Today we're interviewing Marvel Comics Assistant Editor Heather Antos. Heather is a 2013 graduate of Eastern Michigan University where she studied electronic media and film. She currently edits Marvel's Star Wars and Deadpool books. She's also co-founder and editor of DUDE, WHAT? comics, which recently published two titles. Below, Heather tells us about editing, Kickstarting, and who wins in a fight between Boba Fett and Deadpool.
You’re a pretty recent college grad, and you’re already working at Marvel on two of their biggest lines (Star Wars and Deadpool). You’re living the fan’s dream. How the heck did that happen?
Haha, what a great first question! I graduated from a fairly small state school in 2013 (Eastern Michigan University). While at school I was very heavily involved with extracurriculars involving the theatre department, film department, and campus TV station where I would write, perform, produce, and direct my own content. Not long after graduating I began to develop an interest in creating comics (as opposed to just reading them). I've always been the type of person who believes that you create your own destiny so I dove in head first. I began connecting with industry professionals through reviews and interviews on several websites as well as meeting with them in person at conventions. It was by doing this that I met my future boss, Jordan D. White. We met at C2E2 last year where he graciously sat down and discussed with me comic editing. I was very lucky to have had this interaction, as nowhere online or in any book is there a "how-to" guide on becoming a comic editor. That's when I 100% knew comic editing was something I wanted to do. I began doing a lot of (free) work freelancing as well as self-publishing my own work (most prominently UNLAWFUL GOOD: An Anthology of Crime). I stayed in touch with Jordan and when a position at Marvel opened up he asked if I'd like to interview. I suppose the rest is history!
How did your media projects and extracurriculars prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Well they taught me project management – how to set deadlines, schedules, and keep to them in a creative environment working with creative people. They taught me how to think on my feet to come up with the best solution possible in that moment. They also taught me that coffee will forever be an invaluable asset to my career!
So how’d you specifically get into comics? Lifelong reader, or did you get into it in college?
Growing up it was a family ritual to watch the Adam West/Burt Ward Batman television show during dinner. That was very much my first exposure. Hell, my first celebrity crush was Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson in the 90s Batman films.
I also drew and wrote my own stories as a child. I suppose getting into comics was to be expected. As a teen I read a lot of trades and graphic novels but it wasn’t until college that I began a weekly pull list.
Oh, and I worked at Green Brain Comics in Dearborn (Michigan).
Let’s ask about that. So you worked in a shop during college? How did that influence your reading habits?
Yeah! It was basically the best job any comic nut could land…well, besides making them!
It definitely broadened my horizons to different books and creators I wouldn’t have normally pulled for myself.
So what are you reading now? And is it weird reading comics and/or comic news now that you see how the sausage is made?
Currently some of my favorite books are Harrow County, Wytches (though technically it’s on a mini-hiatus), Wicked & Divine, Southern Basterds, Injection, and Descender. I also got to read today a sneak peak of Skottie Young’s new series, I Hate Fairyland. That’s gonna be a big hit!
It’s definitely interesting seeing what books make the news and for what reasons, that’s for sure!
Is it weird seeing yourself in the news now? I saw your name dropped on a Star Wars board once–nothing bad. People grumbling about when the Obi-Wan issue took place, and someone was like, “Oh, Heather said it was set here.”
I try not to pay attention to it. What is it they say? “Never read the comments.” Ha!
But I suppose it comes with the territory, you know? I mean, I love when fans write to me on Fanmail, Twitter or Tumblr. I love interacting with them! It’s one of my favorite parts about the job!
So what’s the day-to-day life of an assistant editor at Marvel like? Are you looking at story? Fixing typos? Checking continuity?
All of the above and more! (Laughs.) One of the many skills a good assistant editor should have is the ability to multi-task, and multi-task well. Days can consist from reading scripts, giving notes, looking at art layouts, colors, conference calls with talent, pulling reference, to any number of things!
So, with Deadpool, did you have to absorb a bunch of back issues before you got started, or do you go back and check as the story demands?
Luckily with Deadpool I came in already with a stockpile of knowledge. I’m a big fan. And my Editor, Jordan, knows the character backwards and forwards. But often times we will go back to different issues to double-check. Luckily in the Marvel offices there seems to be at least one expert on every character and era that we can bounce ideas off each other all of the time.
Are you and Jordan editing Uncanny Avengers too since Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan’s on that book?
No, not us. Since it’s an Avengers book that’s Tom Brevoort’s territory. But I’ve got to read some of the upcoming issues. It’s pretty awesome and I’m kind of jealous I’m not involved!
What’s your favorite part of editing?
Probably the most fun is spitballing ideas with the different creators on their stories. It’s like when you sit around with your friends trying to figuring out what the next Star Wars story will be…only that’s my job. Ha! I can’t believe I get paid to do it sometimes!
A lot of professionals like doctors and lawyers find that their friends and families suddenly want free professional advice. Do you find a lot of people suddenly want to get the inside scoop on Marvel and/or Star Wars from you? How do you deal with that?
Personally? No, not really. It’s funny, because of my work on the Star Wars comics I’m one of the very lucky few that’s “in the know” about upcoming movies and such, but even my fiancé (who is one of the biggest Star Wars nuts I know) doesn’t want me to tell him anything. Which is good, because I’m not supposed to anyway!
One of our writers wants to know if 4-LOM will ever get his own book.
I suppose they’ll just have to keep reading to find out! (Winks.)
But I am a strong advocate for a DROIDS ONLY book, so….who knows!
So: Deadpool vs. Boba Fett. C’mon, who wins?
Well, considering Boba Fett is a Bounty Hunter and Deadpool is a regenerating assassin….I’m gonna have to say Deadpool. That is if we’re talking a battle. Boba Fett would probably win at Chess.
Ha! Of course, in the old Expanded Universe, Boba also had a habit of not dying, so who knows?
Yes, but in canon Boba consistently loses fights to blind guys. I’m not sure he’d be much better off fighting an opponent who can see!
But speaking of Deadpool: anything you can tell us about what Gerry Duggan and Mike Hawthorne have planned for the post-Secret Wars relaunch? Anything in Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos that hints at what’s coming?
Expect the unexpected…or as Jordan says, “It’s more Deadpool than you knew you ever wanted.” I’m so excited for this relaunch. It’s a perfect place for new readers to hop on as well as a great story for continuing readers as well.
Is it a strict continuation of what came before with Ben Franklin and the rest of the crew, or are we moving into new territory?
I can’t say too much without giving anything away. But if there is one thing that Gerry Duggan is great at, it’s tying things together in a most unexpected yet makes-perfect-sense manner.
We’ll have to check it out. So let’s talk DUDE, WHAT? Comics. It looks like you published UNLAWFUL GOOD a few months ago, and you just put out an additional book called Epilogue. What can you tell us about those?
DUDE, WHAT? is a small press publisher that my fiance, lettering extraordinaire Zakk Saam, and I put together when we both started making our own comics. Since joining the Marvel team this past year I haven’t been able to focus on it as much, but perhaps in the future we’ll get more small independent projects out!
Epilogue is one of the first freelance projects I ever edited. The project began a little over a year ago when writer Mario Candelaria approached me about doing a romance-comic telling the story from each of the main character’s perspectives. It’s a really cool reading experience – you see ex-lovers Natalie and Garan meet, and then get Natalie’s memories from their relationship, versus what memories Garan recalls. It’s a very interesting take on human emotion. David Ganjamie and Nathan Schreiber definitely added a lot to the story with their art, and Ashley St. Lawrence and Lesley Atlansky’s covers are gorgeous.
UNLAWFUL GOOD: An Anthology of Crime, on the other hand, is a 188 page comic anthology featuring 17 short stories by nearly 50 different creators each focusing on the theme of crime. I asked creators interested in submitting “What is crime?” What we got? An amazing range of stories from sci-fi to comedy to noir to horror and everything in-between. I’m super proud of this book and the creators who gave their talent. I suspect it won’t be the last time you’ll see their work! We also have stories by Steve Orlando (DC’s Midnighter) as well as Jay P. Fosgitt (IDW’s My Little Pony) and more!
That sounds exciting. What drew you to producing crime and romance stories? We don’t see a lot of those genres, at least in their purest form, in comics these days. You can argue that something like Batman is crime, or Archie is romance, but that’s still under the umbrella of another genre.
It is! I love working in some of the less popular genres. It’s creatively invigorating and just plain fun! Crime especially. It’s a genre I’ve always been intrigued by. For a period in high school I was seriously considering becoming a criminal profiler. I find the subject fascinating – crime is relative. It means something different to each and every person on the planet. Hell, every country has a different definition on what is considered criminal. It’s a great topic to have creators explore!
So how can a reader get ahold of your books? I see Epilogue is on Comixology….
Yes! Epilogue is on Comixology as well as the Stronghold series and Andrew Jackson In Space book (a couple other indie projects I’ve worked on). Unlawful Good will be on Comixology soon, but in the meantime readers can go to http://dudewhatcomics.bigcartel.com to pick up a copy!
You financed Unlawful Good through Kickstarter, right? How was that experience for you, especially in an era where anybody with a computer seems to be Kickstartering everything? How do you make your project successful and standout when everyone’s competing for funding?
Oh gosh! Kickstarter was one of the most stressful things about creating UNLAWFUL GOOD. Promoting a Kickstarter (especially if you’re a nobody like me) is a fulltime job! It took about a month to build the page and make it just right, and then it was a constant schedule of tweeting, posting, and podcasting. Lots of press releases. I must’ve done something right, though, because the folks at Kickstarter asked me to speak at New York Comic Con on their panel about funding a comic on their platform.
And, for any folks who’re curious, I wrote a blog of Kickstarting Comics advice.
As any comic creator knows, making comics isn’t cheap. You’ve got to pay your creators (penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, writer, and editor) their individual page rates. And even if you’re able…
I get the sense that authors need to not just be good authors, but also financial and marketing experts.
Yeah, every creator needs to either have a great agent or be able to market themselves. Ideally a bit of both!
Do you hope to do any direct creating at Marvel, like writing or art chores? What’s your dream project, Marvel or otherwise?
I mean I would love to one day maybe write a comic for Marvel, but that would mean I would no longer be editing – and I LOVE editing. So I don’t see that happening anytime soon. And though I am a fan of doodling, the world would never forgive me if I drew a comic. (Laughs) I wouldn’t want to put them through the torture! I’m not sure if I have a dream project. I mean, as is every day I get to help create some pretty amazing stories. I can’t imagine doing anything else!
Last question: what advice do you have for anyone who wants to break into the comics industry, at Marvel or elsewhere?
Simple: make comics. If you want to write, write every day. If you want to draw? Draw. You’re going to create 1000 bad pages before you make your good pages, so you might as well get the bad ones out of the way now. Meet as many professionals as you can and learn from them. But mostly, just keeping creating. And show your creations to anyone who will look at them.
You never know who might see ’em along the way!
Heather Antos, thank you for speaking with Pop Culture Uncovered.
Thank YOU for having me!