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Ask A Comic-Book Editor

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"I Sometimes Feel I'm The Only Person In The Company Who Doesn't Actually Watch It"

Bunting: But I assume your background in that job is not so much from a publishing perspective? I mean, I assume you have a history as a comics fan.

Nybakken: Yeah, I was a visual-arts major in college, and a painting major; I came out and almost immediately went into the comics industry, I worked for a small publisher called Fantagraphics, but I worked in an editorial capacity, in that I was an assistant editor and then the managing editor of a magazine about comics called The Comics Journal. And from there, I moved to DC in the marketing department, and was actually working in the marketing department for five years before switching into collected editions and editorial.

Bunting: So do you watch Heroes?

Nybakken: I do not, actually. I have seen an episode or two of Heroes, but I do not watch it.

Bunting: Do a lot of people in the industry watch Heroes?

Nybakken: Oh, yes. Yeah, I sometimes feel I'm the only person in the company who doesn't actually watch it.

Bunting: What is the sense, in the company, or in the industry, of Heroes as an analog to traditional comics, or an outgrowth of traditional comics -- how is the show watched by people in the industry that might be different from how regular fans watch it?

Nybakken: My perspective is that people in the industry regard it as an outgrowth of the increasing presence of comics in the entertainment industry as a whole, over the past 15 years, the number of comics-based material that has been turned into television shows and movies has been growing and growing and growing, and this is, like, the latest manifestation of it. And I think they regard it very highly because it actually is getting closer and closer to some of the better material that's been done in comics in recent history.

Bunting: So this is viewed as a positive.

Nybakken: Oh, yeah, very much so.

Bunting: So where would you put TV, in terms of kind of co-opting comics -- comics' style of storytelling, that kind of thing -- versus the movies? Do you think it's been on parallel tracks, or an outgrowth of the same plundering of material --

Nybakken: No, I would say that TV is actually behind movies, in terms of going after comics material. The movies have been taking comics and turning them into films for quite a while now, and TV has been doing that to a lesser extent, but now it's starting to catch up with it. I think one of the things, maybe, is that a lot of the comic stuff that got made into movies in the early periods were pretty bad, and the TV people looked at and said, "Nah, that's not really good enough," and then better and better comic movie material started coming out, and this is the most important thing, because the people who run the television and the movie industries more and more over the past 15 years have been comics fans. Fifteen years ago there were very few comics fans who were actually running the studios and running the production companies, and that's been changing a lot; now, there's a lot more people who like comics and understand them within the infrastructure.

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Mondo Extra
Ask A Comic-Book Editor

Episode Report Card
Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
"I Sometimes Feel I'm The Only Person In The Company Who Doesn't Actually Watch It"

Bunting: But I assume your background in that job is not so much from a publishing perspective? I mean, I assume you have a history as a comics fan.

Nybakken: Yeah, I was a visual-arts major in college, and a painting major; I came out and almost immediately went into the comics industry, I worked for a small publisher called Fantagraphics, but I worked in an editorial capacity, in that I was an assistant editor and then the managing editor of a magazine about comics called The Comics Journal. And from there, I moved to DC in the marketing department, and was actually working in the marketing department for five years before switching into collected editions and editorial.

Bunting: So do you watch Heroes?

Nybakken: I do not, actually. I have seen an episode or two of Heroes, but I do not watch it.

Bunting: Do a lot of people in the industry watch Heroes?

Nybakken: Oh, yes. Yeah, I sometimes feel I'm the only person in the company who doesn't actually watch it.

Bunting: What is the sense, in the company, or in the industry, of Heroes as an analog to traditional comics, or an outgrowth of traditional comics -- how is the show watched by people in the industry that might be different from how regular fans watch it?

Nybakken: My perspective is that people in the industry regard it as an outgrowth of the increasing presence of comics in the entertainment industry as a whole, over the past 15 years, the number of comics-based material that has been turned into television shows and movies has been growing and growing and growing, and this is, like, the latest manifestation of it. And I think they regard it very highly because it actually is getting closer and closer to some of the better material that's been done in comics in recent history.

Bunting: So this is viewed as a positive.

Nybakken: Oh, yeah, very much so.

Bunting: So where would you put TV, in terms of kind of co-opting comics -- comics' style of storytelling, that kind of thing -- versus the movies? Do you think it's been on parallel tracks, or an outgrowth of the same plundering of material --

Nybakken: No, I would say that TV is actually behind movies, in terms of going after comics material. The movies have been taking comics and turning them into films for quite a while now, and TV has been doing that to a lesser extent, but now it's starting to catch up with it. I think one of the things, maybe, is that a lot of the comic stuff that got made into movies in the early periods were pretty bad, and the TV people looked at and said, "Nah, that's not really good enough," and then better and better comic movie material started coming out, and this is the most important thing, because the people who run the television and the movie industries more and more over the past 15 years have been comics fans. Fifteen years ago there were very few comics fans who were actually running the studios and running the production companies, and that's been changing a lot; now, there's a lot more people who like comics and understand them within the infrastructure.

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