Editor Q&A

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Editor Q&A

Postby Mariah » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:37 pm

Based on the forum conversations lately, I was wondering if you folks would like to do a kind of informal Q&A about the behind-the-scenes process on the Angel series. I think what we do is kind of shrouded in too much mystery and I'd like to give you guys a chance to see what we put into this book. Aside from obsessively watching the TV show, of course. :wink:

This would be more about how we develop stories, how co-writing works, how the art is done, cover concepts, and things like that.

I'm willing to answer some story questions, as long as they're not overly spoilery. I can't comment on anything Dark Horse is doing other than to say that we're super excited to be working with them for some fun crossover stuff between the Spike series and Buffy Season 8. It really was a great brainstorming session. Can't comment on any speculative other crossover stuff, though, sorry!

So, what would you guys like to know about the extreme glamorous life of comic book editing? I'll try to answer questions throughout the weekend.

-Mariah
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Postby raith » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:50 pm

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Mariah! As Mario would say- "Here we go!"

1) Does IDW have any plans to collaborate with Joss to make an Angel: ATF motion comic?

2) I know those involved in the Angel series are fans. I'm curious to know how do you research the characters and stories you consider on utilizing? Do some of you re-watch the old Buffy and Angel episodes?

3) I am going to the NY Comic Con in October. Any word on who from IDW is attending the event? If I can get some issues signed, pizza's on me :)
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Postby Mariah » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:12 pm

raith wrote:Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions Mariah! As Mario would say- "Here we go!"

1) Does IDW have any plans to collaborate with Joss to make an Angel: ATF motion comic?

2) I know those involved in the Angel series are fans. I'm curious to know how do you research the characters and stories you consider on utilizing? Do some of you re-watch the old Buffy and Angel episodes?

3) I am going to the NY Comic Con in October. Any word on who from IDW is attending the event? If I can get some issues signed, pizza's on me :)


Hi, Raith!

Good questions. Let's see...

1. Not that I'm aware of, but, you never know. :}

2. I'd personally watched both Buffy and Angel before I started editing the book. A lot. Every season, over and over, probably with a slight emphasis on Angel Season 5 since it most directly effected ATF and what came after. From that and some very helpful fan sites, I put together a gigantic series bible. It's kind of monstrous. Breakdowns of seasons, then episodes, and then character points. There's so much going on in this world that you really need to have a handy reference point.

But, since I do love the show anyway, I frequently go back and watch different episodes and seasons to brush up. Especially with David and I taking on the main storyline and the Illyria series with Tipton, I don't want anything embarrassing slipping past. Also, I'm a tragedy nut, so, I watch eps like A Hole in the World the most because they make me cry and it reminds me just how powerful a well told story can be.

In terms of the writers, Brian's a HUGE fan. Watched it all. Tipton, too. I think they sometimes quote it back and forth. It's cute. :wink: They're always a blast to work with because they have so much fun with the characters.

This is also true of Willingham, by the way. We had epic conversations about the show and character points and motivations. Our concentration was on reconciling the time jump back, Aftermath, and how we felt the characters needed to move forward. All while dealing with their new found visibility, the old magics that sprang up, and things not being quite how they were even though it should have been a reset.

A lot of it really is obsessive re-watching and then obsessive discussions about character arcs and motivations. And then we plan it out from there.

3. I actually don't know who all will be there yet, but almost definitely David Tischman and David Messina. I'm hoping to get out there too (I'm actually from New York) and keep talking up the book and talking to fans.
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Postby Buffyversefantic » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:53 pm

Hey Mariah :)

First of all,I have been enjoying the Angel books.Both the monthly and the miniseries and one-shots.Looking forward to how the Willingham arc wraps up and what is coming after with you and David Tischman plus the Spike monthly and Illyria miniseries.And John Bryne's upcoming one-shot(love the flashback tales).

1)You're co-writing the Illyira miniseries and Angel monthly.How has that been going for you and balancing your role as editor?

2)IDW has been great on keeping the Angel line on schedule.As a DC/Marvel reader,this can be fustrating at times.We have Angel #36 coming out on Wed.How far along are you on the Angel monthly?I know you aren't co-writing it but same basic question about the Spike monthly too?

3)What goes into deciding on the various miniseries such as the upcoming Illyria one,Angel:Only Human and Spike:The Devil You Know?As well as what goes into deciding on flashback miniseries and one-shots like Angel:Barbary Coast and some of the stuff John Bryne does?

4)Will Eddie Hope still have a role post Willingham and will the backups in the Angel monthly continue with Bill Williams?

5)You have been hearing the various concerns of Spike fans and Angel fans.How difficult is it to balance the concerns of the different fan groups and their worry for their particular favorite character?

6)How difficult has the Buffy Season 8 situation with Angel as Twilight,the Buffy/Angel reunion,Spike's upcoming role and the upcoming Buffy/Spike reunion made your job or has it made your job more difficult?

7)With Scott Allie already confirming Angel and Spike having roles in Buffy Season 9,will this make your job easier now vs. Buffy Season 8 and getting things to mesh?

8)What would you say is the toughest job as a editor?
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Postby fender_love » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:33 pm

I have art questions. :D

1. How much time, on average, would you say that the various IDW artists take to begin submitting pages after they receive a script?

2. Along those same lines, do they tend to submit their pages on a page by page basis as they complete them?

3. For the covers, do the artists tend to have a lot of direction in their concepts or are they left to their own devices? Or is it a sometimes-they-have-more-directions-with-the-concepts-than-other-times type of scenario?

4. A typography question! Spike had his own logo, which had a few variations, that was used in some of the merchandise that was produced while BtVS and A:ts were on the air, but he's pretty much been sharing Angel's font on his comics. Any chance he'll get his own logo again?
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Postby Mariah » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:46 pm

Hey, Buffyversefantic! Thanks! It's really fans like you that make it all possible.

1. It's mostly been an issue of time management. My days are spent editing, my nights are spent writing. Scott, David, and I are all really self-critical so we're pretty good about editing our own work. But I also make sure we get an objective reader in the office so we don't miss anything. It's a pretty good system of checks and balances.

2. On Angel we're already working on the next storyline, actually. We try to work out as far as we can, to stay ahead of schedule and the artist. Same is true on Spike. Brian is writing away and well ahead. I'm kind of a nut about schedules and sticking to them. You never know when an emergency might strike and it's better to be ahead and have some cushion then have to rush.

3. Most of the time it has to do with what characters have a story that it feels like needs its own mini. The Illyria one is a good example. Because of all the stuff going on in the main arc and Spike, it'd be easy for her to get lost. By giving her an arc that still relates to the main storyline, but focuses on her, we're really able to spend time with the character and give her story the time it needs. And that holds true for all the minis, flashback or otherwise. Barbary Coast, for instance, came out of a discussion with David about a narrow bit of time between Angel getting his soul back and coming to the states and what events it would make sense for him to be involved in. We talked a lot about Are You Now Or Have You Ever Been and other Angel in Time stories. David was particularly interested in telling a story about Angel when he has a soul but isn't a hero yet.

4. The Eddie Hope stories will continue into issues #39 where they actually have their own conclusion. Eddie may get folded back in somewhere down the line, because I've really enjoyed that character. But right now we're concentrating on the main players for the next storyline.

5. Criticism is a really important part of keeping stories fresh and compelling, and the various fan concerns are always tough to address...because you want to reassure people, but you can't just tell them what's going to happen. In his own title, Angel needs to be a priority. However, the "secondary" characters are so well developed and important that they really aren't secondary anymore. So we have to constantly find ways to keep the main thread strong, but still give everyone enough development. It doesn't always work, but that's the goal.

Whatever is going on in the story, though, we respect the fans and hope they like what we're doing. If not at first, hopefully as it goes along and more of what's been planned gets revealed.

6. Honestly, I just felt awful that Dark Horse had to go through that. Having the cover mistakenly get out, when they'd kept Twilight's identity secret so carefully, must have been agonizing. For us, since we're dealing with events at least a year earlier, it was a surprise, but it wasn't a problem. And Scott Allie has been incredibly generous with his time and giving us access to some top secret story stuff for the Spike crossover.

7. Absolutely. Scott's been great and I really can't wait to see Season 9 unfold.

8. I think editors kind of naturally want to make everyone happy. It's a delicate balance. You want to help the creator tell their story, make sure the book gets out on time, and that people will be happy with the results. I've worked on all kinds of comics and at the end of the day,you're just hoping to create stories people can connect to. It's a daily, sometimes hourly challenge. But it's worth it. :)
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Postby Mariah » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:58 pm

fender_love wrote:I have art questions. :D

1. How much time, on average, would you say that the various IDW artists take to begin submitting pages after they receive a script?

2. Along those same lines, do they tend to submit their pages on a page by page basis as they complete them?

3. For the covers, do the artists tend to have a lot of direction in their concepts or are they left to their own devices? Or is it a sometimes-they-have-more-directions-with-the-concepts-than-other-times type of scenario?

4. A typography question! Spike had his own logo, which had a few variations, that was used in some of the merchandise that was produced while BtVS and A:ts were on the air, but he's pretty much been sharing Angel's font on his comics. Any chance he'll get his own logo again?


Yay, art questions! :}

1. & 2. About a week. I make weekly schedules that are roughly based on a page a day turn out, determined by when they get the final script. This can be adjusted for things like new character sketches but usually artists know about that beforehand. Some artists do send in pages every day, but I generally prefer to see them in weekly batches.

3. Depends on the cover and the artist. Sometimes there's a really important element a cover needs to contain, or the start of a new storyline, requires a different concept than other issues. Usually the longer you work with a particular cover artist the more loose the concepts get, but it depends on what they're comfortable with. Some artists need very little to go on, others need a lot.

For instance, I was really specific with Jenny about her first Illyria cover because I wanted it to contain some particular imagery. But her execution of it was beyond anything I could have imagined.

4. I think the Spike logo from his ATF run will be what's used on his series.
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Postby Allycat » Sat Aug 14, 2010 2:09 am

1. Do you watch Buffy/Angel episodes regularly to keep the voices right, or is that not necessary any more? If yes, how often and which ones?

2. Previews lists the Spike #1 issue as the first out of eight; what's happening there? Wasn't it supposed to be an ongoing?

3. You've answered Buffyversefantic's question about choosing which mini-series and one-shots to do. Could you tell us about what ideas you decided not to pursue?

4. Any plans on releasing a cover gallery (like the one for AtF) for the post-AtF series so far.

5. Art-question of sort: what's happening with the art team on the Angel ongoing from #39 on?

6. There are a lot of women working on the Angel comics (you, Jenny, Ella) while Angel was always a much more masculine series compared to the very feminist Buffy.

7. Do you think any of the stories you'll do on your run will work as a metaphor for BDD?

8. Slightly spoiler-y question (so you'll probably not answer it): do you know what the line-up is going to be after #39?

9. How far are you and David with the writing?

PS: Thanks for doing this Q&A. I love how there's so much interaction between creators and fans in the comic-book industry. So, please keep it up :D
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Postby Mariah » Sat Aug 14, 2010 1:29 pm

Hey, Allycat. Great questions!

1. I do, actually. Usually episodes that seem the most relevant to what's currently going on. For instance, with Illyria, I've been rewatching A Hole in the World (and gone through away too many tissues in the process), Shells, Not Fade Away, and Beneath You from Season 7 of Buffy. Spike is pretty important to Illyria and I wanted to get that relationship right, and focus on some important emotional interactions between the two.

2. It's an ongoing. That's a fubar.

3. Most of the time we don't have a ton of extra ideas floating around. Right now we wanted to make sure any minis that aren't "back in time" were relevant to the current storyline and match up to avoid confusion. But David actually had a few other Angel ideas that we may look at, at a later date. Can't say what they are, though. :}

4. I would really like to. We've gotten some amazing covers in this series and I think it would be great to collect them all to date.

5. Elena Casagrande and the amazing Italian studio will be staying on for the duration. Or until they get sick of it. ;}

6. It's true, although I think Angel was always friendly towards women as as a show, even though you did get more damsels in distress. Which makes sense when the main protagonist is a hero and not a heroine. I always think of the ep where that horrifying guy turns everyone male into a murderous misogynist. That episode always struck me as one of the most critical of a certain kind of exaggerated "masculinity", and therefore incredibly feminist. It's great to work on something that has that perspective.

7. Actually, yes. The Illyria one does deal with it in some roundabout ways. After all, she was once an immense demon. Feeling not the right shape goes with the territory.

8. Ah, sadly, no comment. I know, as they say, nothing. :}

9. We're well into the next storyline, actually. We kind of work a little oddly, so, we work on the scripts all at once in bits and pieces. Break them down first, then pick scenes we're most excited about, and go from there. We always make sure we're well ahead of the artists, though.

You're welcome!
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Postby JohnQRotten76 » Sun Aug 15, 2010 6:57 pm

Hi Mariah,
Congrats on the gig and thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.
1.) Will Connor's double life ever be addressed? I have to imagine that the people who think they're his parents must wonder what he's doing working for Angel.
2) Are there any relationships in the making for the AI crew? The show usually had at least one couple (or at least someone pining for someone else ie Angel for Cordy, Wes for Fred).
3) What was your reaction when you found out Twilight was Angel? Do you read Buffy Season 8?
Thanks again!
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Postby Mariah » Sun Aug 15, 2010 8:42 pm

Hi, John. :} Thanks!

1. If we can find a way to, we'll try. But at the moment there's too much going on with the main players to really do that. But, maybe in another arc.

2. I think the group is kind of romanced out at the moment...but, I won't say no. :}

3. I do read Buffy Season 8. I think it's really important to see how the other part of this universe is doing and it's always a treat to see what that team comes up with.

I was surprised, although I think there were some hints along the way. Mostly I was interested in how it would play out and what all the elements are. And I still am.
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Postby Deborahmm » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:07 am

This may be a somewhat contentious question, I don't know. If so, I'm sorry.

I wondered what, if any, are the restrictions placed on you when writing these characters. For instance, Bill Williams said in an interview that he wanted to do a particular thing with Spike but was not allowed because Fox said Spike was a 'hero' and wouldn't do such a thing (which I admit, surprised me a great deal, given what we've seen Spike do in the Angel book).
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Postby Mariah » Mon Aug 16, 2010 11:03 am

Deborahmm wrote:This may be a somewhat contentious question, I don't know. If so, I'm sorry.

I wondered what, if any, are the restrictions placed on you when writing these characters. For instance, Bill Williams said in an interview that he wanted to do a particular thing with Spike but was not allowed because Fox said Spike was a 'hero' and wouldn't do such a thing (which I admit, surprised me a great deal, given what we've seen Spike do in the Angel book).


Hi, Deborah.

I don't think that's contentious. :}

Well, there are the restrictions of canon. We don't (and wouldn't anyway) change things established in the show. We may build on them and how they address what we're currently doing, but canon is always the building blocks of anything we do. Hence why you'll never see us going back over an episode and changing something in it via the comics.

An example would be the limb dusting. Obviously that didn't happen in the show. But we wanted a tangible consequence to show that even main characters aren't necessarily completely "safe" and that the time leaping W&H did had consequences. Much like Angel and Buffy having new powers in Season 8 due to a variety of magicks going on...this was similar. It shows that the world is not the same as it was.

In terms of characters, there are also limits. And mostly it depends on whether something has an arc, a character purpose that leads somewhere important, or if it's just some throwaway thing. I personally prefer things to have a solid point. There needs to be a compelling reason to do something with a character, whether it's minor or controversial.

So, while Spike has done things outside his "hero" status, they are not done without a larger issue being addressed and a character arc involved. Whereas I think what Williams was referencing was more flip and just not in keeping with the overall tone. Which is actually a call I make first, and then Fox weighs in.

Other than that, Fox has been very generous with where we're allowed to go with the stories. As long as we can demonstrate a purpose to what we're doing. There's pretty much no such thing as a casual story choice.
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Postby Deborahmm » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:03 pm

Okay, that's very interesting. Thank you.
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Postby Allycat » Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:31 pm

Mariah wrote:But I also make sure we get an objective reader in the office so we don't miss anything. It's a pretty good system of checks and balances.


1. Where can I sign up as a volunteer?


Mariah wrote:[...] I keep all of this mapped out at the office. Without my big old timeline chart, I get all messed up. :}


2. What sources have you included in this timeline? When you create a new story, what previous stories do you check up with to see if the continuity holds? Obviously, both TV series, then there's AAtF, SAtF, and the Angel ongoing (including probably Lorne: Music of the Spheres, Angel Annual, and Only Human). But how about Blood & Trenches, Barbary Coast, Angel vs Frankenstein? And how about Asylum and Shadow Puppets? (They're semi-canon, although Brian has indicated that he finds them difficult to reconcile with the show's continuity.) How about IDW's pre-AAtF efforts? How about Dark Horse's products? Season 8 is a given, but what about Tales of the Slayers, Tales of the Vampires, and Fray? Do you give their non-canon comics any attention? How about the novels? Are they included in this continuity you keep track of?

PS: If the above at all sounds like an attack, then please except my apologies for poor phrasing; rest assured its not intended that way. In a verse where every fan is very much trying to find a good definition of what canon really is, it would be nice to hear the opinion of someone on the inside (even if it's perhaps a slightly biased person :p). Also, I'm not actually asking for your definition of the canon, but your definition of the continuity. The difference being of course Joss' official seal of worshipabiliworthfulness-something-something.
Last edited by Allycat on Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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