As editor-in-chief, what do you do?
A little bit of everything! At a bigger company the role might be more specific, but since we’re still a small company I’m lucky to have my hands in a lot of different parts of the business. I help supervise the overall publishing line when it comes to the creative side— the way the books look, the way they feel, some of the titles that we take onboard. I manage our relationship with the Jim Henson Company, which is a big part of our business. The last year or so about 60-70% of my time has been focused on transitioning our books from the page to the screen. We sold RUST as a feature film to Fox last year and just got Joe Cornish (ATTACK THE BLOCK) onboard to direct. We also sold LUCID and BOLIVAR as feature films to Warner Bros., are prepping FEEDING GROUND as a feature with producer Ed Pressman, and we have a tv show in development at the best cable network out there that hasn’t been announced yet. So between all of that and pitching our new books out there, that’s taken a lot my time recently.
You work closely with Jim Henson Studios on the collaborations with Archaia. Tell us about that.
Henson was a name that I grew up with from the time I was a year old. The relationship with Henson has really been the best part about working at Archaia the last few years. Getting to know Lisa Henson and earning her trust to the point where she gave us one of her father’s uncompleted projects and let us run with it was a once-in-a-lifetime event. We came to Henson with a vision for how to do licensed comics with creative integrity. Instead of publishing as many titles as possible and burning the license out in two years just to make a quick buck, we pitched them on doing a very limited number of books that would really MATTER. Stories that were in canon and tied directly into the movies or tv shows that they were based on. They bought into that vision and have supported us every step of the way. It’s been the best licensing relationship that I’ve ever had in this industry. They are a cornerstone of Archaia and I hope to be working with them for years to come.
You’re also heavily involved in the “Hollywood” aspect of getting films based on Archaia titles optioned. What is that like and how do you go about it?
It’s such a mercurial thing that it’s kind of hard to describe. More than anything I see myself as a facilitator for getting our books into the hands of writers, directors, producers, and executives who will fall in love with them. Passion for a project is the most important thing in this business. Because it can take years to get a movie off the ground we need to partner with people who believe that they MUST turn one of our graphic novels into a movie or tv show. If that passion is there, that’s what’s going to ultimately push the project forward at the end of the day.
How did you get into the comic industry?
I broke in as an intern for Devil’s Due Publishing when I was 19. It was incredible. I spent days rolling G.I. Joe posters in the back room of the office until my fingers were literally bleeding, but in-between all of that I got to see and learn first-hand what it was like to work at an independent comic book company. I was hooked. After that I interned at Marvel and DC Comics over each subsequent summer, and got to see how the big boys ran their businesses. Then, after I moved to LA and was working in reality television, I got a call from Devil’s Due to open up an office in LA for them and help expand the entertainment side of the business. From there I was off and running and things haven’t slowed down since.
What’s your favorite part of working at Archaia?
The people and the projects. I’m so lucky that every day I get to work with people who are far more talented than I am and who I consider to be true geniuses and visionaries. There’s nothing more fun than taking someone who already is a genius in their own right and encouraging them and pushing them to reach new heights in their craft. That’s what I live for and that’s what makes me excited to come to work everyday. To work closely with all the talented people I talk to on a day-to-day basis… It’s a true blessing. I also love my coworkers and the team that we have here. It’s really a family atmosphere at the company.
What are some upcoming Archaia titles you are excited about?
BOLIVAR by Sean Rubin is my pick for our next sales/creative blockbuster. Sean is the real deal and if he could take some time from the incredibly successful startup company he’s created to devote more time to getting pages done I’d be a lot happier! :) I’m also very excited for THE JOYNERS IN 3D by R.J. Ryan and David Marquez, because it’s always great to see Archaia creators come back with a project that shows the audience how much they’ve grown in their talent and artistry. I’ve had a lot of fun working with F.J. DeSanto and Marcus To on CYBORG 009 as well. Working with talented people who also happen to be your friends makes everything a lot more fun.
Out of all of the jobs you’ve done in comics, what aspect was your favorite?
I’ve literally done everything in this business except for writing or drawing, two things that I have no talent or interest in at all. I love marketing books… When you’re passionate about something it’s really so easy to spread the word and so much fun to share that passion with other people. When we were working on TALE OF SAND I really, really loved marketing that book because I knew in my heart how incredibly special it was. And we got some great coverage on it, from NPR to The Wall Street Journal to Fox News. It was great to spread the message of Jim Henson’s legacy. There’s also still a part of me that loves graphic design. When I was at Devil’s Due I used to do the layout and graphic design for a lot of the comics I edited, and I think that’s what to this day makes me care so much about design and presentation in our books. When you’ve done all these different jobs it makes it a lot easier to communicate to the people you’re working with because you can speak their language.
Similarly, is there something in comics you really want to do that you haven’t yet?
Digital is something I’m very interested in… I have a vision for how to simultaneously produce a print and digital comic that I would love to be able to carry out one day. But besides that I’ve been really lucky to have already accomplished a lot of goals that I had when I came into this industry. I wanted to produce Eisner Award-winning books and I had the opportunity to do that. I wanted to make the physical books themselves works of art and I feel like we did that. I wanted to have books on the New York Times bestseller list and we did that. It’s been a dream come true so far, and I’ve been asking myself a lot recently what the next dream is. When I figure that out I’ll let you know!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I have always wanted to fly. If I could fly for 24 hours, but after 24 hours I’d be dead, I might seriously consider it.
What Archaia character do you feel is most like you?
I have a lot of love and affinity for Mac, the lead in TALE OF SAND. I see a lot of parallels.
Who is your favorite fictional character?
How much time do you spend on your hair?
About one minute every morning.
What is the latest flavored milk you are using for your tea/coffee?
I’m actually slightly lactose intolerant and stopped drinking coffee last month, so sadly I can’t really answer this question.
If you had to erase one from history, which would you choose: Michael Jackson or Jim Henson?
That’s like making me choose between my parents! They are both artistic geniuses who changed popular culture, and both have incredibly positive messages in their art. On one day I might say MJ because of the incredible impact of Sesame Street and The Muppets on three generations of children, and what a positive influence that’s been on people around the world. But on some days I might say Jim, because music is universal and MJ was the first artist to have a truly global impact on pop culture on every continent at the same time, and watching him dance was watching art in motion. They’re both titans in their respective fields. I can’t pick!
What is the correct “Stephen Christy” greeting when answering your phone:
b) ‘Sup bro?
c) Hey bra!
Definitely B and C, along with the other iterations including “Sup brah?” and “Yo brah.” Don’t ask me why I started talking like that.