There’s discourse about everything in comics, but one refrain that bewilders me is “Editing is too expensive! I can’t afford it.”
Friends, I get it. I really do. Making comics is expensive, period, and sometimes the last thing we want to hear is that we need to spend more on something that doesn’t “end up on the page.”
Except a tight script, thoughtful art, exceptional colors and clean letters are the page. And, bless our collaborators, but a second set of eyes with a project-level frame is what you need to stay on track. Especially if you have deadlines to hit!
Spend Now, Save Stress
My genuine response to the money conundrum is that if you care about making something that hits three basic benchmarks for a decent comic – professional production, effective storytelling, entertaining experience – you should hire an editor. If you’re making comics in an authentic and ethical way, then you’re going to want to make sure all that work pays off, right?
Hiring an editor can look like a one-time script pass, or it can look like putting project management in the hands of a professional who can help you get to the finish line. It can also be just about everything in between! Project management is more expensive, but even a thorough read of your script or a thumbnail pass can help identify serious issues and help you get your story in shape before your artist really gets to work.
Editors flag all kinds of things that you might not see, and we’ll help you strategize how to fix them. You know your work like the back of your hand and that means you are not objective, even when it comes to a basic script proof. If you’ve lived and breathed a complex fictional universe, you’re definitely not objective, and that’s ok!
The issues could be small, but they’re often significant. We’re out here poring over scripts and art like the detail-oriented goblins we were always meant to be, and we’ll deliver a treasure trove of ways to make a great comic.
Side note: show me anyone (self included!) who nails something on the first draft. You don’t exist. We all need time and space to revise. I revised this blog, and I can guarantee there’s still a typo in here somewhere.
Maybe it’s a character arc that doesn’t pay off. Maybe it’s a smattering of lore inconsistencies that add up to an unsatisfying experience for your reader. Maybe it’s that line you absolutely love that just doesn’t read well. Maybe it’s a significant plot hole that can sink your entire book. Maybe it’s an irritating continuity problem or unsatisfying page turn that won’t come out until you get art – and if you’re not approving thumbnails and pencils, by then it’s too late.
And that’s just what’s already there! Editors help tease out exciting story details and let you know what will draw people to your work. They help pull apart your story to see where you can trim fat and where you can let it breathe. They can inspire you to try something totally new, or double down on your demonstrated strengths.
Be Honest With Yourself
Damn it, Cabbage, it’s just too much money! I need to get my comic out now, not a year from now!
No, seriously. Do you actually need to get it out right now?
Are you on a monthly deadline? Are you planning a Kickstarter? Do you have a contract to honor? If you plan ahead and budget, you can build editing time into these projects.
And, if you’re honest with yourself, you can slow down without an external deadline and get it done right. Stop making excuses and commit to what you’re doing.
This applies to every part of the comics process, by the way: hire great artists, colorists and letterers, and treat them right as you work together.
Make Your Best Work
Hire an editor. There are tons of amazing ones out here. If you’re committed to buckling down, working hard and making the best comic you possibly can, there’s an editor in the world for you.
Find someone who’ll lift up what you’re trying to do and engage with it authentically and honestly.
Work with an editor who will push you not to cut corners, and who will model professional communication with your team.
Hire an editor who believes in your story and who will kick your ass in the best possible way. Respect that person for their time and effort like you’d respect any other member of your creative team.
There are about a million “what if” scenarios, caveats and subtleties that naysayers can use to undermine any of these points. It’s fine, I get it. You get to decide where you spend your time and money.
All I’m saying is if you’re serious about making comics, you should understand that you are not – and should not be – in it alone.
We’re willing, billing and ready to help you make comics magic.