Carpe Diem. It's a Latin phrase which translates to "Seize the Moment" and one that Jeff Mariotte has personally embraced.
Mariotte joined IDW Publishing in January of 2003 as their Editor-In-Chief, helping to build IDW into a company with a rich and diverse list of titles. And now it's time for him to strike out on his own. Today, IDW Publishing announced that Mariotte would be leaving his post as EIC and Chris Ryall would be replacing him. CBR News caught up with Mariotte to find out why he's made this difficult choice.
"I have been working under a crushing schedule this year," Mariotte told CBR News by phone Tuesday afternoon. "It's the end of June, I've turned in six novels in 2004 so far and have several more to go before I'm done. I've been working at IDW four days a week, which leaves three days a week for writing six novels in six months. I would like to remember what my family looks like! I would like to read a book instead of writing one every weekend. I'm just worn out. So, the opportunity is in front of me and coincides with the great need on my part to reclaim my life. It's really that simple."
In addition to his duties at IDW, Mariotte is a prolific writer of fiction. He's written books based on television series "Charmed," "Angel," "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Star Trek," as well as the "Witch Season" series for Simon & Schuster and an upcoming trilogy based on Robert E Howard's Hyborean Age for ACE. When you add in the upcoming return to comics of "Desperadoes" and another "CVO" mini-series, Mariotte found himself with very little free time, thus the need for a change.
Mariotte always considered himself a writer first and an editor second. One of the first thing's Mariotte did in comics was write the backs of the "Wildcats" trading card set that Topps produced for Wildstorm back in the '90s. That led to more work with Jim Lee and Wildstorm, eventually landing him the position of Vice President of Marketing for Wildstorm. When DC purchased Wildstorm, things changed. The options were to stay in marketing, although DC already had a marketing department in New York City and his position was somewhat redundant and business people weren't allowed to write, or move into editorial because editors were allowed to write.
"So, I moved in to editorial," said Mariotte. " It wasn't something I had been working toward or trying to achieve, but I moved there and apparently had some facility for it, but I was writing all along. I've always through of myself as a writer first and wanted to get to a position where I could just write."
As Editor-In-Chief of IDW, the position did open up a number of opportunities for Mariotte.
"The way I came [to IDW] was odd and backwards in that I went to lunch with Ted [Adams, IDW's President] to pitch him on publishing my novel, 'The Slab.' I knew he was starting to get in to publishing prose fiction. He responded by agreeing to take the novel and also offering me the job. In that sense, it was foreordained from the beginning. Since then I have gotten to know people in different aspects of publishing that I wouldn't have if not for IDW. I got back into writing comics in a more significant way at IDW. So yeah, it's definitely opened some doors."
For Mariotte, the biggest challenge he faced as Editor-In-Chief is probably the one you'd expect.
"[The biggest challenge has been] probably the same thing that any small publisher faces which is trying to eke out a niche in a really, really crowded marketplace," said Mariotte. "Trying to shake loose retailer dollars from the big three and get that community to pay attention to what we're doing. I very much believe in the product that we're putting out and I think it's really good stuff, but small press has to yell extra loud to be heard above the noise. We've tried to do that and at the same time, because we're an independent and don't have the deep pockets of a DC or somebody, we've had to do it on a little bit of a budget. The company is doing fine and the finances are flowing, but we don't pay top DC rates, so there are those guys who are unavailable to us that work for DC or Marvel."
While it might be hard for the publisher to complete on the dollars level, it can compete in other ways. IDW has fostered a great deal of loyalty from their creators, something the publisher has focused a lot of energy on.
"I don't think there's a company that treats its creators better than IDW does," said Mariotte. "We answer the phone and we take care of whatever needs they have that we can. We give them an atmosphere that's conducive to creating their best work. We don't get in the way.
"As an editor I come to each project with a very light hand. My goal is to help the creator, whether he/she is a writer, artist, whatever, help them put out the best work they can without putting my own stamp on it. It's their book, not mine."
When asked what he felt was his greatest achievement was while working for IDW, Mariotte said there were just too many to choose from. He did note that his work for the company would still be felt for some time as there are a number of projects he's set-up recently that won't come to fruition until after he leaves on July 30th.
"We've got a really, really cool crime comic coming up. I'm putting the team together this week and it's going to be an amazingly kick ass story. We've got the second Scott Hampton 'Spookhouse' book, which is beautiful, beautiful work. And yeah, there's more!"
So, with a lot of work ahead for the writer, as well as a move to Southern Arizona from San Diego ("Where men are men and life is cheap," said Mariotte of the move to Arizona), we asked Mariotte if he had any parting words for incoming EIC Chris Ryall. He had just one.
"Never let them see you cry."
Look for an inteview with incoming EIC Chris Ryall in the coming days here at CBR.