Stumptown Comics Fest 2009- Part 2
On the second day of the Stumptown Comics fest I went to two exciting panels, both featuring Dark Horse Comics editor Diana Shutz. I considered the talks exciting because they both dealt with bringing some realism into the comics industry. The first was “Teaching Comics,” and it focused on learning the nuts and bolts of making comics, while the second was “Editing for Comics,” and it explained the role of the editor in large or small productions.
The “Teaching Comics” panel was hosted by Diana, Robyn Chapman from the Center for Cartoon Studies, as well as Alec Longstreth and Jesse Wrecklaw. They talked about ways to teach a class when asked “can you talk to my class about comics?” Shutz handed out her course description for a class she teaches at PCC called "Art 217: Undertanding Comics Art". Reklaw also handed out a sample sheet from his course “Making Comics Art” that described and showed types of shots (medium, close-up, long shot, establishing shot..), emanata (the iconic lines you see coming out of people in comics, eg: speed lines, emotions, motion), and a set of example facial expressions. They also gave out some secrets if you want to teach comics: keep an open mind about doodling in class, urge your students to tell their own stories, and always finish your workshops with a publication. As Diana Shutz said, comics are “a space to use your imagination.” Visit teachingcomics.org for more ideas on teaching comics to students of all ages.
If the “Teaching” panel inspired anyone to go out and make a comic, they may have missed the “Editing for Comics” panel, which brought everyone back down to reality. The talk featured Diana Shutz, former DC editor Bob Schreck, and was hosted by Jeff Parker, a writer from Marvel.
Ms. Shutz likened editors at Dark Horse to project managers: they stay on the story from inspiration to publication. She said she’s always editing for quality, and mentioned that she’d recently scrapped a the first print run of Larry Marder’s Beanworld reprint because, after 20 years out of print, and with a meticulous restoration job on the original scans, the printer had done a poor job on the printing.
Mr. Schreck mentioned some of the other tasks he’d had to do while editing for DC. One time he was having problems with an artist getting the pages in on time, and he ended up calling the artists mother to get the 8 pages of black and white drawings that were holding up production. He also talked about when Comico went under. DC had partnered with Comico, and they had original art from some creators. Schreck had to tell people they were out of a job, but he said he worked hard to retrieve their original art for the artists.
A couple secrets may have been given away in this seminar, too. Jeff Parker wondered if monthly comics will go away in the next couple of years due to costs. He theorized that they monthlies will eventually be entirely online, and the only tangible printings will be TPBs or anthologies. And Shutz told the ultimate secret: how to get into comics. She said: don’t write up a typed manuscript, or an outline. Instead, make an actual comic. If you can’t draw, partner with someone who can, it will show the editors that you can work with people. She gave a brief summary of her assistant Brendan who took her class, started a comic review website, and worked to create some comics. Now he’s working at Dark Horse.