How NOT to be an Editor!

How NOT to be an Editor:  True story!

An editor/publisher at a major independent was publishing an anthology, for which I pitched a 10-page ‘30s-era airplane stuntman story called Daring Adventures.  The editor gave it a thumbs-up, saying, “Rewrite this into two six-page chapters and I’ll publish it in two consecutive issues.”  So I did.

Then he said, “We need a really good, legendary-type artist for this sort of story to really make this sing.”  He made it my responsibility to line up the star talent, so I spent a long time contacting classic artists and George Evans said YES!.  I told the editor, who then let two months go by and never once phoned George to close the deal.

I nudged the editor, who said, “I’ve been thinking about this, and with a name artist attached we need to expand this into two EIGHT-page stories.  Expand this out for me.”

So as I continued to seek out classic artists – George bowed out, insulted by the editor’s lack of communication – I rewrote the script again, anding bits and nuance and finessing and completing it as two eight-page chapters.  After the editor approved the new script, he informed me he could only pay me $35 per script page (less than I got elsewhere, despite multiple rewrites), and NOTHING for the dozens of hours I spent doing his job lining up artists.

Despite all that frustration, I landed John Severin to draw it.  Thrilled, I called the editor and pushed for a conference call during which, bizarrely, the editor was non-committal.  Afterwards, the editor told me, “The budget is too high; we can’t do it.”

So I suggested that I match up John Severin inking over a new, young penciller who loved period stuff and who put lots of time into research.  Severin agreed. The editor asked to see a penciling sample, which the artist drew.  The editor said YES and that he would call John Severin today to get this thing finished.

Today marks exactly 35 years since that day.  John Severin died waiting for that call.  The penciller went on to a brief comics career and then a military career.  I continue to write – and became an editor, a publisher, and an agent in the process.  The publisher, several years later, closed up shop while stiffing a bunch of creators including my artists.

And I never did get paid for that script.


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