A Life Lived in Comics Day 18: My World and Welcome to It

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The view into my office when I’m not in it. When I moved here from my old cubicle I began to put up posters and art, but for some reason stopped. My apartment’s the same way. Stuff in the window’s the upcoming gender-swap issue of Archie, a New Yorker cover full of injured musical Spider-Men, an Art Baltazar and Franco postcard, and a cover from Dell’s Kona. I love how he’s fighting a giant cat; not a giant lion or panther or anything, just obviously a house cat.

One way I know my job is cool is that people are constantly visiting. School field trips, journalists, visiting artists (like yesterday, when Stan Sakai hung out for a few hours), all kinds. It’s normal wherever you work for a friend to occasionally drop in for you to go to lunch together or something, but Dark Horse is the first place I’ve worked where an extensive tour of the place is actually interesting.

My friend Liz Conley (in town for Stumptown and mentioned in recent Stumptown and pre-Stumptown drink and draw posts) visited the DH offices today for lunch and a tour, which gave me the idea for today’s post. Editorial was sort of quiet, as several editors were involved in meetings with the Conan licensors, so it was a perfect day to wander around and see the different parts of the company, which are spread across three buildings on Milwaukie’s Main Street.

My tours started out really brief when I was still new to the company, not much more than a few minutes of the editorial offices, the digital art department, and sometimes the warehouse and marketing offices. Basically, I didn’t know the place or the people all that well yet, and while happy to introduce visitors to whatever I was familiar with, I’d hurry them past the people and places I couldn’t explain. These days, I know the whole editorial staff, most everyone in digital art and maketing, and a few people in the warehouse and business offices, so tours are a lot more informative.

On a few occasions I’ve brought non-comics friends through, and those are shorter as well, but as Liz is an actual artist, we talked with people from several departments, and she had several questions for some. We walked past digital artist Ryan Jorgensen as he was adjusting and cleaning some pages for an upcoming Eerie archive, and he took a moment to explain to us how the particular Photoshop tool he was using worked.

Naturally, it occurred to me that this was good post fodder only later in the day, so I didn’t actually document the tour. Maybe that would make a good future post. But I did take a few pictures of what’s going on in my own office, which could possibly be interesting.

Continuing the theme from the photo up top, I don’t use my wall space all that well. Several editors’ walls are completely covered with clipped papers, each one representing a comic they’re working on, a cover on top and the most current versions of the script and line art underneath. I still have a few, a habit leftover from working more closely with Scott and Sierra, but I organize work mostly digitally, and so there aren’t many, and when the ones that are there come down I likely won’t replace them. The exception is archival projects like Archie (the contents of the next few volumes are pictured), where I often refer to large chunks of pages and opening them on a computer isn’t practical. My mostly unused corkboard has pictures of me with Osamu Tezuka characters, taken in Japan (this will be a later post), small drawings from other editors, a Post-It with proper names from Mass Effect, and sheets with Canadian price conversion, the assistant editor job description, DH phone directory, and proofreading marks.

These shelves house copies of the books I’ve worked on, as well as additional volumes in series I currently work on, like Conan and Usagi Yojimbo, for reference, plus more general reference like The Overstreet Price Guide, Comics Between the Panels, The Best of Archie, etc. To my shame, those boxes on the floor contain submissions that I am years behind on. I really should get to them soon. On top of the lefthand shelf is a stack of Little Lulu volumes replaced by the Giant Size Little Lulu books I edited, some posters, a Quimby the Mouse statue, and a robot I made out of binder clips. The righthand shelf is topped with some Spirit figures and reference copies of all the stapled comics I’ve worked on.

More shelves, and more reference material, including the Chicago Manual of Style, which is Dark Horse’s bible, a college dictionary and unabridged dictionary, Story by Robert McKee, which I’ve never opened, and a volume of Robert E. Howard’s Kull stories (my Conan prose collection is currently loaned out). The pair of hardcovers with the spines facing into the shelf and filled with flagged pages are the two volumes of Fantagraphics’s Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition set, which is our reference guide for creating the digital editions on sale at the DH digital store. Below the photo are tons of Dell Tarzan comics and two complete sets of Another Rainbow’s huge Little Lulu hardcovers. Naturally, this being a comics office, I have the requisite statues and action figures. Underneath the Usagi poster are a print of characters from The Wire drawn in the style of The Simpsons, by Steve Lieber, and framed original drawing of Tamsin and Kitsune from Skeleton Key, which Andi Watson sent me for Christmas. Wotta guy. (Don’t forget the new issue comes out tomorrow.)

My untidy desk and the stacks of crap on it. Bottom left is mostly recent comics, but with a set of raw scans of material for the next Brothers of the Spear on top (it ran as a backup in Tarzan, which is why those are on top). Next to that, Silly Putty, naturally. The stack on the right is all kinds of proofs and other papers, with a pitch I received at Stumptown on top. I’ve only just noticed that my lamp is about to fall off the desk.

And closer in on the desk. My Cookie Monster mug is very popular and matches assistant editor Shantel’s Oscar the Grouch mug. To the left is Brian Wood’s most recent script for Conan the Barbarian and some lettering proofs for a story from Creepy #9, which correspond to the balloon placements I showed on Day 14. On screen are new pencils from an awesome project that it is too early to announce, and way to the right is a big stack of mostly Tarzan comics, though there is Conan sticking out at the bottom, topped by a list of the tip sheets due next Monday, color coded by who they’re for. Thanks to newly having someone to get them started for me, I’m in the rare position of being ahead on tip copy.

Did I cover everything? Anything in these photos that needs further explanation?

Tomorrow: Wednesday shenanigans, I’d imagine. And a MIND MGMT announcement.

Why’m I doing this, again?

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