Thursday, August 27, 2009

Editors, Proposals, and Other Unpleasantness

Some of my blog posts get written because two things just happen to find their way into my brain at the same time and make a connection. This is one of those.

A friend who does very good comics and is looking to approach graphic novel publishers recently asked me what a successful book proposal looks like. As if I had a clue. Mom's Cancer was essentially finished by the time Abrams took it on. My proposal consisted of printing it out and mailing it to them. For WHTTWOT, my relationship with Editor Charlie was such that we could just talk it over. I did send him a package of stuff that I called a "proposal" early on, and in retrospect can only imagine how mystified he must have been by the handful of drawings plus print-outs about the World's Fair, Popular Mechanics, and old comic books. "I want to do THIS!" I declared, and I remain grateful he nevertheless continued to take my calls.

With that on my mind, I just read this interview at "Comics Comics" in which cartoonist Dash Shaw interviews cartoonist Hope Larson (never met either of them) about her experience with editors. It's pretty "inside baseball," but if you're interested in the process of publishing you might find it worthwhile. Larson describes a range of editorial encounters, a few of which match my own and others that don't. I found it interesting that she seems eager for editorial guidance and feedback, which is different than the usual artistic attitude that editing equals meddling, interference and censorship. She values the second set of eyes. I do too--as long as I trust and respect them. If you can relax your ego and concentrate on the goal of doing the best work possible, a good editor will always make it better.

I expect I'll have more to say on this subject sometime.


Dottie said...

Hey Brian! I have been reading your blog for some time now and I have some questions for you about making comics. If you have a moment, could you please email me at

I really appreciate your work and your contribution to the comic world.

Brian Fies said...

Done! And thanks.