Host Buddy Scalera opened by introducing Joe Rybandt, Editorial Director at Dynamite Entertainment, and Lysa Hawkins, Valiant Entertainment editor.
Before the panel began, Scalera made an impassioned plea for the audience to let the convention organizers know that there is a desire for professional education panels in addition to the announcements and screenings. He also bribed us by promising that doing so would get us more free stuff as he distributed marker sets provided by Marvy Uchida.
With that, Buddy began the panel proper by asking the panelists about their editorial philosophy. Rybandt had a simple answer, “get the right people for the right job and then get out of the way.” Hawkins has worked for a menagerie of publishers and that experience has led her to generally align with Rybandt, however, she felt that it does change from book to book. She also said that she prefers working in the Marvel method, giving creators as much power as possible.
Asked how she keeps her skills sharp, Hawkins just urged editors to read. “You’re going to ruin a lot of things for yourself, being an editor,” said Rybandt with a chuckle, “you can’t turn it off” and even acclaimed storytelling like Breaking Bad got the red pen. Rybandt also stressed that he tends to read more non-fiction and that he values that. It helps you bring the real world into genre and comic stories.
“When I pick up a script, I always ask ‘where does this push the character?’,” said Hawkins.
Hawkins’ immediate advice to writers wanting to break in was to take advantage of Comic Con and open the door. Talk to editors and creators, be friendly, connect as people. The other piece of advice she had to offer was to learn to accept criticism.
Rybandt insisted that there are very few excuses for not being published in some form in 2018. That means that you very likely have the ability to put a completed comic in front of an editor. A script set in an unfamiliar world will not help an editor and a Spider-Man spec script might even be worse, but an original comic, of any length, immediately makes an impression.
The panel also stressed that even if you can only afford a beginning artist or a beginning writer who might not match your talents, a good editor will look past the other creators’ work to see yours.
Scalera asked when artists have made it far enough to quit their job. The answer is kind of never. There are plenty of very talented artists in the industry that still hold onto their day jobs because you really never know in comics. Hawkins’ face told the story of many young artists who had let their excitement get the better of them.
Around this point Jimmy Palmiotti arrived from another panel he had been double booked for.
An aspiring editor asked what the panelists would look for in hiring an assistant. Hawkins felt that story sense is essential. She also strongly urged aspiring editors to get internships whenever possible, as they are one of the most reliable paths to editorial departments. Palmiotti also stressed to consider your social media. Employers will look and they will notice if you will be unpleasant to work with or overly abrasive.
Rybandt admitted that sometimes bigger writers and artists are harder to pull rank with. But there’s also questions of what the story needs. On a creator-owned book your relationship is different.
Another person asked what the most common pitfalls for writers are. Palmiotti pointed to writers who want to reinvent the wheel and don’t respect what’s come before on work for hire comics. Rybandt also says that many writers overcommit themselves. Writers are the foundations of a creative team and if they aren’t producing the work on time no one can move forward.
Asked about picking up previously completed work, Rybandt assured the questioner that Dynamite has a mechanism in place for that. However, in a crucial bit of information that I feel is often left out, Rybandt told the crowd that every company has a different version of creator owned. Image’s agreement is different from Dynamite is different from Boom! And Hawkins reminded that Valiant can publish work from outside sources, but part of the deal will be that the wrok is no longer creator-owned.
Jimmy Palmiotti actually worked with Scalera on some of his early work, allowing him to diagnose Buddy with “new writeritis”. The cure? Cut half the dialogue. Scalera was aghast, but the result was better. Rybandt used the latest issue of Mister Miracle as an example. Though there are a lot of silent pages, that didn’t mean that Tom King’s hand was not felt. “It’s silent, but it’s written!”