Internships are funny things. They’re often amazing, working somewhere and doing things you have only ever dreamed of. In my case, interning at a comic and graphic novel publisher. It’s my dream job. Of course, it’s my unpaid dream job.
So in order to intern I must work somewhere else, as well. In my case it’s as a server in a corporate chain restaurant. It’s messy, thankless work for minimum wage and slim tips. Some nights I come home with $80, some nights less than $20. It’s a hard job. But I keep at it, because when I’m not asking if you’d like soup or salad with that I get to edit comics, read through old comic journals, and generally feel like the coolest person in the world.
I get to think that maybe, someday, I’ll get paid to do this amazing work. That someday I won’t come home at 11 pm with bruised toes and ego.
As for specifics on what I’ve been up to at Fantagraphics, it’s hard to say. A lot of what I work on is hush-hush and I’m not allowed to blog about it. Generally, though, I’ve been de-texting a lot of comics, compiling lists of old comic journals, and doing less glamourous things like making photocopies and organizing bookshelves. I’ve also been scanning art for upcoming interviews with artists.
This week I did some of the same things as last week, specifically working on detexting the Johnny Ryan comic strip, Portajohnny. With over 100 pages of comics it’s an ongoing project.
I also began work on “cleaning” some Nancy comics. This entails going into the comic with Photoshop and erasing smudges or speckles or other marks that don’t belong. Another project I helped with this week was packing up some old materials from the attic to be sorted later. Some of these things include old movie scripts, photographs, original artwork and comics, and many other things I have yet to discover. Once we have moved all of the materials we’ll sort through them into three piles: keep, throw away, and sell. It’ll be interesting to see what’s there.
I was also given a brief lesson on single copy filing, which is pretty complicated due to the many different titles, issues, and variations. For example, there are about a million Batman variations and even reprints. So the original run and the reprints need to be filed separately.
The other intern and I are going to be doing a book club together. She’s already done one with the intern before me, so she’s familiar with it but this will be my first one. We’ve chosen to do one on Castle Waiting Vol. 2, which hasn’t been released yet. I haven’t read the first one yet so I’ll have to do that before we get started on the second.
My experience in the publishing world did not end in New York. My internship at Fantagraphics Books here in Seattle began this week, and I’m already incredibly excited about everything I’ll experience while I’m there.
This week I worked transcribing a Jack Jaxon interview. I used a tape machine that looks a lot like this:
The machine is connected to two pedals, one that allows me to play and stop the recording, and one that lets me rewind. I got a kick out of using the device, having not come into contact with cassette tapes in quite some time.
I also spent my time de-texting comic strips, which means I erased text from speech bubbles in Photoshop. When I’m done with the pages, someone else will put in foreign language translations of the original text for the book to be sold in foreign markets. The comics I have been working on are done by Johnny Ryan, an artist notorious for his rather off-color and often repulsive content/drawings. The collection I am working on is called PortaJohnny and features gruesome bodily harm, prostitution, and cannibalism. It doesn’t bother me, but some of it was pretty shocking.
It’s pretty amazing being surrounded by such an amazing collection of comic books and graphic novels, and I can’t wait to be exposed to more artists and comics. Lately I’ve been trying to read some of the classic graphic novels. I fell in love with Watchmen two years ago, but I recently finished Maus by Art Spiegelman (amazing!) and The Beats- A Graphic History by an assortment of artists and writers including Harvey Pekar and Ed Piskor (sort of boring, the art was great, though).