Reflections on my Promotion to Scout Comics Editorial Director
One week ago, on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, I reached a significant milestone in my career in comics as I was promoted to editorial director by Scout Comics. This promotion represents a logical next step in my development as an editor and builds on my work as a submissions editor and project editor for Caliber Comics (2016-2020), as editor for the Spanish publisher, Amigo Comics based in Málaga, Spain (2019 to the present), and my occasional work for Action Lab and Behemoth Comics.
As regards Scout Comics, my editorial activity for them began back in mid-2018, when I was asked to edit the collected trade of Graveland (published in January 2019), written by my friend Massimo Rosi. Shortly thereafter, I edited the collected trade of Fish Eye (published in April 2019), a collaborative effort between Massimo and another good friend, Stefano Cardoselli.
At about the time Fish Eye came out (April 2019), I was asked by James Haick, president of Scout Comics, to come onboard as a regular Scout Comics editor. I was assigned several dozen comic books and paired with a regular designer, Joel Rodriguez, who would work with me to prepare all these titles for publication. Interestingly enough, Joel and I are just now seeing a number of the books we took on in that initial wave arrive in comic book stores. Those titles include Ryan Ellsworth’s North Bend, Matteo Strukul and Andrea Mutti’s Vlad Dracul, Jonathan Hedrick’s The Recount, Kevin Joseph’s Tart, Adam Barnhardt’s Sh*tshow, and Bryan Silverbax’s Loggerhead (and others).
I will state here and now that I absolutely love my work as an editor. When asked about it, I explain that it is a lot like being a kid and getting the chance to go over to a friend’s house and play with their toys. Obviously, my son Roberto and I have our own “toys” in the form of The Shepherd, Legio and all the others. However, as an editor, you get to help others develop their stories and characters. You get to offer suggestions aimed at improving the story, whether that be in big ways or (as is most often the case) by means of little tweaks to dialogue, the plot, and artwork. It is incredibly fulfilling!
Upon reflection, I feel that one of the most important things an editor brings to a project is a fresh set of eyes. Allow me to unpack this a bit.
Typically, when it comes to creator-owned books like those signed by Scout Comics, the writer/creator also doubles as the “project manager.” Note that I said “typically”—sometimes the writer and artist do form partnerships and share the project ownership and financial risks. Be that as it may, writers are usually the ones to hire the artist, the colorist, and the letterer. It is their creative vision that drives the project, and their work as project manager helps to coordinate the various stages of work from thumbnails to pencils to inks to colors to letters. This takes a lot of determination, energy, commitment, and money—whether they pay their team via funds raised through crowdfunding or out of their own pocket.
All this responsibility to manage the project can tax the writer/creator and make it difficult for them to focus on the creative details of storytelling, i.e., how all these creative contributions work together for a cohesive whole. This is where an editor can be especially helpful. An editor can come in and be an informed reader—informed in the sense that they understand the comic book medium and how it can be used to present a story. They read the story and give the writer/creator an honest appraisal of how effective they have been in their efforts at coordinating their team and telling their story. They can point out weaknesses, missing elements, and gaps in the narrative (and much, much more related to artwork, colors, and letters). Perhaps more importantly, they can also suggest possible fixes for these issues.
Simply stated, they can help the writer/creator “see” their story through a reader’s eyes and thereby understand some of the possible questions and stumbling blocks the reader might face in reading their story.
Because Scout Comics is a creator-owned company, my work as an editor is less dictatorial (“You must do this.”) and more collaborative (“I think it would be a good idea to do this, for these reasons.”). Simply stated, when I address points of spelling, grammar, and lettering style, my edits are expected to be done. All other edits fall into the category of suggestions intended to improve the work, but the writer is not required to employ them.
Frankly, I like this setup as I believe it creates a much more collaborative relationship between myself as editor and the writer. The writer knows going in that I am not going to make them do anything. It also forces me to be able to articulate my reasons for suggesting a change. “Because I said so” isn’t good enough in this work. I have found that once the writer realizes that they are still very much in control of their “baby,” it is much easier for them to relax and be open to considering ways to improve it. They quickly realize that their editor wants what they want—to tell the very best story possible. At that point, the relationship shifts from adversaries to colleagues.
I LIVE for that moment... because what follows is pure magic.