Monday, June 27, 2011

Sarah Litt

"International Woman of Mystery" Sarah Litt is another of Womanthology's secret weapons. As an assistant editor at DC/Vertigo, this self-proclaimed bookworm has edited several titles, including Vixen and The Green Woman.

First thing's first: How did you end up the "International Woman of Mystery"?

HA! I think Will Dennis actually coined that term. I'm not quite sure what I did to earn it, aside from maybe just sitting at my desk quietly. But it's a good title. I think I'll keep it. 

How did comics first enter your life?

I used to read Archie comics when I was younger. Then, in high school, there was Sandman and stuff like that. I stopped reading comics for a while, and then I started working at Vertigo.

You’ve said you always knew you would end up in New York. Why’s that?

My parents grew up in NY; they followed my grandparents when they moved to Florida. So I grew up with what I guess you could call a New York temperament. The kids made fun of me because of the very slight accent I had, because my mother kept her accent. But yeah, I didn't really fit in in Miami, and NY was just a natural fit. I've been here sixteen years. Who knows where I'll end up next.

How would you describe what you do?

My official title is assistant editor. I work on the graphic novels that Vertigo started putting out about three years ago, under the purview of Joan Hilty and Jon Vankin. I oversee a lot of the art, the balloon placements, and of course making sure everything looks and reads the way it's supposed to. I also deal with all of the talent. I've made some very good friends this way.

Why did you get into editing?

I've always loved books and reading. Editing was just sort of a natural fit. It's funny, whenever I run into people who knew me growing up (which happens a LOT), they are never surprised that this is what I do.

Many editors also love writing. Are you one of them?

I used to be one of them. But I had this job as a literary scout, and we would get submissions all the time. And they were bad. Like, a new level of bad. And that's when I realized that maybe being a writer is not for me.

How closely do you work with the writers and artists attached to the titles you edit?

I like to think I work with them closely enough to really get the essence of what they want to do out of them, but still allow them to have their vision. Does that make sense? I call and email and discuss at great lengths various aspects of scripts. I want it to be perfect, but still be a reflection of the creative team. I mean, that's who it's all about. Well, and the readers, but you know what I mean.

Have you ever had to ask for a complete rewrite of a script?

Not a COMPLETE rewrite. But changes. Lots of changes.

How did you hear about Womanthology?

As with most things, I read about it on Twitter. Yay social media. It sounded like an awesome idea. I like awesome ideas. So I volunteered. 

I will only be editing. Unless they want me to draw stick figures. I draw a mean stick figure. 

Womanthology isn’t your first anthology; you also worked on Vertigo’s Strange Adventures. Do you prefer anthologies to standard comic books?

Working as extensively as I have on the graphic novels, I like the break that anthologies give. Plus, it's a challenge for everyone: how do you tell an amazing story in a very limited number of pages.

Finally, what would you say to the aspiring creators trying to break into the comic book industry?

If you're really serious, don't give up. You will hear "no" a LOT. Take time to figure out what your problems are. Have other people read your stuff. Ask questions. But don't give up. It's not easy. But then, nothing worth doing in life ever is. 

In honor of the show that inspired this blog, we'll end with the questionnaire developed by Bernard Pivot:

What is your favorite word?
All of them.

What is your least favorite word?

I don't have problems with any words. I think that is key to being an editor.

What turns you on?


What turns you off?


What sound or noise do you love?

I have to have music playing all the time when I work. So maybe that?

What sound or noise do you hate?

Screeching children.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Baker or pastry chef.

What profession would you not like to do?

My mom always told us money's money. But I'd go with garbageman, due to my fear of rats.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?


Can't get enough Sarah Litt? Check out her tumblr page at

Secret Adventures is out in stores now and definitely worth a look! Get to it!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mariah Huehner

One of the secret weapons of Womanthology is Mariah Huehner, editor and writer for IDW Publishing. She's worked on several titles, including The Last Unicorn and the upcoming True Blood. Best of all, she gets to hold up a comic in a comic book store and point out her last name on the cover.

 When did comics first enter your life?

Comics of some kind were around me most of my life. My father traveled to Japan a lot and he would bring back Manga, stuff like Lone Wolf and Cub. He would also take me and my brother to the local comics shop once a week where I kind of poked around, trying to find stories that I connected to. I tried out a lot of books: X-Men, Spawn, Wonder Woman. I liked aspects of them, but they didn't 

At about 13, I was already a story nerd, reading several prose books a week, and I was wandering around the shop, all teen angsty, and looking for something different. And I found it with Death: The High Cost of Living. That's still one of the most influential works in my life, I think. The story and the art continue to be one of the most perfect combinations, and the character of Death remains one of my favorites.

How did your career get started? 

When I was in college, at SVA for Illustration, I saw a sign by the job office about internships at DC Comics. I was a sophomore at the time, and while I knew I wanted to be an artist, I also knew it was a tough field. I loved comics and I thought, well, Vertigo is there. Maybe there's an opening and maybe I can learn more about the editing side of things. As it turned out, there was and I did. I ended up interning there for a year, working on everything from Transmetropolitan to Preacher as it wrapped up. Some of my ballooning is in the final issue. Everyone there was really fantastic and I learned a ton. 

When the internship was up I thought that would be it, and I went about the business of my last year in college. After I graduated I went back to visit the folks I'd worked with there, and about a month later I got a call asking if I'd like to interview for an Assistant Editor position that had just opened up. It was a combination of luck, timing, and having made some kind of positive impression as an intern. And here I am now, 10 years later.
You’re known for your work as a writer and editor but you also call yourself an illustrator. 

Am I known? That's a strange thought. If I'm known for anything I hope it's for being a devoted lover of stories. 

Between editing, writing and illustrating, do you prefer one over another?

I don't think I have a preference. I love the collaborative aspect of being an editor, of helping a team realize a story, of basically shepherding it along. I love writing for all the moments you get to create with dialog, and being so hands on with a story. And I love illustrating, creating something strange and entirely visual. I see them all as being a part of telling stories, which is something I feel very lucky to be a part of.
Is it frustrating being a writer in such a visual medium?

Honestly, no. I've been incredibly lucky to work with the artists I have, who I can talk to in detail about the visual needs of the stories I've told. I try not to be a dictator, of course, and let them interpret the script how they see fit. You have to trust the people you work with. 

One of the biggest pleasures of working in comics is writing a script and "seeing" a page in your head, and then getting something that still has all the elements you wanted, but is completely different from what you pictured, and realizing the artist interpreted it so much better than anything you were thinking of. I love that. 

You're very active on IDW Publishing's forums. Has fan input affected the series you’ve been involved in?

I personally care that the readers of a book I'm working on know that I care about the story as much as they do. That I respect how they feel and that, even if we do things they don't like, we're doing it for a reason. Other than that, you have to tell the story you believe is worth telling. No two fans want the exact same thing so you can't really let that influence you. That said, criticism is important and you have to be open to it if you want to evolve as a creator. 

I've had some lovely interactions with fans and I value their support. Without them, the stories would go unread. All I can hope is that I've created something, or been in involved in something, that they connected to. If I've done that, then I'll consider it successful, whether it's one person or 100.

Would you rather work with established titles, like Angel, or create original worlds?

At the moment, I've only worked on established works and it's been incredibly rewarding, challenging, and amazing. You are limited when you play in someone else's sandbox. But there's something really appealing about that, about trying to get as close to the original works tone and emotional moments that the audience "feels" like they're getting those same characters and stories in a different medium. It's hard as hell but worthwhile.

In some ways doing your own work is scarier, because you're responsible for every aspect of that world. You make the rules and, technically, you can break them all. That's a lot of freedom. You can't hide behind someone else's characters and rules, you have to build your own, set your own boundaries. I think some of the best work comes from having limits, and no matter what, you're putting something of yourself into any story you do.

I'm hoping to work on something that's entirely mine soon, but it's daunting. I've liked having the framework of someone else's world to keep me reigned in. Still, I have a ton of ideas bouncing around in here and I'd like the chance to explore them and, story deities willing, find an audience for them.

First Angel, now True Blood. What’s with you and vampires?

I've often thought the very same thing. How did I end up working on such iconic vamp tales? I mean, between the two you have a world created by Joss Whedon...and another by Alan Ball. That's kind of insane, when you think about it. 

I still don't know how I ended up working in both, with such important vampire characters. It's possible my gravitation towards the horror genre had something to do with it, though. We also don't seem to be able to get enough of vampire stories as readers, they continue to compel and interest us, and there seems to be an endless variety of stories we want to tell about them. To me, I think it's a way for us to work out our own existential dread. Vampires are beautiful and immortal...but they have to drink blood to do it. There's always a down side. And I like exploring that.

How were you introduced to Womanthology?

I had the privilege of working with Renae DeLiz on The Last Unicorn graphic novel for IDW, and she contacted me about the project. She'd already gotten a huge amount of feedback and interest, and since we'd worked together, she wanted to let me know about it so I could get involved. I was honored she asked me. I think the world of Renae. She's incredibly talented, sweet, and wonderful to work with.

What about Womanthology caught your interest?

Womanthology is about showcasing women creators with different levels of experience, from Big Names to unpublished newcomers. The goal is to show the breadth and variety of what women are creating, right now, and how important that is to this industry. Since all proceeds will be donated to charity, it's also a project being done out of a love for the medium and a desire to give back. That's a wonderful combination.

Will you be writing for the book, editing, or both?

Both. I have a story in mind that I may or not draw as well as write (my visual storytelling is rusty). I volunteered to edit along with two other editors, because it's such a fantastic project and I know how important it is, especially for those just starting out, to get positive encouragement and feedback. I've been very lucky in this industry and this is a way for me to encourage other girls and women to be involved, too.

Finally, is there anything you’d like to say to any writers struggling to break into the comic industry?

It's worth it. Whatever you're doing, if it's a story you feel is worth telling, then what you're doing matters. It's important. Don't give up, don't be too hard on yourself, and don't ever stop doing what you love. Life is too short. 

In honor of the show that inspired this blog, we'll end with the questionnaire developed by Bernard Pivot: 

What is your favorite word? 

What is your least favorite word?


What turns you on?
Stories, stories, stories, with great characters and amazing arcs, that make you feel.

What turns you off?

Hate, especially the thoughtless, ignorant, bigoted sort.

What sound or noise do you love?

Ocean waves crashing on rocky shores.

What sound or noise do you hate?

The tense silence after someone has said something awful and you don't know if you can find your way back from it.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Acting. I loved it as a child and I wish I'd kept it up.

What profession would you not like to do?

Politics. It seems like you'd lose all hope. 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

You were right, I kind of screwed up. Let's fix it. Also: how about some tea?

Catch Mariah's upcoming True Blood series this July from IDW Publishing. Read the "official" press release at

Want more Mariah? Check out her blog on blogspot!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Renae De Liz

The original creator of Womanthology, Renae De Liz got her start in the comic book industry right out of high school. Now she works with her husband, Ray Dillion, on several titles for IDW Publishing.

Despite her hectic schedule, Renae graciously agreed to be our first interview, talking about her training, her art, and Womanthology

Ray Dillon said your style has form, energy, mood, personality, and it's because you were never confined by formal training. Are you completely self-taught? 

Yes, besides high school art classes that were usually more geared towards fine art, I've never had formal art training, or even bought books to help train you the ins and outs of comic work.

Do you ever regret that you don’t have formal training?

Not at all really! Sometimes I wish I knew a bit more about things that more learned artists would know, like all the rules concerning perspective, or the name for every little muscle. At the same time, I think I put too much emphasis on 'the rules of comics' and if I know of one I think I HAVE to follow it. The truth is you don't have to have perfect perspective, or even perfect circles, and muscles don't always have to make sense. What matters most is the final product. If it looks good, then it is good! I personally feel the pros of self teaching outweigh the cons. I could go on and on about that topic!

Not having formal training worked for me but it's not for everyone. My husband Ray taught himself everything from books, tutorials, etc. and he's great! But we definitely see the differences in our work!

Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve done?

There's aspects of some of the things I've done things that I like. I think there's a panel of Shmendrick in an issue of The Last Unicorn I thought had nice perspective. A pin up I did of Amethyst where I liked her cape. But I do not think there's one piece I'm totally happy with. I guess I'm just one of "those" artists. I find not ever being happy with my art keeps me growing as an artist, and to keep trying harder.

Womanthology. Give me a quick rundown.

Womanthology is going to be a large 300 page Graphic Novel Anthology created entirely by women with all proceeds to Charity. The whole book will center around our theme: Heroic. There will be How-To's and interviews with female pros, as well as spotlights on iconic female creators that have passed, such as Nell Brinkley. There will also be a little section talking with girls and teens, showing their work and talking with them. Maybe a few articles talking about a few aspects of creating comics that maybe a male centric book might not mention., like healthy habits with a career that's mainly sitting, or talking about being a mom AND full-time comics creator. Overall, I'd like it to be a positive book spotlighting females in comics.

What charity have you chosen?

We're working with the charity organization, The Global Giving Foundation. This is a site that finds and helps promote small grassroots charities from all over the world that would not normally have the means to find their funding. What we're going to do once the profits come in, is pick one of these charities at a time, and give until they fulfill their goal, then move onto the next, and on and on like that. If the Kickstarter is SUPER successful, I'm going to use some of it to fund another charity book.

What gave you the idea for Womanthology?

I constantly found so many talented female artists on Twitter. And I was surprised how scattered they were, some not even published yet when they totally had the talent to be. Not very many knew each other. I kept tweeting "Man I really want to do a project with all of these great female artists one day" and artist Jessica Hickman proposed that I organize and all female anthology. At first it just seemed too big, and kept it as a 'someday' project. But over time the more she mentioned it, eventually I just asked online about it, and had over 100 women jump on board immediately! It was crazy! So at that point I thought, "I guess I better just go for it".

Has the process been more difficult than you thought? 

It's actually a going smoother than I thought. Of course now that I've said that, disaster is sure to come! But seriously, I have 2 kids that are home all day, 2 cats, a house that constantly needs cleaning, a monthly book that needs to be worked on everyday, as well as a long list of commissions, so I sometimes get a bit overwhelmed handling such a large scale project. But my husband reminds me, one little step at a time will get us there...It can be tough at times, but I now have a few teams of wonderful women helping me with the details so it's a lot easier to handle now. I know all the hard work will be totally worth it.

What has been the biggest surprise?

How many women were up for the idea right at the get go. It was like an tidal wave of over 100 ladies who were just ready to go and get it done. I never dreamed there'd be a response like that!

What are you most looking forward to with Womanthology?

Getting women that have always wanted to be in comics a chance to finally be published. It can be super tough to get into this industry. I am looking forward to giving a chance to those women to shine, and hopefully making furthering their career easier from this point forward.

Will you also be contributing to the book?

I'll be doing a story of some kind. Not sure what about yet! I have ideas brewing. 

Is there anything you’d like to say to all the little girls who would rather stay inside and draw while their classmates are out playing? 

I'd say if that's feels right for them then to keep it up. I remember feeling odd for wanting to spend my summers indoors, creating my own comics. Some made fun saying I was wasting my time. It got to the point where I was sure I must be wasting my time. I felt I hadn't really accomplished anything but a bunch of comics that were never finished. I felt that way  until I really started getting work in comics. Then I realized that all those "wasted" years I spent indoors, redrawing thousands of characters and homemade comics, was in fact building a pretty solid foundation for my career later on.

So if you just have this gut feeling like "This is what I want to be doing" then go for it. Don't worry about everyone else!

In honor of the show that inspired this blog, we'll end with the questionnaire developed by Bernard Pivot:

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What sound or noise do you love?
My baby's laugh?
What sound or noise do you hate?
Loud eating noises! Yuck!
What is your favorite curse word?
Frap! I don't like to cuss, so this is a good alternative!
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt?
Costume designing
What profession would you not like to do?
Architecture...all that technical mumbo jumbo!

Can't get enough Renae De Liz? You're not alone! Check out her website

For updates on Womanthology, check out the links section on the home page!

The Beginning

Welcome fans of Womanthology and comics alike!

One of the biggest names in the entertainment industry is James Lipton. His education seminar and hit TV series Inside the Actor's Studio gives movie enthusiasts insight into the big, secretive world known as Hollywood. But, with all due respect to the man that inspires me daily, the show falls short of its potential.

I understand  the general public is not as interested in hearing from writers and directors as they are from the people they see on the screen. I am not the general public. Actors are given the power and fame they have because they had guidance and direction those behind the camera, from the original creators. That's who I want to hear from, those with the power of creation.

And then came Womanthology.

Inside the Creator's Studio allows fans and fellow creators the chance to hear from those who have succeeded. I feel honored, blessed, and humbled to be given the chance to speak to some of the most talented women in the entertainment industry.

It is my privilege to present Womanthology's Inside the Creator's Studio.

~ Jennifer V ~