August 1st, 2007

The Zombie

Plans

July 31 -  And so Comic Book Editor Month peters out with a quiet whimper and a tiny puff of smoke.  I kinda blew it, didn't I?  Not much "behind the scenes" insight, no in-depth comments, and my grandiose plans for comments from some of the comics editors themselves went over like a lead balloon in a blast furnace.  Oh, well.  Plans are just that; plans.  It's probably better to have a plan than not, but just planning for something doesn't make it happen.  In some odd way, this actually has a lot to do with comics editors.  Their position in the comics business chain of command is unlike just about any other.  They are equal parts battlefield general and Broadway choreographer, motivational speaker and asylum warden, preschool teacher and football coach.  Above all, though, they are planners.  You've heard the old adage about herding cats?  Being a comic book editor is a bit like getting a herd of cats to drive a car.  The editor of a comic book title is the one who makes the creative plans for the comic's artistic direction (small wonder, then, that many great editors were/are also great comics writers and artists).  Good editors know how to steer creative contributions toward that plan while also being able to recognize when they should veer from the plan if it would make the comic better.  Great editors do all of that while also bringing out the best from everyone...and that's how we get great comic books.  Or, at least that's the plan.  A wise sage, comic book editor Mark Gruenwald, once lamented that comics creators get the praise, while comics editors get the blame.  Sad, but true.  Of course, it is also true that if you're going to take the blame anyway, then you have the right - nay, the duty - to make the plans.  And I've been there, man.  Back in the day, when I was the director of our community theater, I learned these stakes first hand.  For all of my months of practice and planning, at some point I was just another audience member, watching my plan unfold - or not.  And I would have deserved the blame if the show was not good.  I picked the cast.  I governed the crews.  I coached, and coaxed, the actors.  If some part of that fell flat, it was my fault more than theirs.  And, what if the show as good (which my shows always were, of course)?  Well, there is a personal pride that can come from seeing your plan successfully executed.  Besides, people "in the know" can recognize the hand on the wheel, and can truly appreciate that guidance on a certain level.  For example, all month, as I've been listing editors' names, I've made a few comments that some are among my favorites.  Even if I had nothing to do with making comics (which is basically the case), I have read enough of them to piece together which editors work on comics with the highest rates of quality consistency.  Through ever-changing creative teams and shifting market influences, the works of these great editors have stood out from that of their peers.  Why?  Perhaps both because of the strength of their plans, and their ability to creatively alter those plans as needed.  So, this month, I made plans for the WOMP-Blog that exceeded my ability to fulfill.  That happens.  A lot.  Hey, I never claimed to be an editor...er, except when I was pretending to be one as John Woe.  Still, I am taking my cue from my favorite editors in seeing that I have to alter my original plans (even if a little late).  SO, while the "...Of The Day" feature may change in August, the general focus on comic book editors will not.  From time to time, I will revisit the subject as I can.  At some point, when I feel that I have sufficiently explored the topic, I'll sum up.  For now, though, let me just leave you with one last great Comic Book Editor of The Day - Stan Lee!

July 30 -  Hmm.  Not a good day.  Oh, well...they can't all be as fun-filled as the past extended weekend.  Needless to say, I wasn't in a proper mood for WOMP-Blogging, so I skipped the 30th, including what should have been your awesome Comic Book Editor of The Day - Denny O'Neil!