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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!)

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Editor for Life: Paul Ling, Owner, Perfect English 101

Interview conducted by Indu Singh.

A career as an editor is often a solo adventure, especially if you’re a freelancer. So we thought one way to better connect with fellow editors was to ask them the Five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. Read on for some thought-provoking, enlightening tidbits from those of us who choose to work with words to earn our keep.

Paul Ling

Please tell us a little about yourself, the kind of work you do (and where you live), and how long you’ve been an editor.

I live west of Toronto, and I returned to Ontario a few years back, after some 20-odd years working abroad, from Australia to the Middle East, the Far East, the Caribbean, and Europe. Since I used to be a clinical professor, and I’d trained in various surgical specialties, editing insinuated itself into my life because fellow students, and even teachers and professors, would always ask me to check over their work. I suppose there’s a great similarity between dissecting treatises and dissecting tissues; in the end, one gains a reputation for being meticulous and fanatically determined to get the task done thoroughly.

In addition to editing scientific texts—and not just medical texts, either—I do a great deal of work editing business communications, such as letters, business plans, and résumés, since I used to work in private industry as an entrepreneur.

English-French translation, among other modern languages, is another area of work for which I receive many requests. My editing avocation has been going strong for over 25 years, and I retired from clinical practice about five years ago to concentrate on editing full-time [at Perfect English 101].

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