For the past several years, the great Cheryl Lynn, a.k.a. Digital Femme, has been talking extensively about black female characters and creators in comics. She comes at the issue from a place that is both just and informed, and she makes devastatingly good points on those…
My feelings toward Star Wars are sort of noncommittally benevolent—I casually dig the core trilogy but remain mostly ignorant of the extended universe. I’d buy it a beer, but I probably wouldn’t let it get to second base.
Terri is the creator of groundbreaking fantasy and mythic art and literature over the past several decades, ranging from the influential urban fantasy series Bordertown to the online Journal of Mythic Arts. With co-editor Ellen Datlow, she changed the face of contemporary short fiction with The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and other award-winning anthologies, including Silver Birch, Blood Moon and The Green Man: Tales from the Mythic Forest. Her remarkable Endicott Studio blog continues to bring music, poetry, art and inspiration to people all over the world.
Terri Windling and her family have been coping with health and legal issues that have drained her financial resources at a critical time. Due to the serious nature of these issues, and privacy concerns for individual family members, we can’t be more specific than that, but Terri is in need of our support. As a friend, a colleague and an inspiration, Terri has touched many, many lives over the years. She has been supremely generous in donating her own work and art to support friends and colleagues in crisis. Now, Terri is in need of some serious help from her community. Who better than her colleagues and fans to rise up to make some magick for her?
Through the next 18 days, we’ll be posting personal offerings from the likes of Neil Gaiman, George R.R. Martin, Wendy & Brian Froud, and many more!
I feel like I'm in a weird place. I don't have the money to buy comics, movies, or games on any kind of a regular basis, aside from anthologies at the library and a couple of random, years-old issues from time to time. (60c ancient Justice League comics? YES, PLEASE.) I look at the geek community and it feels so homey and right, but at the same time, like I'll never really be a part of it. Needing Super Chick Geek Cred doesn't help, either. Any words for a nerdish noob?
Do you want to know the Really Big Secret of geekiness? I hope so, because I’m going to tell you anyway.
It is not about what you have or haven’t read, or played; or what you do or don’t know. It’s about being interested.
Figure out what you want to do or learn. Like comics? Any in particular? Great. You’ve got a starting point. Go into a geek community—local or virtual—and tell ‘em what you like and that you want to branch out (or find more of the same) but are not sure where to go from there. Ask for suggestions.
Geeks evangelize aggressively—if anything, often TOO aggressively. We love to spread the gospel of our particular passions. And there is NOTHING we like more than someone willing and eager to learn.
This is pretty much how I learn about geek stuff: I have friends who will tell me about what they’re reading, or playing, or watching; who lend me books and games and movies; who know my taste well enough to know when it might be worth batting media my way. These are relationships I’ve cultivated over years, via local comics shops, message boards, gaming circles work, and other directly or tangentially geeky communities.
As far as the super-chick geek cred: anyone who requires that to take you seriously is not worth your time. Seek what sustains you. Don’t worry about proving anything.
Hey, so, I have an essay in this anthology, which is now available for pre-order:
So, you should do that, okay? It is full of good stuff, by good people (of whom I am one of the least impressive—it’s a veritable “who’s who” of amazing ladies and lady-friendly dudes in and around comics).
“Prodigy is, at its essence, adaptability and persistent, positive obsession. Without persistence, what remains is an enthusiasm of the moment. Without adaptability, what remains may be channeled into destructive fanaticism. Without positive obsession, there is nothing at all.”—
Remember that biiiiiig Dark Horse announcement I was teasing last week?
Yeah. This is it. Interview with Caitlín, plus a preview of Steve Lieber’s fantastic line art, behind the link. (Plus, of course, that gorgeous Greg Ruth cover you saw last week, now complete with title.)
In my dubious defense, I did not choose the title of this blog post. In fact, I specifically suggested that readers refrain from licking the shiny, beautiful spot gloss on the cover of Valve Presents, whether or not it happens to taste like candy.
That said, if people felt the need to get a readin’ copy and a lickin’ copy of this book, I would not judge them. Sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do.
How did you become such an awesome writer and editor? Do you have any advice for someone who'd like to break into the field?
Oh, gosh, that’s a lot of question, couched in a lot of flattery. Look, I have trouble accepting or speaking to the “awesome” part, but I can at least tell you a bit of how I got where I am and learned to do what I do. Deal?
My academic background is in creative writing and English literature; but far more relevant to my current work are the years I spent tutoring at and then directing an undergraduate writing center. In some ways, writing center theory and practice are deliberately antithetical to editing; at the same time, though, that work and the ideals that informed it gave me a tremendous base of hands-on work with writers and a theoretical and practical basis for facilitating creative work without co-opting it.
As for advice for someone who’d like to break into the field: Read, write, and work voraciously and carnivorously. Analyze everything: become a painstaking cartographer of not only the art of writing, but the craft and industry of publishing. Incorporate *everything* you encounter into your toolbox. Be versatile; be scrupulously organized.
Learn to research; in particular, learn to research on the fly and outside your personal areas of expertise. Get so adept at craft annotation that you can do it completely off the cuff. Learn to describe and assess a wide range of creative work lucidly, accessibly, and constructively. If you want to go into comics, make sure that the skills you develop apply to visual as well as verbal literacy.
And learn to stop. As an editor—or as a writer—the most critical part of your job is knowing when to step away. Understand that there’s a difference between perfect and best-case; best-case and enough. Perfection should always be your goal—but never your top priority.
At the same time, build networks and connections. Start conversations with people in and tangential to the field you want to work in, and keep those going. Cherish and cultivate those relationships and mentorships (Note, too, that those are both plural. Whenever you can, seek multiple perspectives, in as wide a range as possible). Seek and synthesize feedback.
I think succeeding in any measure as an editor requires a very specific kind of cockiness—the idea that you know what you’re doing, and, in particular, that you know or at least can recognize how to do highly subjective work *right.* That kind of confidence is an asset, but it can very easily become a liability if it prevents you from checking your ego at the door. When you’re an editor, your job is to serve someone else’s story and someone else’s voice; if your sensibilities trump, if your voice is recognizable in the narrative, you’re doing it wrong.
Never stop learning. Never stop reaching. Never let yourself get comfortable or complacent.