A Life Lived in Comics Day 4: Pages Filled with Red

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It takes a while to get to this point in Portland, but it’s actually light in the morning these days. I’m up before my alarm clock and in the office at 8:11. Our trafficker is in at a really astonishing hour to get business started, but otherwise the editorial department is pretty quiet early in the morning. Most editorial staff get in between 8:30 and 9, but several arrive at 10 or later, and the latest come in around noon and stay until 7 and beyond. When I’m in around 8, only one or two others are already there.

I start with more emails to Archie Comics, a few messages regarding a recent contest winner, contacting an artist about a new feature we want to add to the next issue of Creepy, routing the last minute adjustments to the final digital Dragon Age issue, and sending up Stan Sakai’s cover to the first issue of 47 Ronin (though not without stopping to stare at it a bit first—I was a fan of Stan’s for years even before working with him, and so far the only piece of original comics art I’ve bought and framed is a cover of his, which hangs in my apartment), before joining Scott Allie and Sierra Hahn’s 10 o’clock production meeting.

Either every week or every other week, each editor has a meeting with the editorial director and the director of scheduling to go over deadlines, which are printed on lists for each attendee. Late items and those about to be due are red, deadlines further out are blue. We go down the list item by item, crossing off those that are done and giving updates on the others. Scott’s meeting is epic, as his editorial office produces the largest number of books and so has the largest number of assistants. Because he and Sierra coedit all the Buffy-related books and share some assistants, their meetings are combined, making the proceedings even bigger. I don’t attend Scott’s portion of the meeting, as I don’t currently work on any of his projects (the Guild Free Comic Book Day issue and second trade are the last remaining books I worked on with him still to come out; I also contributed to the Guild: Fawkes one-shot, but it was handed off to assistant Daniel Chabon midstream), but I am called in for Sierra’s portion at around 10:30, as she and I coedit Creepy and Eerie and she has an oversight role on Bucko. I go through my list every other Thursday, when Dave and I have our meeting.

The rest of the day runs pretty much like yesterday, mostly approvals for Dave Marshall’s projects, Tarzan-related research and putting out requests for film to other publishers, brief chats with Randy Stradley and Mike Richardson about a pitch that’s come in to me, getting word that an artist’s estate agrees to our plans for a reprint project and that the artist I contacted about Creepy is game, and reading Brian Wood’s latest Conan the Barbarian script. The Tarzan program is becoming coherent, though there’s still a lot to do, and it occurs to me that there’s a degree to which being tasked with something this vague and sprawling is a benevolent test, hopefully one I’m passing. Still working on how to delegate some of the work, though the junior assistant to whom I’m throwing some of it expresses mild skepticism that I’m actually allowed to pass tasks on to her.

The plan is to leave promptly at 5, as I’m visiting my parents to catch Sunday’s Mad Men OnDemand; I don’t have cable. When the show’s on, I see them once a week for dinner, a pleasant, if by the end of the season, slightly stifling arrangement. I never really planned to continue to live so close to where I grew up, but Portland is where the comics scene is, and thank God for that. While I work with a lot of people who moved out here without any promise of a job simply because this was where Dark Horse and a few other publishers were, I just don’t see that I could have done the same. I think I’ve been able to make a few bold decisions for work projects and in other areas, but for better or worse when it comes to my personal life I’m not much of a risk taker.

(We also caught the premiere of Girls, the new show created by Lena Dunham, the preposterously young writer/director/actor whose film Tiny Furniture I can’t recommend enough. The Girls ep is available on HBO’s YouTube channel.)

Daniel and I carpool the short trip back to Portland—he lives a few blocks from me—talking about the stuff above. Before meeting up with the folks, I stop at the Central library, where I return Planet of the Apes and a few non-comics items and pick up volume 2 of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key. Every now and again a particular series captures the imagination of several of the editorial staff at once and it seems like everyone’s reading or at least talking about it. Richard Starkings’s Elephantmen is a past example, and currently Locke & Key holds the spot. I didn’t know what to expect going into volume 1, but the mix of strong characterization, a compelling mystery and some genuinely unsettling images had me placing a hold on volumes 2 and 3 right away.

So now that it’s some hours later, figure I should put this away and actually read the book. Good plan.

Yesterday: I said something about how I started reading comics. Gonna actually save that for later; I can’t really write 2,000 words a night, and today did turn out to have a few things yesterday didn’t.

Tomorrow: It’s Wednesday, which in comics tends to generate plenty to talk about.

Why’m I doing this, again?


Images of Locke & Key © Joe Hill and Idea and Design Works, LLC.

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2 Responses to “A Life Lived in Comics Day 4: Pages Filled with Red”

  1. maka Says:

    You have the Usagi King Kong, Dino fighting cover. Nice! If you are only going to buy one piece of art, Stan Sakai is a good cartoonist to choose. I bought Stan’s SDCC Usagi 20th Anniversary art (death of Gen). I am very grateful to have it.

    It’s interesting to read about your day to day. I had no idea. Thanks.

    Peace, maka

    • Brendan Wright Says:

      Yeah, that cover was part of the DH100 program where we created special variant covers to give away to retailers who entered a drawing. 100 winning retailers each got ten copies. We told Stan to just go crazy and do whatever he wanted, and the raptors and King Kong is what he sent in. I pretty much immediately needed to own it and put in an inquiry. That SDCC piece is also very cool, and weirdly came up just yesterday while talking about how to handle a different page that’s going into the next Usagi collection.

      Glad you’re digging the journal approach. I’m becoming a little nervous about whether the job can really sustain a month’s worth of talk, but things like Stumptown, Eisner talk, and a couple things that will be announced (ooooh) should help, plus some topics I have held in reserve, and who knows, maybe some Pearl District history if things get desperate.

      Happy to send some random comics your way. If you really have room for a small handful of the top of the stack, send an address to contact@wrightopinion.com.

      -B

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