The Changing Face of Comics Editorial – What Does an Editor do?

Before I start asking my fancy comic book friends about about what they think an editor is, maybe I should try to tease out what I think an editor is and does?  I think this will provide a sort of baseline for the insight I gain through my my interviews.

Alright, so most importantly the editor is the King of Clarity, or the Queen of Clarity if you so choose.  Their chief job is to make sure that a comic is readable, cover to cover.  Are the panels clear?  Do the word balloons say what they need to say?  Is everything drawn consistently?

OK, so if I wanted to break that down I could say: Panel Composition, Artistic Consistency…  And I’m totally forgetting the written element, the narrative.  Does the story make sense?  Do the things that people say sounds like the things people say?  Then I suppose it comes down to brass tacks.  Spelling, punctuation, standard editorial madness.

But then I think there’s a whole ‘nother level to editorial that I’ve never even glimpsed, sort of the managerial, project management style duties.  I feel as though this sort of thing only really happens when a book is making a bit of money and publishers want to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Ok, so as we can see through my rambling that I have a murky idea of who an editor is and what he or she does.  They’re the Kings and Queens of Clarity, they’re project managers, text editors, and art critics.  Now I just need to start talking to creators!

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2 thoughts on “The Changing Face of Comics Editorial – What Does an Editor do?”

  1. I think you are forgetting one key thing . . . they are gatekeepers. They often have the power to say when and if something will be published. I know it is this way in the regular book world, so I have to “assume” it’s the same way in comics. Randy Duncan and Matthew J. Smith note that “the gatekeepers most directly involve with the production of the message are the editors, though many independently produced comics [web comics] have no editor” (9). While well established comics probably do not often get held up by an editor, I’m sure they have great influence in what new stuff makes it to the public eye.

    1. I think you’re very right, I absolutely forgot that. They are very much gatekeepers. Thanks for reminding me 🙂 They craft the scene… Hmm… Must think more about this.

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