The Unsung Women of Comics: Fanboy Comics Interviews Colleen Boyd of Action Lab Entertainment

March is Women’s History Month, and lots of sites are celebrating women in a number of important fields. Here at Fanboy Comics, instead of talking with female writers and artists, we decided to feature the women working behind the scenes in the comic book industry.  Join us as we talk with the editors, marketing specialists, designers, and other women who keep the trains running at your favorite comics publishers.

Colleen Boyd is the Submissions Editor at Action Lab Entertainment, the publisher of some of our favorite comics like Katie Cook’s Gronk, Jeremy Whitley’s Princeless, and a new series, The Adventures of Aero Girl! Colleen is the first person to look at all of the submissions that Action Lab receives and helps new creators to navigate the pitching process. We talked with her about her career, her favorite comics, and her advice for how to get a job like hers in comics.

Follow Colleen on Twitter at @colleentheboyd and be sure visit Action lab Entertainment at www.actionlabcomics.com.  You may also contact Colleen at colleen.boyd (at) actionlabcomics (dot) com. 







Jason Enright, Fanboy Comics Senior Contributor: How would you describe your job position, and what does a typical work day look like for you?

Colleen Boyd: I receive, review, and distribute incoming submissions. Almost everything that comes in via email passes over my eyes first, before I begin filtering it through our review process. I also unofficially act as the Action Lab FAQ email hotline, answering question about our submissions process.

A typical work day for me begins with scanning through my email inbox for top-priority submissions, projects that I feel need to be seen by the rest of our editorial team ASAP. I do work a day job, so I must section my time wisely, which is why priority projects get my attention first.

I always look at sample pages first! Visuals don’t always speak for the quality of a project as a whole, but that’s the first thing a reader sees, so that's the first thing I want to look at. From there, I read through whatever summaries of the comic have been provided to get an idea of the story, I take a look at the script, then review any other additional materials that may have been included in the pitch. If a project passes the first phase, it gets posted up onto our submissions blog, where our entire editorial team is able to access the project(s) easily. I typically do a brief write-up, including specs like the proposed length of the series and per-issue page count, as well as my opinion of the project. If a project makes the cut, creative teams receive a contract and welcome package. If they don’t, they receive a rejection letter from yours truly. With the time that I have, I try and bust through 3 to 4 projects a day. I also handle cleaning out our Dropbox submissions folder and blog of older projects that did not make the cut. Maybe I should add cyber garbage lady to my resume . . .

JE: Which skills are most important to you in your job?

CB: Looking at a project without clumping it together with other comics with similar themes. If you can’t get past the underlining theme and how many other projects use the same hook, you just might miss something great that really sets it apart. If you tell yourself it’s not worth your time, your brain is quick to register that. You’re over it before even getting to the first page.

JE: Is there anything about your job that surprised you when you first got involved?

CB: Occasionally, I receive a submission that is so odd, I wonder where the person responsible for its birth ever got the idea from.

JE: What are the current or upcoming projects on which you are working and able to share with your readers?

CB: Everyday is a surprise! I get to look at some really awesome projects before they’re even signed. I can’t tell you what they are, but I can tell you it feels like I’m that kid in that club that ALWAYS has the best secrets.

JE: If you were addressing a high school senior who wanted to have a career like yours someday, what would you suggest that they study in college? What extracurricular activities would help them to get a job like yours in comics?

CB: I was a culinary student who liked art that just happened to attend the Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco on the right day and talk to the right person, and a week later follow up with that person about an internship with Action Lab Entertainment. Some things happen, because you have really good timing. If I were to give any advice to a high school senior, I’d tell them to be tenacious. Do not be afraid to put yourself out there and talk to people. Comic book industry people are always really busy, so we may not have time to talk right away. But, be polite and patient; we will eventually have a smidgen of time to get back to you.

JE: What are some of your favorite comics to read right now (aside from the ones that you are working on)?

CB: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Big Man Plans. I don’t have a lot of time to read comics, which has made me really picky about what I do pick up. Selecting a few great titles with very different tones is the optimal way I enjoy the time I have.

JE: Comics have really grown and found new readers over the last couple of years. What do you think the next steps are to continue advancing the medium? How do we continue to attract new readers and grow the market?

CB: Superhero comics will always be the essence of the industry. With that said, I believe we are moving towards an illustrated story (indie) market. Stories told in comic book form, but without characters that require the reader to know a ton of backstory in order to understand. This niche market has always been there, we’re just beginning to notice it more, because these books are in higher demand. I partially attribute this shift to crowdfunding websites that brought us projects we’d normally never see, and a natural movement of taste as a new generation gets older. I also see a lot of cartoons being translated into comics books. Catching young readers who are already familiar with these characters makes it easy for them to pick up that cartoon's comic, no matter where it is in the series, or what arc.

I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more mini-series, one-shots, and graphic novels. Big stories without the commitment of an ongoing series. Discovering a comic book already 3 issues in of a 5-part series is a lot less intimidating than finding out that what you picked off the rack is issue 20 of an ongoing series.

JE: I always like to end on a positive note! What do you enjoy most about the comic book industry and working in comics?

CB: The community is amazing! Sure, you run into a few jerks, and, of course, the occasional cave dweller that believes women don’t belong in comics. The positive has always vastly outweighed the itty, bitty bits of negative.

Jason Enright, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor

 

Favorite Superhero: Cyclops
Favorite Animal: Anklyosaurus
Favorite Game: Pathfinder RPG
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