Friday, December 27, 2013

A Chat with Kristy Valenti from Fantagraphics

Welcome to the panel, Kristy. Would  you tell us a little about your background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in Modern Literature from University of California, Santa Cruz. I started interning at Fantagraphics in 2003 and I was hired into the editorial department in 2004, where I split my time between comics projects and The Comics Journal. I also wrote a column about independent comics for ComiXology (2007–2012).

In comics, “editor” is a slippery term. It is generally understood to be the person who matches artists to writers, etc., especially on titles that feature superhero characters such as Superman or Spider-Man. Since Fantagraphics mostly publishes reprints of classic comics and/or people who write and draw their own material (“cartoonists”), I don’t do that, although we do proof the material, usher it through the production and design phases, meet deadlines, etc.

I mostly handle nonfiction prose about comics, which, from a design perspective, is about marrying image and words attractively in print. (Fantagraphics is well known for how beautifully our books are designed, and I’ve been fortunate to work with award-winning designers.)

Recently I’ve also been working on our manga titles.

What is a typical day at Fantagraphics?

No such thing: I’ve done everything from sawing wood for shelves to moderating a panel at San Diego Comic-Con! Generally, though, I answer email, coordinate with the other departments, help keep the The Comics Journal website updated, edit, copy-edit, proofread, fact check, index, do light production, maintain our archives, write copy, write criticism and history, all sorts of things.

If you weren't an editor what would you be?

Since I maintain the largest collection of comics and graphic novels in the Pacific Northwest, I would like to think I would be a librarian or an archivist.

Do you think comics have evolved into a literary art form?

Since I work for a company that has been at the vanguard of alternative or “literary” comics for more than 30 years—publishing cartoonists such as Chris Ware, Daniel Clowes, and Charles Burns—yes!

Of possible interest to designers: since the mid-2000s or so, there’s been something that’s been called the “art-comix” movement, which focuses more on the relationship between comics, fine art, and galleries, loosely centered around the Kramer’s Ergot anthologies. 

Thanks for dropping by. We look forward to hearing more from you on the panel.

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