The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

NYCC 2008: An Afternoon with the Editors

Written by: Ron Bricker

ImageTwo panels, “Comics to O.G.N’s – Editors Shifting Gears” and the “NYCC Editors Buzz Forum” proved both informative and exciting as the minds of some of the tops editors in comics were brought together to discuss how they felt about different types and styles of publishing books and graphic novels, ranging from children’s content to the usual 16 to 18+ oriented media. “Shifting Gears” was led by editing veteran Lee Nordling, and included a large panel made up of editors Lisa Abrams, Barbara Randall-Kiesel, Steve Saffle, Rich Johnson, and Chris June. It was followed by “Editors Buzz,” moderated by Calvin Reed, and including Dan DiDio, Jenny So, and Charlie Kochman. Both sets of editors spoke in similar, honest mindsets, with positive tones and a watchful eye on their medium. Nordling’s panel answered questions on specific books, but mostly discussed how to direct certain books at certain audiences. Ms. Randall-Kiesel, a veteran editor of many successful manga and comic projects, pin-pointed three of the most important types of buyers, with those looking for their favorite art, the best story, and the fan event of simply showing up weekly to purchase books. Rich Johnson, “the most popular man in comics,” agreed, reminding that Marvel and DC are the household names and will most likely always draw the most attention, despite strong efforts from independent publishers. He also noted that fans keep keen eyes out for cohesive brands of work, particularly the ability to have crossover interactions that Marvel and DC have, which others, such as Disney, can not take as much advantage of.

Agreeing that the argument of what will be most successful ends specifically in sales, the panel moved on to speak briefly about that aspect of comics, and Saffle noted that there are many specific aficionados who are drawn towards material based more on name brand characters and creators, even including their looks and style.

Calvin Reed of Publishers Weekly led the conversation in his panel, calling upon Dan DiDio of DC Comics to comment upon his content. DiDio was frank, honestly speaking about dealing with a fan base that wants an event where “everything changes but nothing changes.” He also spoke briefly on his own likes and dislikes in content, choosing rather to read a trashy novel as opposed to a competitors’ book. Jenny So also brought a copy of her current project, Pendragon, to speak briefly about its’ strong, family-oriented content.

However, all members of the panel seemed to hold Charles Kochman and his project, Diary of a Whimpy Kid, in high esteem. They all were in agreement that the story, which neither fits in the comic nor the prose genre, was heavily relatable for kids and adults alike, seeming close to real life and still being wholesome as opposed to a book which may need more objectionable content.

All the editors in both panels had gears turning and it was a sight to see them speak to each other about the work they so passionately take part in. They didn’t seem to be competitive with each other, all considering their own personal work different from their colleagues. With smiles, specific thoughts, and years of experience, the editors were both bright and knowledgeable, speaking their business oriented minds about comics and graphic novels alike.