re constantly evolving the partnership but I just have to give credit to the true owner— I don’t want to take credit for Tim’s hard work, I just want him to collaborate with me until the end of the universe and beyond.
Something I ask everyone I interview…If you could only give one piece of advice, be it for lettering, editing, or life, what would it be?
It’s a dated joke but it relates to my real advice: be present in the moment and do your best (whether its your art or your life) when you are given opportunities.
In my personal experience, this is easier to say than do but it’s the advice I try to follow myself.
You can find out more about Greg at his website.