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With Great Power…

There’s an interesting conversation between Dash Shaw and Hope Larson about editing that’s been making the rounds. Hope likes editorial feedback, but I’ve heard other young cartoonists railing against editors.

I came from a generation of independent/alternative cartoonists that largely believed that “editorial freedom” meant “freedom from editors,” but I’ve always believed in the value of getting honest, in-depth feedback.

For most of my career, I’ve had tremendous freedom in putting together my stories and art, but I’ve also turned to friends to tell me when I’m going off the rails. When working on Understanding Comics in the early ’90s, I turned to my panel of “kibitzers” (Kurt Busiek, Neil Gaiman, Larry Marder, Steve Bissette, Jenn Manley Lee, and Ivy) to rip apart my layouts and rip they did.

The very fact that I could have ignored their advice gave me the confidence to follow it. Whole chapters got the axe and new ones were created. I had the power to ignore them, but I also knew what Spidey said about “great power” and — like the spelling of invulnerable — it was a lesson I learned from reading superhero comics that I’ve never forgotten.


Discussion (13)¬

  1. Mark Clegg says:

    “When working on Understanding Comics in the early ’90s, I turned to my panel of “kibitzers” (Kurt Busiek, Neil Gaiman, Larry Marder, Steve Bissette, Jenn Manley Lee, and Ivy) to rip apart my layouts and rip they did.”

    Jenn Manley Lee? First I’ve heard of her in connection with UC. Why wasn’t she listed with the others? And this board of kibitzers only felt free to critique your layouts? Certainly “your” ideas weren’t sacrosant to them. Oh well, you do claim that all the ideas originated solely with you. No mention of Eisenstein, Gombrich, Arnheim, and other sources for what was presented in UC.

    • Scott says:

      Jenn Manley Lee was listed with the others (as “Jennifer Lee”) she wasn’t married yet.

    • Scott says:

      “Layouts” includes everything but finished art, by the way. Script, breakdown, etc.

      • Mark Clegg says:

        Odd use of terminology. Scholars would frown on such confusing imprecision.
        Scholars are also aware of, and your readers would find familar concepts, in books such as Film Form, Film Sense, Art and Illusion, and Art and Visual Perception.
        Your selected bibliography for UC is amusing, though I have to give you credit for knowing of Topffer and Kunzle’s work by 1993. They escaped the card cataloges at UCSC in 1976-78, but Gombrich did mention Topffer.

  2. [...] “I came from a generation of independent/alternative cartoonists that largely believed that ‘editorial freedom’ meant ‘freedom from editors,’ but I’ve always believed in the value of getting honest, in-depth feedback.” – Scott McCloud [...]

  3. Will Curwin says:

    Would I be current in saying that the whole “Editor vs Creator” thing started with the horror stories about comic legends like Kurtzman & Kirby having probelms with their editors. Or are their other reasons?

    • Mark Clegg says:

      Kurtzman had trouble with his editors? Maybe Heiffner, but I don’t think that set the mind-set of those `80s comics artists. That was due to the poisonous nature of the mainstream industry that was set in 1939, that caused no one to trust anyone else, and holds sway to this day.

  4. [...] We also got to see D Bethel’s artistic process here but then we also saw the new, new methods he uses and the penciling techniques of Charles Yoakum on Ink Destroyed My Brush. Via Hero Spy, we also get Nick Edward’s process and you may want to check out all the good stuff in this Digital Strips Link post – especially Kyle Latino’s constructive visual critique and I agree that Kushner needs to read more graphic novels. Tom Richmond weighed in with speech bubble advice and Scott McCloud talks about the merits of editors. [...]

  5. Matt Burke says:

    scott, as an aside, how do you deal with obsessive, pompous, infantile, stalker types who allude to ancient and absurd arguments and won’t let them die a quiet death?

    • Mark Clegg says:

      Scott knows how to end things properly. Truth is its own advocate, but goosing it along shouldn’t hurt.

    • Will Curwin says:

      What is this dear abby dot com now?

      • Mark Clegg says:

        If Scott is Dear Abby, does that make me Ann Landers, even if we aren’t biologically related? They had a 3 month difference in debut whereas Scott and I have a 15 year difference in debuts.

  6. [...] discussion to have. The topic was brought up by Hope Larson here, then continued by Scott McCloud here and Calista Brill [...]