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Recap of Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication

by Catherine Dorton and Paul Ling

Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication panellists Allison O’Toole, Megan Kearney, and Steven Andrews

Panellists Allison O’Toole, Megan Kearney, and Steven Andrews

On Tuesday, October 22, Editors Toronto hosted a lively panel discussion with comics anthology editor Allison O’Toole, cartoonist Megan Kearney, and TO Comix Press founder Steven Andrews.

These three industry pros were full of ideas and inspiration for comic book creators, anthology curators, editors, and anyone else interested in breaking into the field. They introduced us to some trends, including the explosion of sales in comics, new publishing imprints dedicated to graphic novels, and self-publishing opportunities. They made sure we knew what counts as a comic (hint: it isn’t merch!) and what kinds of stories readers are hungry for (lesson #1: not capes). According to the trio, superhero comic sales are down, while emotionally complex, historical, and pop culture content is on the rise. Also, the growing landscape of new artists is wonderfully diverse, expanding the field for audiences of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and orientations.

Next, the panellists outlined the roles an editor might play in all stages of the publishing process, from gathering the material to editing the story and art to creating publishing schedules and resolving disputes. (So editors of comics need to be flexible and comfortable in various roles!)


Editors Unplugged: Get to know our panellists for Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication

Interviews conducted by Indu Singh.

Our popular monthly program meetings often feature a jam-packed agenda. We like to keep our introductions short, so you can hear more from our panellists and less from us! It’s hard to do justice to the incredible wealth of experience these guests bring to the table, so we are offering you a preview with this short Q&A beforehand.

This month, we are honoured to be joined by Steven Andrews, Allison O’Toole, and Megan Kearney. Meet all three panellists in person at this month’s program meeting on October 22.

Raina Telgemeier has been topping bestseller charts since the release of her middle grade autobio, Smile, in 2010 and is credited with changing both the face of comics and the publishing landscape. Her most recent title, Guts, is currently the #1 bestselling book in North America. What other graphic novels do you think are deserving of this attention?

Steven Andrews: I’m fascinated by the recent resurgence in political and historical comics. Congressman John Lewis, inspired by the protest comics he read as a child, created a graphic novel series called March recounting his work in the Civil Rights Movement. Beautifully illustrated by Nate Powell, it carefully navigates a harrowing period of recent history and ties it to the modern day with eternally relevant themes.

Similarly, the comic magazine The Nib collects short illustrated essays and comic journalism. You might find deeply personal stories from refugees, an introduction to net neutrality, or silly satire taken from the headlines in it.

Allison O’Toole: While she’s also quite popular, I think that everything Tillie Walden makes should be an instant bestseller—her work is incredible. Her colour palettes are always unbelievable, her figures very emotive, her characters nuanced, and her emotions complex and engaging. Her work would be accessible and relatable for teen readers, but they’re so smartly written that they’re wonderful for adults as well.

Megan Kearney: Linda Medley has been flying below the radar since the 90s, when she toured with Jeff Smith and Charles Vess, and then sort of dropped out of the spotlight. Castle Waiting is basically perfect, everything I could ever ask for out of a comic—draftsmanship, storytelling, the whole package. The first time I read it, I was shocked. I had never seen something so perfectly suited for my sensibilities. I read it front to back three times in a row.  It’s such a masterful work, I can’t understand how it hasn’t been more lauded!


Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication with Steven Andrews, Allison O’Toole, and Megan Kearney

"Editing Comics: From Concept to Publication" October 22 program flyer

Date: Tuesday, October 22, 7:00 – 9:30 pm
Location: Viola Desmond Room (3rd floor) at the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 192 Spadina Ave.

On Tuesday, October 22, Steven Andrews, Allison O’Toole, and Megan Kearney, each a force in the Canadian comic publishing industry, join us for a panel discussion that will introduce us to how independent comics are created and the role an editor plays in the process.

Enter the world of comics in this deep-dive discussion on how editors work with text and images and find their way into this expanding field, and how newcomers can build their comic editing skills with award-winning freelance comics editor Allison O’Toole. Acclaimed cartoonist Megan Kearney will take us through an illustrator’s role and their relationship with editors, and Steven Andrews will provide insight into the production of self-published comic anthologies.

The evening will conclude with a Q&A session with our panellists.