Day 1: What the Hell am I doing?
Took the day off from work yesterday after a couple of long weeks, what with a big chunk of the editorial department in Chicago for C2E2 and me pretty much caught up on work and even ahead in a few places. The designer of Bucko has most of the material she’ll need to turn Jeff Parker and Erika Moen’s webcomic into a book, the Skeleton Key one-shot has gone to the printer, Matt Kindt is plugging away at a special project connected to the debut next month of his new ongoing series MIND MGMT, and the various video game tie-ins I assist on are racing to final files next week, but there’s not much that needs to happen on them until then. Why not take in some sun?
Of course, simply not being in the office isn’t the same as being away from comics. So much of the life I lead ties into this funny, weird medium that I work with that I never actually get all the way away from it. Every day I think about, talk about, read, write about, or in some other way interact with comics, and this day off was no exception.
I’ve been keeping this blog on and off for years, since a time when my life was almost completely different than it is now; it was even named by someone who hasn’t been in my life for a long time. In those years it’s been where I put reviews, interviews, event writeups, essays, and for a six-month period, a weekly magazine-style collection of what I was reading and thinking about that week. But it’s never really been a diary or talked much about what I do in comics, because frankly I’m probably not that interesting. Over the next month we’ll find out together!
So, here’s what I’m talking about, as a writing exercise as much as anything else. I haven’t posted to the Wright Opinion since October, in large part because writing about comics in a broad sense feels pretty depressing lately, between DC’s treatment of the Siegels and Shusters, the existence of Before Watchmen, and basically everything Marvel is doing. Those two aren’t the entire industry, but they do set the tone of the conversation we all have everyday, and it hasn’t been one I’m happy to follow for a while. I enjoy my job at Dark Horse, but I’ve never felt very comfortable writing about it, so that’s another thing that has kept it quiet in this space. So to change things up a bit, I’m going to try to spend a month going micro, writing about what I do at work and in other parts of comics, getting into a little personal history with the medium, and including whatever peripheral details will enrich the story.
Quick reminder: I’m an assistant editor at Dark Horse Comics, a large independent publisher of stapled comics and graphic novels situated in Milwaukie, Oregon, but commonly thought of as being in Portland because it’s so close, an easy commute by bus for someone like me living in downtown Portland. In my three and a half years at the company, I have assisted Scott Allie on The Guild, The Goon, Buffy Season 8, Serenity, The Occultist, and Billy the Kid’s Old-Timey Oddities and Sierra Hahn on Terminator, Green River Killer, and Kull. I have assisted Diana Schutz and Dave Marshall the entire time I’ve been at DH, currently working with Diana on Usagi Yojimbo, The Manara Library, Fatima: The Bloodspinners, and Blacksad and Dave on Conan the Barbarian, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Mister X, and a variety of video game tie-ins such as Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Prototype II, and Darksiders II. Sierra and I co-edit Creepy and Eerie. My own books include MIND MGMT, Skeleton Key, Bucko, Archie Archives, an assortment of Tarzan reprint projects, a handful of Dark Horse Presents stories, and a few as-yet unannounced projects further in the future. My job is a 9–5 Monday through Friday, with occasional overtime, usually performed at a tea shop in my neighborhood. I have posters and toys in my office, but in many ways it is what you imagine when you hear “office job.” I’ll get into more detail on what being an assistant editor entails and what I do on the books I edit solo in later installments.
Before Dark Horse, I interned at Top Shelf, worked for the Stumptown Comics Fest, taught comics at my old high school, and did this blog. I’m sure they’ll all get mentions in the coming month. I know at best 1/10 about comics as many of the people I work with and probably only half of what I should at this point in my career. I learn more everyday, and some of the things I learn will show up here.
It’s going to be an interesting month, because I honestly don’t really like writing about myself (notice how much of this entry has been avoiding doing precisely that), and I don’t think I’ve ever included a photo of myself on this blog. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way not to. For example, I attended the 2008 New York Comic Con (writeup here) and while there briefly met Jim Lee. I asked him if I could snap a photo for the piece I was writing on it, but he insisted that it was weird for me to just take a picture of him without me in it, so he asked someone else to take a picture of both of us. Since I don’t include pictures of me on the blog, I left it out. Here it is now, I think the first time a picture of me has run on the blog:
NYCC 2008. I probably don’t look much like this anymore. Not sure if Jim Lee does.
This is a medium that we all come to for personal reasons, and the experiences we have within the field are unique. It also never hurts to do a little self-promotion, something I had to get good at to get the job I have now, but haven’t done any of since. If I wrote a little about who I am and why I’m here and what I do every day, what would happen? Assuming it isn’t boring, let’s find out.
Tomorrow: How I spent that day off, and how comics follow me everywhere.
Also, for the five people who used to read this blog, probably down to one or two who will notice that it’s back: ask me about stuff, and I’ll try to work it in, presuming that neither decorum nor my NDA prevent it.