Okay, asking all creators…what is your definition of a great editor?
— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) April 28, 2013
Gail Simone asked a fabulous question on Twitter. My thoughts?
I think an editor has a greater responsibility than just making sure the “trains run on time.” An editor must make sure the work is correct grammatically and visually. But, as importantly, an editor must make sure the story makes sense. And not just that the single issue makes sense, but that it fits the ongoing continuity. And if you are working at Marvel or DC, there is the added responsibility of protecting the brand and your Rolodex—a narrow tightrope to walk. You are an ambassador to three worlds—the creator’s, the salesman’s, and the consumer’s—and must satisfy the needs of all. As an aside, just as Jeff Parker stated that a good writer must stop being a “fan,” it is necessary for the editor to stop being one as well. You cannot be personally invested as a fan would be. You must be able to pull back and view the material objectively. No identification. To be able to pull back is key in order to identify flaws in the tapestry and suggest revisions. To pull back allows for more creative freedom, free rein to try new things. Fewer instances of “Batman wouldn’t do that.”
In comics, an editor assumes multiple roles—talent scout, copy editor, salesman, researcher, critic, and creative consultant. If you’ve been lucky enough to discover a good one? Hold on tight.