Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor
After sitting down with writer FJ DeSanto, I had the privilege of talking with one of Emerson’s own Stephen Christy, who acts as the Editor-in-Chief at Archaia. Talking with him has been amazing, and to be an Editor-in-Chief already after graduating in 2007 is an amazing feat. Stephen and I talked about Archaia and Cyborg 009–check out the interview below!
Tell the readers how you became the Editor-in-Chief of Archaia.
I graduated Emerson College in 2007 with a degree in Film and TV Production. While I was at Emerson, I co-founded the script anthology Thread—we did two issues before I graduated. That gave me good grounding and gave me experience in running a small publishing operation. At the same time, I started my own production company at school with friends—it got to the point where we would produce about two hours of original content a week for the Emerson Channel. During the summers, I would go work at DC and Marvel as an intern. My final semester at school was in LA at the LA Program, and I interned at Marvel Studios.
From there, I graduated and went into reality TV production. I was in that position for four to five months, until I got a call from Devil’s Due Publishing. It was a small press publisher at the time, doing GI Joe comics and a number of other licensed books—I had interned with them before. They called me and asked me to open an LA office and head that office. So, I stepped up, took that job, and here I am.
Boom! Studios acquired Archaia—could you talk a little bit about that and what that means going forward?
Well, it’s pretty interesting and exciting, because it’s only been a week since it happened. But, it’s great for me and what I do, because I do the film and TV side. It means I have access to a whole new library of properties, which is very, very exciting. Hopefully, it just means a lot more potential to do cool movies based on comic books, bringing film and TV people into comic book world and letting them play around a little bit.
How do you compete with big names like DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and Dark Horse?
It’s not so much people knowing Marvel and DC. There are two comic book audiences: there’s the audience that goes into shops every Wednesday to buy superhero comic books, and then there’s the audiences who will go into a book store or Amazon and buy these more literary-bound, craft novels. We’re creating various, gorgeous, coffee-table books—they’re objects of art. I always say we’re making comics for people who don’t read comics—people who read books, who watch television, who are in it for the art. We like to think of ourselves as the HBO of comics, instead of your more traditional superhero comics.
What are Archaia’s biggest accomplishments to date?
Finding and helping to launch Mouse Guard by Dave Peterson. That really became a big title and a huge anchor for Archaia as a company. That actually happened before I got to the company, so it was great to step into an environment where something that incredible had already been accomplished. There have been a lot of great and exciting victories! After Mouse Guard, our next big victory was doing the partnership with the Jim Henson company, which showed there’s a different way to do licensed comics. I think that really culminated into us doing the Tale of Sand graphic novel project—we won three Eisner Awards, two Harvey Awards, and a Joe Schuster Award. It was one of those things, where if I never made another comic book again, I at least know I made something awesome, you know what I mean?
How did this project of Cyborg 009 come about? What’s the process of going from a manga and transforming it to a graphic novel?
FJ and I have been friends for a few years now, and we wanted to find something to do together. He’s had the opportunity to work on a lot of stuff—he’s a smart guy, and a real comic geek in the best way. FJ was working for Ishimori Productions, the company that owns Cyborg 009, he pitched that this was best way to reintroduce Cyborg to an American audience. We just came off Tale of Sand, so we knew what it takes to make a book that’s fresh and exciting, but still respects the legacy of the source material. We said we wanted to honor Ishimori’s legacy and also educate people on the history of this property.
We started working with them and went through a negotiation process—we’re lucky that Ishimori has and continues to be very collaborative. Once we showed them what we could do, they really trusted us, which was great. Marcus To and Ian Herring and Deron Bennett became that art team for the book. Marcus was recommended to me by Ramon Perez, who illustrated Tale of Sand. From there, we just dove in and everything just came together the way it was supposed to.
As an editor, what are you looking for from your writer and artist on Cyborg 009? What are your goals for the title?
In a weird way, the core of this book is Marcus, the illustrator. Beyond bringing this to a new audience, my goal was to really focus on Marcus. Marcus was an artist at DC and he was a mid- to lower-level artist there—I wanted to give Marcus the respect and time he deserves. This guy is amazing, and we wanted to give Marcus the time to cut loose and do something special—we realized it could be something really incredible. I told him to ink it himself and really show off what you can do—I wanted this project to be a springboard for him, to do this and six months later be drawing a major title like Justice League. Marcus really took that and ran with it; he elevated his game to a whole other level. At Archaia, we encourage talent and give talent the space to do whatever it is that they want to do—to have the freedom to really create. I wanted Marcus to bring it and show people what an incredibly talented guy he is, and I really think he delivered!
What has been your favorite part of the experience?
There’s that moment, three quarters of the way in, where I realized we made something really, really special. You kinda get that feeling inside, “Alright, this is going to be awesome, this is going to be a great book.”
What can we expect from Archaia in the future?
That’s a great question! I think it’s a whole new world now that this merger has happened. My hope is that this company and the imprint will continue to grow, and I would love Archaia to be a home for new and emerging people. We want to work with people who take a lot of pride and care in what they’re creating—and that’s the hope! So, we’ll see!
Archaia is definitely a company we’ll keep our eye on. Stephen is definitely doing his job well, considering the impressive material this publisher keeps churning out. If you’d like to know more about Archaia, visit them on their website here. Check back tomorrow for an interview with Cyborg 009 artist, Marcus To!