Easily the biggest surprise announcement to come out of Comic-Con International back in July was the appointment of Mark Waid as Editor-In-Chief of Boom! Studios. For pretty much everyone, the announcement came out of no where and was the talk of the convention. The next question everyone had was how did this little upstart publisher nab one of the biggest talents in the industry and what does it mean for the company?
We wanted to know the answer to those question as well, so we tracked down Boom! Founders Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie (who just returned from his honeymoon) to discuss how this all came about and what the immediate future holds for Boom the publisher.
|"2 Guns" #4, "Dominion" #3 and "Fall of Cthulu" #9 covers A & B, all coming from Boom! in November|
Ross and Andrew, thanks for joining me today. Alright, to the shock of pretty much everyone, the announcement of Mark Waid as your new EiC had everyone talking during Comic-Con. Walk us through the story of how he came to sit in that chair.
Ross Richie: Mark actually approached us. Mark has long been interested in finding a home where he can help shape the storytelling and craft and train some of the up-and-comers in the field. He was very familiar with our output - from doing a few books with us as well - and was excited to propose a possible joining of forces.
Andrew Cosby: Actually, I'd wanted to approach Mark for some time, but just couldn't find the right way to do it. Do I buy him chocolates, take him out to dinner, get him drunk? There were just so many options. Then, just when I was finally zeroing on on a plan of attack, he brought it up first. I think that told both sides we were on to something big.
As you three had those first meeting, tell us a bit about what the three of you discussed as a vision for the company. What were some of the goals you guys laid out?
Andrew Cosby: I think we're mostly excited about building a company together, as a team. Despite our success, the company is still in its infancy, so there's a lot of wiggle room with regard to where we can go. Great things come from collaboration, and everyone involved in BOOM! brings something unique to the table. But if you held a gun to my head and forced me to describe exactly what we're trying to do, I guess I'd say we're focusing on building a company with a strong library of diverse titles - action, comedy, fantasy, all different genres with different approaches.
Ross Richie: We've never really sat around a table and said, "We're doing this in this specific way. Cosby and I have worked on a lot of projects together over the years, and I guess we just developed a 6th sense about what we like and what we think works creatively and commercially. That relationship is the foundation of our company and adding Mark to the mix just feels right.
Andrew Cosby: That's a great way to say it. It just felt right. That's how Ross and I do a lot of things - we just do what we think is cool and hope we're not the only ones. So far, so good.
What were some of the issues or items Mark wanted to address as he joined your staff?
Andrew Cosby: I think the "pants policy" has been the most effective change so far. Ross must wear pants in the office. That's a deal breaker.
I can see how that could create some issues. Ross?
Ross Richie: Mark's got some sweet editing skills, far better than mine. I'm a newbie, with two maybe three years of experience, and can be overwhelmed. Mark's a general, coming into the field and commanding his resources and experience. So he'll be doing things like making the trains run on time.
Not only is the raw craft of the books going to be better - younger, newer creators will be aided by Mark's knowledge - but the books will get to the market quicker. If you're a BOOM! fan and have been unhappy with the sluggish delivery of comics, know that Waid's presence at BOOM! isn't just an assurance of quality storytelling, it's an assurance of on-time shipping, too.
On the surface, it's clear that Mark brings years of experience to the job as EiC, but what is it about Mark's skills that works well with Boom! specifically?
Andrew Cosby: Mark is excited about creating new, innovative stories and coloring outside the lines. That's important not only for Boom! as a company, but also for me personally, as a creator. We all love comics and think there's so much more you can do with them. Mark shares a similar philosophy and approach. He knows what our goals are and agrees with them, so now he's simply going to step in and create the framework to help us achieve them.
Oh, and he's also one of the most successful, most talented creators of all-time in comics. Like we were gonna say no?
Ross, with Mark sitting in the EiC chair now, I'm assuming this lifts a lot of paper work off your desk as Publisher of the company. How has or will your role changed at Boom! with Mark's arrival?
Ross Richie: I'm finding the majority of my time consumed with other aspects of the company, either initiating new projects creatively or handling some of the Hollywood stuff. We sold four features and one TV show in the past 12 months, and there are five times that many irons in the fire waiting to be tended. It gets really time consuming. We've got lots on the horizon, and that all requires a lot of energy and attention.
Same question for you, Andy - what role will you play in the company with Mark's now on staff?
Andrew Cosby: Believe it or not, my role really won't change much. I'm more or less the Chief Creative Officer at BOOM, which means I'm supposed to (A) come up with great ideas, (B) find other people with great ideas, or (C) make sure all the great ideas we're already working on are really as great as we think they are. Even with Mark around, Ross and I will still be Boom!'s creative backbone. We'll just be that much better at it.
As we all know, in publishing there's a very long lead time from initial concept to final publication. With that in mind, when will we see Mark's first influence on the publishing schedule?
Ross Richie: Immediately. He's taken a slate of projects we had initiated before and putting them on the sidelines, reworking some, so we can get the production schedule back on-track and ensure quality.
From your panel in San Diego we learned that all Boom! series will be five issue minis at 22 pages each - was this a decision that came about through discussions with Mark, or was this prior to his arrival?
Ross Richie: That's prior, from experimenting with our formats (our 48 page square-bound books, like "Zombie Tales" and to our three issue minis ("Mr. Stuffins" and "Tag"), and settling on the price point and page count that would make our TPB program work. We have signed a mass market publishing deal with Perseus Books, who is the largest unaffiliated distributor in book publishing, and we wanted to make sure we had the right format and style for them while keeping the needs of the direct market in mind.
Sticking with that a bit, can you talk about what was behind this decision? Some critics might say that by setting this hard and fast rule, you're limiting story potential to some extent - how would you respond to that? Is that a concern?
Ross Richie: I don't think so. Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse have rigid frameworks for how they publish and the creators do a great job. It is just the same for us.
Also during Comic-Con you announced your Zoom! imprint for younger readers. Will Mark be involved with this line at all?
Andrew Cosby: Yep, and he's pretty excited about it. We all are. Boom! is going to re-invent the Children's Book.
What more can you tell us about Zoom! - have any titles been settled upon yet?
Andrew Cosby: We have definite titles, but can't make any announcements right now. It's all very top-secret, hush-hush. I can however tell you they'll be printed on paper - with ink.
That's good to know! Before I let you guys go, I wanted to get an update on one of your big licensed properties that's received quite a bit of attention, "The Godfather." Where is this at currently? I don't recall seeing any mention of a creative team on this book.
Ross Richie: No updates right now. We've got a series of them coming, but we have to wait to announce them. I think people will be really excited and shocked.
Andrew Cosby: It'll be a comic book offer they can't refuse. Sorry, had to go there.