Shadowline’s editor, Kristen Simon, provides ComicsCareer.Com with an inside look into her approach to comics and creators, plus what you need to know that the submissions guidelines don’t tell you.
Simon, who edits books including ShadowHawk and Bomb Queen, works closely with Image Comics co-founder and Shadowline publisher Jim Valentino. Together they shape the direction of Shadowline, which publishes about 60 comics each year, and the company’s Silverline Books imprint.
The company reviews unsolicited submissions as well as pitches from established creators. In return, they expect creators to closely adhere to their submissions guidelines. You can find those guidelines on the Shadowline site or at the Image Comics message boards.
Simon has been with Shadowline for four years. Before that she self-published for a few years and ran a comics retail store. She has written two children’s books: Bruce the Little Blue Spruce and Tiffany’s Epiphany, which are part of the Silverline Books’ Blue Forest Series.
Comics Career: What are the most unique or magical aspects of comics as an art form?
Kris Simon: The way sequential art can be combined with words to produce a reading and visual experience that can be enjoyed by all ages, as well as adapted to other art forms such as movies and games.
Comics Career: Who has had the biggest influence on your professional life, and how has that person affected your career?
Kris Simon: Jim Valentino, certainly. I’ve learned so much from him from working at Shadowline, not to mention that he illustrated and published my children’s books through Silverline Books. As an editor as well as a writer, he’s been the most influential part of my career, and the person I would thank the most. A lot of high profile creators have him to thank for their start and he has my utmost respect; I consider it an honor to work alongside him.
Comics Career: What’s the most important thing a creator should know about Shadowline’s approach to new projects or new talent that’s not covered in the submissions guidelines?
Kris Simon: We don’t want to see books similar to what we are already releasing, but we also want books that are geared towards our audience, so it can’t be something completely off the beaten path. We’re looking for a unique story that is very well executed and that also fits in with our other titles. Not an easy task! We’re very choosy, since we only release a limited amount of titles every month.
Kris Simon: Assuming the artwork and writing is up to snuff, and the concept is unique and intriguing, the first thing we ask ourselves is “can we sell this book?” We need to figure out if the book will appeal to our audience, and if the current market can sustain the number of issues the creator wants to release. Accepting a book can hinge on the answer to that question.
Comics Career: What are your expectations of the creators you work with? What do they need to bring to the equation to be a good fit for you and your company?
Kris Simon: They need to be able to hit their deadlines, and they need to trust us. We are very hands on, and we do require things to be done a certain way. If the creators fight against us, or consistently go against our system, it makes for a very difficult and stressful working environment. That said, we are also very appreciative of proactive creators who bring new ideas to the table and are willing to do whatever is necessary to help their book.
Comics Career: When you’re working with a creator for the first time, what guidelines or instructions do you typically provide?
Kris Simon: We have a Shadowline FAQ guide that gets sent to every person on the creative team. It answers all the questions that we seem to get asked over and over! But as I mentioned before, we are very hands on through every step of the process, and we check and approve every page in every stage before it goes off to the printer, from script to final lettered pages. I send out deadline and update e-mails once a week so everyone is in the loop with what is happening with their book, and we encourage communication if there are any problems or questions.
Comics Career: What should a creator never do when pitching a project to you? Or, conversely, what should a creator always do when pitching a project to you?
Kris Simon: They should never send a synopsis that is longer than a “brief paragraph”, with misspellings and grammatical errors. Said synopsis should sum up the entire story from beginning to end, not give us detailed plotlines or hype. They should always say what format they see the project in (how many issues, OGN, 1-shot, etc) and follow the guidelines perfectly, no more and no less. Following directions is the first step to proving you are ready to work with us.
Comics Career: What’s the craziest excuse you’ve ever heard a creator give for missing a deadline?
Kris Simon: A creator once told me that they were too busy shopping their project around Hollywood to get the book done by deadline…and then I was actually reprimanded by the creator for giving them a “verbal spanking”. We cancelled the book.
Comics Career: What do you expect the comics industry to be like ten years from now?
Kris Simon: Most likely digital.
Comics Career: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
Kris Simon: Well, I am doing what I love, and loving what I do. I leap out of bed every morning, excited to start a new day. I am not the type of person that can work a job that pays the bills but fails to make me happy. I’ll choose happiness every time, which I think is very important!