If you scan the credits of some of your favorite Marvel books, it's pretty likely you might see Nathan Cosby listed as an editor. In the past few years, he's established himself as an editor attached to creative projects that appeal to a variety of audiences including the pulpy action of "Agents of Atlas," fan-favorite "Thor the Mighty Avenger, and the Eisner Award-winning "Wonderful Wizard of Oz."
When Cosby's not editing what seems like ten different books at any given time, fans can track the editor as he infests the internet like a glorious plague of comics-based hilarity. His twitter feed
and tumblr blog
provide a never-ending stream of jokes about your favorite characters, like his "Every [Character] Story in One Comic
" and the superhero buddy cop comic "Nova & the Vision
." Humor aside, Cosby also offers insightful advice on the process of creating comics, either through direct engagement with readers on Twitter
, or his musings on reinventing the recap page
for "Thor the Mighty Avenger".
ComicsAlliance got in touch with Cosby to pick his brain on the way editors engage fans through social media, the beatuty of comics starring pets, and the prospect of getting NFL SuperPro back onto shelves. What's more, Cosby's provided us with exclusive
promotional images of his ongoing "Nova Vs Horse
ComicsAlliance: How has the role of the editor changed in recent years in terms of promoting books to readers and interacting with fans?
: Starting with Stan Lee, Marvel editors have always gotten their carnival barker on. With the whole internet thing making it easier to communicate with professional comic book maker people, I think you're seeing a bunch of editors sitting at their desks and realizing, "Hey! This is a really cool thing I'm working on... I think I'll show everybody online before it's printed!" Lots of editors like their books as much as the fans and want to share cool stuff about said books. Now they have the forums to do it more.
CA: I definitely see what you're talking about in terms of editors getting out in front of books to promote them, but there's also the way that you and others are using Twitter and Formspring to provide advice to aspiring creators and address fan questions as directly as possible. We also recently saw a twitter account for Gorilla-Man that ultimately got integrated into the pages of his mini-series. I suppose I'm wondering if this is really the next generation of the letter column, and if those are even still necessary.
: I never read letter columns. Usually because I would catch typos all the time and it would bug me. Yeah, I think interacting with fans via Twitter, Formspring or whatever the hell Facebook is way better than a letters page. More interactive, less stagey, fewer canned answers.
CA: To what extent does your own creative voice find its way into the comics that you edit?
: I like to think my "voice" is in most of the books I edit (to varying degrees), just because I like to work with creators that dig the same kind of storytelling and characterizations that I do, so I'll gravitate towards working with those peeps, and our common sensibilities mesh and make a beautiful comic baby. Making a comic can be fun and collaborative. My job's to set the creative team up for success. If that means suggesting to a writer that they need to attack a plot from a different angle in order to mine more interesting stories, I'll do that. BUT...I don't try to lord over a writer when it comes to giving notes. If I get a plot or script that I think is GREAT, and doesn't need to be touched, I won't touch it. I think one of the hardest things for an editor to do is know when NOT to give a note. Sometimes the sandwich gets delivered to you perfectly, you know? You don't always have to slather your own mustard all over it.
CA: Between editing "Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers," your "G-Force" movie tie-in books, and your very public affection for your adorable bulldog Daffy, it's seems like domesticated animals are on often your mind. If you would be so kind, I'd like to hear your ideal plot for a Pet Avengers/G-Force/Daffy crossover
: Can't believe you brought my "'G-Force" book. I should also mention I'm the creator of the "Electric Company's" Captain Cluck
(she fights crime with her 40 mind-controlled chickens), to further enforce that, yeah, I just really like animals. They're friggin' monsters living among us, it's so cool. For a Pet Avengers/G-Force/Daffy crossover, I'd have Daffy swallow the Ultimate Nullifier, so every time she burps, a star explodes. The Pet Avengers and G-Force gotta wait for the Nullifier to...go through her. We'll call the story THE ULTIMATE POOPIFIER.
CA: What are the strengths and challenges of editing a story in-continuity vs. out? Do you have a preference?
: They both have pluses and minuses. I prefer out-of-continuity, just because it gives me and the creative team a cleaner canvas to tell a good story, with fewer compromises. But in-continuity obviously has its benefits. By tying into books that sell a lot, you can increase your own audience. Plus it's fun to think of a "shared" universe where characters are affected by events that happened over in another book.
CA: One comic that changed your life. Why, Nathan? Why?
: "THE LIFE & TIMES OF SCROOGE McDUCK." That collection of Don Rosa's 12 issue origin story of Scrooge is, bar none, the GREATEST biography I've ever read, real or fiction. So powerful, so emotionally real and raw. Scrooge is a complicated duck with a sad past that wants everything on his own terms. He went on a life journey full of complications and danger, and came out of a winner. And that's just where his story BEGINS!!!! I think it speaks to Rosa's talent that he managed to make a complete asshole of a duck into a hero.
CA: It's suddenly the '90s again and you have to turn the covers to your comics all fancy and shiny and holographic. What's your approach to making this awesome?
: Oh God. It's the '90s? Hang on.
Sorry, had to put my slap-bracelet on before talking about this. Ok, how to make holograms cool? I would...I mean you... if... hrm. Nope. Sorry, I never liked it when people screwed with my comic format too much. I've always read comics like magazines, folding 'em back (to the absolute HORROR of some editors here at Marvel). Holograms on covers (or that crummy "prestige" thicker paper on the front and back) were always a drag, cuz they're hard to fold back, unless you crease 'em. (and of COURSE I creased 'em). Now. If you'll excuse me, "Designing Women
" is on.
CA: You're a huge college football fan. We've seen many failed attempts at sports-based comics over the years, such as NFL SuperPro. I think you know what it would take to achieve success on this. Tell us. Tell us right now.
: You act like I haven't already TRIED this. I put some serious thought about this about a year ago, going so far as to check with Marvel Legal if we could just call the character SuperPro, without the NFL. Then I realized, "Oh my GOD. I'm trying to launch a damn SUPERPRO book." So I stopped and got back to working on Oz. I dunno, I think a football book could work, but Marvel's not necessarily the place for it. You couldn't exactly launch a new SuperPro
out of Avengers...OR COULD YOU?
CA: My mom loves the comic adaptations of Jane Austen's books that you edited, and she does not mess around on such matters. What's the key to successfully adapting classic works of literature to the comics medium?
: Gotta find people that are CRAZY obsessed with the source material, but also understand that you're not just adapting to a different medium, you're going to have to reinterpret & reimagine certain parts to make it work. Y'gotta be merciless enough to kill or cut out certain parts of the original story. Baum and Austen didn't write their novels with the idea that one day someone would try to turn them into 5 or 8-issue stories. Gotta get in there and take out what doesn't work, but don't totally redo the story, otherwise your hardcore fans'll come at you with pointy things. And I'd like to point out that Eric Shanower, Skottie Young, Nancy Butler, Sonny Liew...they're just a giant pile'a CRAZY-good writers & artists that make an editor's life easier.
CA: Can you tell me more about your current "Nova Vs. Horse" project?
: I don't like to call it a 'project.' I don't really call it anything, because it transcends adjectives or verbs. I say "Nova Vs. Horse" then bow my head, thanking the gods for blessing me with such a pure vision of perfection, which I will slowly pour into a perfect Nova Vs. Horse-shaped glass of delicious thought-crack.
CA: You've gained some notoriety on the Internet for your "Every ______ Story in One Comic" strips. Can you sum up every question I've asked you in one comic?